I'm finally able to get high end headphones, and I can't pick one. Please help :(

SuperBoss

Member
Oct 25, 2017
692
Hey guys, I need your help. For the first time in my life, I have an opportunity to get high end (expensive) headphones. I've never had anything beyond the cheap $10-$20 wired earbuds.

Suffice to say, I don't know very much about the high end headphone market. I've done some research, and it seems there's not really a product that can fit all my needs?
I wanted something that can provide surround sound like experience with deep bass for gaming purposes, but also something that is active noise cancelling and can be used to listening to music or browsing videos on my laptop.

So as far as wireless and active noise cancelling headphones go, with great sound, my leading pick is the Sony WH-1000XM3:


I've tested these out at my local bestbuy, and they sound great for music. The noise cancelling is unbelievable. And the app seems to have alot of customization. But I can't tell (and none of the staff could help me) if this headset would be great for gaming on my PS4.

When gaming I want that bombastic, immersive feeling where you can hear steps behind you and stuff, or deep rumble/bass from thunder and explosions. I want 7.1 sound.
And the best I could seem to find is the Astro A50s? I'm not sure if they're best headset for gaming:



This is where I need Era's help. Is there no headset that can fulfill both needs (gaming and noise cancelling/music)?
If not...what's the best headset I can get for gaming?

I'm excited to finally have a premium audio experience, but I want to make the best of my choice. I would really appreciate suggestions and help.
 

Whitemex

Member
Oct 27, 2017
4,485
Chicago
Sony's
No questions about any other pair.
I have the XM1s and they are amazing. I've read nothing but great things about the newer models.
 

GalvoAg

Member
Oct 30, 2017
817
Galveston
Go wired and pick up a pair of HD 6XX or HD 650. Best bang for your buck and they last forever.

I have a pair of XM2’s and they’re nice but I never use them. Really nice when I travel but otherwise they sit on the shelf at home.
 

teague

Member
Dec 17, 2018
791
Most high-end headphones will have an in-line microphone of some kind, so theoretically you can also use them as a gaming headset. However audiophile-type headphones will have very different qualities than those made for gaming; not to put too fine a point on it, but gaming headsets tend to emphasize "impressive" features like bass at the expense of accurate sound reproduction, so they won't really be good for listening to music. The Sony pair you linked are pretty good, but for my money the best headphone brand for the money is PSB: PSB M4U8. While the ANC isn't as good as Bose, the sound quality is 1000x better, and Paul (the founder of the company) is just a really solid guy who actually cares a lot about audio. In my experience the customer support is also excellent. If you're going to mostly play games I wouldn't get PSB, but if you want a pair of do-everything headphones that will change your life in terms of music, you can't go wrong.

Note: I have M4U2s, which are just phenomenal, and not 8s yet, but I'm going to upgrade soon.
 

Bakercat

Member
Oct 27, 2017
8,329
'merica
I was interested in the Sony's, but was out of my price range. I ended up getting the Plantronics Backbeat Pro2 and I really like them. They run for around $130 on Amazon, but they're really good for the price of $200 MSRB.
 

Fuchsia

Member
Oct 28, 2017
3,870
Sennheiser HD 650 are insanely nice. So comfortable and great sounding even without a super nice headphone amp. Of course, they are even better with a great amp! Still, I believe these are the best bang for your buck. I even use them for audio engineering purposes and they haven’t let me down. Relatively flat and true to the source with a great soundstage. I wear them for like 8+ hours a day and never have discomfort.
 

BraXzy

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,020
The XM3's are great for music, I wouldn't say they're great for gaming personally - but if you're getting both, definitely XM3's. The only real alternative is the Bose QC35's or the Bose 700's.

Don't get a typical "gaming" headset, and 7.1 surround is fake, if it's not a proper surround sound speaker set up you just want direct stereo - get a proper headphones + mic set up.

Headphones I'd recommend:

Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro (80 ohm)
MASSDROP X SENNHEISER HD 58X JUBILEE

Microphones:

Modmic 4.0 (small boom mic that you stick on)
Blue Yeti
Audio-Technica AT2020
 

metsallica

Member
Oct 27, 2017
3,189
The Sony WH-1000XM3s are the best BT ANC headphones on the market. Full stop. Anyone who says otherwise is wrong.

I bought a few of the highest-end pairs last year (B&W PX, Bose QC35s, the Sonys) when return policies were at their most generous because of the holidays, intending to A/B test and keep the pair I liked. The WH-1000XM3s annihilated the other two in ANC and sound quality. Wasn't a fair fight. I preferred the fit/finish/weight of the QC35s and liked its physical design and tactile buttons more; it also has a simpler and more streamlined app. When considering the stuff that really counts, though? There's no real choice.

Note: this was strictly for use with my iOS devices. No console/PC gaming was done during testing.
 

Space Acorn

Member
Oct 27, 2017
151
Ontario, Canada
The HD650s that have been suggested are really great and they'll grow with you, sounding better and better, as you upgrade your sound system. However, I don't feel like they meet your criteria. If lots of bass is really important, they don't quite measure up in that respect - hip-hop, rap, electronica can benefit from a pair of headphones that have more bass impact than these. They're also the polar-opposite of closed or noise-cancelling headphones - no noise cancellation and sound comes out of them like they were speakers. I'm not too familiar with today's headphones though, so I can't make any suggestions.
 

Servbot24

The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
19,640
Any headphones marketed as gaming headphones are going to be shit. Also avoid Beats and Bose.

Just stick to the basics. Sennheiser, HiFi-Man, Beyerdynamics, etc. I think HiFi-Man 400i is an incredible value for the sound you’re getting.
 

KingM

Member
Oct 28, 2017
1,072
I have the XM2s and the Astro A50s. The Sony set will be much better for music. I enjoy the built in mic in the Astro's but sound quality isn't even close. They also have the plus of being able to pair with your cell device as the headphone jack is sadly fading away.
I have a pair of 650s as well. They sound good without an amp, but if you want wireless go with the Sony set. Honestly these days I usually just go with the XM2 as it's more convenient.
 

Kuro

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,084
Astros sound like shit to me but they do have decent directional sound.

Its hard to find what your looking for because you want deep boomy bass which usually requires closed back headphones but you also want a really open soundstage which requires semi to full open headphones.

You also want the headphones to be wireless which adds in some other problems.

7.1 virtualization sounds awful in headphones btw.

Well mixed stereo audio sounds much better and still gives you fantastic directionals.

I think you'll be mostly okay with the MX3s since its so versatile but if you're willing to give up wireless I would go for ATH-ADG series or Beyer DT770 for something a bit cheaper and the both sound great for games and music. Be aware that you'd most likely need an Amp with those two.

I would personally get the MX3 and then upgrade later for something specifically to use with the PS4 if it wasn't good enough for that.
 

Fusionfrenzy

Member
Aug 2, 2019
59
I have never heard a pair of gaming headphones that don't sound properly shit for music. They are two completely different goals.

For music I recommend a good wired pair and an amp, like a V Moda M100 or CFW2 with a Fiio A3. Or Sennheiser HD600 + A3. Either option is far superior to the Sonys.

For gaming, a headset with surround sound and mic is a totally different prospect but it wont sound anything more than passable for music. What you really want is the music setup above + a cheap ish gaming headset for games separately.
 

DrForester

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,107
Hey guys, I need your help. For the first time in my life, I have an opportunity to get high end (expensive) headphones. I've never had anything beyond the cheap $10-$20 wired earbuds.

Suffice to say, I don't know very much about the high end headphone market. I've done some research, and it seems there's not really a product that can fit all my needs?
I wanted something that can provide surround sound like experience with deep bass for gaming purposes, but also something that is active noise cancelling and can be used to listening to music or browsing videos on my laptop.

So as far as wireless and active noise cancelling headphones go, with great sound, my leading pick is the Sony WH-1000XM3:


I've tested these out at my local bestbuy, and they sound great for music. The noise cancelling is unbelievable. And the app seems to have alot of customization. But I can't tell (and none of the staff could help me) if this headset would be great for gaming on my PS4.

I just recently bought that set of headphones for a trip. They're fantastic. Very comfortable too.
 

Tapiozona

Avenger
Oct 28, 2017
841
Save your money and get a pair of the Koss KPH30i's. They're 30 bucks on Amazon though occasionally $20 on drop. I went down the 'audiophile' headphone rabbit hole a little while back and spent a small fortune on cans, dacs, and amps only to realize I can get almost the same sound (in many cases better than some of my very expensive cans) for a small fraction of the cost.

The soundstage on these is unreal with tight bass and incredible mids. I can't recommend these enough. They also have a cool retro look and stand out from the ocean of big over the ear cans that everyone has. I've had multiple people ask me about them while no one ever bats an eye at my Denon D5000's with custom zebrawood cups and markl mods (my favorite headphones). The only downside to the Koss is they're open so there will be some sound leakage. I like it because I can use them at work without being dead to the world as I can hear if someone comes up to talk to em.

I Don't care what anyone says but there's a massive amount of diminishing returns with headphones and a lot of it comes down to preference of sound signature. Once you hit a certain price/quality level it's really people exaggerating to justify their expensive purchase.

At $30 bucks they're easily the best bang for buck headphones on the market. They even have a mic and a lifetime warranty. You can break them 20 years from now and they'll send you a replacement. Koss is a long established company in the US which have great customer service and satisfaction ratings. I say buy those. You may end your search there but if not you've had your first experience with quality sounding headphones and they make a great backup or travel set. There was a thread about them here a few weeks ago. Just search "Koss".

Here's a link. They come in 3 colors. I'm a sucker for the tan and blue ones for that extra vintagey look...
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07SFK2K17/

Some of the recommendations above really require a DAC/Headphone amp, particularly the ones with high impedances (ohms). There's no exactly rule of thumb head-fi tends to say if it's more than 50ohms then get at least a headphone amp. If it's in the hundreds then you definitely need to. Some laptops have decent dac/amps built into them but they're rare.
 
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Chasex

Member
Oct 29, 2017
745
Hey, I actually have both XM3's and A50's!

The XM3's have the absolute best noise cancelling I've ever experienced and it's not even close. Everyone I've shown them to is jaw on the floor shocked at how good they are. They are AMAZING for travel. You can barely even tell you're on an airplane with them on. We also have an open floor plan at work but I can completely close out the room with the XM3's. Music sounds awesome too, I don't know if it's the noise cancelling aspect but I can pick up on small details better than any other headphone I've ever used. The soundstage is amazing for a closed system too. I often find myself listening to music and just focusing on the background to see if I can discover new sounds. The battery life also defies logic, I mean it just lasts forever. I use them for days at a time seemingly all day and they just keep going. I cannot give a stronger recommendation for these headphones. Expensive but so, so worth it.

The A50's are what I use at my home desk for work, gaming, and anything else. They are obviously great for gaming and the mixamp rocks. Would be weird going to a headset without mixamp functionality now. I would go A50's over any other pair of wireless headsets and I've tried most of them. Astro has great customer service and their build quality has gone up tons. Going wireless is also a necessity imo, I will never go back to wired headphones.

I also have an old pair of Sennheiser HD600's if I really, really want to listen to music and know that's what I'll be doing exclusively for a bit. Honestly though, I barely use them. The wireless function of the A50's is too convenient and they sound good enough for music that I can't find myself caring. Let's be honest, most of us listen to highly compressed mp3s and streaming music anyways. Unless you are an enthusiast, these high end cans are just overkill and actually make the low quality stuff sound even worse.
 
OP
OP
SuperBoss

SuperBoss

Member
Oct 25, 2017
692
Thanks for the replies so far guys, im doing alot more research based on your suggestions :)

Just to be clear, the XM3s are not good for gaming?
 

YukiCT

Member
Oct 30, 2017
975
Thanks for the replies so far guys, im doing alot more research based on your suggestions :)

Just to be clear, the XM3s are not good for gaming?
Yeah, you need two different sets of headphones for different purposes. I was in a similar dilemma. Sony XM3 1000 is excellent active noise cancelling but it's not for gaming. The latency is not going to be a very good experience.

If you want a gaming headset that's wireless that comes with a mic, I think Steel series Wireless Arctis Pro is excellent especially if you add on the Wicked cushions. Having a Wirless DAC, dual batteries for charging. I think it's more comfortable to wear than A50 though can't really comment on sound or surround, some prefer A50 from what I've read. I use my headset on both PS4 and PC so the Arctis being much more flexible fits my needs.
 

Stinkles

343 Industries
Verified
Oct 25, 2017
14,761
The Sony WH-1000XM3s are the best BT ANC headphones on the market. Full stop. Anyone who says otherwise is wrong.

I bought a few of the highest-end pairs last year (B&W PX, Bose QC35s, the Sonys) when return policies were at their most generous because of the holidays, intending to A/B test and keep the pair I liked. The WH-1000XM3s annihilated the other two in ANC and sound quality. Wasn't a fair fight. I preferred the fit/finish/weight of the QC35s and liked its physical design and tactile buttons more; it also has a simpler and more streamlined app. When considering the stuff that really counts, though? There's no real choice.

Note: this was strictly for use with my iOS devices. No console/PC gaming was done during testing.

They may well be, but they gave me a horrible time pairing (iPhone, iPad and PC) before the first firmware update - they do not stay in my ears without third party "wings" - which have to be removed to charge them - and they occasionally get out of sync while pairing with new devices. When they are in my ears, they sound great and the noise canceling isn't amazing, but impressive for the size. I went back to over the ears headphones and will probably sell mine. It was worth a shot, but they ultimately aren't for me. If they had the same silicone in- ear-brace wings as the Bose soundsports, they'd be pretty much perfect (syncing aside).
 

Tranquility

Member
Oct 28, 2017
139
Another vote for the XM3s. The audio quality for music is so good it made me discover new details in music I’ve listened to for decades.
 

ps3ud0

Member
Oct 27, 2017
653
Curious shortlist and requirements. I think you'd be better served with 2 headphones rather than one.

My basic recommendation would be whatever music/noise cancellation headphone you wanted (the XM3s are a great choice tbh if you need wireless though I've never consider wireless are real positive) and then a wired headset like the HyperX Cloud 2s or similar.

P.S. Don't automatically assume expensive is high-end and vice versa. Also that not one headphone rules all as it depends on so many things.

ps3ud0 8)
 
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metsallica

Member
Oct 27, 2017
3,189
How do they compare to the new Bose 700s?
I only had a chance to demo those in-store, as I did my in-home testing before they were announced. They are more premium than the QC35IIs and the ANC is a touch better, but I still preferred how the Sony pair sounded. My demo was very limited, though, so keep that in mind.
They may well be, but they gave me a horrible time pairing (iPhone, iPad and PC) before the first firmware update - they do not stay in my ears without third party "wings" - which have to be removed to charge them - and they occasionally get out of sync while pairing with new devices. When they are in my ears, they sound great and the noise canceling isn't amazing, but impressive for the size. I went back to over the ears headphones and will probably sell mine. It was worth a shot, but they ultimately aren't for me. If they had the same silicone in- ear-brace wings as the Bose soundsports, they'd be pretty much perfect (syncing aside).
I didn't have pairing issues on prior versions of iOS, but iOS 13 has been difficult (as we both posted about in a previous thread). However, all I needed to do rather than launching the app to connect after I had disabled BT was long press in control center and select the headphones. The pairing process is actually way faster than it was on iOS 12 and I prefer it, though I have had some volume issues going from Switch/Genki to my iPhone. Still ironing it out and I expect Sony to update the app to bring the functionality back to how it was. Also note you're referring to the WF-1000XM3s, not the WH-1000XM3s. Sony's naming conventions are very confusing; my prior post was about the over-ear model, not the in-ear model. I prefer the over-ear model.
 

Brandino

Avenger
Jan 9, 2018
154
I have the Sony one, and I love it. You can also use them wired with the NC on. I game with them, and use them at work to drown out my office cause I sit next to some loud talkers
 

Stinkles

343 Industries
Verified
Oct 25, 2017
14,761
I only had a chance to demo those in-store, as I did my in-home testing before they were announced. They are more premium than the QC35IIs and the ANC is a touch better, but I still preferred how the Sony pair sounded. My demo was very limited, though, so keep that in mind.

I didn't have pairing issues on prior versions of iOS, but iOS 13 has been difficult (as we both posted about in a previous thread). However, all I needed to do rather than launching the app to connect after I had disabled BT was long press in control center and select the headphones. The pairing process is actually way faster than it was on iOS 12 and I prefer it, though I have had some volume issues going from Switch/Genki to my iPhone. Still ironing it out and I expect Sony to update the app to bring the functionality back to how it was. Also note you're referring to the WF-1000XM3s, not the WH-1000XM3s. Sony's naming conventions are very confusing; my prior post was about the over-ear model, not the in-ear model. I prefer the over-ear model.
doh my bad. All Sony over ear headphones from md wired studio monitors up are the real deal for audio quality. I almost bought the wireless noise canceling over ears but ended up with bose for battery charging speed and duration.
 

Atraveller

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,697
doh my bad. All Sony over ear headphones from md wired studio monitors up are the real deal for audio quality. I almost bought the wireless noise canceling over ears but ended up with bose for battery charging speed and duration.
Eh. I'm unimpressed with both WH-1000XM3 and WF-1000XM3's sound. They are not very detailed, and the tuning is your typical consumerist flavor: all elevated bass and no extension.
 

Lump

Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,789
The Sony XM3s are some incredible travel headphones. You can really tell that they were made to be the best possible Bluetooth headphones for anyone that air travels. They got some quirks like the sensitive side touch controls and the fact that they only support single device pairing at a time, but they got what counts: great Bluetooth sound quality for the price and top tier Active Noise Cancellation.

The ANC can even be calibrated for cabin pressure / altitude, and you can cover up the touch panel with your palm to heighten ambient sound instead of block it for pilot or airline announcements. The battery life is also absurdly good (30-40 hours on a charge). These were cans built to provide conveniences and features to folks that go on planes a lot, and have the quality to back them up as great Bluetooth cans otherwise.
 

Stinkles

343 Industries
Verified
Oct 25, 2017
14,761
Eh. I'm unimpressed with both WH-1000XM3 and WF-1000XM3's sound. They are not very detailed, and the tuning is your typical consumerist flavor: all elevated bass and no extension.
If you’re into audiophile fidelity I’m not sure why you’d even look at Sony’s direct Bose airplane exec competitor (qc35iis actually sound great but broad) since they’re always going to shoot for warm rich bass and vocals . Which as you note are extremely popular. With people.

the buds were not worth the hassles for me but most people dig them.
 

remz

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,222
No audiophile headphones for music are going to be great gaming headsets and vice versa tbh
What? Maybe the gaming headphones are shitty for music, gaming and everything except for having a boom mic, but any half way decent audiophile headphones are going to be sitting in the great to perfect for gaming range. Pretty much the main thing you want in gaming is soundstage for positional audio and the sets people recommend these days always have great soundstage

I can't think of any pair I own that I would say are "bad" for gaming. Maybe grados?
 

excelsiorlef

Member
Oct 25, 2017
39,130
What? Maybe the gaming headphones are shitty for music, gaming and everything except for having a boom mic, but any half way decent audiophile headphones are going to be sitting in the great to perfect for gaming range. Pretty much the main thing you want in gaming is soundstage for positional audio and the sets people recommend these days always have great soundstage

I can't think of any pair I own that I would say are "bad" for gaming. Maybe grados?
Yeah I'm wrong lol
 

super-famicom

Avenger
Oct 26, 2017
4,016
Go wired and pick up a pair of HD 6XX or HD 650. Best bang for your buck and they last forever.
This right here. You can pair these with a Modmic and then you're set. What OP posted are not what I'd consider high end headphones, though they would definitely be better than the $10-20 variety.

We also have a Headphone OT here: https://www.resetera.com/threads/headphones-era-lotl-even-through-the-distortion-we-remain-lossless.2975/

Edit- if you want a gaming headset , then get the Hyper X Cloud IIs and don't look back. Otherwise you'll go down the headphone rabbit hole spending lots of money chasing that perfect sounding pair.
 

RoninChaos

Member
Oct 26, 2017
3,280
Sennheiser HD 650 are insanely nice. So comfortable and great sounding even without a super nice headphone amp. Of course, they are even better with a great amp! Still, I believe these are the best bang for your buck. I even use them for audio engineering purposes and they haven’t let me down. Relatively flat and true to the source with a great soundstage. I wear them for like 8+ hours a day and never have discomfort.

While I completely agree I think the 650s really aren’t that hot unless you have an amp. If he’s gaming he might want to look at the HD58X Jubilee. It has half the power need of the 650s and they sound great.

If the op is looking for wireless for gaming then go with the Astro A50s. A lot of people here shit on Astro but they’re damn solid and the mix amp function is awesome.
 
Oct 31, 2017
43
Hmmm planning to buy a headphone also. Is it worth it buying a used M50X then buy the FiiO bluetooth adapter? I'm planning to use mainly for music as to compared to gaming.
 

kvetcha

Member
Oct 27, 2017
5,990
Any headphones marketed as gaming headphones are going to be shit. Also avoid Beats and Bose.

Just stick to the basics. Sennheiser, HiFi-Man, Beyerdynamics, etc. I think HiFi-Man 400i is an incredible value for the sound you’re getting.
Audeze Mobius sez hi.

Also, Kingston are selling a branded version of the Mobius minus Bluetooth as the HyperX Cloud Orbit S for $329. Both great options.