Best Open Back Headphones for Gaming – Compared and Reviewed
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Open-back headphones don’t have the covering on the ears that you see with closed-back headphones. Open-back headphones don’t isolate the sound from the speakers, allowing noise from the outside world to mix in with in-game audio.
This changes the way your video game, voice chat and music will sound, allowing for a more realistic listening experience.
To help you find the best open back headphones for gaming, we conducted extensive market research. We looked at:
- Value for Money
- Audio Quality
Our number one pick is the SENNHEISER HD 660 S, offering a premium audio experience and a stylish, lightweight design.
Let’s take a look at our findings in more detail.
The products below have been carefully selected based on prior knowledge, experience, testing, community feedback and in-depth research.
We do not have individual partnerships or sponsorships with any of the brands in this review, meaning no open back headphones were selected with any bias, and our writers select all product inclusions with no influence from any team or company.
To pick the headphones you will see today, we considered each product’s:
The first thing we considered before deciding on whether a product will be included or not is the design. As this guide only focuses on open back headphones, the headset had to feature an open-back design in order to be shortlisted for analysis.
Value for Money
We understand that nobody wants to spend more money than they have to. And to be honest, why should you? While conducting our market research we, closely monitored the pricing point of the different products out there and what they offered in return.
After having a general idea of the average value for money offered in the industry, we made sure to pick the products that were worth their money for what they brought to the table.
To have a great gaming experience, the quality of your audio will have a great impact. So, we made sure to only include open-back headphones that sound great for gaming, music, and for whatever other use you may have of them.
While conducting our research, we noticed that the large majority of great open-back headphones are wired. As a result, you will only come across wired open back headsets in this review.
When gaming for long periods of time, the last thing you want is for your ears to start hurting. It’s unpleasant and can quite literally ruin your experience and enjoyment.
During our research, we made sure that each of the products we considered included comfortable and high-quality cushioning that would comfortably hug your ears without causing any pain.
Though open-back headphones naturally let in external sound from your surroundings, isolation still remains quite an important aspect of headsets for gaming. You definitely don’t want to be hearing cars on the road louder than your audio in-game as that can cause you to miss out on important enemy cues or it can be straight-up distracting.
To combat this while still allowing for a more natural audio quality that open-back headsets are known for, we made sure to only go for models with very decent and sophisticated isolation.
If you’re on the lookout for the best open back headset with the highest quality audio experience for gaming, the SENNHEISER HD 660 S, at least in our opinion, is the best product across the board.
The best price at the time of writing was $415.02.
From an aesthetic standpoint, the HD 660 S by the German manufacturer Sennheiser hosts a very sleek and simple open-back design in black. With a total added weight of just 0.57 lbs, this headset is amongst the lightest across the board.
In regards to audio quality, the HD 660 S was crafted for the “demanding listener” according to Sennheiser, making them incredible audiophile headphones. The manufacturer also claims that the HD 660 S also surpassed the legendary HD 650 both in terms of build quality and audio quality.
The HD 660 S is also known for its advanced transducers. This model is equipped with the newly designed transducers by Sennheiser, which feature very lightweight aluminum voice coils that are integrated into the diaphragm fabric. The combination of both results in reduced distortion and ultimately better sound quality.
Thanks to the detailed and dynamic frequency response, the HD 660 S is exceptionally accurate in the sound that is reproduced, providing you with a more enhanced audio experience. The lower 150 OHM impedance further facilitates a more direct connection to a range of devices, allowing for a great audio experience regardless of whether you are playing on your PC or mobile phone.
One of the most notable features of this open-back headset is the supreme comfort that it offers. The lightweight design, soft velour-covered ear cushions, and thick headband padding all work together to allow you to enjoy gaming for hours on end without causing any discomfort.
Looking to get your hands on one of the best open-back headphones for gaming without spending hundreds of dollars? In our opinion, the Philips SHP9500 is the best budget-friendly open-back headset on the market today.
The best price at the time of writing was $73.99.
The SHP9500 by Philips boasts an impressive, simple, and super comfortable design in black. This wired open-back headset features a comfortable double-layered headband cushion in combination with breathable ear cushions that guarantee an optimal level of comfort, regardless of time spent gaming.
Though this headset is super lightweight, weighing in at just 0.66 lbs, Philips have ensured that their product remains durable and solid. To do that, they decided to use a headband that is made out of cold-rolled steel, which is then wrapped in comfortable cushioning, allowing for both an optimal fit and comfort.
As for audio quality, these headphones are equipped with 50mm drivers, which make use of neodymium magnets allowing for the reproduction of all in-game sound dynamics to be delivered at a balanced and pristine frequency.
For added comfort and enhanced audio quality, the divers have been precisely angled to deliver the audio signals directly into your ears.
Despite its affordable price point, this open-back headset can be used with or without an amplifier, allowing you complete flexibility over how you decide to use the headphones.
The Audio-Technica ATH-R70x is another great open-back headset. From design to sound quality, this model is easily on par with our best pick.
The best price at the time of writing was $349.00.
The Audio-Technica ATH-R70x is the lightest open back headset that we’ve come across during our research. It nets a total weight of just 0.46 lbs, which is really light compared to its counterparts. Despite the feather-light design, these headphones feature a very robust construction made out of carbon composite resin to ensure durability and longevity in case of accidental drops.
From a comfort standpoint, this model is equipped with breathable fabric earpads and headband, which is uniquely designed to provide improved wing support for added comfort during those long gaming sessions.
In regards to performance, the Audio-Technica ATH-R70x hosts high-efficiency magnets combined with a pure alloy magnetic circuit design, which is responsible for reducing the level of sound distortion while ensuring precise high-frequency response.
Furthermore, the acoustically transparent and aluminum honeycomb mesh allows for your in-game audio to sound much more natural and spacious – which is all thanks to the open back design.
Other Great Open Back Headphones for Gaming
Didn’t find what you were looking for? Below, we have four other great open-back headsets you should definitely take a look at.
beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO
One of the good value-for-money headphones we stumbled upon was the beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO. It caught our attention not only in terms of design but also the great level of audio quality it can reproduce.
The best price at the time of writing was $179.00.
The DT 990 PRO by Beyerdynamic hosts one of the more simple and aesthetically pleasing designs in black (with no grey color). The overall headset weighs a total of 0.77 lbs, which is a fairly standard weight for an open-back model.
One of the most notable design features of this headset is related to its construction. Not only is this headset made out of durable materials but in case of accidents, you can fully replace nearly every part of it – provided you want to make it look like new again.
In regards to comfortability, the DT 990 PRO certainly doesn’t lack. Thanks to the soft velour ear pads and padded headband, those long gaming sessions will be that much more enjoyable.
As far as audio quality is concerned, these headphones are great at reproducing all in-game audio at super high quality, allowing you to hear all of those positional enemy cues that you won’t typically get to hear with most headsets.
One downside though is the quite loud leakage of sound, and the fact that there is no isolation from ambient noise can be quite unsuitable for video games, especially if you live in a loud area. Do note that this is all by design due to the open-back construction.
The HIFIMAN SUNDARA is a rather unique headset. It not only features a unique transducer – usually found in more high-end headphones but also hosts a super light yet comfortable and durable design.
The best price at the time of writing was $349.00.
The SUNDARA by HIFIMAN hosts one of the more simple designs. The total weight of the headset without the cable is 0.82 lbs, which is fairly reasonable considering this model is built to withstand daily wear and tear – great for longevity. Aside from that, the black design also gives off a really neutral look.
In regards to performance, these headphones are equipped with the new, high-tech diaphragm, which is 80% thinner than the one feature in the previous series of this headset. This results in a more detailed and extended frequency response.
As far as comfort is concerned, this model features a completely new headband design that offers a separate head strap, which allows for the headphone’s weight to be evenly spread over your head.
When combined with the newly improved earpads for enhanced comfort, rest assured that your long gaming sessions will be uninterrupted as far as comfortability is concerned.
Philips Audio Fidelio X2HR
The Philips Audio Fidelio X2HR is one of the more affordable open-back headphones, which is packed with just as many features as any other open-back headset that we’ve taken a look at so far.
The best price at the time of writing was $148.99
The Fidelio X2HR by Philips Audio is one of the more robust and dense open back headphones that we’ve seen. This model, without the cable, weighs 0.84 lbs, which is nearly double compared to some of our other picks. This is partly due to the metal tubes that hold together the speakers and the headband. The Fidelio X2HR is really built for quality and longevity.
As for comfort, the headband of these headphones is made into a self-adjustable and ultra-lightweight hammock with an airy 3D mesh. This makes the headband not only breathable but also flexible enough to perfectly accommodate the shape of your head.
To further enhance the comfort you’ll get to experience with this headset, Philips Audio have ensured that the earcups are fully equipped with breathable velour and memory foam cushions.
In regards to audio quality, this headset has it all. The manufacturer claims that each speaker is carefully picked, tuned, and tested to ensure an optimal level of clarity and audio quality. To support that, the 50mm drivers found in this headset also make use of high-power neodymium magnets that allow for the smooth reproduction of sound.
The acoustic open back design eliminates any kind of air pressure build-up behind the driver, which greatly enhanced the natural sound of the audio played through the headphones.
One of the most notable features of this product is the layered motion control (LMC) drivers, which absorb and dampen any unnecessary frequencies, resulting in more smooth and flat frequency response.
A Rather Expensive But Phenomenal Set of Open-Back Headphones
If you can spare over a thousand dollars for an open-back headset, then the HIFIMAN Arya is quite literally a no brainer. From design to the quality of construction and sound, this open-back model is remarkable.
The best price at the time of writing was $1599.00.
Visually speaking, the HIFIMAN Arya features one of the most impressive yet simple and compact open-back designs in black weighing in at only 0.89 lbs. The headset itself is hosts a headband made out of high-quality metal for extra strength while the remaining parts are made out of high-grade plastic for lightweight comfort and durability.
One of the most impressive features of this headset is the nanometer thickness diaphragm. This breakthrough technology exclusively developed by HIFIMAN was successfully incorporated as the headset planar driver, making it the cornerstone for the remarkable audio quality.
To further improve the quality of sound, HIFIMAN have also made use of the advanced asymmetrical magnet circuit technology, which reduces the interference in sound wave transmissions coming from the diaphragm.
The Arya headset also hosts a patented “Window Shade” system, which was designed to meet the need for driver protection as well as further optimization of the open-back design.
Some other crucial specifications that are worth mentioning also include the 35Ω of impedance, 90dB of sensitivity, and 8Hz – 65kHz of frequency response.
Note: The reason we did not include this headset as the best open-back pick is due to its high price point. We felt like it wouldn’t be relevant to the vast majority of our readers, and as a result, we went for another headset, which is significantly cheaper and at least in our opinion, the best in its price bracket.
Shopping Tips for Getting Your Open Back Headphones
During the research, we made a list of things that you need to consider when shopping for open back headphones for gaming. Before you buy anything, make sure to read through the tips below.
Quality of Audio Is the Most Important Aspect of Any Open Back Headphones
The quality of audio that your headphones produce will have a detrimental impact on your in-game performance. Opting in for high-quality headphones will allow you to hear all your enemy’s precise positional cues, which will give you an obvious advantage of them – unless they too use a really good headset.
Aside from enhanced in-game performance, you will also enjoy the games that much more as audio is the second piece to the puzzle to having a great time after great and high-definition graphics.
Don’t Forget About Comfort – Especially if You Game for Hours on End
Trust me when I say this, you want to avoid headphones that are going to hurt your ears. I’ve made the mistake of buying headphones in the past, which really hurt my ears just after a few hours of use. It wasn’t pleasant, to say the least.
And while you won’t know whether a particular headset will hurt your ears before you try them, one good way to spot comfortable headphones is by checking out the material that the cushions are made out of. Soft leather often does the job really well.
Another thing to pay attention to is the strength of the headband. In other words, how strong does the headband pull together each side of the headphones to keep them stable on your head? That will give you quite a decent idea. Of course, many manufacturers don’t really state that but you can watch a few videos on the internet and get an idea from there.
Picking the Right Product for Your Needs
In case you weren’t able to identify the right open back headphones for your needs, below, we have listed three highly relevant scenarios with a recommended product for reach.
Scenario 1: You are on a budget, and are on the lookout for the best open-back headphones that not only look great but also sound great. After extensive research, we decided that the best cheap open back headphones for gaming are the Philips SHP9500.
Scenario 2: You’re a gamer who takes his gaming seriously and would like to really get your hands on the best top-of-the-line open back headset. From the ten products that we considered in our final selection, we concluded that the SENNHEISER HD 660 S deserves the top spot.
Scenario 3: Value for money is really important to you, and you’d ideally like the headset that can give you the best audio experience for its price point. We believe that the beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO is most worth its price point.
Using open back headphones will bring your gaming experience to a whole new level by making it sound a whole lot more realistic and close to real-life. While that may not be to everyone’s liking, plenty of gamers from all over the world are beginning to use such headphones.
Above, we explored six of the best open-back headsets that the market currently has to offer. During our research, however, we considered ten products in total that were worthwhile. We believe that the remaining four, which we didn’t review closely, at least deserve an honorable mention.