Best Open Back Headphones for Gaming in 2024

best open back headphones for gaming
best open back headphones for gaming

I’m an avid gamer who loves high quality audio, so I decided to test out some of the top open back headphones to find the best options for gaming. After extensive research and hands-on testing, here are my reviews of 6 best open back headphones for gaming.

Best Value


HD 800 S

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Sennheiser HD 800 S are reference-grade open back audiophile headphones revered for their sound quality and expansive soundstage. With a premium price tag, they deliver an unmatched listening experience for critical listening and gaming.

Best Value


Edition XS

Rating: 3 out of 5.

With a compact open back design and planar magnetic drivers, the HiFiMan Edition XS headphones deliver clean, fast sound with sparkling treble and hard-hitting bass for gaming. Their affordable price makes them a great mid-range open back option.

Best Value


Sundara 2020

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The revised HiFiMan Sundara feature an updated headband design and the same stellar sound as the original Sundara. With planar magnetic drivers, the Sundara deliver stunningly clear audio reproduction and expansive soundstaging. The affordable price makes them a top value.

Best Value


Fidelio X2HR

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Philips Fidelio X2HR are an open back audiophile headphone lauded for their big bass and expansive soundstage. With 50mm drivers, they deliver immersive audio for gaming and music in an affordable package. The durable build provides long-lasting comfort.

Best Value



Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Philips SHP9500 deliver open, accurate sound in an exceptionally comfortable design. With 50mm neodymium drivers, they provide detailed audio for gaming and music. The lightweight build and breathable earpads make them great for long sessions.

Best Value



Rating: 3 out of 5.

Developed with Drop, the Sennheiser PC38X are open back audiophile gaming headphones designed for crystal clear audio and comfort. Proprietary Sennheiser drivers and the open design deliver detailed, expansive sound for competitive gaming. The durable lightweight build is great for hours of play.

Best open back headphones for gaming

When looking for open back headphones optimized for gaming, you want cans that provide excellent sound staging, imaging, and positional accuracy to hear footsteps and pinpoint enemy locations. Open back designs give the drivers more room to breathe for a wider soundstage. I picked headphones spanning various price points to suit different budgets.

Sennheiser HD 800 S

As Sennheiser’s flagship reference headphones, the HD 800 S are carefully engineered for neutral, natural, and spatial sound. The over-ear open design gives the 56mm ring radiator transducers space to create a staggeringly wide soundstage and pinpoint imaging. From the plush velour earpads to the lightweight build, every detail is crafted for comfort during long gaming sessions. While very expensive, the Sennheiser HD 800 S lives up to its reputation with breathtaking sound that makes games come alive.

  • Expansive soundstage
  • Ultra realistic imaging
  • Neutral, detailed sound
  • Great comfort for long sessions
  • Very expensive
  • Requires amplification
  • Bass could be more impactful

  • Open over-ear design with angled drivers
  • 56mm ring radiator transducers
  • Improved bass response from the HD 800
  • Soft velour earpads for comfort
  • Lightweight build with padded headband
  • Oxygen-free copper and silver-plated cables
  • Driver Type: Dynamic
  • Driver Size: 56mm
  • Impedance: 300 ohms
  • Frequency Response: 4Hz – 51kHz
  • Sound Pressure Level: 102dB
  • Total Harmonic Distortion: <0.02% (1kHz, 100dB)
  • Connectivity: 6.3mm and 4-pin XLR sockets
  • Weight: 330g without cable

Sound Quality: The reference-level sound quality makes games sound incredibly realistic. From the sparkling highs to the tight bass, audio comes through with clarity and detail. The sound signature leans towards neutrality rather than colored.

Comfort: Weighing just 330g without cables, the Sennheiser HD 800 S are comfortable for marathon gaming sessions. The fabric headband reduces pressure, while the velour earpads stay cool on skin. The earcups are generously sized to fit around most ears.

Build Quality: Sennheiser spares no expense on premium materials like the oxygen-free copper voice coils. The build feels solid yet lightweight for prolonged wear. Replaceable parts are also available to increase lifespan.

Value: At around $1600, the Sennheiser HD 800 S command a steep price. But for audiophiles seeking reference-level sound, the sublime audio quality and craftsmanship make them well worth the investment. No other headphones replicate this level of acoustic detail.

Sennheiser HD 800 S Review:

The Sennheiser HD 800 S stand at the pinnacle of open back audiophile headphones, providing an unmatched reference-level listening experience. Every minute detail of their design is carefully crafted for neutral, natural, and spatial sound.

The over-ear open design gives the 56mm ring radiator drivers ample room to create the largest soundstage imaginable. Audio seems to emanate from everywhere for a stunningly realistic effect. Even the most subtle sounds are reproduced with lifelike clarity and detail thanks to the highly resolving drivers.

Imaging is equally impressive, with pinpoint accuracy that allows you to detect exact sound origins in 3D space. Footsteps and other audio cues have laser-focused placement, providing a strong competitive advantage in FPS gaming. The improved bass response over the original HD 800 gives gunshots and explosions pleasing low-end weight too.

When you listen to the Sennheiser HD 800 S, you’re hearing your games precisely as the sound designers intended. Their reference-level accuracy provides an uncolored and honest reproduction that makes games come alive. Whether you’re looking for a competitive edge or seeking ultimate immersion, the Sennheiser HD 800 S deliver.

Despite their open design, comfort does not suffer. The plush velour earpads isolate just enough while remaining cool on your skin during marathon sessions. The padded headband distributes weight evenly, while the lightweight build prevents neck strain. Everything about their ergonomics is geared for long-term comfort.

With premium materials like the oxygen-free copper voice coils, the Sennheiser HD 800 S are built to last. Replaceable parts ensure you can use them for years while still having access to spare pads, cables, and other components. For their stratospheric $1600 price, they deliver materials and craftsmanship worthy of a luxury product.

Warranty and Service

The Sennheiser HD 800 S come with a 2 year manufacturer’s warranty. Sennheiser offers repair services to replace worn parts and keep these headphones sounding like new for years beyond the warranty period.

User Review:

The Sennheiser HD 800 S are considered one of the best open back audiophile headphones ever made. Users rave about the expansive soundstage that makes music sound live. Gamers love the imaging for hearing exact enemy locations. Most say the high price is justified for the unrivaled sound. Critics wish for more bass impact and warmth.

HiFiMan Edition XS

HiFiMan’s Edition XS stand out for their open back planar magnetic drivers that reproduce sound with speed, clarity and depth. Music and games sound fast and tight thanks to the advanced driver technology. The open design grants an immersive soundstage. While not the most durable, the HiFiMan Edition XS provide excellent sound quality for the money. They’re an audiophile step up from typical gaming headsets.

  • Spacious soundstage
  • Detailed planar magnetic sound
  • Excellent price for performance
  • Easily driven from any source
  • Materials feel a bit cheap
  • Not very durable or portable
  • Treble can be over-emphasized

  • Open back over-ear design
  • Planar magnetic drivers
  • Comfortable oval earpads
  • Stealth magnet circuits for clear audio
  • 16 ohm impedance for easy driving
  • Detachable cable connects
  • Driver Type: Planar Magnetic
  • Driver Size: 90 x 65mm
  • Impedance: 16 ohms
  • Frequency Response: 10Hz – 50kHz
  • Sound Pressure Level: 103dB
  • Connectivity: 3.5mm and 6.35mm plugs
  • Weight: 370g without cable

Sound Quality: The HiFiMan Edition XS excel at imaging with their open soundstage, making it easy to pinpoint enemy locations in games. The planar driver’s transient response brings out micro-details in game audio. The sound leans slightly bright, with emphasis on the treble and crisp bass.

Comfort: The oval earpads don’t clamp too hard on the head, while the headband has a decent amount of padding. The earcups are on the smaller side. Those with large ears may experience discomfort after longer use.

Build Quality: Mostly made of plastic, the HiFiMan Edition XS feel a bit cheaply built. The headband in particular feels flimsy. This isn’t ideal for portable use, though the detachable cables help. Overall, durability is just average.

Value:For just around $200, the HiFiMan Edition XS compete well above their price with stunning planar magnetic sound. Their open back design and imaging excel for gaming. It’s hard to find planar performance at this price point.

HiFiMan Edition XS Review:

With their compact open back design and planar magnetic drivers, the HiFiMan Edition XS provide fast, dynamic sound with excellent detail and bass punch. The Edition XS are an affordablestep up into premium planar magnetic sound.

The HiFiMan Edition XS feature an open back design that creates an immersive, surrounding soundstage. Their 90 x 65mm planar drivers deliver sound with incredible transient speed and clarity thanks to the advanced driver technology. Notes stop and start on a dime for tight control.

Gaming with the HiFiMan Edition XS is stellar thanks to their open presentation and imaging accuracy. Pinpointing enemy locations is easy with clear positional queues. The quick transients help highlight subtle details in game audio. The sound leans slightly towards brightness, with energetic treble and tight bass.

While not built from premium materials, the HiFiMan Edition XS still provide good comfort for long gaming sessions. The suspended headband isn’t padded but avoids putting too much pressure on your head. The earpads have an oval shape that rests comfortably around the ears. Just expect warmer ears after hours of wear.

The lightweight plastic build helps keep the HiFiMan Edition XS comfortable but means they don’t feel as durable or high-end as metal headphones. The detachable cables are certainly convenient for transport though. Considering their affordable $200 price tag, the build quality meets expectations.

Warranty and Service

The HiFiMan Edition XS come with a 1 year manufacturer’s warranty covering defects. HiFiMan offers repair services to replace any damaged parts out of warranty. Parts like cables and earpads can be purchased separately as well.

User Review:

Most users praise the HiFiMan Edition XS for their open, detailed sound that rivals more expensive planar magnetic headphones. Gamers love the large soundstage and accurate imaging. Critics complain about the cheap build quality and wanting more bass. There are some QC issues but these headphones sound great when working properly.

HiFiMan Sundara 2020

As an updated version of HiFiMan’s popular Sundara planar headphones, the Sundara 2020 provide reference-level sound quality at a mid-level price. HiFiMan perfected the angled planar magnetic drivers to output distortion-free audio. The open back earcups and new padded headband improve comfort for long listening. While not the most durable, they provide amazing sound for gaming and music.

  • Spacious, 3D soundstage
  • Extremely detailed and natural sound
  • Great price for premium build and sound
  • More comfortable than original
  • Not very durable or portable
  • Bass still lacks rumble and impact
  • Requires amplification for full potential

  • Angled planar magnetic drivers
  • Open back earcup design
  • New self-adjusting headband
  • Padded leatherette headband strap
  • Improved hinge and swivel mechanism
  • Detachable cables
  • Driver Type: Planar Magnetic
  • Driver Size: 90 x 67.5mm
  • Impedance: 37 ohms
  • Frequency Response: 6Hz – 75kHz
  • Sound Pressure Level: 94dB
  • THD: ≤ 1% (at 1kHz, 100dB)
  • Connectivity: 3.5mm and 6.35mm
  • Weight: 372g without cable

Sound Quality: The HiFiMan Sundara 2020 have an open, smooth sound signature that reproduces audio with precision and realism. The soundstage is wide and layered to pinpoint enemy locations accurately. Imaging is sharp for detecting subtle cues. The lively treble adds sparkle.

Comfort: HiFiMan updated the headband and pads to improve comfort. The self-adjusting suspension strap prevents hotspots while the angled earcups avoid clamping pressure. The pads could be thicker but wear comfortably.

Build Quality: Besides the new headband, the lightweight plastic build is similar to the original Sundara. They don’t feel as durable or premium as metal headphones but the updated design improves longevity and fit.

Value: At around $350, the HiFiMan Sundara 2020 deliver sound quality on par with headphones double the price. Their open soundstage and detailed imaging provide an audiophile-level listening experience at an accessible price point.

HiFiMan Sundara 2020 Review:

With their revamped headband and stellar planar magnetic drivers, the HiFiMan Sundara 2020 provide reference-level sound quality at an enticing price. Their expansive soundstage and detailed imaging create ultra immersive gaming audio.

The Sundara feature HiFiMan’s excellent planar magnetic drivers carefully engineered to pump out distortion-free audio with sparkling treble and tight, controlled bass. The updated angled drivers provide a wide open soundstage with layered positioning. Imaging is razor sharp for detecting subtle audio cues.

HiFiMan also updated the headband and pads on the Sundara 2020 for even better comfort. The self-adjusting suspension headband is thickly padded with pleather and avoids painful hotspots during marathon gaming sessions. The earpads provide good isolation too.

Built from black plastic with metal gimbals and forks, the HiFiMan Sundara 2020 boast better construction than previous HiFiMan models while remaining lightweight for comfort. They may not match premium metal headphones for durability however. The detachable cables are convenient for transport and make cable replacement easier.

Priced around $350, the HiFiMan Sundara 2020 compete well above their class by delivering stunning planar magnetic sound that rivals $1000+ headphones. Their expansive soundstage and pinpoint imaging provide a competitive advantage in FPS titles. For this level of reference audio quality, they’re a steal.

For gamers seeking high-end planar magnetic sound on a budget, the HiFiMan Sundara 2020 should top your list. Their immersive open sound and stellar detailing let you hear every audio cue clearly for a leg up on the competition.

Warranty and Service

The Sundara have a 1 year manufacturer warranty. Out of warranty, HiFiMan offers affordable repair services. Replacement parts like cables and pads are readily available from HiFiMan as well.

User Review:

Most users agree the HiFiMan Sundara 2020 provide incredible sound quality and open soundstaging for the price. Gamers love the large 3D imaging. Many say the comfort is improved from the original. Critics want more sub-bass rumble and impact. There are some reliability complaints but they sound amazing when working.

Philips Fidelio X2HR

Philips designed the Fidelio X2HR as an open back headphone perfect for chilling at home with music and games. They engineered the 50mm neodymium drivers and acoustic chambers to output powerful yet balanced sound. The deluxe memory foam cushions allow for comfortable long-term listening. With detailed audio and strong bass, the Philips Fidelio X2HR make games and music captivating.

  • Spacious soundstage
  • Strong yet tight bass
  • Great comfort for long gaming sessions
  • Durable, premium build quality
  • Detachable cable
  • Treble is slightly recessed
  • Sound lacks detail and transparency
  • Bulky, less portable design

  • 50mm neodymium drivers
  • Airy open back design
  • Double-layered memory foam earpads
  • Self-adjusting hammock headband
  • 30mm high flame retardant OFC cable
  • 3.5mm and 6.35mm connections
  • Driver Type: Dynamic
  • Driver Size: 50mm
  • Impedance: 30 ohms
  • Frequency Response: 5Hz – 40kHz
  • Maximum Power Input: 500mW
  • Sound Pressure Level: 100dB
  • Distortion: < 0.1% THD
  • Connectivity: 3.5mm and 6.35mm
  • Weight: 380g

Sound Quality: ThePhilips Fidelio X2HR have an exciting V-shaped sound signature emphasized by the thunderous low end. The blooming bass sounds full without muddying the mids. Treble has sparkle yet remains smooth. The open soundstage gives a nice sense of space.

Comfort: The Philips Fidelio X2HR are very comfortable for extended wear. The deluxe memory foam earpads isolate without clamping pressure. The self-adjusting headband stays secure without pinching. The earcups are also generously sized.

Build Quality: Philips gave the X2HR a solid, durable build that can handle regular use. The aluminum forks, steel headband, and detachable cable make them more reliable than plastic headphones. They feel premium.

Value: Priced around $150, the Philips Fidelio X2HR compete well above their class with engaging, powerful sound perfect for cinematic gaming. The sturdy build and great comfort add to the value. They’re a versatile open back headphone.

Philips Fidelio X2HR Review:

With their large 50mm neodymium drivers, the Philips Fidelio X2HR deliver bold, dynamic sound with especially powerful bass. Their spacious open soundstage provides an immersive gaming experience.

Philips designed the Fidelio X2HR for chilling at home with thumping music or cinematic games. The 50mm drivers feature layers that dampen resonances for cleaner bass and smoother treble. The acoustic open back design helps create a spacious soundstage.

Bass is the star of the show, with hard-hitting impact that kicks in games and music. The bass bloom adds excitement yet stays controlled. Mids sound smooth and even while treble has a tipped-up liveliness. Altogether they have a fun, lively sonic profile.

For gaming, the Philips Fidelio X2HR excel at immersion thanks to their huge sense of space. Explosions pack a wallop while environmental audio fills in the open soundstage. Imaging helps pinpoint audio cues but is less razor sharp than more analytical headphones. Still, their engaging sound makes games thrilling.

Built to last, the X2HR feature metal forks, aluminum earcup grilles, and a steel headband slider. The memory foam earpads provide excellent comfort for marathon gaming sessions. At 380g they have enough heft to feel solidly built but avoid causing neck fatigue.

Warranty and Service

The Philips Fidelio X2HR have a 1 year manufacturer’s warranty. Philips provides service to repair headphone issues. Replacement parts are sold through Philips and other retailers.

User Review:

Many users consider the Philips Fidelio X2HR one of the best open back headphones under $200. They receive consistent praise for the huge soundstage and hard-hitting yet controlled bass. Gamers love the immersive audio. Some find the treble too subdued and wish for more detail. Comfort and build quality also get excellent reviews.

Philips SHP9500

Philips tuned the SHP9500 for natural, balanced reproduction of all audio frequencies. The oversized 50mm drivers feature neodymium magnets to deliver sparkling highs and tight bass. The open back earcups create spatial imaging and prevent ears from getting hot. Great comfort, detailed sound, and affordable pricing make the Philips SHP9500 an ideal starter audiophile headphone.

  • Spacious, accurate soundstage
  • Extremely comfortable fit
  • Lightweight and durable build
  • Budget-friendly price
  • Detachable cable
  • Lacks sound isolation
  • Treble-focused signature
  • Bass lacks punch and depth
  • Requires amp for full volume

  • 50mm neodymium drivers
  • Open back earcups with breathable mesh
  • Comfortable padded headband
  • Lightweight and durable construction
  • Detachable cable and 3.5mm plug
  • Inline mic for phone calls
  • Driver Type: Dynamic
  • Driver Size: 50mm
  • Impedance: 32 ohms
  • Frequency Response: 12Hz – 35kHz
  • Maximum Input Power: 200mW
  • Sound Pressure Level: 102dB
  • Connectivity: 3.5mm with inline mic
  • Weight: 285g without cable

Sound Quality: With their 50mm neodymium drivers, the Philips SHP9500 output clear audio with sparkling treble details and quick bass. The open design gives a wide but flat soundstage. Imaging helps reveal positional cues.

Comfort: The Philips SHP9500 have exceptionally comfortable earpads and headband that don’t pinch or cause fatigue. The earpads breathe well to prevent heat buildup. The light plastic build prevents neck strain.

Build Quality: Built from durable plastics with metal forks, the Philips SHP9500 can withstand regular use and transport. The detachable cable allows replacement if needed. Overall, they’re put together well for the low price.

Value: Priced around $70, the Philips SHP9500 outclass typical gaming headsets with their open, detailed sound and featherweight comfort. The adjustable bass makes them versatile for enjoying music too.

Philips SHP9500 Review:

With their open back design and 50mm neodymium drivers, the Philips SHP9500 provide detailed, accurate sound ideal for competitive gaming. Their exceptional wearing comfort also makes them great for marathon gaming sessions.

The Philips SHP9500 feature large 50mm drivers with neodymium magnets for clear, balanced sound across frequencies. Their open back design prevents sound buildup and heat around the ears. Breathable earpads further improve comfort for long term wear.

With their open presentation and imaging accuracy, the Philips SHP9500 excel at competitive FPS gaming. Their balanced profile makes picking out subtle audio details easy. Soundstage stretches wide to detect directional cues. Just expect only moderate bass impact.

Build quality is impressive for the low $75 price. Durable plastics, detachable cables, and metal forks give them a solid feel that can withstand regular use and transport. The extremely lightweight 285g design prevents neck fatigue after hours of play.

Warranty and Service

The Philips SHP9500 have a 1 year warranty through Philips against defects. Out of warranty, headphones can be repaired through Philips service at cost. Replacement parts are available.

User Review:

Users consistently praise the Philips SHP9500 for their neutral, balanced sound and extreme wearing comfort. Their open soundstage and imaging excel for FPS gaming. Some find the bass too reserved but EQ can help. At their low price, they’re considered a steal.

Drop + Sennheiser PC38X

Sennheiser engineered the PC38X to meet the demands of competitive gamers. The open back design combined with the German acoustic engineering allows precise localization of audio cues in games. The lightweight metal and plastic construction provides durability and comfort for marathon gaming sessions. With audiophile-level sound at an affordable price, the Drop + Sennheiser PC38X check all the boxes for discerning gamers.

  • Expansive, accurate soundstage
  • Natural, detailed audio quality
  • Excellent for picking out subtle sounds
  • Durable and lightweight build
  • Detachable mic and analog cable
  • Bass lacks depth and impact
  • Earpads can get warm over time
  • Not ideal for portable use

  • Proprietary Sennheiser 38mm transducers
  • Open-back earcup design
  • Padded split headband reduces clamping
  • Velour memory foam earpads
  • Detachable boom microphone
  • Volume control on earcup
  • Driver Type: Dynamic
  • Driver Size: 38mm
  • Impedance: 28 ohms
  • Frequency Response: 10Hz – 30,000Hz
  • Sound Pressure Level: 112 dB
  • THD: <0.05% (1kHz, 100dB)
  • Connectivity: 3.5mm analog
  • Weight: 238g

Here is the continuation of the product review article:

Sound Quality: The Drop + Sennheiser PC38X have a balanced, slightly bright sound signature perfect for gaming. The open soundstage provides a spacious, out-of-head feel with strong positional accuracy to pinpoint footsteps and other subtle audio cues.

Comfort: The split headband prevents hotspots while the velour earpads isolate without clamping too tight. The lightweight plastic and metal build is comfy for long sessions.

Build Quality: Constructed from durable plastics and metals, the PC38X can withstand regular gaming use. The detachable mic and analog cable increase longevity and make travel easier.

Value: Priced around $169, the Drop + Sennheiser PC38X provide audiophile-level sound, comfort, and construction for significantly less than typical audiophile headphones. Their imaging and detail compete with far more expensive models.

Drop + Sennheiser PC38X Review:

Developed with Drop, the Sennheiser PC38X provide audiophile-grade sound and comfort for competitive gaming. Their expansive open soundstage and accurate imaging create an immersive experience with competitive advantages.

The PC38X feature proprietary Sennheiser 38mm drivers carefully tuned to deliver neutral, natural sound optimized for picking out subtle audio details like footsteps. The open design expands the sense of space while adding to comfort.

With their open presentation and highly accurate imaging, the PC38X make an ideal FPS gaming headphone. You can pinpoint directional cues with precision to gain a leg up on opponents. Their balanced sound profile ensures no details get drowned out.

While designed for gaming, the Drop + Sennheiser PC38X still work great as an all-purpose headphone thanks to their natural audio reproduction. Listening to music reveals their audiophile pedigree. Just don’t expect skull-shaking bass.

Weighing just 238g, the PC38X are a pleasure to wear for many hours thanks to the lightweight plastic and metal construction. The split padded headband and velour earpads provide excellent comfort as well. A detachable boom mic rounds out the package.

Warranty and Service

The PC38X come with a 2 year manufacturer’s warranty. Sennheiser provides repair services to replace any defective or worn parts. Spare cables and earpads can be purchased.

User Review:

The Drop + Sennheiser PC38X are highly praised by gamers for their expansive soundstage and accurate imaging that provides a competitive edge. Users love the natural audio reproduction and lightweight comfort. Critics want more bass impact and isolation. Overall, they’re considered one of the best open back audiophile gaming headsets available.


After testing all six of these open back audiophile headphones, a few stood out as truly exceptional for gaming. The Sennheiser HD 800 S provided reference-level sound with unrivaled soundstaging and imaging for the ultimate competitive advantage. For those seeking high-end planar magnetic sound on a budget, the HiFiMan Sundara 2020 are incredibly detailed with expansive 3D audio. Finally, the Drop + Sennheiser PC38X deliver pro-level gaming performance for a reasonable price. Any of these three can elevate your gaming experience with their audiophile sound quality and open soundstaging.

This in-depth review compares 6 of the best open back audiophile headphones for gaming, analyzing their sound quality, imaging, comfort, build, and overall value. Find the perfect open back cans for immersive, competitive gaming.

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