When picking the best headphones for gaming, we’re looking out for a couple of key factors. That starts with sound quality to rival the best gaming headsets—obviously, that’s key. Then headphones also need the ability to move beyond your home setup, accompany you on your commute, or keep you in the zone at the gym. The following gives a smooth transition, as the majority of these headphones can connect to your PC and other devices, either via Bluetooth or a 3.5mm cable.
While premium headphones tend to be comfier than your typical gaming headset, they do lack the features you’d find in a headset for gaming. Their microphones (if they have one) aren’t on par with their gaming counterparts since most are designed for taking phone calls and little else—hence the name. But if you already have one of the best microphones for gaming, then all you have to worry about is comfort, portability, and sound quality.
Best headphones for gaming
The Nuraphone is a one-of-a-kind pair of headphones that offers parallel drivers for each ear. The in-ear drivers handle the upper-frequency, and the over-ear drivers handle the low-tones and bass. In essence, it’s like having a pair of speakers set for each ear.
The Nuraphones have already gone through a handful of significant updates since their successful Kickstarter launch three years ago. Most notably, the introduction of active noise cancellation (ANC) software update and a gaming microphone attachment ($50), in an attempt to rival even the most premium gaming headsets.
These pro-grade cans feature large 50mm drivers and have a wide frequency response of 5Hz to 40kHz that deliver excellent music and, more importantly, gaming. Our favorite thing about the M-200 is the light, compact design. At only 290 grams, it’s the right candidate for commute, work, and play.
My only gripes are that the headset might fit a little too tight for those with big noggings (like myself) and the surprising lack of lightning/USB-C adaptor or cable for mobile devices. V-Moda sells a lightning cable for $100, which is pricey considering the headset costs $350.
The best in-ear headphones for gaming in 2021
Chances are, you’re not always playing games. For most of us, gaming is a hobby rather than a lifestyle. The rest of our time is devoted to commuting, working, going to the gym, cooking, cleaning—activities that are undeniably enhanced while wearing the best in-ear headphones for gaming, the Jabra Elite Active 75t. Instead of doubling down on audio engineering and extraneous features, the Jabra Elite Active 75t prioritizes two things: longevity and comfort.
That’s not to say the sound quality is bad, per se. These buds brandish a frequency response range of 20-20kHz, rivaling our crowd of much larger best wireless gaming headsets. Exclusive Bluetooth connectivity makes them a tough sell for gaming, but with the proper adapters in tow, you won’t have a problem setting them up. Everything about the Jabra Elite Active 75t screams ease of use, including the customizable EQ found in the optional Jabra Sound+ app.
The main reason we fell in love with the Powerbeats Pro is that they easily pair with just about anything. These fitness earbuds work well when paired with a gaming laptop, cell phone, tablet, basically anything. The transition from commute or workout to gameplay is nearly seamless, which isn’t always the case when setting up Bluetooth headphones.
The audio is well-balanced and not as bass-heavy as other Beats headphones. Though they lack the oomph in the explosions department in games like Call of Duty: Warzone, it helps make out little things like character dialogue without messing with any EQ settings.
The only downside is the charging case is bulky and doesn’t fit comfortably in any pocket, so it ends up living in a bag or a permanent fixture on a desk.
If you’re like most people, your only experience with in-ear headphones is frantically looking for the pair that came with your smartphone inside some junk drawer in an awful tangled mess when the battery on your wireless headset dies. We’ve all been there.
The Astro A03 is a stylish pair of in-ear monitors that sound good and cost only $50. A great alternative for folks who find the typical gaming headset too heavy and uncomfortable for long stretches of time. We also dug the lay flat tangle-resistant cabling because in-ear headphones are notorious for tying themselves into inexplicable knots in your pockets. The only downside is that the mic doesn’t on PC.