If you’re looking to chill in a single-player game or improve your listening experience, you’ll want a good set of headphones. But finding the best gaming headphones without a mic may be a little daunting if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Thankfully, we’ve spent quite a few hours (read: far too many) gaming and playing with headphones. So if you want some killer options, read on to find out what’s what.
Also of Interest: Best High-End Gaming Headsets
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1. Ultrasone Performance 880 HeadphonesPros:
- Excellent soundstage
- Music has the space needed to breathe
- As premium as they come
- Takes a few seconds to adapt to the fit
- Adequate mobile adaptor
If you’re in need of gaming headphones without a mic that offers up spacious sound, the Ultrasone Performance 880 Headphones are the way to go.
When I first reviewed the Performace 880, I was blown away by how Ultrasone had crafted a set of headphones capable of replicating the positives of an open-back design in a closed-back environment. That shouldn’t be possible, yet the Performace 880 feels spacious, and audio has the space to breathe without feeling condensed.
Sounds like drum snares or the low growl of a bullet scraping a surface feel more pronounced. This is thanks in part to Ultrasone’s frankly witchcrafty S-Logic Plus technology, which is able to locate, isolate, and amplify individual sounds. It’s not the kind of tech you can write about. You really do need to try these bad boys out for yourself to get an idea of just how crisp the headphones are.
It’s also worth noting the Performace 880 kills it in regards to bass. In gaming, you don’t want ear-splitting bass as it’ll offset other areas of in-game audio. Imagine a bassline booming louder than footsteps or vocals. You don’t want that. No one does. Thankfully, the Performace 880 offers up a noticeable hum without the overbearing boom.
Granted, the Performace 880 is a pricey option. That said, if it’s cutting-edge tech you’re after, and a set of headphones you won’t need to be replacing any time soon, this the way to go.
2. Audeze Penrose / Audeze Penrose X – PS5, PS5 / Xbox One, Xbox Series X|SPros:
- Audio so good you need to hear it to believe
- Detachable mic
- Drivers are on another level
- Works on console and mobile simultaniously
- Occasional clicking noise
- AUX cable is rubbish
The Audeze Penrose has become my headphones of choice when it comes to gaming. It’s all thanks to Audeze’s killer planar magnetic drivers, which deliver not only clean audio but also spatial awareness unlike anything I’ve ever used.
Being able to hear the direction of bullets, or the footsteps of an enemy, gives you an advantage, sure, but it’s the immersion that matters. If you haven’t played Resident Evil Village with these headphones, you’re missing out. It’s the most atmospheric experience available right now (and not for the faint of heart).
There is an issue with the drivers very occasionally making a clicking sound, but it’s not often enough to be a problem. And given the sheer under the hood power these headphones offer, the extra audio clarity is worth the minor annoyance.
Just don’t connect the Penrose via the AUX cable. The headphones still need to be powered on, and there’s a noticeable drop in the quality if you go wired. Keep them wireless if you want the full, hyper-realistic experience.
3. SENNHEISER HD 599Pros:
- Neutral sound (which is very good)
- Killer style
- Bass is a little uneven
- Expect sound leakage at higher volumes
- Won't block out all sounds
If you want a set of headphones with a brilliant neutral sound, the frontrunner has to be the Sennheiser HD 599.
A neutral sound profile basically means it strikes gold across multiple elements (bass, frequency response, and so on). For gaming, you want a set of headphones that are going to make everything sing. You don’t want one aspect of the audio overpowering another. Imagine trying to get immersed in an RPG and you can hear a cow mooing over the NPC dialogue. It’d be horrendous.
This is a lightweight set of headphones, too. Once they’re on, you’ll forget they’re there, which is – again – exactly what you want for long gaming sessions.
Do note, these are an open-back set of headphones, meaning you’ll still be able to hear outside sounds. Open-backs will make audio sound better, of course, but that’s at the cost of unwanted outside sounds. If you’re a closed-back listener, go with the Sennheiser HD 569 instead.
4. Razer BlackShark V2 Gaming Headset – PS4, PS5, PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, MobilePros:
- High-end tech, lower price
- THX Spatial Audio on PC is mind-blowing
- Includes a DAC to bypass generic audio ports
- THX only works on PC
- DAC means you'll need to be plugged into the console
- Larger volume button is somewhat ugly
The Razer BlackShark V2 Gaming Headset is another set of high-quality headphones with a detachable mic.
What separates the BlackShark V2 from other headphones is the inclusion of a USB DAC. This DAC plugs directly into the console, meaning audio bypasses the generic controller port, resulting in a much deeper level of clarity and spatial awareness.
Although you will have to suffer having a cable running from the console to the headset, if you’re after the best possible audio, this is the way to do it. Controller audio ports aren’t the best, so having a dedicated DAC to relay audio solves that issue.
It’s also worth noting Razer knows comfort. The BlackShark comes with Razer’s beloved cooling gel-infused cushions, which are designed to keep ears cooler over long gaming sessions. Another point to note, the THX Spatial Audio only works on 64-bit Windows PCs. You’ll still get killer audio on consoles, of course, but spatial audio or 3D audio is handled via the console or specifically compatible games.
Finally, one of the best things about the BlackShark V2 is the price. Headphones for gaming can get into eye-watering price territories, but the BlackShark V2 comes in with a sub $100 price tag. It’s affordable high-end tech with the comfort to match. You really can’t get any fairer than that.
5. Puro Sound Labs: PuroPro Hybrid ANC Limiting Headphones – PCPros:
- Brilliant soundstage
- 30 hours per charge
- ANC is excellent
- Sound layers feel distinct
- Wireless means they'll only work on PC
- Bass could be richer
- Not USB-C
The PuroPro has become my go-to headphones for pretty much everything.
Now, don’t panic at the mention of volume-limiting. The PuroPro have been designed with listeners in mind. They are plenty loud and they won’t damage your hearing in the process. That’s a win/win in my book.
Puro’s goal is simple, to protect both kids’ and adults’ hearing without skimping on quality. These are still killer headphones with an excellent soundstage, it’s just they won’t leave you partially deaf (which is completely avoidable by the way).
The PuroPro are ridiculously comfortable, too. They feel light and sit on the ear perfectly. I’m also a huge fan of the button placement on the right ear cup. It’s one of the few gaming headphones without a mic you can navigate easily by just putting your right hand to the cup. The buttons feel as though they’ve been naturally placed so your fingers know where to land.
You may not have heard of Puro or the PuroPro, but don’t let the lack of name power put you off. These are the real deal and I can’t recommend them enough.
6. HyperX Cloud MIX – PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC, Mobile, SwitchPros:
- Excellent hi-res audio
- Pure comfort
- Wireless on PC and mobile
- Darn near indestructible
- Great choice for both music and gaming
- Can't connect to consoles wirelessly
- Phone call mic isn't the best
For the longest time, the HyperX Cloud MIX was my go-to headset of choice for gaming and my go-to headphones for music. Only recently being surpassed by the Audeze Penrose.
The Cloud MIX is hi-res certified, which pretty much means it can recreate sound in the most realistic way. It works wirelessly on mobile and PC and wired for console gaming. If you plan on using it for both gaming and for music, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how well the Cloud MIX excels in both areas. And yes, the mic is detachable.
Two areas where the Cloud MIX is yet to be beaten in my estimation are comfort and durability.
As I mentioned, I used my Cloud MIX for ages, and even years on from when I got it, the metal frame, ear pads, and cups are all still in pristine condition. I’ve mangled the main connector cable a little bit, but that’s my own fault rather than HyperX’s.
HyperX does run a very reasonable parts replacement service as well, should you ever want to switch something out.
On the comfort side of things, it’s the memory foam earpads that make wearing the Cloud MIX such a joy to wear. Your ears will eventually get hot, as with most headphones or headsets, but I never felt any discomfort while wearing them. And I say that as someone with a lot of ear piecerings who normally struggles to find a set of headphones that fit snuggly.
Sure, the Cloud MIX may be considered old by some, but if it’s killer tech, comfort, and excellent sound you’re after, look no further than the HyperX Cloud MIX.
7. Wyze Noise-Cancelling Headphones – PC, MobilePros:
- Great value, low cost
- Rich bass
- Super comfortable
- Wireless means best used on PC, mobile
- ANC is okay
- Not great for phone calls
Wyze is on the rise thanks to its line of high-quality headphones at a lower price point.
The Wyze Noise-Cancelling Headphones boast a though roughly rich bass. If you plan on using the headphones for music as well as gaming, the bass here is a key selling point.
Although these headphones are primarily intended for mobile and PC via Bluetooth, they can be used wired, though I haven’t been able to verify how well they work. So for now, let’s keep these as a PC and mobile set of headphones.
Along with what is a sexy design, the Wyze headphones also checks memory foam and elongated earcups for the ultimate in comfort. You’ve also got a mobile app for fine-tuning the equalizer to your own personal preference.
There’s also a really smart function whereby if you take your headphones off to talk, the music will pause itself until you put them back on. Neat!
Wired VS Wireless - How to Choose
Although technically wired headphones offer a more precise listening experience, wireless listening isn't that far behind. If you're an audio purist, though, I'd recommend going wired for the best overall in terms of quality.
But if you're more interested in comfort and not being chained to a controller or mobile device, wireless is the way to go.
It is worth keeping in mind with wireless headphones your options are more limited. That's because the majority of Bluetooth headphones won't work on PlayStation or Xbox consoles thanks to how the consoles handle Bluetooth.
If you grab a wireless gaming headset capable of high-end audio, chances are it'll come with a special USB adaptor you can plug into the console, or in some cases a dedicated digital-to-analog converter (DAC).
If you're playing on PC, wireless headphones are less restrictive. But if you're a console gamer, chances are the wireless headphones you're looking at won't work unless they're specifically designed for console use.
Wired headphones or headsets, thankfully, work by plugging them directly into the headphones jack (normally located on the controller), so you don't need to worry too much on that front.
Which is better? It all comes down to personal preference. Not having a cable running from the controller to the headset is always going to be more comfortable, but given the lack of options, going wired is a way to save yourself a headache if you're not sure what you're doing.
Closed-back or Open-Back - Which Is Right for You?
Okay. If you've reached this far you may be wondering what the difference between open-back and closed-back headphones is.
Without dumping a load of tech-speak on you, the short version is open-back offers the most authentic experience while closed-backs boasts minimal sound leakage and superior active noise cancellation (ANC).
Open-back headphones work by allowing air into the earcup. The result is an experience closer to listening to a high-quality speaker, only condensed to each ear.
The downside of open-backs, however, is they don't do a great job of blocking out unwanted sounds. If you're alone in a room, they're the better choice. But if you've got kids or want to use them outdoors, they most likely won't be able to drown out other sounds.
Closed-backs on the other hand, pump audio straight into the ear. There's very little air mixing with the soundwaves, which is why you want to get a good set of closed-back headphones that can handle different layers and blend them together in a way that each element can be heard clearly.
With closed-backs, you've also got a higher chance of blocking out unwanted sounds thanks to how good the company's ANC tech is.
Personally, and this is purely how I feel, I'll always go with closed-back over open-back. The simple reason is when I work or game, I want to block out everything so I can focus on what I'm doing.
The choice all comes down to what you want the headphones for and what your surrounding ambiance is like. If yours is as noisy as mine, I'd go with closed-backs. If you don't have a ton of noise and want to be able to hear the doorbell or the like, and you want that more realistic sound, open-backs are right for you.
Best Headphones for Gaming AND Music?
Headphones, broadly speaking, aren't ideal for gaming. That's because gaming audio works differently from music. Whereas music needs to push a handful of layers at once and have each of them sound clear, gaming audio can have fewer layers or even more depending on what the player's doing.
Headphones will offer a brilliant experience, of course, but if you're after the best for gaming, a headset with a removable mic is a better alternative to an outright pair of headphones.
And if you're like me, you'll want a set of headphones that can do both gaming AND music.
For this, I'd recommend going with the HyperX Cloud MIX I reviewed above. Although the Audeze Penrose is the best headset for gaming, it falls somewhat flat with music. The Cloud MIX, however, is slightly lesser in the gaming department (but still brilliant) but is vastly superior when it comes to music thanks in part to it being hi-res certified.
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