Thoughts: The BEST Gaming Headphone for All Time?

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Pairing up a gamer with the right headphone is a bit like playing matchmaker! In this video, linked at the end, I boil down over 10 years of community advice into 3 Personality types: • Competitive • Entertainment • Immersion I share a few keywords to look for, as well as some software and settings suggestions. I think everyone has a little bit of each type in them, but which type is dominant for you? Thanks to the sponsor of this video: DekoniAudio.com Dekoni is a headphone accessories company, unique for providing frequency response graphs on their website so you know what effect their various pad options will have. Thanks also to Drop for giving me permission to share here. I hope it helps everyone! The video:
https://youtu.be/42SRsSlIj-c

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(Edited)
thumb_upTurtlee, Evshrug, and 17 others
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dcha12
411
Feb 3, 2021
I've only ever owned one gaming headphone (the Sennheiser GSP 300), and this is before I got into audio. For my purposes back then, it worked. Nowadays, since I have camera that doubles as a mic, plus a boom mic, I don't really need the gaming headset. I just use my audio gear. The best headphone hands-down for gaming is the Raal Requisite SR1a. No contest. Actual semblance of soundstage that exists outside the head and outstanding positional cues.
Whitedragem
173
Oct 22, 2020
Sadly I don’t watch internet videos, and am a ‘read mountains of text’ kinda person. Probably why I seem to write molehills of of text when saying anything. In the nineties when the net was new, I would write ‘small fitting comments’ to the targeted audience. Then in 2005 when the net widened and ‘little johnnys’ (who know everything and aren’t afraid to argue vehemently how right they are) started to join in (everyone had the net on their $200 smartphones ‘all of a sudden’) short concise viewpoints were easily destroyed by trolls’ cut n paste arguments, that now I feel foolish to say anything without backing up why it is my opinion/personal background etc. As gaming audio is my forte, and I have A LOT to say on this topic, I simply will not, right here, write volumes... So in a nutshell, some brief contribution.. (saves me starting a new post for audio for the PS5) I have had so many flagship soundcards (since before PCs had sound), and tested so many audio ‘technologies’, especially with regards to gaming, that I have a viewpoint to share, possibly with some insights to help others. Without doubt the best gaming audio we had was Aureals A3D 2.0 sound engine. Wtih Microsoft having an Nvidia chipset in the first Xbox that could encode dolby digital from games, on the fly, Microsoft had a reason to bury PC sound standards and did so with Vista. (It was a very anticonsumer move) PC gaming sound never bounced back, and from that point it was game developer dependant. (yay for games like Hunt Showdown) So consoles had the best sound hardware, being the Playstation Vita at first, with the Playstation VR being the second product to do so. (echo effects offered by first playstation/nintendo handhelds weren’t anything like the hardware 3D sound first given in consoles with the PS Vita)The PS5 will have 4x the sound processing that the PSVR offered, and is equivalent to the entire PS4 CPU in number crunching power... (this is going to be a game changer!) Every developer finally writing games to make use of this sort of tech WILL BE AMAZING. That being said I have been using various PC sound cards that allow Dolby Headphone etc (and owned a lot of preamps/processors that offer Dolby Headphone),.. which over the last twenty years has allowed me to test a lot of headphones with reference quality hardware. Easily the best bang for buck headphones for ‘gamers’ (who somehow think that hifi headphones aren’t compatible with their hobby)(arguably sometimes true with regards to easily adding a microphone), would be the AKG ADG1X headphones (open backed variants). Vs some tesla beyerdynamics I used, the AKGs (basically a 990 driver in an angled enclosure that will take the 2000 series drivers as a mod), the AKGs flogged the Beyers. Beyers had great soundstage, but a subtle bass exaggeration made walking through water in the Witcher 3 sound odd. The AKGs feel like they had a slow/low bass that made playing Battlefield 1 for hours and hours really appreciatable. With killer imaging accuracy and major comfort; these are my cheapest headphones in the house I actually listen to and have replaced many much more expensive products as ‘great gaming’ headphones. I sold the Beyer open backs to get a planar replacement (thinking an Audeze LCD2(c?) might give an improvement, but open back planars do not easily give a great front/back soundscape. Of course anyone who doesn’t have a hardware surround=>headphones encoder will probably end up buying some gaming headset that comes with its’ own processing; but I have learned to seperate the two products, even finding old ‘outdated’ turtle beach dolby headphone encoder boxes in clearance bins at electrical retailers, and giving them as gifts to other gamers so they can use their EXISTING HEADPHONES.. The total package does have to be considered. The aforementioned Hunt Showdown is a game that has a binaural mixing engine and is perfect for anyone with well resolving stereo cans. Generally open backs have much wider/better nuanced soundstages than closed, and larger driver designs over small,.. majority of gamers I know consider the AKG ADG1X as the ultimate flagship to buy. It is ‘end game’ enough.. (I find it lethargic for music, but unbeatable for image placement needed for competitive first person shooters). Has a great microphone as well. The Audeze Mobius are very nice for both music and gaming if a person has never heard better. Sadly they will never sound better than their entry tier headphone DAC/amp offers. The Waves NX technology that tracks the head 1000 times every second is awesome, and what they can do, especially for a ‘closed back can’ is exceptional, but those of us with better electrical chains would be ‘unhappy with the sound’. (nice feature of this product is mapping headphone leaning to ingame leaning ‘around corners’, or two other in game buttons) As an example of audio chain affecting sound quality, I reference my present PS5 solution: The PS5 has dropped TOSLINK (fibre optic) audio output using the S/P Diff (sony/philips method for digital transportation of audio, as used for decades), and will only allow HDMI audio into HiFi systems. This is FAR FROM IDEAL, and ignoring the jitter and issues with MAJORITY of surround receivers (HDMI packs digital audio to match video and is not ideal at all as an audio transport, except for ‘ease of use’), the best option the PS5 will offer will be headphone output jacks on the bottom of the controller. So most people will listen to a wireless codec decoded by a budget DAC built into a gaming controller, and then will drive ‘sensitive’ headphones from the limited power that the controller offers from its ‘super budget’ amplifier. (I would love to be proven wrong by Sony revealing they have revamped the controller amp module, like the PS4 refresh controller gave, but I won’t hold my breath on this one).. so, using parts around the house I built: THE ULTIMATE PS5 audio output (?!) (on a budget, using parts that an audiofool might have lying around) presently testing on a PS4 (PS5 supported audio hardware includes what worked on PS4, and without them reversing the channels again, or other ‘lock out’ methods that Sony HAS USED, should work seamlessly on a PS5) Source: Playstation Console USB output Step: Cambridge Audio DAC MAGIC (used to reclock the USB signal and convert to COAX/fibre output) Step: Chord Hugo (used as a DAC, insert your best ‘gathering dust’/spare kit here) Step: Marantz Amplifier (used for taking a high quality analogue signal and amplifying stereo headphones)
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then: long headphones extension cables (join a few together if you have to) into best Open Back headphones lying around... My headphones cable might have a crystaline copper structure, and arguably using a bunch of ‘lesser’ connecting cables must lessen the sound (at least theorhetically), but Ghosts of Tsushima and Persona (/any game tested) sounds so wonderfully richer and vastly better than running lossless 8channel into a well calibrated controlled listening environment, that I would only chose surround via the amp for games where the audio cues give an advantage/when I am sharing with family.. on the PS4 the better audio field might be 7.1, but come PS5 and the developers of future games actually using the dedicated PS5 sound engine (best on market by a LONGSHOT), I will be headphones mostly.. Once the PS5 lands and ‘headphone use’ is the ultimate target/pinnacle, a great 2 channel setup will work wonders.. and be a project worthwhile to consider. Of course the easiest way to do this, without all the cables, would be something like the Drop Panda headphones (after break in their soundfield should be acceptable, especially after the PS5 configs itself to be used with them. The Panda have an inline amp module that would make using them off the controllers headphone output to be ‘highly usable’/quite nice) The stack I have put together here features a few things that are eaily replaceable. Use whatever DAC you have lying around... Yours might feature nice USB inputs, but the trick will be USB1/driverless USB mode. The DAC MAGIC I am using allows holding down a button when turning it on to change if it is USB 2 or USB1. (the chord hugo also has usb 1 and usb2 inputs, but a chord mojo might not!) I use this setup as it allows me to use most of my best spare audio cables and bits.. fed from a flagship marantz amp the electrical cost probably isn’t worth all the trouble,.. but to be fair, it is summit-fi sound at ‘beer prices’. photo: dark theatre room required high speed lens, my apologies for showing little detail, just that a stack fed from USB might just ‘do the trick’..
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Evshrug
2206
Oct 22, 2020
Amazing read, quite the history lesson! I had heard the PS3 had great audio, but I didn’t know the Vita had anything special in that arena. I also knew MS buried OpenAL with the release of Vista, but never made a connection with the Xbox. Fun trivia: OpenAL continued to have support in some games, but you had to enable it by editing an .ini file – the last game that I heard you could do this in was Borderlands 2. I would love to know how to enable the “head leaning” option, does it work well or does it just pop the player character in/out of the leaning stance? I feel I should point out that the ADG1x is an Audio Technica product, not AKG. I’m also confused about the part where you typed it basically was a 990 driver able to take 2000 series drivers as a mod... do you mean the Beyer DT 990 driver, able to take Denon D2000 drivers? Or maybe you mean Audio Technica ATH-AD900 headphone/drivers/enclosure with a boom mic, able to take Audio Technica ATH-AD2000 drivers?
OMan
108
Oct 11, 2020
Sennheiser 373D for me.   They sound good, the mic does a good job to block background noise, the lift up design for the mic is great, very comfortable for long periods of wearing.   The question "The BEST Gaming Headphone for All Time?" is like the question which tyres are the best for your 4WD! It depends on the main intended usage, the main purpose, and your priorities. You drive on sealed roads for 95% of the time, sand the other 4%, and 1% on mud or rocks. What is important  for you to be able to do the 1%, or have an excellent ride for the other 99% of the time.   I do 80% work, 10% pure music listening (and reading), and 10% (or less) gaming \ movies watching.   For work I spend a lot of time in videoconferences and  teleconferences, also I listen to music when working. I like first person shooting games like CoD, Doom, etc.  So for my needs, these headphones are great but far from perfect. I tried my HD6xx with a really good sticky in Mic, but the mic is not noise cancelling, so not so good. I tried one of Yetti, Rode, Blue mics. Great mics but no noise cancelling.   Other random comments: 1.    Volume is not high enough when you want to crank up the volume for that special song. 2.    I still enjoy the other better sound headphone for poor music (HD6xx, Meze99, ARH1) 3.    For games you need good bass and no much else really. The HD373D have the 7.1 feature, but I don’t think it adds much to the game experience. 4.    If it is good for movies, it is good for gaming. The HD373D are good for movies. 5.    Wireless would be perfect. The long cable is a pain sometimes. 6.    I have not found a great wireless headphones. I have Logitec G933, they are Ok, but I prefer the HD373 by far. I have tried the Sony and Bose and again they are Ok, but I still prefer the HD373. 7.    I love the open back design. I want to know what is happening around me. No need for sound cancelling.  Different story for the Mic. I need noise cancelling \ blocking for the mic. 8.    The lift up mic design is awesome. It helps to make sure the mic is off, so you don’t get caught saying your thoughts loudly.   Thank for posting this question. It is really a relevant question for me and most people that I know.
OMan
108
Jan 13, 2021
No, it is not. RTX Voice is noise cancelling layer using AI by NVidia. It uses the Video card GPU and it be used with different programs like Teams and Zoom. I am mainly interested in the Microphone noise cancelling, since I working from home and I have a lot of Teams meetings and I have a very noisy neighbors!
Evshrug
2206
Jan 13, 2021
Same! Would be an absolute crying shame if I was on an international call and suddenly they started hearing the neighbors trying to make more neighbors...
crackedcarrot
0
Oct 9, 2020
Easy. Best Binaurals made. Shure SRH 1840 Left to Left. Right to Right. Versatile to any sound processing engines/drivers out there in digital audio
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Evshrug
2206
Oct 10, 2020
What does left to left and right to right mean?
crackedcarrot
0
Oct 11, 2020
Accuracy of input to output. Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro are binaurals, Audio Technica m50x is a good reference for flat balanced sound binaurals, Oneodio A50 is the cheapest that I know of
SpeleoFool
586
Oct 7, 2020
I much prefer combining dedicated headphones with a separate mic over integrated headsets. Mostly it seems that headsets compromise one or both halves of the audio equation. I'll have to watch your video to see the distinction you make between "immersion" and "entertainment" headsets; I tend to lump those ideas into the same category. But I do agree that competitive gaming has distinct needs that often calls for distinct hardware. As a general rule, I've found that neutrally-tuned professional / studio headphones tend to work best for competitive play. Those tend to support precise imaging and good separation of sound elements that leave the soundscape uncluttered while providing the necessary audio cues to hear what is happening and where. Larger soundstage can assist with discerning distance. Meanwhile, for immersion it's better to have a cohesive, cinematic, exciting sound. You want plenty of bass, punchy explosions, engaging score, forward dialogue, etc. Cost-no-object, the Sennheiser HD800S is my favorite headphone for gaming, period, because it manages to excel at both competitive and immersive needs. The large stage does a good job of feeding separation, imaging and conveying a sense of direction and distance, while close action is still exciting and immersive without overwhelming distant sounds. It's a picky headphone for music, but it checks every box for gaming. Further down the scale, I love the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro for competitive play, for reasons described above, and I converted a Focal Elegia into a gaming headset with a modmic. I use my Elegia for everyday immersive gaming--or at least I did until my wife stole it for Assassin's Creed, lol. I am currently using an LCD-GX, which sounds great out of an XBox controller. I'd still grab the 1990 for hardcore competitive play, but both the Focal and Audeze cans do a fine job for everyday play. Personal background: I play a huge number and variety of games on XBox and PC, spanning all genre types. I am currently closing in on 1000 games with 100% of achievements unlocked. PVP is not my favorite, though I have done it (e.g., Titanfall, Destiny, etc.). My favorite games tend to be 3D, open world adventure games where good 3D sound is important, but absolute precision and timing needs are less severe than in competitive gaming.
Evshrug
2206
Oct 7, 2020
We think alike! I definitely addressed the headphone+ mic option in the video, and I think you’ll be nodding your head in agreement at least two or three times in the video 😁
Evshrug
2206
Oct 6, 2020
@wumbostickman2000 I got an email saying Drop is releasing a new gaming headset tomorrow 🤔 I think 2pm EST?
jaxtrauma
1404
Sep 29, 2020
Congrats on moving up in the world, got a cool sponsor and everything ;-)
Evshrug
2206
Oct 6, 2020
Actually having trouble finding it again 😅 Link? I’m trying to do a new video about amps... might come out tomorrow at this rate.
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jaxtrauma
1404
Oct 6, 2020
Thanks again, I'll be looking for it, your video I mean ;-) https://drop.com/talk/55565/yall-have-to-hear-this-album?discussion=true
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jaxtrauma
1404
Sep 29, 2020
I thought the razer kraken sounded pretty good
Evshrug
2206
Sep 30, 2020
In the spirit of helping others, would you describe the Kraken as a “Competitive,” “Entertaining,” or “Immersive” headphone?
jaxtrauma
1404
Sep 30, 2020
I'd have to go with "Entertaining". Razer seems to be taking E-Sports more seriously than ever. They have better sets for competition and immersion, imo ;-)
I was expecting a concise list of how you rate the your current headphones / headsets based on categories. I think a beginning gamer / audiophile would love a spreadsheet that says information such as: price, soundstage, mic quality, fit and dimensions, etc.
The focus wont be on spreadsheets, as I cant include enough info in a spreadsheet. I have the gaming headset portion broken down into 6 categories (use to be just 3) and its more list form of good options for different people and then ill have spreadsheets also included for the people who prefer that. What to pick isn't as important as why to pick it, imo.
Evshrug
2206
Oct 1, 2020
Still, by naming examples, I think you'll be able to do something that I think I shouldn't right now (see my earlier guide post for why, if curious). I'm rooting for you! And if I can be any help with info, or you just feel a case of the writer's block, maybe we can collaborate? Rising tide raises all ships!
Evshrug
2206
Sep 29, 2020
Also, which thumbnail do you like better?
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or vertical?
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markjohnsonii
34
Oct 7, 2020
Neither of them are very appealing. Why do you have the markers in the horizontal one?
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Evshrug
2206
Oct 7, 2020
Because I’ve been drawing illustrations in most of my videos. Thumbnails are the last thing I think of, and by then I’m hurrying just to publish. Thanks for the feedback though.