6 best open-back headphones for gaming; advantages of open-back design for gaming

Image credit: Unsplash

After coming to the conclusion that headphones are the right choice for immersive gaming audio and gaming calls, gamers usually go down another rabbit hole to determine which is the ultimate type of headphone to finally go for, open-back or closed-back design. 

A significant percent of headphones in the gaming realm are ones that have a closed-back design. That’s because closed-back headphones have become very affordable, mainstream, and high-performing. However, open-back headphones are in a league of their own when it comes to delivering expansive and natural-sounding audio. 

Open-back vs closed-back headphones for gaming: what are the differences?

Open-back and closed-back headphones look identical and are similar in many ways, including wired and wireless connectivity, controls, audio performance adjustments, and headband adjustments. 

Here are two different headphones models from Sennheiser, the GSP 500, and the GSP 600. GSP 500 is an open-back headphone and GSP 600 is a closed-back model. Despite the differences, they look similar. 

Sennheiser GSP 500

Image credit: Amazon product page

Sennheiser GSP 600

Image credit: Amazon product page

The main difference between the two is audio performance. Closed-back headphones deliver tight and punchy audio while open-back headphones are more about spacious and natural audio. 

For gaming, both types of headphones work well. Therefore, choosing the best among the two is a personal preference. If you want the game audio to be precisely focused on your ears for careful listening, closed-back headphones are the right choice for you. On the other hand, if you want the audio performance to be a bit relaxed and spatial, you cannot go wrong with open-back headphones. 

Think of it as similar to wearing a breathable and a non-breathable T-shirt when jogging. The breathable T-shirt may be loose-fitting and comfortable while the non-breathable T-shirt may have a tailored fit and help in toning your muscles. If you are concerned more about comfort and looseness, you will naturally gravitate towards a non-breathable regular T-shirt. On the other hand, if you are conscious about your muscle tone, you’ll consider the non-breathable T-shirt that has a tailored fit.

Are open-back headphones good for gaming?

Yes, open-back headphones are definitely good for gaming. In fact, many gamers choose open-back headphones over regular closed-back headphones due to various reasons, the common ones include: 

1. Airy and natural audio 

While closed-back headphones produce compressed and tight sound, open-back headphones deliver audio performance that is more natural and airy. The openings on the ear cup enclosures of open-back headphones allow the speakers to move more and deliver a dynamic audio performance. The enclosure openings also make the headphone and the overall sound more airy and open. 

2. Spatial audio expansion

Audio from open-back headphones does not feel like it is directly aimed and projected at your ears. Neither does it feel like it is enclosed within your ears. Instead, it feels open and spacious as compared to closed-back headphones. 

The openings on the ear cup enclosures allow partial dissipation of the sound. This, in turn, creates a wider and broader soundstage which makes the audio seem like it’s coming from the distant speakers in your room. 

Image credit: Ucdavis

3. Longer wear comfort

Wearing a closed-back headphone when playing games for long hours on end can be a tiring experience. This is because the sealed ear cups of closed-back headphones create a claustrophobic feeling on the ears over several hours of continuous wear. 

However, this is not the case with open-back headphones as they do not feel claustrophobic or uncomfortable. The openings on the ear cups allow air to pass through and improve breathability. 

Image credit: Unsplash

4. Staying aware of the physical surroundings

Not everybody has the convenience of switching off the surrounding noises and simply being immersed in the game. If you are someone who also needs to pay attention to the surrounding sounds while you’re playing competitive matches, you cannot go wrong with an open-back headphone. Unlike closed-back headphones, open-back headphones do not completely block ambient noise. 

If you have to answer phone calls, doorbells, and home appliance beepers, you can ensure that you do not miss them out when you’re gaming using a pair of open-back headphones. 

Image credit: Unsplash

5. Safety for sensitive ears

If you have hearing sensitivity, the tight and compressed sound of closed-back headphones can make gaming a stressful experience for you. With open-back headphones, the bass is not heavy and the mids and highs aren’t overly defined. They deliver natural-sounding audio which doesn’t impact hearing sensitivity. 

Image credit: Unsplash

Open-back headphones are the best for open-world games

The theme music, soundtracks, and special sound effects of open-world games such as The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt seems more immersive and realistic when the audio has a spatial delivery. And open-back headphones come closer to improving the expansiveness of audio as compared to closed-back headphones. 

When you’re playing an open-world game using a pair of open-back headphones, you may feel like the audio is delivered from a combination of multiple loudspeakers in your room. 

Check out these lists of the biggest and the best open-world games:

List No 1 – https://www.gamingscan.com/biggest-open-world-games/

List No 2 – https://gamerant.com/open-world-games-biggest-maps/

List No 3 – https://www.gamesradar.com/best-open-world-games/

List No 4 – https://www.pcgamesn.com/best-open-world-games 

6 best open-back headphones for gaming

We have carefully compiled six open-back headphones that differ in pricing and functionalities. Browse through the list to explore different options and learn 

1. Audiotechnica ATH-PDG1 – check it out here

Audiotechnica ATH-PDG1 is one of the most affordable yet high-performing open-back headphones for gaming that you can get your hands on. This particular model preserves the essence of open-back headphones, and that is to deliver a natural sound and a feeling of openness in the ear cups.

Audiotechnica ATH-PDG1 is well-suited for playing different types of modern games as the sound drivers are specifically fine-tuned for the soundtrack and special effects of modern games. The open-back design, in combination with a lightweight form factor and soft ear pads, makes this headphone highly comfortable to wear. 

Pros – 

  • Large-sized 40 mm sound drivers used
  • Sound drivers voiced for modern games
  • Dedicated anti-bleed mic

Cons – 

  • Not the most premium look and feel
  • Bass is balanced and not deep and directed
  • No wireless connectivity support

2. Sennheiser GSP 500 – check it out here

If you want a reasonably-priced open-back headphone that can become your go-to choice for gaming and voice chatting with your team, Sennheiser GSP 500 comes as an unmistakable choice. This model delivers one of the best-sounding acoustic audio with its open design under $200. Whether you are a PC, Mac, or a console gamer, this headphone doesn’t let you down in the audio department. 

Sennheiser GSP 500 combines the best of high fidelity and focused audio to immerse you in your game. Also, the dynamic performance of the sound drivers makes way for spatial sound. This headphone also comes with a noise-canceling mic that ensures your voice chats are crystal clear. 

Pros – 

  • 40 mm sound drivers deliver high-fidelity audio 
  • Breathable ear pads improve the comfort level
  • Multi-platform audio cables included

Cons –

  • The headband may be bulky for some
  • Earcup openings are limited in size
  • No support for wireless connectivity 

3. Sennheiser Game One – check it out here

Sennheiser Game One is another open-back headphone for gaming from Sennheiser that offers a great value in the mid-range price segment. This open-back headphone performs like a closed-back headphone as it delivers punchy bass and tight mids and highs. 

This headphone is also great for comfortable wear as it includes breathable ear pads. The overall lightweight design of this model helps you steer clear of tiredness and fatigue when gaming for long hours on end. 

Pros – 

  • 40 mm sound drivers deliver open and dynamic sound
  • Acoustically-designed ear cups improve listening comfort
  • The mic includes noise cancelation 

Cons –

  • No touch or tap controls
  • Mic size may be large for some
  • No support for wireless connectivity

4. Beyerdynamic TYGR 300 R – check it out here

If you want the audio experience to be the best when playing your favorite games, you cannot go wrong with Beyerdynamic TYGR 300 R. This open-back gaming headset creates a broad soundstage that immerses you in the theme music and soundtracks of the games you’re playing. Also, the precise speech audio of the headphone’s dynamic drivers helps you steer clear from noise and disturbances during voice chats. 

Although Beyerdynamic TYGR 300 R looks bulky, it has a fairly lightweight design which makes it highly comfortable to use for long hours. The balanced and natural audio of this headphone is suitable for PC as well as console games. 

Pros – 

  • Large-sized openings on the ear cups make the audio more natural
  • The dynamic sound drivers create a wide soundstage 
  • Premium-quality materials used on the ear pads

Cons –

  • No dedicated mic
  • Very little ambient noise isolation
  • Bass reproduction is not as punchy as closed-back headphones

5. Koss GMR 545 Air – check it out here

Koss GMR 545 Air is one of the best open-back headphones with a mic for enjoying realistic gaming audio. Games with expensive soundscapes sound especially good with this headphone as it uses custom-tuned gaming-focused sound drivers. The open-back design of this headphone also ensures breathability and helps you steer clear of the claustrophobic feeling that you get with closed-back headphones. 

As compared to many open-back gaming headphones, Koss GMR 545 Air includes a removable mic design. The removable boom mic delivers articulate speech audio and does not fail in enhancing the gaming audio chat experience. 

Pros – 

  • Custom-designed acoustics deliver immersive sound
  • Headband ergonomics are on point
  • Lightweight overall form factor

Cons –

  • Included headphone cable may be short for some
  • No plush padding on the headband
  • No support for wireless connectivity 

6. Philips SHP9500 – check it out here 

If you want to get your hands on a versatile open-back headphone that can also perform double duty as a gaming headphone, you cannot go wrong with Philips SHP9500. As one of the best open-back gaming headsets from Phillips, this model exceeds expectations in the audio department as well as comfort level. Using a pair of 50 mm neodymium sound drivers, this headphone delivers one of the most dynamic audio performances under $100. 

Philips SHP9500 includes a removable mic which helps you make sure that your gaming audio chat is noise-free. Also, the headphone’s earcups are custom designed to naturally fit the ears’ geometry for highly comfortable wear. 

Pros – 

  • 50 mm neodymium sound drivers deliver natural and transparent audio
  • Detachable mic design
  • Ergonomic and comfortable fitting 

Cons –

  • Not the most lightweight design
  • The mic volume control may seem old-fashioned for some
  • The mic doesn’t have a noise cancelation feature

4 best closed-back headphones for gaming

You don’t just have to limit your options to open-back designs when it comes to choosing the right headphones for all your gaming requirements. You can also explore your options in the closed-back design territory to see if there is a model or two that can perfectly meet your requirements. 

Here are some of the best value-for-money closed-back headphones for gaming: 

1. Razer Kraken V3X – check it out here

With precisely-focused audio, you get a competitive advantage in the game, and Razer Kraken V3X is just about that. This closed-back headphone helps you make sure that you do not miss out on even the most subtle audio details in the game. Using 40 mm dynamic drivers, this headphone delivers balanced audio that feels just right. 

Pros – 

  • High fidelity sound drivers used 
  • Noise-free mic
  • Premium build quality and comfortable fit

Cons – 

  • Headband adjustments are limited
  • Non-removable mic
  • No support for wireless connectivity 

2. Beyerdynamic Custom Game – check it out here

Beyerdynamic Custom Game is one of the most versatile closed-back gaming headphones on this list. This headphone allows you to choose between four different audio profiles that are designed for different gaming environments. This headphone is also well-suited for audio gaming chat as it includes a high-quality mic that delivers noise-free speech audio. 

Pros – 

  • Cable remote control included 
  • Dedicated slider for custom audio profiles
  • Plush cushioning on the earcups and the headband

Cons – 

  • The overall design is not lightweight
  • No vents or openings for air circulation 
  • Punchy bass may not appeal to everybody 

3. Audiotechnica ATH-G1WL – check it out here

Audiotechnica ATH-G1WL comes as one of the best closed-back gaming headphones in the wireless connectivity category. Using a combination of a 2.4 GHz wireless connectivity band and 45 mm sound drivers, this headphone delivers tight and balanced audio that adapts to almost every type of game. 

Pros – 

  • Audio performance fine-tuned for surround sound experience
  • Interruption-free wireless connectivity 
  • Controls are easily accessible 

Cons – 

  • No airiness on the earcups 
  • Battery life limited to 15 hours
  • No remote controls for the mic

4. Logitech G935 – check it out here

Logitech G935 brings the pinnacle of Logitech’s audio technology to your ears to elevate your gaming experience by leaps and bounds. Despite being a closed-back gaming headphone, this model does not fail to deliver natural and dynamic audio, thanks to its 50 mm sound drivers that are made using woven hybrid mesh. 

Pros – 

  • Programmable keys included
  • Light sync RGB lighting included 
  • Mic included noise cancelation

Cons – 

  • Earcups aren’t open and therefore aren’t airy
  • The overall design may be bulky for some
Scroll to Top