There are quite literally thousands of headphones and headsets out there. How can you choose the best one for you? Well, the simplest answer is to look to your peers, those who partake in the world of streaming. For example, Ninja uses the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pros. If you look at other larger streamers, they may opt for things like the Audio Technica M50X‘s. Others still may opt for Sennheisers. But which is right for you?
I know that these are the best I have used personally. Are they right for you?
Audio is a tricky business, and figuring out your needs will help to narrow down your choices from thousands to hundreds. From there, you apply a budget, and you are in the dozens. We’re here to take that down to just Five.
How will we do this, you ask? By doing a bit of a checklist.
Table of Contents
In a Rush? Here are The Top 3 Headphones for Streamers
How to Choose the Best Headphones for You:
The process on how to choose the best headphones for you is pretty simple, as there are two basic factors of note:
- Figure out your max budget
- Check multiple reviews of headphones that fall within that budget
Most understand this. However, this can be expanded further based on what equipment you have on hand. For example, one common piece of audio equipment that streamers tend to purchase is an audio interface, which is needed to drive an XLR stands for External Line Return. It is a balanced connector for studio-grade audio equipment that is nearly immune to electromagnetic interference. It is most commonly used for condenser and dynamic microphones, audio interfaces, and audio mixers. microphone.
As these devices also tend to be bundled with headphone amplifiers, the headphone options available to you are often significantly better quality than consumer-grade headphones.
It is due to this fact that you can eliminate many of the lower-end options that conform to the lower-quality standard, provided you have an audio interface already. You basically have the keys to start your journey into entry-level audiophile headphones that sound amazing compared to their inferior counterparts for not much more than what you would pay for “High-end consumer-grade headphones.” In fact, besides the honorable mention, every pair of headphones on this list is under $200.
If you’re in the market for an audio interface, here is my review post of the one I use and recommend.
The Difference Between Closed-Back, Semi-open and Open-Back
Next, I want to discuss the differences between closed-back, semi-open, and open-back headphone designs.
These concepts are rarely mentioned in consumer marketing material, as they are rather nebulous. However, to get the most for your money, you must understand the differences between these designs.
Closed-back design –
Starting off with closed-back headphones, this design is one of the most widely used for “gamer” branded stuff. This is because the closed-back design is excellent at canceling out background noise. As you might expect, something that makes your gaming experience more isolated also makes it more immersive.
You will commonly see this sort of design concept marketed as “noise-canceling headphones.” This is done because it makes more sense to people who don’t know what closed-back means.
The downsides of a Closed-back design –
- Tends to get warm around your ears after extended use
- Missing some audio depth just by nature
Semi-Open design –
The semi-open design falls between closed-back and open-back, a hybrid of both to try and get the best of both worlds. Sound is dampened, preventing it from leaking to people around you as much.
The advantage here is that the “spatial sound” is much more intuitive. I/E, footsteps coming from the right sound like it’s coming from the right, left from left, and so on.
The downsides of a semi-open design –
The downside there is that it will leak to others around you; they are able to hear what you hear if a bit muffled.
Open-back design –
Open back takes Semi-open to a new level, further enhancing the spatial sound stage, but they are essentially two-way speakers. For gaming, if you have no worries about leaking sound, Open back is typically the way to go. But for streaming? It depends, actually.
Streamer-Specific Concerns With Open Back Designs
As stated, Open back designs essentially act like two-way speakers but offer the widest sound stage possible. The big drawback is that your mic might pick up that leaked sound and introduce some echo, especially if there is a slight disparity between the sound synchronization between the game and the headphone’s output.
As you might imagine, that can be problematic. However, if you have a GTX or RTX card, using RTX Voice may help to deal with that issue on the fly. No guarantees there, though, as we have not tested this particular scenario, merely brainstormed it into existence.
If this is a concern for you, my recommendation is to go with the Semi-Open or Closed-back options on the list. Just be aware that Semi-open may also have this problem, though to a lesser degree.
A Note on Ohms
We are going to be going over some technical terms ahead, so if you need a refresher, this should help you along the way.
What are Ohms anyway?
Ohms are a measurement of resistance within an electrical circuit. This is a particularly important value for audio equipment designed to work with professional audio gear. The reason a high resistance is needed is that these mixers and interfaces tend to supply a very high voltage to the audio equipment.
Here’s an example: Trying to run headphones with a 32-ohm resistance to a mixer that can power 600 ohms headphones will likely cause the drivers to literally vibrate themselves to pieces, potentially melt, and blow your eardrums to next year in the process. However, trying to run a 600-ohms pair of headphones for a smartphone 3.5mm amp, and you won’t be able to power them to any useful volume.
Incidentally, the Ohms value has a slight effect on the overall audio quality, with higher numbers tending to sound “better.” This is because it is less sensitive to noise in the amplifier.
New Beyerdynamic Headphones – DT 700 Pro X & DT 900 Pro X
As you will be able to tell at the end of this article, I’m a big fan of Beyerdynamic. They make amazing headphones for an affordable price. They recently released two new headphones that refresh the legacy of the DT series, the 700 Pro X and 900 Pro X.
While I have not personally used these headphones (yet), there is something I wanted to mention here that the refresh resolves:
They utilize a detachable cable system, like the Audio Technica pair.
Of course, their impedance in Ohms is only 48, so they are less suited to high-powered audio interfaces or mixers than their predecessors. (at least, you need to be a LOT more careful to not overdrive them)
I can’t speak for their audio quality or comfort, again, because I have not had the opportunity to try them yet, but I’m confident that they did a good job with them, given my experience with their products. They may be worth looking into if you want to get the most “modern” version available. As usual, I recommend checking out multiple reviews before making any sort of purchase.
Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro 80-Ohms, the Best Headphones for Streamers With No Mixer or Audio Interface
Editor’s Choice – I Use these Daily
Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro’s
If you do not yet have a fancy XLR stands for External Line Return. It is a balanced connector for studio-grade audio equipment that is nearly immune to electromagnetic interference. It is most commonly used for condenser and dynamic microphones, audio interfaces, and audio mixers. mic or are using a USB mic, then this would be the best option for you. I am referring to the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro 80-Ohms variant, a closed-back design.
This is actually the same pair of headphones that I myself use, though I use the 250-Ohms variant that I run through my Behringer UMC 204HD. I can honestly say that I’m a Beyerdynamic fan now. They are amazing! I’ve seen many streamers utilize these headphones, including Devin Nash, and after buying them for myself, I can see why.
A quick note on the 250-ohms variant – You will need an audio interface, mixer, or headphone pre-amp to use them to their full potential.
- Literally, the most comfortable pair of headphones I have ever used in my life.
- Blows my old Logitech G933’s sound quality out of the water
- Near-Zero sound leak, no worries about your mic picking up sound from it.
- (Could be a con) Excellent noise cancellation. I literally could not hear my nephew 3 feet away calling me with moderate volume.
- The Cable is hardwired into the headphones. Unless you are handy with a soldering iron, we recommend taking extreme care of the wire for long lasting use.
- The DT 700 Pro X refresh resolves this con.
- The contact point that goes into the drivers are made of plastic, while the band itself is metal. It certainly feels like it will last, but just try to not drop them often.
- Closed-back design reduces the depth of the audio a bit
- No swivel of ear cups
If you plan to opt for higher than 80-ohm headphones, you will need an audio interface or Mixer. Just a heads up. If you plan to use these headphones with your phone, you will have the best result from 32 ohms as it will be sufficiently powered (I/e, loud enough to hear).
Hyperx Cloud Alpha S, the Best Headset for a New Streamer With No Mic
If you do not have a microphone yet, your best bet would be to buy a headset rather than a pair of headphones. Headsets come bundled with an attached mic, so they are the most cost-effective means of getting a mic and getting started as a live streamer.
In Particular, the HyperX Cloud Alpha S has some features that imitate the more expensive options that involve a Hardware Mixer, such as an audio balance toggle switch. While this is not a perfect substitute for faders, it is nice to have.
The quality of your audio when starting out isn’t a major factor. As long as your audience can clearly hear you, a headset is perfectly fine.
- 7.1 Virtual surround (though we prefer it off in most cases.)
- Game balance/Chat Balance buttons
- Audio quality is fairly good with a wide frequency response: 13-27000 Hz
- Bear in mind you won’t hear past 20,000 Hz. Read this forum thread if you want to know why this matters
- The microphone is Detachable, so you can remove it when you upgrade to a standalone desktop mic.
- The sound is boosted in the bass rather than a flat response curve. This means EQing it will be a bit tougher, though not impossible.
- Could be a pro, though. Depends on your taste.
- Faux Leather ear cushions. These things fall apart in a few months and cause the headphones to move if you get sweaty.
HyperX has worked itself up to be one of the most widely recognized brands for gaming gear, and for a good reason. The quality of their headsets has constantly been pushing the boundaries of audio standards for gamers. With that being said, they are not gamer exclusive. Streamers can just as easily take advantage of their gear and begin their journey.
If this headset is too much to swing, pretty much any headset that HyperX makes is pretty decent quality, so feel free to browse within your budget.
Audio Technica M50x – A Solid Offering With a Detachable Cable
These headphones are in the same price range as the Beyerdynamic DT 770s I mentioned above but have the added benefit of a detachable cable. While not as comfortable as the DT 770s, they are still one of the best headphones within this price range.
Many voice actors actually prefer these over the DT 770s for on-the-go, as they fold in on themselves. This makes them easy to transport and allows them to fit snugly in a smaller carrying case. Add the detachable wire, and you will have a tiny, mess-free experience.
- Great Audio
- The fold-away design makes it easy to transport
- Detachable cable
- Great Noise Isolation from noisy environments
- Fairly neutral response curve.
- Leather backing makes it slide easily on your head if you get sweaty (According to a friend)
- Somewhat excessive clamping force. This becomes less of an issue as they break in. (According to a friend)
Now a bit of a disclaimer. I have not personally used the M50X headphones. This made a list purely on their huge following and from second-hand recommendations by a few friends who have used them.
Logitech G933, a Handy Headset to Hear Audio From Multiple Sources Without a Mixer
Logitech G933 Review
The G933 is the headset that I have used for over 4 years, and it served me well during this time. A notable feature of this headset is that it can accept both a wireless signal and two wired signals simultaneously without assistance from additional hardware.
For me, this meant having my WiiU audible through my headset while playing Breath of the Wild, listening to Spotify, and chatting with friends on Discord. It was a very nice thing to have on multiple occasions. Plus, it had RGB! Everybody likes RGB, right? RIIIIGHT???!! (I turned that off effective yesterday. Kills your battery time.)
One interesting thing that happened was when I reported the battery charging issue and the fact that the hinge broke to Logitech, which I described more in the cons section, they shipped me a brand new G933 headset to replace mine, free of charge.
They didn’t even want the old headphones back for refurbishment. Brownie points for Logitech here.
They are still in use today as my TV headphones for late-night TV to not disturb my partner.
- Decent Audio Quality
- Very handy simultaneous listening from multiple inputs
- Comfortable to wear
- Wireless range is Very good.
- The battery lasts about 12 hours at first.
- Decent directional audio in 7.1 (Only available in Wireless mode…)
- The microphone can be stowed away and out of sight when not in use. Also mutes the mic when up.
- Heavy! Will leave a nice dent in your scalp for long sessions
- Heavy! Don’t drop them. The frame is entirely plastic, and the hinge broke on my first pair after dropping them on two separate occasions.
- Low Clamping force. Slid off my head easily a few times. Caught them most of the time…(See above)
- The battery lasted less than 5 hours before I retired them.
- Had serious issues with not taking a charge (flashing red led) needed to unplug the battery, then plug in the charging plug, then re-connect the battery when fully depleted.
- Bulky – The wireless design, coupled with the quick-access plates, resulted in a lot of extra heft to this headset.
Despite all of the Cons, these were the best headphones I had ever used prior to falling into the audiophile rabbit hole. The simultaneous listening of multiple devices being the biggest factor of my praise. The 7.1? Dodgy at best.
But if it’s good enough for me for over 4 years, its good enough to be here on this list.
The Best Overall Headphones for Streamers – Beyerdynamic DT 880 Premium 250-Ohms
Now, let’s talk about the final and best option for under $200 for those who have the equipment necessary to handle them. The Beyerdynamic DT 880’s are quite possibly the best option for streamers and content creators who deal with audio. And they don’t break the bank in the process!
They only have a very minor sound leak, which is easily managed by proximity to your mic, and vst noise cancellation, so it’s really a non-issue.
- Legendary sound quality
- Same comfort as the DT 770’s, which is to say extremely comfortable
- Ability to hear yourself a bit better than the DT 770s, allowing you to speak more naturally. If you have a mix knob where you can monitor your voice and output, Then this point is moot.
- No Detachable wire.
- See DT 700 Pro X or DT 900 Pro X
- Same contact point flaw as the DT 770s. The peg that connects to the driver is plastic, with the band being metal.
- No Swivel earcups.
- Doesn’t make me breakfast in the morning.
With that being said, there is a 600-Ohms variant, but unless you know for sure if your hardware is capable of driving these, you may want to steer clear of those. I know my Behringer UMC204HD has no chance to aptly drive those, that’s for sure.
Honorable mention – Sennheiser HD 650
I didn’t include the Sennheiser HD650 in the top 5 to pick from because its price exceeded what I’d recommend spending on a pair of headphones meant for streaming. With that said, these are widely considered one of the best audiophile headphones under $600, so if audio is important to you, then these will serve you well. Just make sure you aptly pair it with something like the Schiit Magni 3+ to get the power it needs.
They are Open-back, so they leak a ton of sound, so be aware of that when making a purchase decision.
Got your Headphones? Now choose your microphone 🙂
Now that you have seen my recommendations for some of the best headphones out there, the next piece of the audio puzzle is your microphone. You may want to also read about some pretty handy microphone speaking techniques that will help you improve your sound on stream. Good luck with your streaming endeavors, and thanks for reading!