A good pair of closed-back headphones is almost a necessity for most gamers. Their closed-in feel and passive noise isolation can be a great boon, especially when you’re trying to tune out the outside world and focus on your game. But with so many options out there, choosing the best closed-back headphones for gaming can prove tricky.
Headphone choice is deeply subjective, so we can’t claim to have an objectively perfect list here. But we’re confident most of you will find something that works among our five picks. These range from a top-of-the-line wireless option to a sub-$50 budget classic, with several price points in between. Let’s get started.
- Best Wireless Closed-Back Headphones for Gaming: SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is a full-featured pair that sounds good and ticks all the boxes.
- Best Mid-Range Wireless Closed-Back Headphones for Gaming: Logitech G Pro X Wireless is a good-sounding, comfortable pair of headphones with excellent mic quality.
- Best Budget Wireless Closed-Back Headphones for Gaming: Logitech G535 is a solid budget wireless set with good sound and an acceptable mic.
- Best Mid-Range Wired Closed-Back Headphones for Gaming: HyperX Cloud Alpha is a no-frills pair of headphones with impressively neutral sound.
- Best Budget Wired Closed-Back Headphones for Gaming: Logitech G432 are slightly bass-shy but otherwise sound great for their low price.
our favorite Closed-Back Gaming Headphones
Before we start, a quick word about frequency response graphs. We use these as a helpful visual indicator of how a pair of headphones will sound. But they may not be all that easy to understand if you’ve never seen them before. Skip ahead to our buying guide for a quick guide to reading frequency response graphs.
SteelSeries’ latest offering, the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless, is a premium set of closed-back gaming headphones that ticks all the important boxes (and then some). They’re not cheap, but those looking for a do-it-all pair of headphones should start here first.
At an MSRP of nearly $380, the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless are towards the top end of gaming headsets price-wise. It’s not hard to see why, though. The SteelSeries headset is packed with features, amongst them active noise canceling (ANC), a dedicated wireless unit for fingertip control and ultra-low-latency audio, 360-degree spatial audio, and hot-swappable batteries.
Of course, all these features matter little if the audio quality isn’t up to par. Thankfully, SteelSeries nailed it with the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless. These SteelSeries headphones have a generally neutral sound profile, with some extra emphasis on the low and high end. This adds a bit of heft to explosions and extra clarity to high-pitched sounds, although some may find the latter too harsh for their tastes.
Fortunately, you can adjust the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless’ EQ profile through SteelSeries Sonar or the 10-band EQ on the headphones’ wireless base station. We really appreciate the latter feature, as it lets you switch EQ settings without opening any software on your PC or Alt-Tabbing out of your game.
The wireless base station also gives you access to several other features. These include the hear-through Transparency Mode for the ANC and a Chat Mix slider that lets you adjust the balance between game audio and Discord. You also get a battery charging slot to keep your secondary battery topped up while you game. Interestingly, the wireless base station has two USB ports, letting you connect two systems and switch between them as needed.
This multi-connection design extends to the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless themselves, too. You can stream both 2.4 GHz and Bluetooth to the headphones simultaneously, letting you game over 2.4 GHz while listening to music or podcasts over Bluetooth from your phone (for example). It’s not necessarily a feature we think many of you will use, but it’s a clever trick that will surely come in handy for some.
Mic quality is excellent, too, with SteelSeries Sonar’s built-in AI algorithms (only available on Windows 10 and Windows 11) helping to greatly reduce background noise. Sonar does an excellent job at cutting out the usual keyboard sounds that mics tend to pick up, ensuring your comms remain crystal clear even during the most heated gameplay moments.
Overall, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is one of the best pairs of closed-back headphones available. Their solid sound quality and excellent overall package more than justify the price; if you want the best of the best, start here first.
Not a fan of wireles headsets? The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro non-wireless retains the excellent sound quality and most of the features at a more affordable price. They’re the best wired closed-back gaming headphones on the market, if you ask us.
Logitech’s G Pro X Wireless is a great mid-tier set of wireless gaming headphones. They offer good, balanced sound for music and games and excellent software mic enhancement that makes it one of the best-sounding headsets for meetings and general voice tasks.
The G Pro X Wireless has the same sound as the older wired version, so those of you familiar with that will find the G Pro X Wireless familiar. It’s a generally neutral sound, with reduced sub bass and a slight boost to the mid-bass and upper mids.
This sound profile gives you a bit of extra boom for explosions and high-impact sounds without being overwhelming in the low-end. Similarly, the boosted upper mids add clarity and “cut” to sounds without being too overwhelming. Some users may find the upper mid boost a bit harsh, but we think it’s just about right for the average user.
As with many USB headsets, you can tweak the EQ in Logitech’s G Hub to tame or boost any frequencies you want. Unlike some rival headsets, doing so won’t affect your latency, so you can freely tweak and sculpt it without worrying about it impacting your gaming experience.
G Hub also gives you access to DTS Headphone:X 2.0 surround sound technology and Blue Vo!ce software filters for the microphone. The latter is particularly impressive, turning the otherwise tinny G Pro X Wireless mic into a more full-bodied, broadcast-style microphone that’ll work perfectly for meetings and even podcasts.
It can’t compete with a dedicated condenser microphone, of course, but it gets surprisingly close. Blue Vo!ce gives you access to filters and features such as an EQ, compressor, de-esser, and limiter, offering a lot of room for customization and tweaking.
Logitech’s G Pro X Wireless is a great mid-range option if you’re after a wireless gaming headset. They sound good out of the box and have great software tweaking and enhancement options to help elevate them above most of the $150-200 competition.
Prefer the no-fuss operation of wired headphones? The wired Logitech G Pro X headphones sound and feel the same but retail for around half the price.
Logitech’s G535 is a solid pair of wireless gaming headphones coming in at the magical $100 price point, offering great performance at an affordable price (for wireless headphones).
The Logitech G535 is an impressively neutral and balanced-sounding gaming headset. Where many similarly-priced wireless headsets have boomy and unbalanced sound, the G535s have a consistent overall presentation. They are missing the lowest octaves of bass extension, however, so these aren’t for you if you want head-rattling bass.
As usual, you can adjust the EQ to taste in Logitech’s G Hub software. So, while these are surprisingly neutral and safe out of the box, you could tweak these to emphasize whichever frequencies you prefer for the games or music you listen to regularly.
Like Logitech’s other wireless headsets, you get access to DTS Headphone:X 2.0 with the G535, which is nice to see at this price point. It’s not the most outstanding surround sound implementation you’ll hear, but it does a good job and will help add spatial cues to games that support it.
One area where the G535 suffers compared to pricier Logitech headphones is the mic. While the basic microphone quality isn’t much worse than, say, the G Pro X headphones, the G535 lacks the Blue Vo!ce software enhancements that make the pricier Logitech headsets such excellent options for meetings and calls. So expect slightly thin audio; fine for gaming, but sub-par for more serious tasks.
Despite the slightly disappointing microphone quality, we think the Logitech G535 is an excellent choice for those seeking wireless connectivity on a budget. They sound good, are comfortable to wear, and come in at less than 1/3rd the price of our top pick.
HyperX’s Cloud Alpha offers great sound quality and foolproof operation, focusing on the core features of a pair of headphones without much in the way of gimmicks. They’ll appeal to those who want a solid pair of wired headphones that won’t break the bank.
The Cloud Alpha has a surprisingly neutral sound profile, especially in the lows and mids. It’s not a sound signature that will wow you, but it’s a versatile tuning that will work for all sorts of games. However, there is a noticeable dip in the treble range, which can make certain instruments and sounds feel distant or lacking in detail.
While it is an issue, we don’t think it’s a deal-breaking one. On balance, we think the Cloud Alpha’s sound signature is excellent for a mid-range gaming headset. You can pay a lot more for much worse audio, so HyperX deserves praise for the Cloud Alpha’s tuning.
Unlike some affordable headphones, the HyperX Cloud Alpha has a detachable cable. This makes it slightly more portable, which is always welcome. A detachable cable is also better for longevity, as you can easily replace the cable should the original break.
The boom mic is also detachable and is one of the better-sounding examples in this price range. It captures your voice clearly and will be adequate even for video calls or meetings. Sadly, there’s no clever AI noise reduction here, given the lack of a companion app. You’ll have to live with the onboard noise-canceling functionality or use other noise-reduction solutions for your mic, like Nvidia Broadcast.
Some users may find the lack of a companion app limiting, but we think it makes the Cloud Alpha a welcome no-nonsense option in a sea of complicated, feature-rich products. This is the pair to go for if you want a reliable pair of closed-back gaming headphones for around $100 that will work for most situations.
If you need surround sound, check out the HyperX Cloud Alpha S. It shares most of the features of the Cloud Alpha non-S but ships with a USB dongle that provides custom HyperX 7.1 surround sound.
Logitech’s G432 is an affordable pair of closed-back headphones that will do an excellent job for anyone on a budget. You lose out on the convenience of wireless operation, but what you miss out on in portability, you make up for with surprisingly decent sound and build quality for the price.
The G432 isn’t the most exciting-sounding pair of closed-back gaming headphones out there, but they still sound decent, considering the price. Unlike many other cheap headphones, the G432s aren’t bass monsters; if anything, they’re a bit bass-light, with a frequency response focusing more on midrange and treble clarity.
So they’ll lack some of the boomy bass you might want for cinematic games, but the midrange clarity will benefit competitive gaming and situations where clarity is more important.
Despite being a budget-oriented pair of headphones, the Logitech G432 headphones support DTS Headphone:X 2.0, which you can customize via Logitech’s G Hub app. Logitech’s surround sound implementation isn’t quite as high-quality as that of DTS’ dedicated app, but it should work fine for most users.
The built-in boom microphone doesn’t sound as full as some of its competitors, with a similarly bass-light sound as the headphone drivers. However, this is far less of a problem, as the voice doesn’t benefit from a lot of bass anyway. Having reduced bass but a clear midrange ensures your voice comes across loud and clear, even during heated gameplay moments.
Overall, Logitech’s G432 is a solid, budget-friendly pair of closed-back gaming headphones. They’re not new or exciting, but that’s not a huge issue when you can get a pair for less than $50 online. If you need a safe, reliable pair of closed-back headphones and aren’t too fussed about high-end features, this is the pair to grab.
Before You Buy
Finding the right pair of headphones is a subjective process, reliant on trying them out to see what works and what doesn’t. But knowing how to read frequency response graphs will help a lot, letting you filter out headphones that won’t work for you right off the bat. So let’s discuss them here, plus a quick comparison between closed- and open-back headphones.
Frequency Response Graphs
Frequency response graphs are the squiggly lines you’ll often see in headphone reviews. These are visual representations of how the headphones sound and are the next best thing to listening to the headphones yourself.
Frequency response graphs have two axes: horizontal and vertical. The horizontal axis covers the sound spectrum, with bass sounds to the left, mid-range in the middle, and high frequencies to the right. The vertical axis indicates the volume of each frequency, as represented by the squiggly line that tracks the volume of each frequency in dB SPL.
The higher the line, the louder the frequency, and vice versa. So, if we take a look at the frequency response for the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless, we can identify some sound characteristics simply from the graph. The Arctis Nova Pro Wireless headphones have a boosted sub-bass (towards the left), a noticeable upper midrange emphasis (in the middle), and a treble peak (toward the right).
All frequency response graphs are calibrated to the reviewer’s “neutral standard,” represented by the flat dotted line in the middle. So you’ll see subtly different results from different reviewers. Ideally, you’ll want to get familiar with one or two reviewers (or review sites) and compare headphones based solely on these measurements.
There’s no right or wrong frequency response graph, as it depends entirely on what you like. Some users want a lot of deep bass, while others prefer a more neutral sound. Figuring this out will take time, but one way to do it is to look up the frequency response graphs of headphones you already like to see how their frequency response graphs look. Look for pairs that have similar frequency response graphs, and you’ll likely be in the ballpark for a similar sound signature.
Closed-Back vs. Open-Back Headphones
There are two types of full-sized headphones: closed-back and open-back headphones. Closed-back headphones have fully closed-off earcups, which only let sound out where they meet your ears. The benefit of this design is that it provides passive noise isolation by blocking external sounds.
While they can’t compete with in-ear monitors or active noise cancellation, the passive noise isolation of closed-back headphones makes them more suited to noisy environments or situations where you don’t want your audio leaking out and bothering others.
Closed-back headphones also often have slightly more bass, as the closed-off construction emphasizes the low end slightly. Closed-back headphones also run hot, and you may notice your ears getting sweaty over long periods.
Open-back headphones have mesh earcups, which let air pass through them. This also lets sound pass through the ear cups, leading to sound leakage. Sound will leak in and out of open-back headphones, making pen-back headphones less ideal for commuting or for situations where others are within earshot.
However, open-back headphones have a significant advantage regarding sound quality and soundstage. Audio often sounds more natural and clear on a good pair of open-back headphones, which is why it’s the preferred construction for most high-end audiophile headphones.
Overall, closed-back headphones are more versatile and will work in almost any environment due to their passive noise isolation. However, those primarily interested in high-quality audio for music listening will likely want to check out a decent pair of open-back headphones before committing.
Wireless vs. Wired
Wireless headphones have come a long way, and the best ones will offer zero-latency operation rivaling traditional wired headphones. However, not every wireless headphone has such perfect performance. For instance, some cheaper models may have low-latency operation by default but will add latency once you start changing software settings in the companion apps.
A small bit of latency shouldn’t be an issue, but large amounts of latency will result in audio lagging behind the visuals. This can negatively impact your gameplay, especially in competitive shooters. So, while wireless headphones are generally excellent, we recommend reading reviews to see if the pair you’re considering has any latency issues.
If you want to game on wireless headphones, we recommend sticking to devices that use dedicated 2.4 GHz wireless connections. These will perform the best, with the downside of requiring dedicated USB dongles or base stations.
Wired headphones are much simpler, with zero latency issues and no need to worry about battery life. Prices are also often significantly cheaper, with the only downside being the cable itself. We don’t think having a cable is all that bad, but you may feel differently.
Having a good pair of closed-back headphones can be a lifesaver when gaming, helping to drown out noise from computer fans or the outside world and letting you focus entirely on your game. They can get a bit sweaty, sure, but the best closed-back headphones for gaming are a must-have in any gamer’s arsenal.
If you have the cash to splash, look no further than SteelSeries’ Arctis Nova Pro Wireless. They’re excellent, full-featured headphones that tick all the boxes for a modern pair. But if you’re on a tighter budget, Logitech’s G535 or the HyperX Cloud Alpha will do excellently for about $100.
Want to try open-back headphones instead? Check out our list of the best open-back headphones for gaming.