The unconventional Nuraphone headphones' rebirth as a gaming headset shouldn't be missed

Nuraphone headphones gaming mic
(Image credit: Nuraphone)

Some of the best gaming headsets can pack some serious audio power, with heavyweight brands chiming in with pinpoint 7.1 surround sound, rich soundscapes, and ear burning volume. However, it's no secret that, in general, you'll get a better sound quality from a set of premium headphones. So when a set of premium headphones offers a level of richness, power, and battery life that the Nuraphone headphones do - it's easy to wonder if there's anything stopping them from taking over the gaming space as well. 

Before now, there was one thing stopping these incredible headphones from truly entering the gaming arena. With a proprietary port taking care of all wired connections, there was no way to hook up a mic - one of the more important aspects of the gaming headset design. However, with the launch of the Nuraphone gaming microphone, it's worth taking another look at these unique headphones and once you do, you'll realize why they might just be the best thing to happen to game audio in a long time. 

The Nuraphone headphones are unmistakable - with a combination of in-ear buds and over-ear drivers that makes for an incredible auditory experience when finely tuned to your own ear. It certainly makes for an interesting profile, but the real magic starts once you load up the Nura app. 

Nuraphone headphones gaming mic

(Image credit: Nuraphone)

The Nuraphone headphones will then play a series of tones and bleeps into your ears to register the level of noise returning to the super-sensitive microphone hidden inside the cups themselves. Using that information, the headphones and software can personalize your audio to ensure everything sounds full-bodied, and perfectly tuned to the way you hear. 

But we already know the Nuraphones are excellent headphones - they're fully embedded in the music space as innovation made real - luxury cups with something new to say. Are they any good for gaming now that we have a mic to fully make the most of them? 

Of course. 

Gaming audio isn't its own special case scenario that requires a specific set of drivers or attention to different details. In fact, it's a finely tuned orchestra of sounds and soundtracks layered over one another to create an atmosphere - and what better tool to take advantage of that attention to auditory detail than a headset designed to deliver every single aspect of a sound in the perfect, personalized way. 

Premium headsets like the Nuraphone prioritize sound quality above all else, and you can hear that focus. Gaming headsets also have latency, directional or surround sound, compatibility, PC customization, and other industry-specific features to contend with, but here you're simply investing in an engine to let your favorite games roar through. 

Nuraphone headphones gaming mic

(Image credit: Nuraphone)

Even the PS5 opening track of Spider-Man Miles Morales blew me away before I even planted a web shot in New York City. Walking through Rio's rally, a bustling New York festival scene with a clatter of conversation, distant thumping bass through speakers that I could almost picture as I wandered through the cacophony felt so real. 

You're getting more than stunning audio here, you're getting the feeling of real audio. That's a distinction that we sometimes forget about when discussing gaming headsets. Sure, we long for the power of a bass that doesn't crunch or detailing across every tonal range, but we often forget to appreciate how real a game can sound. It's in this forgotten aspect of game audio that the Nuraphones shine. 

You could have pumped up the sound of the snow under my feet, or the clarity of the music coming through those speakers, or the whistling of the wind above - that delivery would certainly make for a good auditory experience, but not a real one. Instead I can hear the crackly speakers echoing off towering skyscrapers, I can hear the rustle of my coat and the way a laugh changes its qualities when I approach the joking couple. It's a subtle difference to describe, but an incredibly powerful one to experience. 

The new mic is giving more gamers reason to experience this incredible audio, but while it's necessary to facilitate chat it's certainly no reason to invest by itself. The mic connects through the proprietary port on the right ear cup and does then limit you to a wired connection. The 3.5mm jack can then easily plug into your device's controller - however PC players will need to plug into a headphone / mic splitter to receive both channels. 

Nuraphone gaming mic

(Image credit: Nuraphone)

The microphone does lack some features that more gamer-focused gear will pay more attention to. There's no noise cancellation here and a bald head will leave plenty of room for popping if placed too close to your face (placing the mic at a distance that felt a little unnatural at first yields the clearest results). However, if picked up as a means to a multiplayer end, you'll get on just fine and the benefits in audio here far outweigh that slight drop in mic quality. 

There are two reasons why the Nuraphone headphones might not be the perfect gaming headset for you. The first is that series of numbers next to the product name - you're certainly paying for that futuristic audio quality. Paying $399 / £349 for the headphones alone, then an extra $50/£50 for the microphone attachment is certainly not high on everybody's to-do list (we have seen them bundled together lately for $419 and £370 though). It's rare though, that you'll find a set of headphones really worthy of that premium price, and the Nuraphone experience is definitely one of those rarities. And don't forget, while they're not a wireless gaming headset (3.5mm connection required), they do have wireless functionality as headphones still and are excellent for music fans.

The second will frustrate those who like to dive into sessions lasting more than about two or three hours at a time. That over-ear earbud hybrid design is more comfortable than you might expect - for the first few hours. That comfort level does start to diminish after about hour two, making these a better buy if you tend to play in shorter bursts, or you're prepared to take a quick break to rest those ears during longer sessions. 

Overall, though, the sheer power, delicacy, and almost unbelievable quality of the Nuraphone headphones makes them one of the most impressive headsets on the market right now when combined with the mic. That drippingly rich sound quality steps over to the world of gaming with stunning aplomb, giving every game world it encounters a brand new lease of life. With the addition of the microphone, we're now all set to herald in the future of gaming audio and if you're willing to invest, you'll be greatly rewarded.

For some alternative options, many of them considerably cheaper, be sure to check out some of our buying guides on the best PS5 headsets, the best Xbox Series X headsets, best PC headsets for gaming, and the best Nintendo Switch headsets too. Prefer something more discrete? Then the best gaming earbuds roundup is one for you. For more music-focused gear, take a look at our best headphones guide.

Tabitha Baker
Managing Editor - Hardware

Managing Editor of Hardware at GamesRadar+, I originally landed in hardware at our sister site TechRadar before moving over to GamesRadar. In between, I've written for Tom’s Guide, Wireframe, The Indie Game Website and That Video Game Blog, covering everything from the PS5 launch to the Apple Pencil. Now, i'm focused on Nintendo Switch, gaming laptops (and the keyboards and mice that come with them), and tracking everything that suggests VR is about to take over our lives.