Looking for more affordable headphones with a mic built-in? Check out our guide to the best gaming headsets.
After months of testing and retesting more than 30 popular headphones including over-ear open and closed models, affordable headphones and high-end audiophile headphones, I've come up with the best headphones that deliver exceptional audio performance for gaming, music, and movies.
Contrary to popular belief, a good pair of headphones for music is also a good pair of headphones for gaming. At their bare basics, a gaming headset and headphones are simply two drivers mounted on a head piece. The drivers are full-range and either do a good job of reproducing the entire frequency range, or a poor one. A pair of headphones that don't perform well in general isn't going to perform well in games either.
Within the headphone category you can either go open-back or closed-back. Both come with their own advantages and caveats. If you want an open and spacious sound-stage, you'll want open cans. The only problem is you'll have to deal with sound leak. This means that anyone within your vicinity will be able to hear what you're listening to. Closed headphones don't have a sound leak issue, but also don't provide the same spacious sound-stage and in some cases make the audio sound slightly compressed.
There are clear camps pitched on both sides of open and closed designs, but in the end, it depends on what you want, and what environment you'll be in most of the time. The following headphones are the high-end cream of the crop, ranging in price from $300 to more than $4000, tested on a $50,000 head and torso simulator. Whether you go open-back or closed-back, your ears will thank you.
I performed listening tests using the following equipment:
If you're looking for gaming headsets specifically, check out our top picks here.