When we think of gaming headphones, many of us think of products from brands like SteelSeries or Logitech, all with included boom mics. But not everyone needs one of those: if you already have a decent standalone mic, getting a pair with a microphone is a waste. If that sounds like you, then this list of the best gaming headphones with no mic is precisely what you’re looking for.
Not needing a built-in mic gives you a lot more choices. You’re not restricted to “gaming” units and can buy based on sound quality. And that’s what our list will focus on: good-sounding gaming headphones without a mic that’ll work for games, music, and movies. Let’s get started.
- Best Open-Back Gaming Headphones With No Mic: Philips SHP9500s are a safe pick, offering balanced sound at a great price.
- Open-Back Gaming Headphones With No Mic Alternative: Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X headphones are very detailed and great for games but can sound thin to some listeners.
- Best Premium Open-Back Gaming Headphones With No Mic: Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro 80 Ohm headphones offer detailed, studio-grade audio that’ll handle anything you throw at them.
- Best Closed-Back Gaming Headphones With No Mic: Audio-Technica ATH-M30x headphones have a consumer-friendly sound signature with good bass.
- Closed-Back Gaming Headphones With No Mic Alternative: Sony MDR-7506s have studio-grade sound perfect for anyone who wants to consume and create content.
- Best Premium Gaming Headphones With No Mic: Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro 80 Ohms have excellent bass and mids perfect for gaming, albeit with a slightly sharp treble.
The Best Gaming Headphones With No Mic
Before we start, we thought it best to address the elephant in the room early on: no, we don’t have a wireless headphone pick here. That’s because most of, if not all, the good mic-less wireless headphones out there connect via Bluetooth. That’s fine for content consumption and casual gaming, but the latency makes them poor choices for wireless gaming headsets.
So, if you want wireless, you’ll have to get a mic-equipped headset and hope that the boom mic is detachable. Check out our list of the best closed-back gaming headphones for a few great suggestions.
Philips’ SHP9500 headphones have been around for a while now, but they’re still an excellent choice for gamers who need a high-quality headset at an affordable price. With their neutral sound and open-back design, these are a great all-rounder pair of headphones.
The SHP9500s have a balanced sound profile, with clear midrange and treble. You lose out on ultra-low bass, but it makes up for that with a slightly elevated low-mid bass region that adds some weight to the sound.
This neutral sound signature makes them great for music, too. It likely won’t excel at bass-heavy EDM, but general pop and more acoustic genres should sound great on these. The SHP9500s have exceptional sound quality, especially considering their affordable price.
The open-back design also means you get great soundstage and imaging, giving audio a more lifelike, “3D” feel. You should be able to place sounds and instruments accurately, which is excellent for critical music listening or heated competitive gaming.
However, the open-back construction means that these won’t block out external sounds, nor will they stop your audio from leaking out. This shouldn’t be an issue for most users, but those who live in noisy environments or plan to game on the go should look for a closed-back set instead. The SHP9500s also aren’t the smallest headphones out there, so some users may find them a bit bulky.
But beyond the inherent issues with open-back design, there’s nothing to fault the Philips SHP9500s for. They’re affordable, sound great, and don’t require fancy audiophile headphone amplifiers to sound their best. We don’t think you can go wrong with them, no matter what you play or listen to.
The Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X open-back headphones are another old favorite, offering great mids and detail ideal for competitive games. They’re definitely not the newest kids on the block, but their age comes with a reduced price, making them a solid mainstream option for gamers.
The ATH-AD700Xs emphasize the mids and treble regions, making these great for games and music that demand detail and positional awareness. Think of competitive FPS games like CS:GO and Call of Duty, where pinpointing gaming audio cues like footsteps, gunshots, and reload sounds can make all the difference.
It’s much the same story with music. Listeners who enjoy genres that demand brightness and detail, like classical music, will get along well with the ATH-AD700X headphones. On the other hand, if you like bass-heavy genres, these aren’t the headphones for you. They can sound thin and won’t work if you want a lot of bass.
The ATH-AD700X’s open-back design also has the standard drawbacks of poor noise isolation and sound leakage. While we don’t think either is problematic enough for gaming at home, you will want other options if you live in noisy environments or want to eliminate the risk of your sound leaking back into your mic.
Overall, the Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X headphones are perfect for anyone chasing detail and clarity. But even if you’re not entirely sure what you want yet, these headphones’ roughly $100 price and great comfort make them worth checking out no matter what.
Beyerdynamic is one of the most recognizable names in high-end headphones, and models like the DT 990 Pro show exactly why. These sound great, combining balanced mids with some extra boost in the low and high end to create a versatile, likable sound signature.
The DT 990 Pro 80 Ohms have a noticeable boost to the upper-bass region, which gives these a bit more body than most open-back headphones. It’s not a neutral low end, but we think the boost adds fun while avoiding the boominess common to many gaming headsets.
It’s a similar story for the treble region. It’s not flat or “natural,” but the extra treble adds a lot of sparkle and life to audio and games, albeit at the risk of sounding a bit harsh with very bright sound sources.
Most importantly, however, the mids are clean and almost flat, presenting all the vital midrange sounds evenly. This is essential for games and music, as important sounds such as footsteps, reload sounds, and human voices all sit in the midrange. A good gaming headphone needs to get the midrange right, and the DT 990 Pro 80 Ohm does just that.
Jumping up to the roughly $160 price range also brings benefits like comfortable velour earpads. While the DT 990 Pros sit a bit tight on the head, the combo of soft earpads and open-back design helps make up for it and ensures comfort during long gaming sessions. That said, those with larger heads should still test these before buying.
As with all open-back headphones, the DT 990 Pros will let sound in and out. So they’re not good for gaming in noisy environments, nor are they great if you want to listen loudly while recording a voice-over. But we don’t think either should be an issue for most users. So you should be able to enjoy open-back benefits such as great soundstage and reduced ear temperature without any major issues.
Overall, the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro 80 Ohm headphones are an excellent choice for those who want to spend more on their open-back headphones. These will run off a standard PC headphone jack without issues and provide audio that’s a cut above the $100 class.
Not keen on trying to keep white velour pads looking good? Check out the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro Black Edition instead.
Audio-Technica’s ATH-M30x is a solid set of closed-back headphones with a mainstream sound profile that makes them ideal for gaming, music, and movies. They’re not the flashiest headsets out there, but they do an excellent job for a reasonable sub-$80 price.
The ATH-M30x isn’t a truly “neutral” pair of headphones, as they have a slightly quiet mid-range that makes them less suited for creators and critical audio work. But they sound fine for games and music, with decent bass and an upper-midrange boost.
Audiophiles will want to avoid these, though, as that huge 5 kHz dip impacts overall treble detail and clarity. But these should be perfectly acceptable for casual users, especially given the price.
The ATH-M30x is a closed-back pair of headphones, which means you get decent sound isolation and little sound leakage. So you won’t have to worry about your mic picking up audio from your headphones. However, this makes them sound more constrained and “closed-in” than our top pick, with poorer soundstage and positional cues.
There’s also another minor issue with the ATH-M30x’s cable. It’s 10 feet long and isn’t detachable. So unless you game a long way from your PC, you’ll have to bundle the cable up with cable or zip ties. Is it a huge deal? No, not really, but we felt it was worth pointing out.
Overall, though, the Audio-Technica ATH-M30x is a solid pair of closed-back headphones that is great for gaming and other media. Its sub-$100 price makes it a low-risk purchase and a safe choice for many users.
If you want a pair of headphones that are great for content creation and consumption, the Sony MDR-7506s are worth considering. These have been around for what feels like forever, and their neutral sound signature is still as relevant as ever.
The MDR-7506s have a “studio”-style sound signature that tries to be neutral and not over-emphasize any particular areas of the frequency spectrum. You get solid bass, accurate midrange, and slightly elevated treble that adds clarity without overdoing it. These headphones don’t sound super exciting, but they’ll faithfully reproduce whatever you ask them to.
So whether you’re trying to be the last person standing in a game of Fortnite, trying a 1v4 clutch in CS:GO or just enjoying a laid-back session in a single-player game, the MDR-7506s will do the job quietly and without much fuss. This makes them great for music and movies, too, although, once again, they won’t offer head-shaking bass or ultra-precise treble.
This accurate sound reproduction also makes the MDR-7506s great for content creation. While they won’t replace a good pair of studio monitors, the neutral sound will help you make more accurate decisions about how you mix and master the audio in your videos. The closed-back design also will stop sound from leaking into your mic, which is essential when recording content.
Unfortunately, the MDR-7506s don’t feel very premium, even compared to other similarly-priced headphones. They have a plasticky build and don’t play too well with glasses, and while the former is tolerable, the latter may be more difficult to overlook. There’s also the coiled cable, which is a love-hate feature. I like it, but it does feel heavier than a standard straight cable.
Despite those minor niggles, the Sony MDR-7506 headphones are good-vlalue studio-quality closed-back headphones for gaming, music, and content creation. Some users will find these a bit boring, but their versatility and neutral sound should go down well with many users.
We’re entering audiophile territory here, but don’t worry. The Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pros are still a reasonably accessible pair that’s a cut above products at the $100 price point without totally breaking the bank.
Beyerdynamic makes several variations of the DT 770, but we recommend the 80 Ohm version for gamers. It’s a middle ground between the 32- and 250-ohm versions and should work perfectly with a standard PC headphone jack. It’ll be too much for a smartphone, but we don’t think the DT 770s are good portable headphones anyway. So it’s not much of an issue.
The DT 770 Pros have an almost ruler-flat sound, with extended (but not boomy) bass and precise mids that let everything through cleanly. Every explosion, footstep, or reload sound should come through crystal clear on the DT 770 Pros. This excellent audio quality makes them great for almost anything you can throw at them.
The treble response isn’t quite as good, with peaky high frequencies that can get a bit sharp and bright. It’s in-your-face for sure, but not overly so; most users should be OK with this. However, you’ll want to look elsewhere (or try EQ) if you’re sensitive to treble.
Another potential issue to watch out for is the clamping force. The DT 770 Pros can feel a bit tight on the head, so some of you may only be able to use them for short sessions before feeling discomfort. The pads are soft and very comfortable but don’t compensate for the extra pressure the headphones can exert.
The Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro 80 Ohm headphones are classics, and for good reason. They sound excellent, don’t require a headphone amp, and will handle any content you throw at them. If you want a bit more than what our roughly $100 picks offer, these are the headphones to go for.
7. Samson SR850
Samson’s SR850 headphones are a semi-open pair of budget headphones perfect for anyone wanting to spend less than $50 on headphones. They’re not quite as enjoyable as headphones in the $80 to $100 range, but they do an excellent job for the price.
The SR850 has a bright but reasonably balanced sound signature, albeit with an over-emphasis on the treble regions. Instruments and sibilant sounds (like “S” and “T”) can sound a bit harsh on these. However, we think that’s preferable for gaming compared to the muffled sound signatures you often get at the budget end.
However, the rest of the frequency range is solid, with decent bass and a flat, clear midrange. Games and music should sound equally good on the SR850s. That said, the treble response means that those who listen to brash and loud genres like metal and punk may want to use EQ to tame the treble.
Unlike the other headphones on our list, the SR850s are a semi-open design. You get some of the benefits of open-back headphones, like better soundstage and imaging, but with some of the sound isolation of closed-back headphones. Unless you require zero leakage, we think the SR850s’ semi-open design is a great middle-ground that should work well for most users.
Samson’s SR850 headphones aren’t perfect, but they’re excellent for the sub-$40 price. While the increased treble response can be divisive, the balanced frequency response everywhere else makes these a great choice for gamers on a budget.
Before You Buy
Buying headphones is incredibly subjective, and the only way to truly know what works for you is to try them out and learn as you go. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do some prep work. So let’s discuss frequency response graphs and the differences between open- and closed-back headphones to help give you a head start.
Frequency Response Graphs
Frequency response graphs are the squiggly lines present in most high-quality headphone reviews. These visually represent how the headphones sound and are the best way to see if a headphone comes close to the sort of sound signature you prefer without actually listening to them.
Frequency response graphs have two axes: horizontal and vertical. The horizontal axis covers the audio 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 in dB, as represented by the squiggly line.
The higher the line, the louder the frequency, and vice versa. For example, let’s look at the frequency response graph for the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro 80 Ohm. The chart shows that they have increased high bass (the hump to the left) and a treble spike towards the high end (to the right). This combines with a flat midrange (middle) to create the sound signature that so many listeners love.
While frequency response graphs are reasonably objective, it’s worth pointing out that reviewers will all use different measurement devices and calibrations when measuring headphones. So the results may differ slightly from reviewer to reviewer; if you want to compare products, try and compare measurements from the same reviewer(s)
A great way to use frequency response graphs is to look up the results for a pair of headphones or in-ears you own or like. Understand the graph and how it relates to what you’re hearing, and once you’ve figured that out, simply look for headphones with a similar frequency response. This won’t guarantee that you’ll like the new pair, but it’ll help you start on the right foot.
Open-Back vs. Closed-Back Headphones
Full-sized headphones come in open-back and closed-back varieties. Open-back headphones have open ear cups which let sound pass through. These have no noise isolation, allowing ambient noise in and leaking sound out. However, you get a more natural soundstage in return, with none of the closed-in feeling of closed-back headphones.
So while they’re not great for commuting or noisy environments, many audiophiles prefer these for home listening where isolation isn’t an issue. Gamers can also benefit from open-back headphones, as the more “3D” sound image makes for a more immersive experience. Open-back headphones also let your ears breathe, reducing sweat and heat buildup during extended gaming sessions.
In contrast, closed-back headphones have entirely closed-off earcups. These will offer some passive noise isolation, making them slightly better for noisy environments. Another advantage of the closed-back design is that it often helps emphasize bass frequencies, making closed-back headphones ideal if you want a lot of bass.
However, closed-back headphones can have sound quality issues. The closed design means you can hear reflections from inside the earcups themselves, especially on poorly-designed headphones. Our picks won’t have these issues, but they still suffer from a more closed-in and restricted soundstage that will sound less lifelike and natural.
Both types have pros and cons, and your choice depends on what you want. You’ll want open-back headphones if you like a more natural, speaker-like sound. However, closed-back headphones rule the roost if you demand a lot of bass or need to block out some external noise.
Headphones are an essential part of any gamer’s arsenal. Even if you don’t always game with them, having a good pair of headphones can be handy for competitive games and situations where you can’t crank your speakers up.
If you like open-back headphones, the Philips SHP9500s are a great choice. They’re safe, neutral, and sound good with almost anything. But if you’re a closed-back fan, the Audio-Technica ATH-M30x headphones are worth checking out for their more “fun” sound signature and affordable price.
Looking to head straight into audiophile territory? Check out our list of the best audiophile headphones for gaming for some great-sounding (but pricey) picks.