Best Audiophile Headphones For Gaming (2024 Guide)

Best Audiophile Headphones For Gaming

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Any serious gamer knows just how important accuracy, detail, and to pinpoint imaging are when playing, and the best gaming headphones will offer these qualities at the highest levels they can.

But no matter how good a pair of headphones designed for gaming is, these crucial qualities can often be found to a much higher degree in audiophile headphones – even the least expensive of them.

So I thought it might be important – to us gamers, at least – to look into this a bit more, and so I put together this 2023 buyer’s guide to the best audiophile headphones for gaming.

If your teammates are probably a bit OP at this moment, and waiting for your heroic return, I’ll list out my top choices here and let you get back to the game:

My Personal Favorite Audiophile Headphones for Gaming - Austrian Audio PG16 Professional Gaming Headset

Why Are Audiophile Headphones Good for Gaming?

Good gaming requires several key qualities, like a cool head, an understanding of the game, intelligence and common sense, quick thinking, and more, but two of the most crucial factors in successful game-playing are knowing exactly what is happening on the field of play at every moment, and where you are in relationship to the action.

Gaming headphones try very hard to provide the highest levels of accuracy on several fronts, so that you can hear, identify, specifically locate and track all sounds – even resorting to quite advanced tech like various kinds of surround sound effects and enhanced detail and dynamics.

But with all their good intentions and effort, gaming headphones are often easily outperformed on all of these fronts by even basic pairs of audiophile headphones, which focus on a few basic performance factors that are so important to both music listening and gaming at the highest levels:

  • Extreme detail and tonal accuracy – which to a gamer means being able to easily hear and accurately identify all sounds and differentiate between important and incidental sounds.
  • Precision imaging – the width, depth, and height required to draw a complete, properly sized, and scaled sound field, and to locate and accurately track anything and everything in that soundstage.

Often surround-sound effects, even the most advanced, can slightly distort, mis-place or ghost certain elements, but the simple and natural way audiophile headphones create an immersive and incredibly precise three-dimensional audio image, with real spatial/temporal cohesion, must be heard to be fully appreciated.

  • Dynamic energy – again, like with imaging, gaming headphones often artificially accentuate dynamics, leading to some misleading aural cues, but accuracy and precise, effortless reproduction of dynamic energy, as you get from the best audiophile headphones, not only enhances your ability to identify and locate sounds but makes the game more exciting and you more engaged
  • Wearing comfort – we’re just like audiophiles in many ways, it turns out, and one of them is that once we get our headphones on we tend to leave them on for hours and hours. Audiophile headphones are designed to disappear, leaving just you and the experience, and extreme comfort is a big part of this.
  • Great sound – we’re back to dynamic energy here, but also deep bass, clear, non-distorted sound at any level, and a rich and beautiful listening experience overall, which are not only more fun and enjoyable but simply keep us more engaged with the game.

Price is a factor, and often even the least expensive headphones you can get that would be considered true audiophiles are significantly better for gamers than similarly priced gaming cans. Of course, you will need to get a separate microphone – or at least might, depending on the gameplay and your personal preferences – but still audiophile headphones almost always offer a much better price/performance ratio for gaming.

And, let’s not forget, they are absolutely incredible for music!

What Are the Best Audiophile Headphones for Gaming?

I have a lot of people – who either know I am both a gamer and an audiophile or can somehow just sense it – ask me what are the best audiophile headphones for gaming, and I have in fact tried quite a few pairs of great high fidelity ‘phones for just this purpose and will talk a lot more about my favorite ones as we go along.

To make this guide both as simple and as helpful as possible, I am going to include three basic types of headphones – open-back, closed-back, and wireless – at three price levels – budget, mid-priced, and premium.

Open BackOpen back headphones are often the very best in one ultra-important way: they offer the largest, most open and immersive, precise and lifelike imaging and sound field, which helps keep you oriented and informed and makes gameplay more successful in many ways.

If open-back headphones have a downside, it is sound leakage – that is, they will leak a lot more sound into your room, and a lot more ambient sound from the room into your ears – so if you live with others – especially if you play late at night – or you are in a noisy environment this may be a factor.

Closed Back – We want to make absolutely certain that the closed-back headphones we use for gaming have a big, open soundstage and accurate imaging that’s close to what you get from open designs. If so, they can be a better choice for a couple of reasons – they leak sound much less, and cut background noise much better, and they have a kind of dynamic energy, an impact, that open designs might not have – thought the open designs I’ll recommend are kind of known for their impact as well.

Suggested article: open-back vs. closed-back headphones.

Wireless – I know most gamers don’t like wireless headphones as much, mostly because they can have a lag or delay, but also because there is at least a perception that they may not sound as good as wired headphones. Both can, of course, be true, but I will include a recommendation at each price level for brilliant-sounding wireless cans with apt-x low latency codec to eliminate any lag between action and sound.

Other than the freedom they can give you (I myself have gotten a bit carried away gaming and actually yanked my wired headphones off my head in my, uhm, exuberance), do wireless cans have any real advantage for gamers? Yes, of course – they’re cool! And they can also double as superb-sounding general-use headphones, although so can the wired versions – especially the ones we’re looking at here!

Ok, enough said – let’s get into it, with this Speakergy 2023 buyer’s guide to the best audiophile headsets for gaming. GLHF!

The 8 Best Audiophile Headphones for Gaming in 2024

Best Budget Audiophile Headphones for Gaming – Open Back

Philips Audio SHP9500 HiFi Precision Stereo Over-Ear Headphones (Black)

At a Glance:

  • Connection: Wired
  • Cable Length: 1.5 Meters
  • Driver Size: 50 MM
  • Design: Open Back, Over Ear
  • Frequency Response: 12 Hz to 30 kHz
  • Sensitivity: 101 dB

The Philips SHP9500 open back headphones have become a bit of a legend since their introduction, especially with budget conscious audiophiles, but they also have a small but devoted following among serious gamers.

The 9500s are incredibly open – this, in fact, may be their biggest asset for gaming, the stunning gamefield they reproduce, with seamless and fully cohesive three dimensionality, great height, depth and width, the ability to place things even behind your listening position (something that even fancy surround-sound headphones often suck at) and precise, beautifully flowing and easily tracked movement.

A bright and hyper-detailed headphone, the Philips SHP9500 is also excellent for hearing and identifying sounds, even in very busy or confusing scenarios, and the sounds have a realism that not only makes them easier to identify, it makes the game more fun.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind – not downsides, but let’s say considerations. First, these are open back headphones, and so when you’re playing, the people around you will hear everything, and if your housemates and/or family are sensitive – or, you know, asleep – this can be an issue. But that is a consideration for any open headphones, and should be balanced against the amazing imaging and soundstage they offer.

The second factor is that the Philips SHP9500 are a bit harder to drive. A normal PC’s internal audio card will push them to very loud levels, but not as loud as some other headphones – often closed-back designs are more efficient, for example. This can also give the SHP9500 a bit of a flat sound dynamically – or at least apparently. In fact, they are extraordinarily dynamic and expressive headphones, and effortlessly so, but their super, super low distortion means that they don’t hit the ear with the same apparent force.

But over time the Philips Audio SHP9500 open back headphones reveal themselves more and more as amazingly dynamic, and even right away you can hear how accurate, wide open and beautiful the sound is. In the right environment, for music listening and gaming at very high levels these expensive headphones are an easy  choice at this low price, and competitive with lots and lots of products that are far more expensive.

Best Budget Audiophile Headphones for Gaming – Closed Back

AKG Pro Audio K92 Over-Ear Closed-Back, Studio Headphones

At a Glance:

  • Connection: Wired
  • Cable Length: 3 Meters
  • Driver Size: 40 MM
  • Design: Closed Back, Over Ear
  • Frequency Response: 16 Hz to 20 kHz
  • Sensitivity: 113 dB

So, if the Philips Audio SHP9500 are so amazing for such a low price, what could this even less expensive pair of AKG headphones possibly offer?

In a word, slam! Before any of my fellow bassheads get too excited, I’m not talking about bass slam here – the AKG K92 headphones have stunningly deep, fast and powerful bass, but are actually very flat in frequency response – they’re at their heart studio monitor headphones – with little or no bass boost to speak of.

But there is a quality of dynamic energy here, of presence, power and intensely etched, impactful detail, that makes the K92 among the very best headphones I know for keeping you alert and involved, immediately aware of and on top of all activity.

Being professional studio headphones, the AKG K92 are exceptionally neutral, allowing them to not only present a board mix to an engineer without any distortion, enhancement or other change, but also providing a gamer with a similarly unadulterated sonic reality, and the ability to confidently recognize and process any and all sounds.

For all of this accuracy and neutrality, these still somehow manage to be really beautiful sounding headphones, with warmth and musicality that so perfectly complement the bright, dynamic sound.

For closed headphones, the AKG K92 wired pro studio headphones have surprisingly big and open soundstage, rounding off what is surely the best overall package for gamers – or for music producers, audiophiles or any music lover – at this very low price. 

Best Budget Audiophile Headphones for Gaming – Wireless

Sennheiser HD 250BT Wireless Low Latency Audiophile Headphones

At a Glance:

  • Connection: Wireless
  • Battery Life: 25 Hours
  • aptX Low Latency Codec: Yes
  • Driver Size: 32 MM
  • Design: Closed Back, On Ear
  • Frequency Response: 16 Hz to 20 kHz
  • Maximum Volume: 113 dB

You know how when you already have like a thousand pairs of headphones, but you come across a new pair that’s cheap and uber-attractive, and you just have to buy them, even though you can’t possibly use all the ones you already have, and so you do, buy them, that is, and you end up being so madly in love with them that they are all you use, and your other thousand pairs feel even sadder and more neglected?

Ok, maybe it’s just me, but yeah, that has been pretty much my exact experience with the new-ish Sennheiser HD 250BT, which have an unbelievably fun, dynamic sound, with deep bass, rich musicality, amazing dynamic energy and the ability to play really loud. They are among the most accurate and revealing headphones of any type under a hundred dollars – except they are actually under fifty dollars, and are wireless, which makes the whole thing even more unbelievable.

But that’s Sennheiser for you – a company that is equally loved and respected by audiophiles and gamers, and also a company known not only for a few very expensive but superlative headphones but also for a lot of brilliant, inexpensive and mid-range audiophile headphones that are often the best value available in their class.

Anyay, back to the 250s. They have not just the aptX codec for full lossless wireless audiophile sound, but aptX low latency for optimal gaming experience. They also have excellent battery life – 25 hours, which ends up being a realistic number, I’ve found – for all of us non-stop gamers.

Their imaging is big, open, and very accurate in terms of placement and movement – maybe the soundfield cannot compete with far more expensive audiophile headphones, but at this price nothing else really competes.

The Sennheiser HD 250BT are a very accurate and detailed pair of headphones, which make identification of sound easy and precise, and help you differentiate between different sounds, and pick out individual sounds in a noisy environment, easily and quickly. The sound is not just accurate, though, and in no way sounds somehow clinical or over-analytical (a common fault of both audiophile and gaming headphones), but is beautiful, musical, exciting and very engaging, with a nice and tastefully done bass boost.

Yeah, I use mine all the time, for gaming, for music listening, at home and away. I kind of wish they had a wired connection as well – they are pure wireless – but other than that (which for me is pretty insignificant) the Sennheiser HD 250BT are a fantastic pair of headphones for the price, and I love them for gaming as much as for music.

And, just to be clear, I don’t really have a thousand pairs of headphones!

Best Mid-Priced Audiophile Headphones for Gaming – Open Back

Philips Audio Fidelio X2HR Over-Ear Open-Air Headphone 50mm Drivers- Black

At a Glance:

  • Connection: Wired
  • Cable Length: 3 Meters
  • Driver Size: 50 MM
  • Design: Open Back, Over Ear
  • Frequency Response: 5 Hz to 40 kHz
  • Sensitivity: 100 dB SPL/V at 1 kHz

When we start creeping up over the hundred dollar level there are suddenly all kinds of really great choices for audiophile headphones, but until you go a lot higher in price – even hundreds of dollars higher – none offer the performance, or the musical beauty, of these Philips Fidelio X2HR open back headphones.

If I were to come up with a single word to describe these headphones, it would be presence. I might have gone with beauty, or quality, or value, or burrito, but to be fair that last one might be less about the headphones and more about my hunger at the moment.

But seriously, these are definitely really beautiful sounding headphones, and a totally over-built product with a truly premium fit and finish, and should last for years and years – even with vigorous gameplay. And to be sure, in high end audio the Fidelio are known as among the best values going.

But there is a presence to these headphones – a realism, a palpability, that makes both music and game sounds seem absolutely real. Footsteps, gunfire, explosions, revving engines, grunting goats, all are right there, in your space, as clear and as recognizable as they would be in the real world – often much more so.

Imaging is unprecedented at this price level – the Philips Fidelio X2HR offer a nearly perfect presentation of both space and time, allowing precise placement and tracking of all action, and with the realism and presence of these headphones, I can’t think of a single gaming-specific headset that puts you in the game in this way – effective, fully believable and really fun.

It shouldn’t go without saying that the Philips Audio Fidelio X2HR wired open back headphones also have some serious game with music – they are, in fact, often called the best audiophile headphones under 200 dollars. There are a lot of choices at this prime level, with lovely open design headphones from AKG, beyerdynamic, Hifiman and Sennheiser, but with its combination of startling presence, hyper-abundant energy, deep bass and intense energy, as well as its wonderful musicality and tonal beauty, the X2HR may be better than any of them, and a near-perfect audiophile headphone for gaming.

Best Mid-Priced Audiophile Headphones for Gaming – Closed Back

beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO 80 Ohm Wired Studio Headphones

At a Glance:

  • Connection: Wired
  • Cable Length: 3 Meters
  • Driver Size: 40 MM
  • Design: Closed Back, Over Ear
  • Frequency Response: 8 Hz to 25 kHz
  • Sensitivity: 113 dB SPL/V at 1 kHz

Ok, are we starting to see a theme here? 

I mean really, every single item I’ve recommended so far in this list of best audiophile headphones for gaming are paragons of accuracy and neutrality – in fact, a couple of them are purpose-made for the exacting work of audio engineering, where honesty of sound is everything.

And all of the headphones so far – with the exception of the Sennheiser HD 250BT wireless, have a bright, highly detailed quality that makes music come alive, and does the same for games.

And the beyerdynamic DT 770, which could possibly be the most popular audiophile / studio headphone on the planet, has all of this in spades – a really bright – but never harsh or fatiguing – high end, that makes all sounds immediately audible and obvious, and such low noise and high resolution that each and every one of them is instantly recognizable and distinguishable from all the others. Friend or enemy, human or animal, gunfire or backfire, AK-47 or M5, goat or, well, it’s always a goat, isn’t it…

The 770 also may very well have the best imaging of any closed-back headphone short of half a grand, with stunning portrayal of space and motion, and a clear and stable reference point for the listener – really, so much better than even most gaming headphones on this level that everything improves – confidence, strategy, gameplay action, even enjoyment.

All of these factors – superb imaging, extreme resolution, brightness and detail – not to mention best in class deep bass and dynamic energy and expressiveness – make the beyers a perfect affordable-premium studio headphone, and a perfect affordable-premium gaming headphone, and they are definitely full-on premium in terms of build quality, toughness, fit and finish.

But how do they sound just for music? Well, I might not be right in assuming that you will use these for anything other than gaming, but if you do I would say they are a bracing listen – not exactly what I would call warm or romantic, the beyerdynamic DT 770 have an open, clear and transparent quality that some listeners will find too bright, but that countless customers / proud owners around the world absolutely rave about – a focused, detailed, clear and clean sound with slightly dark and very palpable mids and intense, powerful and deeply extended bass.

I myself am a tiny bit sensitive to too much high frequency, and prefer something like a Sennheiser sound signature – not as revealing, perhaps, but a bit warmer – but clearly the beyerdynamic DT 770 are a thrillingly musical and rewarding pair of headphones for all kinds of music, and almost certainly. Among closed designs, the best audiophile headphones for gaming under 200 dollars.

Best Mid-Priced Audiophile Headphones for Gaming – Wireless

Final UX3000 Wireless Overhead Headphones ANC, aptX LL

At a Glance:

  • Connection: Wireless
  • Battery Life: 35 Hours (ANC off)
  • aptX Low Latency Codec: Yes
  • Driver Size: Not Specified
  • Design: Closed Back, On Ear
  • ANC (Active Noise Cancelling): Yes
  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 20 kHz

There is certainly no lack of great headphones in this meaty 100-200 dollar price range, and of wireless headphones especially, with more-or-less-audiophile brands like Edifier, Sony, Bose, Audio-Technica, Sennheiser, JBL, Apple and more, but we gamers run into a couple of problems with so many of them.

First, so many of the mid-range premium wireless headphones out there, for all of their technology, do not use the Qualcomm aptX low latency codec, and so will almost certainly have unacceptable lag between action and sound. Some have their own proprietary low latency schemes, but, put simply, Qualcomm is the one that works.

Second, none of them sound as good as the Final UX3000 wireless over-ear audiophile headphones, which have become as much of a legend in the hi-fi community as Final’s wonderful, and wonderfully inexpensive, E1000 wired in-ear monitors – if ever there was a bonafide steal in audiophile gear, the E1000 is it!

But really these Final UX3000 wireless are, if anything, an even bigger steal. They are, at right around a hundred and fifty dollars, very close to top-tier audiophile headphones, and clearly better than anything else in this range – far, far better than any other wireless ‘phones I know, and even markedly better than almost any purely wired pair as well. Really, they are that good.

A closed back headphone, the UX3000 nonetheless has such wide open sound, such precise, perfectly scaled three-dimensional imaging and such accurate placement, movement and tracking, that you’d swear you are listening to a pair of premium open-back headphones. The people around you, however, won’t hear a thing – and you won’t hear them.

In fact, while the Final 3000 have quite good active noise cancellation, a lot of gamers don’t like to use ANC, and the passive noise blocking on these, with their very effective acoustic seal, is fantastic, and will be more than enough noise-blocking in even busy and noisy environments.

But back to the sound – again, like the best open air headphones, the closed-design UX3000 have an effortless quality to them, with very low distortion, clarity and extreme detail all coming together in a relaxed, natural presentation. And like the best closed back headphones, these Finals have dynamic energy and impact out the wazoo. Ok, not the big, slamming bass you might get in a JBL, a Beats or some Sony cans, but much better deep bass extension, much more detail and much more actual bass energy, and an exciting dynamic that extends all the way up to the high frequencies.

And while they are super detailed, and wide open and hyper-accurate in imaging, the Final UX3000 are not in the least bit bright, and in fact are exceptionally flat, neutral headphones, which just let the music, or the game soundtrack, do its own thing. In fact, I think that’s their secret – they assume that musicians, audio engineers, game designers and soundtrack composers kind of know what they are doing, and let all of the audio come through perfectly, without any artificial enhancement or “improvement.”

I can’t say enough about these Final Audio UX3000 audiophile headphones, which are irresistibly sweet and musical sounding, stunningly powerful and nearly perfect in their accuracy and neutrality, and almost ridiculously affordable – they are a superior wireless gaming headset in every way.

Best Premium Audiophile Headphones for Gaming – Open Back

Sennheiser HD 600 Open Back Audiophile Headphones

At a Glance:

  • Connection: Wired
  • Cable Length: 3 Meters
  • Driver Size: 42 MM
  • Design: Open Back, Over Ear
  • Frequency Response: 16 Hz to 30 kHz
  • Sensitivity: 97 dB

It’s time to call off all other bets and lay our money down, because the Sennheiser HD 600 open back headphones are the best gaming headphones on the planet.

They may well be the best headphones period – at least this side of 1,000 dollars – and are the dream, or the wonderful reality, for so many audiophiles and music lovers some of whom could actually afford even far more expensive gear – but really, why spend more?

These premium headphones, at around 400 dollars a pair, are actually quite affordable to many people, and you can spend way, way more and not get nearly the accuracy, tonal beauty, wearability or overall quality. And I’m’ not sure, no matter how much more you spend, if you can find better gamers.

First of all, without having any additional brightness or unnatural boost at any frequencies – they are almost unbelievably flat in frequency response – the HD 600 present more detail more accurately than any other headphones I’ve ever used for gaming – and by a pretty substantial margin too. In fact, it can sometimes seem like almost too much, but if you’re engaged and aware you will know more of what’s going on than anybody else playing – and that’s just the start of your advantage.

Because not only will you hear more, but the Sennheiser HD 600’s unparalleled sonic accuracy and absurdly low distortion means you will never have any question about what a sound is – any and every audio cue will be instantly identifiable, and you will know exactly how to react to – or not react to – each and every one of them.

Furthermore, the HD 600 have by far the best, most accurate imaging this side of uber-expensive (they are a bit expensive, but definitely not uber!), with an eerily accurate, complete, cohesive, wide-open sound field that places all sounds above, below, in front of, behind, left, right, far, near, with perfect precision, and lets you know where you are, and where everything else is, with the utmost certainty and confidence.

All of the choices on this list of best audiophile headsets for gaming have great imaging, but with the 600 were are in a whole new world, as we are with deep bass, dynamic energy, resolution, accuracy and neutrality – as well as the finer qualities, which are more important to audiophiles than gamers. like inner detail, timing, expressive nuance and subtlety, extreme dynamic range and utter lack of strain or effort even at the highest volumes, and on and on.

I’m trying to think of a downside, but honestly I’ve got nothing. Ok, they are a bit expensive, and they will let pretty much all of the game sounds leak into your room, and vice-versa, but other than that? The Sennheiser HD 600 wired open back headphones are built like a tank and could literally last a lifetime, they are ultra-comfortable, they are disarmingly beautiful sounding, nearly perfect in terms of accuracy, detail, imaging and everything else important to gamers, audiophiles and true music lovers – without question the best wired open back audiophile headphones for gaming.

Best Premium Audiophile Headphones for Gaming – Closed Back

Austrian Audio Hi-X60 Professional Closed-Back Over-Ear Headphones

At a Glance:

  • Connection: Wired
  • Cable Length: 1 x 3 Meters; 1 x 1.2 Meters
  • Driver Size: 42 MM
  • Design: Open Back, Over Ear
  • Frequency Response: 16 Hz to 30 kHz
  • Sensitivity: 97 dB

My choice for best audiophile headphones for gamers in the premium closed-back category might be a bit of a surprise, or at least a somewhat less familiar name – Austrian Audio, and their stunning Hi-X60 wired headphones.

Only five years old now, Austrian Audio has taken the high end market by storm, releasing an amazing range of superb microphones and headphones in a very short time – all engineered, made and inspected in-house in Vienna. Seriously, in half a decade they have brought out no fewer than 11 microphones and 9 pairs of headphones, all of them absolutely incredible and all of them easy finalists for best of the best in their respective price or usage categories.

I have been lucky enough to listen to a few different Austrian Audio headphones, and they are all just wonderful – in fact, I’m amazed at how much I like them. I don’t really like a brighter sound, and the Austrian Audio ‘phones are on the brighter side, and yet they are so smooth, rich, warm and musical that I find them so beautiful sounding, so seductive even, and never am even a smidge bothered by the brightness.

Most people like a brighter sounding headphone anyway – especially if it has powerful deep bass as well, which the Austrians definitely do – and for gamers brightness is often the key to hearing things that their opponents might have missed, and recognizing sounds more quickly, accurately and confidently.

And the Austrian Audio Hi-X60 is, of all their headphones I’ve tried, the very best in this respect, with amazing detail – really clear, finely etched, fast and accurate sounds at all frequencies – and imaging so wide open they easily out-image many more expensive open design audiophile headphones I’ve heard.

And so the Hi-X60 are the perfect premium gaming headphones – bright and detailed, accurate and neutral, fast and dynamic, with a perfectly stable, accurate and precise soundstage that is as big as, well, is always exactly the correct size, from claustrophobic to spookily wide open, depending on the game. 

But I can’t help but wax a bit more poetically about these marvelous headphones, because they are, to me, also the perfect audiophile headphones, with a quality I didn’t think possible, and that I’ve never really heard before – bright, detailed sound that is as revealing as possible, but with a beautiful musicality, a warmth and life, that makes them as far from aggressive, harsh or fatiguing as it is possible to be – actually less edge than many of my favorite darker premium audiophile headphones, and with a sound so lovely that they make me actually rethink what I like.

They are also some of the most beautifully made and finished headphones I’ve ever seen, with a fit and finish and a material quality far beyond premium level. And if this all were not enough, they are supremely comfortable and can be worn for hours and hours without a thought, are very sensitive and easy to drive – even with stock game systems or PC sound cards – and offer superior passive noise isolation.

It all adds up to make the Austrian Audio Hi-X60 the ultimate closed-back audiophile headphones for gaming, and in every way one of the most beautiful headphones available today.

Best Premium Audiophile Headphones for Gaming – Wireless

Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 Wireless Noise Canceling Bluetooth Headphones

At a Glance:

  • Connection: Wireless
  • Battery Life: 30 Hours (ANC on)
  • aptX Low Latency Codec: No, even better! New Qualcomm aptX Adaptive
  • Driver Size: 43.6 mm
  • Design: Closed Back, On Ear
  • ANC (Active Noise Cancelling): Yes
  • Frequency Response: 10 Hz to 30 kHz

Bowers and Wilkins is one of the most beloved audiophile brands in the world, having for 55 years now made truly top-tier products that consistently set new standards in performance, technology and engineering, accuracy and honesty, beauty in both sound and product design and – though their products can be among the most expensive in the world – value.

Luckily, though clearly a pure premium product, the B&W Px7 wireless headphones are not among the most expensive in the world, and indeed – priced at ‘only’ about 400 dollars – are an almost unbelievable value.

The Px7 series 2 are absolutely stunning headphones in design, material quality, fit and finish and craftsmanship, are truly built for a lifetime of use and have sound quality that any music lover will absolutely love for as long as they last – the music lover, that is, as the headphones will surely outlive him or her.

But we’re here for gaming, not to supply props for a Town and Country photo shoot (which they’d be perfect for), and the Bowers and Wilkins Px7 S2 are quite possibly the finest wireless gaming headphones on the market today.

Of course they aren’t designed to be gamers, but their ultimate resolution and detail, and the accuracy of all details they reproduce, makes them easily more suited to hearing and identifying game sounds than any game-specific headphones, wired or wireless, I myself have used, and their truly superlative imaging makes locating and tracking those sounds effortless, automatic even.

They are, in fact, easily among the best closed-back headphones for imaging I’ve ever heard under a thousand dollars, only slightly bettered by the best-of-class Sennheiser HD 600 above, and the best by far in the wireless category. Listen to your favorite gaming headphones, with their leading-edge, newest-gen virtual surround circuitries, and then the natural stereo imaging of the Px7, and I guarantee you’ll be stunned.

It’s important to mention that the Bowers and Wilkins Px7 S2 are the only wireless headphones on this list of best audiophile headphones in 2024 that don’t have an aptX low latency codec – but don’t worry, because, in that grand B&W tradition they’ve gone beyond aptX LL to an even better system. Well, actually Qualcomm has gone beyond, with their new and incredibly advanced aptX adaptive protocol, which is not only low (in fact, almost no) latency, but sets new standards for lossless audiophile performance, efficiency and energy savings – so yeah, low latency and then some.

Are they expensive? Well, yes, a bit, but if you held them in your hand and somebody told you they were 3 or 4 times more expensive than they actually are you wouldn’t question it for a second. And if you are lucky enough to try them for gaming, or to listen to hi-res music files through them – whether in wireless or wired mode – you would think, like pretty much everybody else who’s experienced them, that they are dirt cheap.

As neutral and honest as any headphones I’ve used, with the ability to disappear and let the true beauty of the music itself shine through, the B&W Px7 are possibly the finest wireless music headphones made today, and have everything even serious amateur and professional gamers need to perform at the very highest level – easily the best wireless headphones for gamers, and an enticingly affordable luxury.

My Favorite Audiophile Headphones for Gaming

Austrian Audio PG16 Professional Gaming Headset

At a Glance:

  • Connection: Wired
  • Cable Length: 1.4 Meters
  • Driver Size: 42 MM
  • Design: Open Back, Over Ear
  • Frequency Response: 12 Hz to 24 kHz
  • Sensitivity: 113 dB

In closing, and somewhat briefly, I want to mention my own favorite gaming headset, which – as you might have guessed from the raving, glowing, drooling review of the Hi-X60 above – is also from Austria!

Austrian Audio also makes a much more affordable gaming headset, which also has the highest levels of accuracy, honesty, dynamic energy and expressiveness and spatial/temporal precision and cohesion.  I guess this is no surprise, considering that their Hi-X60 sound and act like they might have been made for gamers and gaming (they were actually designed to the standards of neutrality and accuracy crucial to top-tier sound engineers and audiophiles), 

Fully compatible with PlayStation PS4 and PS5, XBox and, of course, Windows and Mac, the Austrian Audio PG16 is a no-compromise headset designed and made for gaming, and while not perhaps offering the same unparalleled detail and resolution of the much more expensive Hi-X60, are better in this regard than any other gaming headset at their own price level, or even the next one or two price levels.

It does, however, rival its more expensive brother in terms of imaging. Also a closed set, the PG16 has a wide-open quality which lets any scenario unfold effortlessly, with proper presentation of space and time, and lets you be in and move around that environment with real confidence and effectiveness.

And despite the boom mic – which is also superb, BTW – the Austrian Audio PG16 can easily be called a pair of true audiophile headphones, and have the same bracingly clear and yet relaxed and lovely sound signature as even the most expensive of the company’s products.

Yes, it’s official – the Austrian Audio PG16 is my latest purchase and my new daily-use gaming headset, and also one I use a lot more than I would have imagined for serious (and by serious I mean joyous) music listening . A superb product in every way, and my favorite audiophile headphones for gaming.