6 Best Headphones for Music & Gaming in 2022

by SoundGearLab-Team.   Last Updated On July 7th, 2022.
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Finding the best headphones for enjoying your favorite music or online games is important. Sorting through so many potential options can be time-consuming, however. There are so many things to consider when it comes to what headphones will work best for your needs.

In this article, you will see a quick breakdown of the best headphones for music and gaming. These headphones can meet the needs of hardcore gamers, serious audiophiles, as well as meet some middle-ground requirements that will make them suitable for almost any use you have in mind.

Table of Contents
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Comparison of the Best Headsets for Both Music & Gaming

Best for audiophiles. Requires separate mic and an amplifierSee On Amazon
photo of the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PROBeyerdynamic
DT 1990 PRO
Incredible headphones for the price but might need a separate micSee On Amazon
photo of the Meze 99 NeoMeze
99 Neo
Not for audiophiles but excellent for gamingSee On Amazon
photo of the Sennheiser Game ONESennheiser
Game ONE
Great for gaming and music but comes at a premium priceSee On Amazon
photo of the Bose QuietComfort 35 Series 2 Gaming HeadsetBose
QuietComfort 35 Series 2 Gaming Headset
Great for both gaming and music but needs a separate micSee On Amazon
photo of the Sennheiser HD 599Sennheiser
HD 599
Another fantastic pair of open-back headphones with included on-wire micSee On Amazon
photo of the Philips Audio Fidelio X2HRPhilips
Audio Fidelio X2HR

Reviews of the Best Headphones for Both Music and Gaming

The Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro headphones are an excellent choice for serious audiophiles. They can deliver such a supreme level of audio quality for high-quality listening. However, due to the high-quality audio, you will also be paying a premium price for a set.

See On Amazon

If you consider yourself a critical listener or serious audiophile, the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro should be your first choice to consider. Not only will you notice they look like a high-quality and premium headset, but they also offer an incredible level of well-balanced sound.

When it comes to instrument and vocal reproduction, the DT 1990 Pro will offer listeners a truly extended deep bass range. The treble can be slightly sharp on some bright tracks, but the slight peak will not be enough to ruin your listening experience. These headphones are great for neutral listening and offer a spacious soundstage for those wanting a higher-class audio result.

For comfort levels, most Beyerdynamic brand headphones offer a premium design that includes accents to give them a high-end feel. The ear cups are well-padded and coated in microfiber that feels soft and soothing on your skin. The biggest downside, however, is the weight of the headphones themselves, which can make them feel a bit bulky when being worn.

You might also notice the tightness of the headphones is a bit more than most. This might not be noticeable unless your head is slightly larger than average, but the headband of this headset doesn’t extend as far as other models or brands, it may not fit well on some head shapes or sizes. For average use, they will likely be extremely comfortable and you won’t notice any issues with tightness or fatigue.

As the DT 1990 Pro headphones are an open-back design, they will lack sound isolating and noise cancellation features. This can be a huge issue for some, but not a concern for others. If you plan on using these headphones for studying in a quiet location such as indoors, in an office, or in a library you will not notice any lack of audio quality. For those wanting to wear their headphones outdoors or in loud environments, the open-back design is not the best choice.

Overall the DT 1990 Pro headphones can be extremely comfortable for long-term use. The ear cups are breathable and cool, preventing sweat buildup even after a few hours of wearing them. You’ll enjoy the high-quality design and premium materials used in construction, as well as unique features such as replaceable audio cables in case they get damaged.

What We Like
Extremely Comfortable

Extremely comfortable and cool for very long term wearing comfort

Audiophile Sound

Offer a highly dynamic and well-balanced sound profile for even critical listeners

Great Build & Look

Built well with a premium quality look and feel to the overall headset

Know Before Buying
Open Back Design

Open back design lacks sound isolation and noise cancellation features

Somewhat Heavy

The weight of the headset can cause fatigue for some users after some time

Premium Price

The premium price range makes these unreasonable for those on a budget

See On Amazon

The Meze 99 Neo headset is a great choice for someone wanting to enjoy music, podcasts, or audiobooks with above-average sound quality. They’re not suitable for serious audiophiles due to their lower audio contrast range but, for most people, they’re top tier.

See On Amazon

Meze has created their 99 Neo headset with a timeless and fashionable style. Their focus is on creating a headset for contemporary stylized users that will also fit into the related decor of a modern home or coffee shop.

The 99 Neo headphones have a very well-balanced sound, similar to the warm and natural sound you will find in their other models such as the 99 Classic. For the 99 Neo, you will notice a very high musical signature that does not lose much fidelity in the process.

When it comes to an overall sound profile, the 99 Neo can offer a decent mid-bass that does not rumble at too low of a frequency before leveling off. The treble response provides a suitable contrast between the heightened bass as well as the mid to upper treble range.

The biggest issue with the audio contrast is that the sustained elevation peaks of sound will noticeably drop around the 200-300Hz range. On this front, the 99 Neo falls a bit lower on the overall audio quality scale than the 99 Classic would, for example. For casual audio lovers and gamers, this is a very minor issue. But for serious audiophiles, this can be a turn-off.

What We Like
Looks Great

Contemporary style for lovers of sleek and modern decor

Great Sound

Great sound range for intermediate audiophiles and gamers

Great Value

Reasonable price range, perfect for those looking for their next best headset

Know Before Buying
Bad Microphone

The microphone isn’t great – those who play multiplayer games will likely want a separate mic.

See On Amazon

The Sennheiser Game One gaming headset is a perfect choice for gamers of all levels. Their sound quality is not suitable for serious audiophiles, but you’ll hear everything around you in games that may help give you an edge in immersive FPS shooters.

See On Amazon

If you’re a lover of online gaming, the Sennheiser Game One gaming headset is an outstanding option to give you an immersive audio experience. You won’t find any RGB lights on these gaming headphones, but the accent coloring can help them stand out more than a plain colored set.

You’ll notice this headset is somewhat utilitarian in its design. It’s not nearly as sleek and elegant as some other headsets on this list, but the black matte padding is great for those who wear eyeglasses (other gaming headset recommendations for glasses wearers here). The biggest downside, however, is the fact that the plastic exterior is very prone to picking up fingerprints.

A potentially controversial feature of the Sennheiser Game One gaming headset is that it is an open-back variety. This will limit the depth of sound from the headset’s lower end as it will not offer any isolation or noise cancellation. This will also introduce any background noise in your environment into your audio. For quiet gaming spaces, this is perfectly fine – but if you plan on gaming with others nearby or in loud environments, this can be very distracting. The biggest upside to an open-back design is that it helps create a much better 3D sound space.

As for the actual listening quality, you’ll notice a unique depth to the bass level. If these are compared to other gaming headsets such as the Razer or Turtle Beach brand, you may feel like they fall short with the audio clarity but luckily this is not the case. However, the emphasis on bass sound may take some getting used to if you are not familiar with open-back gaming headphones.

One of the biggest downsides if you often use a microphone during your gaming sessions is that you will need to speak up for the microphone to pick up each of your words. The easiest way to fix this issue is by using boost gain software to eliminate the need to speak too loudly and disrupt your entire house.

What We Like
Price

Budget-friendly and affordable headphones

Comfortable

Extremely comfortable to wear, even for those with glasses

Immersive Sound

Sound quality is very immersive for an open-back design

Know Before Buying
Sound Leakage

Open back design, which can be either a pro or con depending on the user

No Surround Sound

The audio quality on this pair of headphones is great but it does technically lack 7.1 surround sound

No Microphone Monitoring

These headphones do not have mic monitoring.

See On Amazon

The Bose QC 35 S2 headphones are suitable for pretty much any purpose you have in mind. However, being a Bose brand peripheral, you will be facing a premium price range simply due to the brand name and history.

See On Amazon

For many years, Bose has been known as the best brand for noise-canceling headphones. Their QuietComfort or QC line of headphones are an outstanding all-around peripheral for both gaming and enjoying your favorite music.

If you’ve had other Bose QC headphones in the past (like the famous gamer Ninja), you will notice many similarities in the QC 35 Series 2 line. One of the best features is their slimline design, giving them a light and sleek feel when being worn. You can wear these headphones all day and not experience ear fatigue from the weight.

When it comes to technology integration, the Bose QC 35’s have a dedicated Google Assistant button. If you have no use for this feature, the same button can instead be used as your noise-canceling toggle. Multiple presses of the button will allow you to switch between three different ANC strengths.

What We Like
Comfort

Excellent level of comfort even after hours of use

Great Design

Sleek and light-weight design

Well Made

Very high durability and flexible construction

Know Before Buying
Crowded Toggles

Dedicated Google Assistance button is also the ANC toggle

Price

Premium price range, not overly affordable headphones

See On Amazon

The Sennheiser HD599 can add an immersive audio feel for gamers. Unfortunately, the bass range sound quality is not suitable for the majority of average audiophiles. It’s great for podcasts and casual listening, however!

See On Amazon

The Sennheiser HD 599 headphones are an excellent choice for gamers of all levels. You’ll find they offer a very well-balanced sound profile overall, regardless of what you may be listening to. Being an open-back headset, they are not great for loud spaces. However, if you are able to use these headphones in a quiet and secluded space you will be very pleased by the audio they offer.

You can find the Sennheiser HD 599 headset in both ivory and black colorations depending on your personal preference. Both headsets feature silver branding and metal accents to help them stand out from other headsets of the brand. If you’re looking for a set of headphones that have a premium look and elegant feel, the HD 599’s are a great choice.

If you plan on wearing the headset for an extended period of time, such as for gaming sessions or enjoying a long podcast, you’ll be pleased to know they are extremely comfortable. The ear cups are well-padded and are in an oval shape which is arguably more comfortable than round cups. The headband as well as padded with thick foam to prevent both ear and scalp fatigue over a few hours of use.

These headphones have very balanced audio, though the sound quality is not as good as some of the higher-end Sennheiser offerings. If you’re a serious audiophile, you will notice the sound is lacking a bit in these headphones. Since they are an open-back design, you’ll notice some muddiness when it comes to treble and bass. However, for gaming and podcasts or audiobooks, the sound mixing is rather desirable.

The biggest downside to the Sennheiser HD 599 is its lack of portability. For keeping the headset at home with your desktop PC, this is probably a non-issue. However, if you are looking for a set of headphones you can toss in a backpack or bag and carry around, these are not it. They do not fold and can be very bulky. In addition, you’ll notice they may break or scratch easily when attempting to port them around without a specific carrying case made for their size.

What We Like
Comfort

Extremely comfortable for even multi-hour usage

Sound Quality

Sound quality is perfect for casual gamers and average audio listeners

Color Options

Can be found in both ivory and black colorations to fit into your decor

Know Before Buying
Not Portable

Very poor portability makes these better for stay-at-home usage

No Microphone

Needs a separate microphone.

See On Amazon

The Philips Fidelio X2HR is a great option for casual gamers as well as audio lovers. While they won’t give you a supremely high-quality sound, they’re still a great midrange headset that can be your stepping stone to higher quality headsets over time.

See On Amazon

For a great sound profile that has a well-balanced result for all types of audio uses, the Philips Fidelio X2HR is an amazing choice. They’re an excellent choice for neutral sound listening but can lack a bit when it comes to the low bass range. Luckily, you won’t notice much harmonic distortion even if you are specifically listening for it.

When it comes to comfort, few headphones are as comfortable to wear as these. Not only are the ear cups extremely well padded with a soft and conforming foam, but the headband is automatically adjusted to keep your entire head free of fatigue even after several hours of use. If you wear glasses, the padding will help reduce the amount of pressure on the back of your ears.

If you have had other Philips headphones, you will notice these feel a bit tighter against your head but this is more for security when movement and should not cause discomfort. They’re very secure against your head when listening and doing casual dancing at home, but are not secure enough to wear while jogging or exercising.

As these are an open-back headset, you will notice they lack any sound isolation capabilities or noise cancellation. This will allow background noise to seep into your headset so, if you game somewhere that isn’t private, we’d recommend getting a pair of closed-back headphones.

The treble range is also a bit uneven, which is also common for open-back headphones. The biggest downside to this is that some frequencies may come across as too dull while others can be too sharp. For casual listeners, this is not going to be a major issue, but for serious audiophiles looking for the highest quality sound profile, these headphones should be avoided.

What We Like
Comfort

Extremely well-padded ear cups and headband for long-term wearing comfort

Good Brand With Warranties

Manufactured by a well known worldwide brand, and backed by warranties

Good Price Range

Perfect budget-friendly headset for a variety of casual uses

Know Before Buying
Frequency Balance

Not suitable for serious audiophiles due to the lack of frequency balance

See On Amazon

How To Pick The Best Headphones for Music & Gaming

Sound Quality

Meze 99 Neo

The Meze 99 Neos are great headphones for gaming, featuring excellent sound quality, an in-line mic, and superior comfort.

You really can’t start a discussion about a pair of headphones to act as both your gaming headset and your music headphones without talking about audio quality.

The best gaming headsets that also sound great for music will feature accurate audio quality to ensure you’re hearing your enemies crouch around corners and to hear the precise treble from your favorite songs.

This aspect of a gaming headset (and headphones in general) is almost impossible to quantify which is why we’re here to give you recommendations for the best gaming headset.

Comfort

For gamers, this might be more of a concern than for one who may only be wearing their headphones for an hour or two a day. Comfort consideration includes the overall weight of the headphones as well as the headband thickness and support it provides.

In addition to the headband comfort, it’s also important to ensure the ear cups are sized correctly as well as being properly padded. Regardless of how long you might be wearing your headphones, ear cups that are too stiff or not well padded can quickly cause ear fatigue and discomfort.

Wired vs Wireless

Wireless headphones for gaming are an extremely common choice where sound quality is not as important as being able to move freely. Especially if you game at a standing desk, or happen to get up frequently for snacks and drinks.

We don’t typically recommend wireless headphones for those looking for the best audio quality. Wireless gaming headsets typically have poor sound quality because data passed wirelessly can reduce audio quality dramatically.

Going with a wireless headset means you’ll be constantly wrestling with battery life. These days, the best gaming headphones have a pretty long battery life but you do still need to remember to charge them because, if you run out of power while gaming, you’ll have to wait a bit (because the charger doesn’t power the headset typically).

If you pay a premium for a wireless gaming headset (specifically the HyperX Cloud II wireless – see our article on the best HyperX headsets), you can actually get sound quality that is about on par with other medium to high-quality wireless headphones but it still won’t compare to the recommendations we’re making in this article.

For audiophiles expecting things to sound their best, a wired gaming headset is vital. Wired headphones of all brands will give you a much more reliable and crisp audio result. However, the freedom of movement is obviously limited and you will be removing and replacing the headset on your head much more often. Wired headphones are also prone to twisting and tangling but if you know how to stop it from doing so, it won’t be a big deal.

2.4 GHz Wireless Connection vs Bluetooth

If you decide to go for a wireless gaming headset for both music and gaming, it’s vitally important to make sure you understand the difference between Bluetooth headphones and a lossless wireless gaming headset.

Bluetooth does not send audio fast enough for gaming!  You need to make sure you’re buying a gaming headset with fast enough wireless connectivity (2.4 GHz, for example). Generally, this means that the headset comes with a USB dongle to plugin to your Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X (see how to use regular headphones on XBox), or PC which will facilitate this type of faster wireless functionality.

Microphone

Microphones are not normally a consideration for headphones that will only be used for enjoying audio. However, there are some headphones that can accept external microphones without too much hassle.

For gaming headsets (even budget gaming headsets), having a microphone is almost guaranteed. However, the quality of microphones can vary greatly. If your focus is on a gaming headset with a microphone, be sure to test the microphone quality before making your decision.

Compatibility

The standard connection for wired audio headphones is normally a 3.5mm jack. Some will have 6.35mm adapters as well, which is common for studio-quality headsets. You will very rarely find USB connections for studio headphones although it’s very common in headphones for gaming.

Open Back vs Closed-Back

When it comes to open back or closed back, the benefits of each will depend on the user’s focus and goals. The biggest benefit of closed-back headphones is the addition of sound isolation and/or noise cancellation. This gives you a very immersive audio experience but can limit you from being unable to hear things around you in the real world.

Using open-back headphones for gaming allows you to remain focused on hearing your audio in the headset, while also being able to switch your focus to sounds and voices in the space around you. The biggest downside, however, is that you will lack some of the depth of sound in the lower end. Another issue with open-back headphones is they let in a lot of background noise. If you’re gaming somewhere that is fairly loud, this background noise is going to be very apparent to you.

In headphones for gaming, a USB connection is extremely common. You will also find a large number of gaming headsets that have a 3.5mm jack. Between these two connectors, gaming headsets are compatible with PCs, consoles, tablets, and more.

Do I Need An Amplifier? Sensitivity & Impedance Explained

Most headphones are rated from 8 to 600 ohms of impedance, with a range of 32 or 35 becoming more and more popular. Audio impedance, however, normally stays around 4 or fewer ohms unless you’re looking at specialized amplifiers in which case the ohms can reach 120 or higher. Lower impedance-rated headphones before 50 are great for portable device usage, but higher ohms of 50 or more will require amplification to give their best performance.

Most headphone models are only found in a single impedance rating. However, the Beyerdynamic brand is currently the only major commercial producer of multiple versions of the same model. The reason for this redundancy is that each version can carry a different impedance to suit the unique needs of specific users.

Do I Need To Get An External Mic? What Are The Options?

Having an external mic will depend on your intended usage for the headset you have chosen. For online gamers, having some way to communicate through voice chat can be a vital part of your gaming experience, while for others this is not something they are concerned about. Most gaming headsets will have a built-in microphone, so no external mic considerations will be needed.

Headsets that are more focused on audiophiles or studio use will likely be lacking a built-in microphone. In this case, you will need to consider an external microphone such as an in-line mic, a desktop mic, or an entirely separate studio microphone option.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I get a high-quality gaming headset or a traditional pair of headphones for gaming & music?

A gaming headset will typically come with a good to great microphone built into it, which will be lacking in a pair of headphones, but the audio quality in these gaming headsets typically will be much worse. Some audiophiles may prefer using high-quality music headphones to get the best possible audio for their gaming and supplement it with a separate microphone. The choice comes down to whether you prefer higher-quality audio or a more convenient gaming experience.

Do I need 7.1 surround sound for gaming?

No, you do not need surround sound for gaming. While it can be nice to have surround sound and may give you an edge in fighting or first-person shooter games, this will not impact your ability to enjoy other kinds of games as well as music & movies. It’s also worth pointing out that if you use a pair of excellent headphones with dynamic full-range audio, you likely won’t notice the 7.1 surround sound missing.

Summary

From casual to professional gaming, to serious audiophiles, finding the right headphones for playing games and good music quality is important.

If you really want to go after the best sound, we also have an article here for the best audiophile headphones for gaming.