If you are a gamer that also produces music or if you are a music producer that also enjoys playing games, then this article is just for you!
The other day a friend of mine asked me to borrow my headphones to play his online game. The next day he came back amazed telling me this was one of the best headsets he had ever tried and wanted to know where he could buy one! After we talked a bit, I decided to create this article exploring the best headphones for music production and gaming.
These are the best headphones for music production and gaming:
4 Qualities of Music Production Headphones
- Excellent sound
- Superb build quality
- Detailed sound
- Good bass
Why Gaming Headphones Are a Huge Rip-Off!
Gaming headphones are a huge rip off because:
A) They have unnecessary functions that compromise the overall quality, example, led-lighting.
- Companies have a budget for the design and manufacture process of a product.
- If they have to invest more money in adding functions such as led lighting, they will cut back on other aspects such as the audio or design quality. If they don’t , the end result will be much higher priced to cover all the expenses so they can make a profit.
B) The microphones found on most gaming headsets are of very poor quality. (More on that later on).
C) The surround function many gaming headsets are advertised to offer in reality works seriously bad and is terrible! (Also more on that later).
Why Real Surround-Sound Gaming Is a Rip-Off!
One feature I hear many gamers talk about is surround sound gaming. I understand that this is important when playing games because you want to hear were certain sounds such as footsteps come from. In other words, you need directional awareness.
There are two different types of surround sound implementations within a headset REAL and VIRTUAL.
Real Surround vs Virtual Surround
A) Real surround headsets have multiple drivers on each side that are in charge of the specific audio channel such as left, right, sub, or center. This is a great idea… At least it’s great in theory.
- In reality, every headset that offers “real” surround is absolutely disappointing and terrible, to say the least! Yes, you get some sound-movement BUT don’t expect to get that 3D experience you hear with a speaker based 7.1 system. Therefore don’t waste your money buying headphones that claim to offer a “real” surround experience because they don’t.
B) Virtual surround is created by software that adjusts the treble, mid and bass frequencies to provide that 3D illusion. Virtual surround is MUCH better than “real” surround and can be achieved with every headphone.
- Therefore you don’t need a special set of cans to get that effect. If you absolutely need a surround focus on buying a quality set of headphones and add the 3D effect with an external software.
The Microphone Found on Most Gaming Headphones Is of Low Quality
Microphones are essential for games, but you can better stay away from gaming headphones that come paired with a mic.
After a lot of testing, I concluded that most mics are of very poor quality. If you want to use a mic, you can better buy an external mic or one that you can set up on your headphone or on your desc. Trust me; your friends will thank you for the superb quality.
Don’t Buy Open-Back Headphones for Gaming. Here Is Why
Open-back headphones are great for mixing and mastering applications, but when it comes to music production or gaming, they are NOT a good choice.
- The number one reason you want to avoid open-back headphones when you play games, it’s because they allow sound to travel through them and potentially disturb the people around you.
- If you’re playing games late in the night and you’re using open-back headphones even if someone is a room apart from you, they still may be able to hear the loud shootings and explosions coming from your headphones.
The second reason not to choose open-back headphones for playing games is because they also allow the sound of your environment to pass through them.
- As a result, if you play games in a noisy place, you will be able to hear what’s happening around you without being able to focus on the game entirely.
The One and Only Reason to Buy Open-Back Headphones for Gaming
Only buy open-back headphones for gaming when you’re ABSOLUTELY sure you won’t be playing games in a noisy environment. You can also buy open back headphones if you’re shure that you wont be distracted from your game, or you won’t be playing games in a must-be-quiet environment where you could bother others with your loud gaming sounds.
If the above situations don’t bother you then opt for open-back headphones since they offer a larger depth to sound and an overall airy quality.
At this point, I must mention that generally, you also want to avoid open-back headphones for music production. The details are discussed below.
Don’t Buy Open-Back Headphones for Music Production. Here Is Why:
As for music production, closed-back headphones offer a very detailed upfront audio reproduction, something you won’t get with most open-back headphones.
- If you use open-back headphones for recording, you will 100% get recording bleach, which is sound picked up by the microphone that escapes the open-back structure.
- Open-back headphones offer a spacious and airy sound and are great for mixing and mastering applications where high detail is needed but not for music production.
If, however, you want to play games, produce music AND mix your own tracks and want to do all that on a budget with just one set of cans, choose a closed-back set. Simply pick one from the list below, and you’ll be all set!
These Are The 5 Best Headphones For Music Production and gaming
1) TOP CHOICE Under $100: Audio-Technica ATHM40x
Frequency response 15 Hz to 24 kHz
Comfort Level: 7
The ATH40x is quite comfortable, as it comes with upgraded earcups and headband materials, the padding is very soft without pressing your ears.
Yes, the earcups are updated, but I expected them to be a bit smoother. Some have looked to replace the earpads with higher quality options, such as the Audio Technica’s MSR7 earpads. You can do this if you wish, but I don’t find it necessary.
- The headphones feel quite sturdy, and they will last a long time, but to be honest, they do feel a bit cheap, and you can tell the difference from premium headphones.
- However, the ATH40x are so famous for their sound quality and not for their luxurious feel.
- There are a lot of popular consumer headphones that have great designs but cost 3x times as much as the M40s and sound nowhere near as nice!
A great added feature is the replaceable cable, which should add considerably to the ATH-M40x’s longevity.
Sound Quality: 6.5
- The overall sound quality of the ATH40x is good, with good highs and a good low-end. They offer a balanced sound without being overly punchy in the low end. However, I found that the highs are a bit sharp for my taste, nothing crazy, but it did annoy me a couple of times.
- Also, the low-end spectrum has some odd harmonics present that mud the sound a bit. I found the DT 880 to be much more suitable to my taste but for the price, the Audio-Technica ATHM40x is a great choice!
- There are odd harmonics present; also, they lack overall punch, but what’s good about the low end is that it’s not artificially enhanced. Thus they offer a more “natural” sound.
- The mids are clear and well balanced.
- Good highs, but with the occasional added “bite” that could bother you sometimes, nothing crazy, but it’s present; this is because the M40’s have a boosted treble that ads fake detail.
SUMMARY of The ATHM40x
For the price they are selling for, the M40’s are a solid choice. If you don’t want to go higher with your budget, stop everything that you’re doing and buy a pair of these babies!
2) Sony MDR7506
A close runner up to the ATH40x is the Sony MDR7506. The MDR’s are a great set of cans and for a slightly lower price, you get a slightly lower quality compared to the M40’s.
That said the Sony MDR7506 have been in the game for over three decades and are considered the industry standard. I even remember my father had a pair at this home studio.
Comfort Level 5
- The comfort level of the MDR’s is okay, they come with soft earpads, but they are a bit tight ( I have a large head), and after long listening sessions, the top of my head felt like it was pinched.
- If you check the reviews at Amazon, you see that I’m not the only one complaining about the pads. There is a large market online that offer great alternatives if you wish to replace the pads once you purchase the MDR’s.
- The MDR7506 are made of plastic, and therefore, they are very lightweight. They are made for live sound and on-site recording applications, as is evident by their ruggedness.
- They close pretty well, and they offer a satisfying click once you fold them. This feature allows them to be very portable; If you plan to use them out of the house a lot, I would buy a headphone case just to keep them safe.
Sound Quality: 5.5
- The lower end spectrum of these headphones is quite clear, BUT they are not suitable for producing heavy bass music since the lower rolls off at 50Hz, meaning you won’t be hearing your 808’s.
- Also, it peaks about 15% at 100Hz, which means that your kick will have a nice punch, but beware(!) its the headphones that offer that punch, not the sound sample itself.
- The mids are clean, providing an accurate representation of every sound source. One of the reasons the MDR-7506’s became so famous is because they have such a great midrange response!
- The highs, however, are not that great. Looking at the spectrum, we see severe peeking that starts at 2 kHz; it continues to up to 10Khz a gradual peak up to +10dB.
- This makes the MDR7506 sound over the top and harsh. When it comes to the highs, I wouldn’t recommend these headphones.
- But, when it comes to live applications, I understand why these headphones are a great option. When you need to track and see if there is hiss present or other unwanted frequencies at the high spectrum, the MDR7506’s are doing a great job. I just wouldn’t use them in the studio for mixing.
SUMMARY of The MDR7506
With great mids, these cans are suitable for games and some studio applications such as tracking or producing but not for a pronged period of time.
They are not that comfortable, and the highs are a bit harsh. Still, they offer better overall quality compared to most budget headphones; also, they are very durable, meaning they will last a very long time.
That said, purchase a pair only if you find them at a discount or if you cant stretch your budget more to buy one of the other cans found at this article.
3) TOP CHOICE under $200: Beyerdynamic DT 770 32 Ohm
Frequency Response: 5 Hz-35,000 Hz
Comfort Level: 9
- These are by far one of the most comfortable headphones I’ve ever tried, I can wear them for prolonged periods of time, and often I forget that they are on my head!
- The earpads are VERY soft and velvety, providing a great feel. The band is covered by leather, and it sits on your head very well.
- There is also a 9.8ft (three-meter) chord that allows you to move freely without worrying about the length of the cable.
- This pair of headphones is very durable if you treat them well; they will last for many years. They have metal forks on the side that look stylish, and the best part is that the pads and the leather around the band are replaceable.
- You even can choose from a wide range of colors and materials according to your style and preference.
Sound Quality: 9
- The overall sound quality of the Beyerdynamic DT 770 is superb. They offer a clean and open sound that I can only describe with the words smooth, spacious, and beautiful.
- The DT 770 is easily comparable with much higher-end headphones close or above the $800 mark!
- They offer a natural and un-boosted low end that is accurate and precise and not muddy at all, BUT they have a small boost that colors the low end.
- When compared to the DT 990, which has a broad peak at 60 Hz. Regardless of their boost, I must say I enjoy the low end of the DT 770 more, and I’m a difficult ear to please! Also, the low end is suitable for tracking subs and kicks since they go a low as 5Hz.
- The mids are also very well-balanced, offering an accurate representation; they are great for hearing footsteps and producing music. I would like them to be a tad more detailed but that is not possible due to their closed-back form.
- The highs are crisp and clear; they truly shine in this department. The clarity of these headphones makes bright distortion and over-limiting very obvious!
SUMMARY of The DT 770 32 Ohm
The Beyerdynamics DT 770 are closed-back headphones, and I found them to be very suitable for very-quiet or very-loud environments. They are a great option for gamers and music producers.
Keep in mind that they come in three versions 32 Ohm, 250 Ohm, and 600 Ohm. If you decide to purchase the 250 or 600 series, make sure you HAVE an external sound card or a preamp to use them with. If you try to plug the 250 and 600 versions directly in your PC’s audio out, the volume will be very low.
That said, the 32 Ohm version does work great without any additional external hardware! Grab now a pair of the DT 770 and experience supreme sound quality!
Headphones, gaming and music are a big deal for me that’s why I choose the Beyerdynamic DT 770 32 Ohm. This headphone offers the best overall quality and will last for years to come!