We talk a lot about the best PS4 headsets and the best Xbox One headsets, but why don’t people spend more time thinking about the best gaming headphones? There are a lot of players who care deeply about the audio experience of their games but don’t necessarily jump online with friends (or don’t want a mic on swivel hanging in front of their faces), so you'd think it would be a popular market.
Well, there are a couple reasons why we don't talk about it more. First and foremost, there aren’t too many devices branded as "gaming headphones" in the first place. I think it’s a chicken and egg problem: Very few people ask about the best gaming headphones, so very few companies make them. Secondly, any pair of headphones that can connect with a 3.5mm audio jack will get the job done. That means there are a lot of great headphones out there at every price point, so we picked a shortlist of ones that are especially well-suited to the average gamer. Whether you’re looking for something to hang next to your PC and use exclusively for gaming or something you can keep with you at all times, all of these headphones deliver solid sound, work well, and will make your games sound great.
The best headphones made for gaming
Wireless: Yes | Drivers: Planar Magnetic | Connections: Bluetooth Wireless, USB-C, 3.5mm | Features: 3D Head Tracking, Surround Sound emulation
You can debate as to whether the Audeze Mobius counts as a pair of headphones or a headset, but Audeze calls them headphones. We use both terms in our review. No matter how you slice it, though, if you are looking for headphones designed specifically to augment the gaming experience, this hits that bullseye as well as any product out there.
But what makes them stand out? Aside from outstanding all-around audio quality thanks to their planar magnetic drivers, the Mobius features surround sound simulation and head-tracking technology that can adjust positional audio as you shift your viewpoint. Although it’s pricey at $400, the Mobius offers excellent sound and features uniquely suited to our favorite pastime.
2. Sony WH-1000XM3
Best wireless headphones (Whether you’re gaming or not)
Wireless: Yes | Drivers: 40mm | Connections: Bluetooth, 3.5mm cable | Features: Active noise canceling, on-set touch controls, foldable
Sony’s wireless Bluetooth headphones are among the best - if not the best - option out there for going wire-free. The sound, whether you’re playing games or listening to music, comes through clean, crisp, and clear. And active noise canceling is a godsend if you live with loud roommates, have a daily commute, or ever need to tune excess noise out. Funny story; the first time I wore a pair of the previous model (the WH-1000XM2) on a New York subway, the newfound quiet was so relaxing that I fell asleep on the train.
Surprisingly, since they’re made by the company behind PlayStation, the WH-1000XM3s do not play quite as well with game consoles as they do with a PC or your phone; you'll need to connect to consoles via the 3.5mm headphone cable rather than using wireless. The sound quality is still great, though, so it feels like a small concession if you’re looking for a single pair of headphones to use all the time.
3. V-Moda Crossfade M-100 Master
A great choice if you want a wired connection
Wireless: No | Drivers: 50mm | Connections: 3.5mm, 1/4" (with included adapter) | Features: dual cable ports
If you aren’t into wireless headphones because of compression or connection issues, V-Moda’s newest headphones, the Crossfade M-100 Master, provides a great, dynamic sound thanks to 50mm drivers. They come with multiple cable options - with and without a remote - and allow you to plug your headphones into multiple devices using two audio ports, which is a surprisingly nice “you never know when you’re gonna need it” feature.
If you want to use it as a headset, V-Moda also makes a cable with an inline stick mic, the BoomPro, which works better than most inline mics. While we wish it came with the headphones, it’s better to have a clear upgrade path than not.
4. Razer Hammerhead Duo
Great Gaming Earbuds, even on Switch
Wireless: No | Drivers: Razer Dual Drivers | Connections: 3.5mm | Features: Dual-Driver tech, inline mic, customizable fit
Buying earbuds for gaming is… a choice you could make. It isn’t ideal, but if you use wireless headphones for music, you may wind up needing a second pair to carry when you need wired headphones, like with your Nintendo Switch.
Razer’s newest Hammerhead earbuds use a unique dual-driver system to create the most dynamic sound they can in an earbud - specifically, there’s a second driver to add extra bass, which is crucial in any game with shooting, explosions, or any other kind of “booming” sound. The overall audio mix isn’t perfect, but that’s a tradeoff you often have to make when opting for more portable headphones: With the Hammerhead, at least you know said tradeoffs were made specifically to enhance the portable gaming experience.
5. Jabra 65T
Great Wireless earbuds, even for gaming
Wireless: Yes | Connections: Bluetooth | Features: Noise/Sound reduction, Charging case, Sweat- and Dust-resistant
Again, there is no way to spin it so that wireless earbuds deliver the same level of audio quality as a good pair of high-quality over-ear headphones, but if you prefer the fit and feel of earbuds then you need to go with what’s comfortable. And if you’re using your earbuds for exercise, or just prefer the lowest profile audio device you can get, wireless earbuds are the best possible scenario.
The Jabra 65T is widely considered one of the best wireless in-ear options right now. They deliver good sound, have ambient noise-canceling, and last up to five hours on a single charge. If you keep the charging case handy, that can feel like a lot longer. If you play games for long stretches on the weekends, though, five hours may not be enough time, but that’s a problem you’re going to find with wireless earbuds across the board.
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