Last Updated: April 20, 2020
In this short and sweet review we'll cover some of the current best gaming headphones in terms of sound quality, reliability and comfort for the best experience when gaming or listening to music. Gaming headsets, which are basically headsets with mics attached that are marketed towards gamers, are all the rage these days due to the rise in popularity of competitive online gaming and streaming where the attached mic comes in handy to chat to teammates or to trash talk opponents.
But that doesn't mean that "gaming headsets" are best for gaming, nor does it mean they offer the best quality gaming audio. Traditional headphones, which is exactly like a headset but without an attached mic, have fallen by the wayside these days, but audiophiles and those who know their stuff when it comes to audio quality still stick to using headphones (even for gaming) as they understand the fact that even the best high-end gaming headsets on the market can't come close to high-end studio-quality headphones.
So if you don't need a mic, or you're just going to use a separate mic (which will also be better quality than most built-in gaming headset mics as even the best gaming headsets can have quite average mics) then consider buying some good headphones for gaming if you're after the highest quality possible (for not just games but music). This dual setup of using headphones and a separate mic is actually quite common among the more audio-enlightened gamers out there, and it can even save you money because gaming headsets can be quite overpriced when you compare their quality to similar priced headphones.
So instead of getting a good gaming headset for your PC, getting a nice set of non-gaming headphones and pairing it up with a separate mic (if you need one) can be a great way to maximize quality for your money. We're not saying every gamer should get headphones, as some gaming headsets are good and they are convenient, but if you want the highest quality audio possible check out some of the best studio headphones for gaming:
The Behringer HPS3000 are a good example of how you can save quite a bit of money opting for non-gaming headphones instead of a headset marketed for gamers which are sometimes a little inflated price-wise because of better aesthetics and add-on features that you don't always need.
For example, 7.1 surround sound is a feature often marketed for gaming headsets, but the reality is you don't NEED this feature as a good quality stereo headset can be just as good if not better when it comes to quality and directional sound. 7.1 for headsets is not real surround sound; it's virtual surround sound.
The Behringer HPS3000 will offer similar quality sound to gaming headsets that sell for more than this, and if you need a microphone you can always get a cheap add-on mic like the Zalman Zm-Mic1 which gets the job done.
With more to invest the Audio Technica AUD ATHAD500X is another excellent value buy that'll outperform many gaming headsets (in terms of sound quality) that sell for more. These are designed for audio mixing and general listening, but it'll work just as well for some seriously great sound for gaming.
Audio Technica, along with Sennheiser, are one of the premiere brands when it comes to trusted quality for sound. It has an open-back design which releases pressure on the ears, making for a very natural lightweight feel great for those longer gaming sessions. The self-adjusting wing-style headband also adds to making this a seriously comfortable fit.
Again, if you want a mic, getting a cheap add-on like the Zalman Zm-Mic1 will get the job done nicely if you don't need the best mic around.
Both the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x and the Sennheiser HD 599 SE are top-notch high-quality studio headphones that will also deliver superb gaming audio.
Based on our research, these are two very well received models across the audiophile community and have almost cult-like followings for their excellent sound quality and comfort. It's hard to split the two though, so if you're in the market for the best gaming headphones possible then I would pick whichever you can find for cheaper.
Note that we've included the 599 SE here as our recommendation over the previously recommended Sennheiser HD 598 SR, as the 599 is almost idential to the 598 but at a much better price (and the bass has been reported to be better).