Audio is an important aspect of First Person Shooters (FPS), Third Person Shooters (TPS), and other competitive games.
Games like Counter-Strike Global Offensive (CS: GO) and Valorant can end as soon as you spot an enemy or as soon as you are spotted. Knowing the exact location of your enemies gives you a considerable advantage and takes you one step closer to achieving victory.
Footsteps, which are usually found in the highs (around 4Khz) are one of the most influential sounds in the game. That is why your headphones must be able to reproduce this frequency clearly.
Also, hearing footsteps is going to be useless if you cannot pinpoint where they are coming from and how far away the source of the noise is. That is why your gaming headset needs to have good stereo imaging and a good soundstage.
There are lots of things that can influence the way you detect enemy footsteps. The game’s sound engine can play a role. External devices such as USB Sound cards, EQs, and DAC/Amps can influence the sound. However, a good pair of headphones is still the most crucial device.
In this list, we will be taking a look at both gaming headsets and audiophile headphones. We have something for everybody, whether you have a basic rig or a more advanced battle station.
For gaming headsets, our recommended pick is the Sennheiser GSP300. And for audiophile headphones, our recommended pick is the Sennheiser HD6XX series. There are more solid picks on this list, so make sure to keep on scrolling to learn more.
Best Sounding Gaming Headsets
Gaming headsets are probably what most consumers are familiar with. They are made by popular brands in the PC Gaming and PC Enthusiast Community. However, not all gaming headsets sound great.
If a microphone is essential for the games you play (CS: GO, Valorant, COD Warzone), then we have the best-sounding gaming headsets for you. However, if you want the absolute best audio quality, skip to our audiophile section.
Sennheiser GSP 300
Sennheiser is a well-respected brand in the audio market. They are responsible for making the best audio equipment for professional and casual use. They have also successfully created multiple award-winning gaming headsets that are trusted by professionals. One example is the Sennheiser GSP300.
The Sennheiser GSP 300 is Sennheiser’s answer to the likes of the Hyperx Cloud and Logitech Gaming’s offerings. It sports a unique design that is significantly different from their past offerings like the Game One and Game Zero. It also has different drivers that are tuned specifically for the GSP Series.
In terms of sound signature, the GSP 300 is going for a more V-shaped signature. The bass is a bit boosted but does not overpower the midrange. The midrange is a bit recessed but is still fairly detailed. The highs are also boosted but are well controlled and do not present much harshness.
The clarity and detail in the highs allow you to hear footsteps easier. And also, unlike other closed-back gaming headsets, the GSP300 has a wide soundstage and excellent imaging. The soundstage may sound artificial at times, but it does its job and helps both with immersion and in locating enemies.
In terms of the build quality, the GSP300 has a solid plastic construction that makes it lightweight and comfortable for longer gaming sessions. The microphone is also a nice bonus. Its sound quality is one of the best in this price range. It is clear and sounds natural, which should be good enough for in-game chat. It also has a mute function when not in use.
Overall, if you want the complete package, the Sennheiser GSP 300 is one of the best gaming headsets you can buy. It has the sound quality that delivers and helps you spot your enemies’ footsteps. And it also has the build quality that will help the headset last for years to come.
Hyperx Cloud II
Another popular headset in the FPS scene is the Hyperx Cloud II. They are a modified version of the Takstar Pro 80, which is a studio monitoring headphone. Thanks to its audiophile roots and well-tuned drivers, it is able to outperform most of the competition
One special feature that other variations of the Hyperx Cloud do not have is the USB 7.1 surround sound card. This should help users who do not have a good sound card on their pc. We will be talking more about this sound card later.
In terms of the sound signature, the Cloud II is leaning towards a V-Shaped signature. The bass is solid and clear but can be too much and distort at times. However, it does not try to steal the show and does not overpower the midrange.
The mids are slightly recessed but still maintains their good clarity. Highs are boosted like the bass. It is clear, which greatly helps in hearing footsteps. The highs can, however, distort when there are a lot of things going on (examples of these are games like COD: Modern Warfare).
Due to their closed-back design, the soundstage is quite narrow. This is quite typical for a closed-back headset. Hyperx chose to remedy this through their virtual 7.1 surround USB sound card.
What this does is artificially creates a larger soundstage and boost sound cues like footsteps. The implementation is not that great since clarity takes a huge hit. The overall sound signature also feels artificial and can even be more distracting.
The Hyperx Cloud II does have good imaging, but if you want headphones that have a good and natural wide soundstage, we highly recommend going for open-back audiophile headphones instead.
One aspect that the Hyperx Cloud II does not fare too well is the mic. The mic has a lot of background noise canceling, which greatly helps with canceling keyboard and mouse clicks. However, the tone does not feel natural, and there is too much compression. The mic implementation is weak compared to some of its competitors.
Overall, the Hyperx Cloud II is still a great-sounding and well-designed gaming headset. Even with its shortcomings, it is still a highly recommended pick. The included sound card is optional. If you choose not to use it, the headset still sounds great.
If all you need is a well-built and quality audio headset that can help you spot footsteps, then the Hyperx Cloud II is a great choice.
Drop x Sennheiser PC37X – Best Overall Pick
If you have a higher budget and are looking to take your gaming headset experience to the next level, then the Sennheiser x Drop PC37X is one of the best headsets that you can get.
Drop is a company that is known for collaborating with big brands and making high-quality products more available and more affordable. This is once again the case with the Drop PC37X. The PC 37X is based on the highly acclaimed Sennheiser Game One (which was based on the Sennheiser HD598). It is an open-back headset, which makes it a unique offering on this list.
Like most Drop collaborations, the sound has remained unchanged. Due to its well-tuned drivers and an open-back design, the imaging and soundstage are superior to most gaming headsets. This is largely why the PC37X is such a great choice for competitive and casual FPS Gaming.
Speaking of its drivers, the sound quality of the PC37X is exceptional. It punches way above its price point and beats most of the headsets on this list. It is, after all, based on the Game One, which retailed for much higher than the PC37X’s asking price.
The PC37X has a relaxed and warmer tuning but has better detail retrieval compared to the other gaming headsets on this list. The bass is enough to add body and complete the sound. It is not distracting and leaves enough room for sound cues to come through.
Mids are a bit recessed but are still more detailed compared to other gaming headsets. The highs are well controlled and have plenty of detail. They allow footsteps to be easily heard.
Additionally, since the PC37X is an open-back headset, the natural soundstage and superior imaging help easily locate the source of these footsteps. The wide soundstage also allows you to hear how far the source of the footsteps is.
Aside from the great-sounding drivers, the PC37X also has a microphone that is significantly better compared to its competitors. It has a natural tone that is better than the highly compressed and nasal-sounding microphones found on most gaming headsets. It is non-detachable
The PC37X has a more detailed sound compared to the other gaming headsets here. However, if you still want more clarity and are okay with sacrificing the microphone, then upgrading to audiophile headphones like the Drop HD58X is the way to go.
For its asking price, the PC37X is very hard to beat. It has all the essential features of a gaming headset, such as excellent sound reproduction and a quality microphone. If you are a professional or a competitive gamer, then this is the gaming headset for you.
Fnatic React – Best Budget Pick
Fnatic is a household name in the professional gaming scene. They have produced many successful talents in various different games such as Counter-Strike and League of Legends. However, they are not as popular as Logitech or Hyperx when it comes to gaming headsets.
This all changes with the Fnatic React. This headset is Fnatic’s answer to the Hyperx Cloud and Logitech G Pro X. But instead of focusing on special features to stand out, the Fnatic React focuses on achieving good sound and mic quality in order to stand out.
At first glance, the Fnatic React resembles the popular Hyperx Cloud. However, it is not using the same OEM (Takstar) as the Clouds. The sound signature indicates that the React is a completely different and original design from the Hyperx Cloud.
In terms of the design, the Fnatic React does have that iconic black and orange branding, but it is kept to a minimum and is not distracting in any way. The headset mostly has a stealth black color with the inside of the earcups having an orange color.
Now, in terms of sound quality, the Fnatic React delivers. It has adequate bass that does not easily distort like the Cloud II. It also does not overextend into the midrange making sound cues loud and clear.
The highs on the Fnatic React are well controlled. Sound cues such as footsteps are loud and clear but are not fatiguing over longer gaming sessions.
The soundstage has some artificial widening that can be noticed at times. However, it does its job and helps with pinpointing how far your enemies are. Imaging is also spot on and on par with the rest of the headsets on this list.
The biggest difference between the Fnatic React and its competitors is its mic quality. The microphone quality is surprisingly good. It has good clarity and has a natural tone, which is more pleasing compared to the nasal quality that other gaming headsets have.
The downside here is that there isn’t much noise cancellation going on, so mouse clicks and keyboard noises will be heard. There is also no software or USB sound card included, so the sound of your microphone will depend on the quality of your source.
Overall, the Fnatic React is a very capable headset for FPS. It has the sound quality to match its competitors. If you want good sound quality and microphone quality and are willing to sacrifice some extra features, then the Fnatic React may just be the way to go.
Logitech G Pro X
The Logitech G Pro X is used by many professional players such as TSM’s Myth. This headset has been such a popular choice among FPS fans, just like the Hyperx Cloud. This is largely due to its sound signature, which is similar to the tried and tested V-Shaped sound signature of the Hyperx Cloud.
Now for the most important aspect, footsteps can be easily heard and pinpointed thanks to their detailed highs. The highs are quite forward but are well controlled and prevents listening fatigue. Bass is also present but not boomy. It does its job in filling up the low end without muddying up the overall sound.
Like the Hyperx Cloud II, the Logitech G Pro X comes with a USB dongle. This dongle is used for fine-tuning the EQ of the headset as well as activating the Blue Voice functionality of the headset.
Blue Microphones’ software greatly helps in cutting down any unwanted noise. It has various features that allow you to fine-tune the sound that you want.
One of the noticeable downsides of the Logitech G Pro X is its intimate soundstage. The soundstage on most closed-back headsets is not great either, but there are several stands-out examples such as the Sennheiser GSP 300. And also, the soundstage on the Logitech G Pro X is considerably more cramped compared to the original Logitech G Pro. Imaging on the Logitech G Pro X is fine, but the intimate soundstage takes away from the immersion.
Overall, the Logitech G Pro X is a solid pair for gaming. They are well-tuned and have plenty of additional features to help you achieve the sound that you want. If you want more customizability and features in your gaming headset, then the Logitech G Pro X is a solid choice.
Audiophile Gaming Headphones
If you are really serious about gaming and demand the highest quality audio, then this section is for you. Audiophile headphones have superior build and sound quality compared to gaming headsets. If you are willing to sacrifice the built-in microphone in gaming headsets, then keep on scrolling.
Sennheiser HD800s – High-End Pick
The Sennheiser HD800s is not just a headphone for music enthusiasts and professionals. It is also one of the best high-end headphones for gaming. This is largely due to its exceptionally large soundstage and accurate imaging.
The HD800s is often regarded as one of the widest sounding headphones. The listening experience that you get is often compared to stereo systems. You get that immersive experience where sounds are coming outside of the headphones.
This translates really well in games. The deep level of immersion allows you to visualize the size of your environment. And with the solid level of imaging that the HD800s, its nearly impossible not to pinpoint the location of your enemies.
The one thing that most people dislike about the Sennheiser HD800s’ sound signature is its peaky highs. For long listening sessions, the energetic treble will cause listening fatigue. However, these incredibly energetic and detailed highs are exactly what you need for detecting sound cues such as footsteps.
The HD800s’ bass response is better both in terms of quality and quantity when compared to the Sennheiser HD6XX series. The soundstage is also significantly wider than the HD6XX. Its soundstage is wider than most headphones in its price range.
It is used by streaming personalities such as Tfue and professional reviewers such as Dmitry Novoselov from HardwareCanucks. It is a tried and tested design. And while it is overkill for gaming, it is no doubt the best performer.
If you can afford to pay the flagship tax, then check out the Sennheiser HD800s. You can learn more from Sennheiser’s Official Website.
Sennheiser HD58X/HD6XX/Sennheiser HD660s – Best Perfomer
Another popular series from Sennheiser is the HD6XX series. These headphones were first released in the 90s and have been the standard for mid to high-end headphones. And just like the Sennheiser HD800s, the HD6XX series headphones are also excellent for gaming.
Compared to the flagship HD800s, the HD6XX line has a more intimate soundstage. But despite the considerably tighter soundstage, it still manages to bring an accurate representation of the game’s audio and is still considerably larger than most closed-back gaming headsets.
The imaging, on the other hand, is spot on. The HD660s, which is the latest model in the HD6XX series, has been widely praised for its stellar imaging in complex music genres, such as orchestral pieces. This translates really well in gaming. The directions of both footsteps and gunfire are easily heard, and combined with its accurate soundstage; it is very easy to pinpoint the exact location of your enemies.
While all of the headphones in the HD6XX series share the same build quality and mid-forward sound, each model still brings something unique. The Drop HD58X, for example, has more emphasis on the midbass compared to the HD600 and HD650. The HD600, on the other hand, is the most neutral sounding headphone in the lineup, The HD6XX/HD650 is darker sounding than the HD600. Then finally, the HD660s combine the best out of the three headphones.
Compared to other headphones in its price range, one of the criticisms of the HD6XX series is its bass performance. Some enthusiasts find them to be lacking in the bass department.
Boomy and bloated bass often distract gamers from hearing vital sound cues such as footsteps. This is, of course, not an issue with the HD6XX headphones. It is also not lacking and perfectly completes the sound by adding enough body.
If you are on the more budget side of the spectrum, then check out Drop’s HD6XX and HD58X. These headphones are the result of Drop and Sennheiser’s collaboration.
One thing that you need to take note of is the HD6XX series does not have the same impedance for all of the models.
The HD 58X and HD660s can work without an amplifier but will highly benefit from having one. The rest of the HD6XX headphones require an amplifier.
If you’re planning on buying and of the HD600 series, check out these recommended DACs/Amps to pair your headphones with.
Overall, these are some of the best, most accessible, and most versatile headphones that you can get in today’s market. If you want high-quality audio without paying the flagship tax, then check out the Sennheiser HD6XX series.
Learn more from Sennheiser’s Official Website.
Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro
One of the most popular audiophile headphones for gaming is the DT 990 Pro. Following the theme that’s been painted by the Sennheiser headphones, the DT 990 Pro is also a highly regarded studio headphone that works for almost everything, including gaming.
It has been used by professional gamers and streaming personalities. Ninja wears the DT 990 Pro.
Unlike the other headphones on this list, the DT 990 Pro (and DT 770 Pro, which is also included on this list) comes in different versions. It comes in 32 ohms, 80 ohms, 250 ohms, and 600 ohms. The ohms refers to the impedance of each headphone.
Generally, the 32-ohm version is the easiest to drive, while the 600-ohm version is the hardest. This does not always apply to all headphones, so for a more in-depth look at this topic, head on to our Headphone Impedance Guide. For anyone who owns a dedicated headphone amplifier, we recommend the 250-ohm version.
And for those who do not, we recommend the 80-ohm version. All of these versions have the same sound characteristics, however many regard the 80-ohm and 250-ohm versions to be the best representations of the DT 990 Pro.
In terms of the sound signature, the DT 990 Pro is leaning towards a V-Shaped sound signature. This is perfect for FPS and is a trend that is being followed by most of the gaming headsets on this list. The bass response of the DT 990 Pro, despite being a bit emphasized, is well controlled and is not distracting.
Highs are well emphasized here. They have plenty of detail without being too fatiguing. Combined with the excellent imaging and soundstage, footsteps are easy to hear and pinpoint. They will fare far better than any gaming headset in this price range.
The DT 990 Pro is popular among gamers for a reason. With its accuracy, excellent sound quality, and class-leading build quality, the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro is truly one of the best in its price range.
The different variants also make it more versatile for users who do not own a headphone amplifier.
DT 770 Pro
For those who prefer closed-back headphones, then Beyerdynamic has you covered. The DT 770 Pro is equally as popular and as good as the DT 990 Pro. Compared to the DT 990 Pro, the DT 770 Pro has a better bass response but has a less accurate overall sound due to the reflections caused by the closed-back design.
Like the rest of the lower DT series headphones, the DT 770 Pro also comes with several variations. There is the 32-ohm, 80-ohm, 250-ohm, and 600-ohm version. Like the DT 990 Pro, we highly recommend the 250-ohm version for those who own a headphone amplifier and the 80-ohm version for those who do not.
Just like the DT 990 Pro, the DT 770 Pro is leaning towards a V-shaped sound signature. The major difference here is its more impactful bass response thanks to its closed-back design. While that may sound bad for gaming, there is nothing to worry about here.
The bass on the DT 770 Pro is tight. It manages to give life to the bass region in games without being distracting. It remains clear and free from distortion, no matter the game.
The highs on the DT 770 Pro is equally as forward and detailed as the DT 990 Pro. You will not have any problems with hearing footsteps. And to add to that, both the imaging and soundstage of the DT 770 Pro are class-leading.
Imaging and soundstage are not really strong points of closed-back headphones. However, the DT 770 Pro (and the upgraded version, the DT 1770 Pro) are a clear exception. The soundstage on these headphones is wider than most closed-back headphones, and the imaging is very accurate.
If you prefer closed-back headphones over open-back headphones, then you cannot go wrong with the DT 770 Pro. The combination of its exceptional build quality and sound quality will help you get the most out of your gaming sessions.
Also, if you need a microphone for the DT 770 Pro, check out the Beyerdynamic MMX 300.
Audio Technica AD700X
If you find Sennheiser and Beyerdynamic’s headphones to be too pricey for you, then we have another solid option from the highly reputable Audio Technica. The ATH AD700X is the refined version of the original AD700, similar to how the M50X is a refinement of the original M50.
Before we get into the AD700X, let us have a brief history of the original AD700. Audio Technica was primarily known as a professional brand that made professional products. They were not known for catering to the gaming audience. However, this all changed with the original AD700.
This pink headphone, which was the opposite of the gamer aesthetic at the time, was perfectly tuned for FPS games. It had a significantly wider soundstage compared to the gaming headsets that were available at the time. Not only did it have clarity in the highs, but it also had directional accuracy, which made pinpointing the location of your enemies much easier.
One of the most popular models in this category is the ATH AD700X. It is the successor to the popular ATH AD700, which was notorious for its pink color. And just like its predecessor, this headphone is a popular choice for gamers.
The reason for its popularity is due to its wide soundstage and excellent accuracy. The wide soundstage provides greater immersion and an overall better experience since it can better simulate larger environments. But more importantly, the imaging is spot on.
The ATH AD700X really excels at pinpointing the direction of important sound cues such as enemy gunfire and footsteps. The ATH AD700X beats any open-back or closed-back gaming headset in its price range when it comes to imaging and soundstage.
In case you need a microphone, you can attach a ModMic to the ATH AD700X, or you can purchase the ATH ADG1X. The driver used on both the ADG1X and AD700X is the same.
Overall, if you need an open-back headset specifically for detecting footsteps and gunfire, then the Audio Technica ATH AD700X is one of the best in its price range.
Philips SHP9500 – Best Budget
If you still need a more budget option, then Philips has your back. The Philips SHP 9500 is one of the best budget open-back headphones that punches above its price point. Its technicalities have been praised and were often compared to higher-end headphones like the Sennheiser HD6XX series.
Of course, due to the massive price gap, it isn’t a Sennheiser HD600 killer. However, the fact alone that this comparison is made is impressive. After all, no gaming headset within the SHP9500’s price point can even be compared with the likes of the HD6XX series.
In terms of sound quality, the SHP 9500 has great clarity and detail retrieval. Its smooth highs prevent listening fatigue without sacrificing the fidelity and accuracy of sound cues like footsteps. The bass is still present but isn’t as pronounced as closed-back headphones.
The bass is capable of bringing sounds like explosions to life. But it does not bleed into the midrange or distract you from hearing important sound cues. Overall, it is a slightly V-shaped sound signature, which is great for FPS.
Its soundstage is intimate but still presents a good amount of space. The imaging, on the other hand, is solid. Locating enemy footsteps and gunfire is a breeze on this one. Of course, it won’t be on par with the HD6XX series or Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro/DT 990 Pro, but it still does its job.
Everything else about the SHP9500 is exceptional for the price. The build is solid and is way better than any gaming headsets in its price range.
Also, it features a detachable 3.5 mm detachable cable that can easily be replaced with other aftermarket cables. One thing that you can do with the detachable cable is to add a 3.5mm detachable microphone such as the V Moda Boom Pro microphone. With the added microphone, the SHP9500 becomes a true gaming headset.
Overall, the Philips SHP9500 is an excellent performer. If you need a budget pair with excellent imaging and soundstage, then make sure to check out the Philips SHP 9500.
Stephen is a musician, cinematographer, and headphone enthusiast who is passionate about reviewing audio equipment. He has been playing guitar for at least a decade, which introduced him to professional recording equipment such as headphones and in-ear monitors. With the help of reviews and online content, he was able to learn the ins and outs of the hobby. His goal is to give back to the community by providing quality content to help others enjoy the beautiful (and expensive) world of audio.
Favorite Headphones: Sennheiser HD660s