Headphones for Video Games: Matt James
For gaming, sound is paramount. Whether needing to hear environmental cues like gunfire in a first-person shooter video game or simply reveling in AAA games atmospheric soundtracks, sound plays a massive role in my video game enjoyment.
I spend coin on a top-shelf graphics card to enjoy a video game's eye-candy. I can’t fully enjoy the splendor games from top video game developers without the right aural experience (sound) too.
For many video game developers sound is an afterthought, but when you combine video games that take sound design seriously with a fantastic pair of headphones the experience is without rival.
Open vs Closed Headphones
The short answer is deciding between open or closed headphones is situational. Just like movie watching, video game playing can be a social event or a late-night getaway where you don’t want to wake up a significant other or children.
I have closed back headphones I use when my fiancée is reading on the couch next to me. I have open back headphones for when we game together and I need to discuss battle strategies (easier to hear without the noise isolation closed back headphones create).
Open back headphones don't isolate sound. Open back headphones allow drivers (where the music comes from) to use air from the room. Headphone drivers love this. More air to push may mean better sound too.
But "open" also means noisy. Air is a two-way street. Open headphones sound is in your ears AND in the room or the surrounding area, thus my need for two types of headphones. When I'm alone and disturbing others isn't an issue means open back headphones and closed back headphones when my game's noise could distract others.
In-Ear-Monitors vs Full Sized Headphones
The debate between In-Ear-Monitors (IEMs) and full sized cans (headphones) hits same hot buttons as it does for audiophiles. Preference between IEMs and full sized cans depends on how long you game, how hot the room is, if you are on the go and not and home, how much your ears can tolerate pressure from IEMs and other personal preferences.
For some video gamers, the IEMs answer is “never”. I disagree. For gaming on the go you can’t beat a good pair of "in-ears" when you can’t lug around a pair of Audeze LCD 3s. I normally play computer games so a comfortable pair of supra-aural (on-ear) headphones is best for me.
Video Game Headphones Comfort and Build
The longer I plan to game the more comfort moves up my priority list. When I game for hours I have to have a comfortable pair of over ears (over-ear headphones). If it is hot I prefer cloth ear cups. If it is cold leather works fine.
Headphone weight is also important. I love many things about Audeze's EL8s, but they are not lightweight. When I'm playing video games for long stretches headphones need to disappear on my head becoming an afterthought.
I don’t need gaming headphones that can take a bullet. I need lightweight headphones. Weight is such a crucial issue I prefer video game headphones that may feel cheap but are lightweight as long as they have clear sound. I prefer cheaper and lighter over heavier and more expensive at least for long video game playing sessions.
Headphones For Video Games Platform information
I have a pair of Astro Gaming A50 headphones for console gaming. For computer gaming all I need are headphones with a quarter inch or eighth-inch jack proprietary seems unnecessary. I have a separate microphone, so I don’t see the appeal of a “gaming headset” anymore.
Headphones for Video Games Recommendations
Sennheiser HD700 Beyerdynamic (anything from the T or DT line) AKG 702 Audioquest Nighthawk