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Headphones don’t need to have a mic for gaming.
Not everyone needs to chat.
A lot of gamers out there are single-players, happy to tot around an adventure with an NPC or two along.
Or you could be on a multiplayer platform but are of the strong, silent type, so you can’t be bothered to engage in audio chat.
We don’t judge.
But back to those games that don’t need a mic.
Are regular headphones workable for gaming?
In this write-up we’ll be looking at the best headphones for gaming with no mic, so you can decide for yourself.
Quick List: Top 6 Gaming Headphones Without Mic
- Philips Fidelio X2HR – Best Overall
- Sennheiser HD280PRO – Best Under $100
- Edifier H840 – Best Budget Option
- Audio-Technica AD500x
- Sennheiser RS 175 Wireless Headphone
- Audio Technica ATH-M40x
Researching Gaming Headphones Without Microphone
Headphones used for gaming can come with or without a mic, though if you were to pick up one that had the word “gaming” tagged to its name, then a mic will likely be present.
However, that doesn’t define what a gaming headphone should do. What we wanted to see was whether the headphones could drive gaming sounds well. That means the ability to output balanced or flat audio, so something like a studio monitor or headphones with flat tuning would work fine.
What type of headphone you use for gaming is a personal choice, some gamers swear by gaming earbuds and others use over ear headphones. It all comes down to personal choice and preference. If getting some quality gaming speakers interests you we do a great article on those also.
Some gamers like to have a lot of bass in their headphones to pick up more of the explosions and lower-end rumbles, and that’s fine. But we looked for clean audio output that could represent all the frequencies well.
We wanted to see if surround sound was present or if the headphones had a good soundstage. Again, this is to see if they could pick up all the subtle details that go into a gaming audio-scape, and if positional audio would be available, especially for FPS games. The more detailed the separation in the audio, the better it is so voices and effects are clearly audible.
The next factor is comfort. You can go for an open-back gaming headphone or closed-back gaming headphone design. The open-back will let your ears breathe more but the closed-back gives better noise isolation. Either way, are they comfortable headphones for extended hours of gaming? Are they good for music and movies, apart from gaming? And what types of connections did they have?
The range of headphones that we saw fall within the $30 – $200 limit, so you can see how much price variation is possible. Read on for more on what we selected.
The 6 Best Gaming Headphones Without Mic in 2020
1. Philips Fidelio X2HR – Best Overall
Philips is not normally a name you would associate with gaming. But in the search for headphones without mics that could be used for gaming, we came across these phenomenal Fidelio X2HR.
✔️ What we like: Incredible sound stage with even better audio quality
❌ What we don’t like: Nothing that sticks out
👌 Standout Features:
- Crisp, balanced audio
- Wide, accurate soundstage
- Open-back comfort
The Philips Fidelio X2HR is Hi-Res audio certified, meaning they can handle some very high-quality audio formats. But we digress. Gaming audio is not typically audiophile quality. However, headphones that can reflect their designed soundstage well is a plus, and it’s here that the X2HR shines.
The X2HR is open-back, which means it already comes with a natural, airy soundstage. Plug in your game, and you’ll find your ears picking up subtle sounds from your game that you’d never heard before. The directional audio is precise. Footsteps squeaking on floorboards, the rush of running water from a stream. Detailed separation. That’s what the X2HR does.
The bass is surprisingly powerful and tight. Trebles are clean and crisp. There is warmth and liveliness to the music and sounds generated by the X2HR, with beautiful balance.
What’s even nicer is that the impedance is only 30 ohms, which means your PS4 can drive them at high volume. If you put them through a good soundcard or amp, you’ll be able to experience their true potential, though it’s not necessary to get good audio.
The X2HR not only sounds great, but they also look great and feel great. The memory foam earpads have a cushy, velour finish. The only minor gripe would be the weight. Some users may find them getting a little heavy after long-wear. But with the open back design, your ears, at least, will be able to breathe much more.
The overall construction is solid, they should survive several drops or accidental sit-ons. The connection is via a 3.5mm plug, with a 6.35mm adapter, and there’s a nice cable clip supplied to keep the long cable organized.
It’s difficult to complain about the Fidelio X2HR. With all the check-boxes ticked, they could be your go-to for a price tag that’s under $150.
2. Sennheiser HD280PRO – Best Under $100
The Sennheiser HD280PRO is marketed as professional monitoring headphones. We’re looking at where the neutral sounds from these headphones can benefit a gaming application.
✔️ What we like: Extended soundstage on a closed-back design
❌ What we don’t like: Thick coiled cable adds weight
👌 Standout Features:
- Neutral soundstage
- Balanced, transparent audio
The Sennheiser HD280PRO has a closed-back, collapsible design with rotatable earcups that gives it some amount of portability. Connectivity is via a 3.5mm plug with a 6.35mm adapter for bigger headphone jacks.
The construction of these headphones is solid, with leatherette earpads designed for comfort, and function to isolate external sounds. The thick coiled cable does add some weight and as it’s on one side, it might create a small amount of imbalanced sensation after long wear.
On the other hand, the earpads, headband, and audio cord all replaceable, so you’ll be able to extend the life of these headphones. Note that the cord is replaceable, not detachable. Meaning you’ll still need to use a soldering iron at some point.
Designed for studio monitoring, the HD280PRO produces a neutral, transparent audio quality. This is good for gaming and movies because sounds will be output the way the game designers meant them to. We like the extended, natural soundstage. The sounds don’t feel like they’re coming from inside the headphones, but from around you. And this makes it a little different than the canned feeling you tend to get with closed-back headphones.
If you’re a bass fan, you’re going to be disappointed by the bass in these. It’s not that there is none, but it’s softer, less emphasized. However, a good EQ will still be able to remedy that if you want a more bassy boom.
If you do decide to get theHD280PRO, let the drivers burn-in to get optimized sound output.
Overall, these are good headphones that can handle a wide range of applications. With a bass that’s a little soft, but excellent sound separation, the Sennheiser HD280PRO is a headphone that could cover your gaming, music, and monitoring needs.
3. Edifier H840 – Best Budget Option
Edifier is a name that has a fairly strong presence in Asia and Europe, producing some fine audio peripherals. The H840 falls in their budget range of headphones and there’s a reason they are quite popular.
✔️ What we like: Great sound with a budget price
❌ What we don’t like: Thin cables that can break easily
👌 Standout Features:
- Warm, balanced sound
You could think of the Edifier H840 as entry-level monitor headphones. The 40mm drivers produce enough audio output that has a fine, balanced quality across the frequencies. The stereo sound is warm with just a slight bias towards bass. But this is not enough to rattle the ears and still retains that balanced soundstage.
So how does this work for gaming? Neutral sound output is usually a good option for gaming, just like for movies, because games have so many sound sources, from voices to ambient sound effects, to the theme music. As for H840, they work perfectly fine for gaming. These don’t support surround sound but the stereo imaging is quite good. You won’t be getting great positional audio, but if you’re running an adventure or RPG game, these will work just fine.
The passive noise isolation is very good. External sounds still leak in, but not enough to be disruptive, so you will be able to get some immersion in your gaming.
The Edifier H840 comes in lightweight form factor, soft leather earcups, and a flexible, leather headband which should allow for hours of comfortable wear. The connect to the audio source via a 3.5mm plug. The only complaint we have is the somewhat thin cords that are viable to break easily. Don’t let any pet that likes to chew cords near them.
With simple, good looks, several color options, and earcups that swivel flat for storage, the Edifier H840 is a great budget option for anyone looking to spend less than $50.
4. Audio-Technica ATH-AD500x
Audio-Technica is one of those brand names that sits as easily in the budget, as in the high-end headphone corner. The ATH-AD500X is one of the smaller headphones in their ATH-AD open-back series.
✔️ What we like: Excellent positional accuracy with good audio separation
❌ What we don’t like: Wing design of the headset may not suit everyone
👌 Standout Features:
- Extra-large 53mm drivers
- Awesome positional audio
- Lightweight form factor
Like most regular headphones without mics, the ATH-AD500X isn’t marketed as gaming headphones. So if you’re on a search for your next FPS go-to headset, you might overlook these open-back cans.
Audio-Technica has several headphones in their ATH series. This is one of the smaller ones, with a narrower frequency response range. The ATH-AD500X can push 5Hz – 25kHz, while its bigger brothers can go up to 40kHz.
But this, in no way, makes it a lightweight in terms of sound quality. The ATH-AD500X produces some fine, neutral sound with a wide soundstage that is airy and expansive. The bass won’t impress a basshead, but it’s well-balanced with the crystal clear trebles. This allows it to pick up all those subtle in-game details that you might otherwise miss.
As for positional accuracy? Did we mention the wide soundstage? You’ll be getting some detailed directional audio, great for FPS, adventures and RPGs alike. The best part is the feeling that those sounds come from beyond the headphones, which gives them a dash of realism.
The ATH-AD500X is wonderfully lightweight, thanks to the open design. The earcups are rigged with an aluminum grill across the opening and your ears will be happy for being able to breathe more. We’d like to note that some users have found the odd ‘wings’ on the headpiece uncomfortable, but many don’t even notice it. So, that’s a personal preference.
With large 53mm drivers, an airy soundstage, and a pleasing price tag, the ATH-AD500X could very well be your next headphone for those immersive gaming sessions. Just wear them in a quieter environment, because they aren’t meant to isolate anything.
5. Sennheiser RS 175 RF Wireless Headphone
The Sennheiser RS 175 wireless headphone comes with a dedicated wireless transmitter. Let’s have a closer look at what else it features.
✔️ What we like: Convenient wireless with great sound
❌ What we don’t like: Somewhat steep price tag
👌 Standout Features:
- RF wireless
- Excellent neutral sound quality
- Controls on earcup
Whenever you look for wireless gaming headphones, you should always keep an eye out for the terms “RF wireless”. This will usually mean the headphones come with a dedicated transmitter that ensures your wireless headphones experiences zero lag. This then translates to audio and video that are correctly synced when you’re off tracking hostiles on a dark, rainy evening – in-game that is.
Some dedicated wireless headphones connect via a USB dongle. But not the Sennheiser RS 175. The RS 175 comes with a dedicated standing transmitter that doubles as a charging stand for the headphones. The transmitter then connects to an audio source via a digital optical cable or analog 3.5mm plug. It’s easy to toggle between the two – just by the press of a button.
Most of the primary controls are on the headphone, which makes it very easy to manage. Power, volume, surround, or bass mode. Surround sound comes in Hi or Lo, and bass mode boosts the bass response. You could also just listen to everything in stereo.
The sound quality is excellent. Flat and neutral, it provides a detailed output that will mirror whatever your audio source intended. Hook them up to your PC or PS4 for some great surround gaming experience. There won’t be any lag because of the RF transmission. Noise isolation is pretty good too, being that these are closed-back headphones.
The RS 175 is pretty lightweight and comfortable to wear for an extended period. Some users have commented that they can feel a bit tight, but that’s going to depend on head size, and everyone is different.
The Sennheiser RS 175 is a nice wireless headphone with good sound, good looks, and comfort. The only downside is the slightly steep price tag which sits just under $200.
6. Audio-Technica ATH-M40x
The ATH-MX40X is Audio-Technica’s middle-child in the closed-back ATH-M series. Let’s take a look at these studio monitors and see what makes them stand out.
✔️ What we like: The flat audio output of professional studio monitors
❌ What we don’t like: Fragile pivot points that are prone to fatigue
👌 Standout Features:
- Clean, neutral sound
- Detachable cables
- Comfortable padded earcups
If the ATH-AD series are open-back, then the ATH-M series is their closed-back counterpart. The Audio-Technica ATH-M40x sits in the middle of this range of headphones, with 35-ohm impedance and a frequency response of 15 Hz – 24 kHz. Its siblings can go up to 40 kHz.
The ATH-M40x is a professional studio monitor headphone, so its audio output is tuned flat. That doesn’t mean it has a flat sound, just that it will output sounds exactly the way the audio source was engineered to sound. Which is good for gaming and movies.
Games have a lot of sounds going on in them, from voices, effects to music. The 40mm drivers on the ATH-M40x handles these very well, giving clean, neutral audio with separation and a fairly decent soundstage. Acoustic instruments sound exceptionally clear on these, and there is even some sub-bass present, though it is quiet. You can boost that via an EQ if you want the sub-bass to be more pronounced.
At 35-ohms, there’s no problem powering the ATH-M40x from a PC motherboard or console. Two detachable cables are supplied to connect to the source via 3.5mm jack, and a 6.35mm adapter is available.
The circumaural design – ok, that’s a fancy word meaning your ears will be fully enclosed in them – create excellent noise isolation. Clamping on the earpads may feel a bit strong, but this is expected for studio monitors, to minimize sound leakage.
The one detectable flaw is in the materials. The ATH-M40x can fold and swivel for storage, and the pivot joints are rather fragile, susceptible to fatigue in the long term.
Audio-Technica makes some nice flatly tuned headphones. If you’re interested in noise isolation and clean neutral audio, don’t wander too far from the ATH-M40x.
A Buyer’s Guide To Gaming Headphones Without Mic
With so many types of headphones out there, you may wonder what features matter, what don’t? To help you get an idea of some of the usual elements to look out for, have a read.
Open-back vs Closed-Back
This is a design element that some may not be aware of. If you’re not an audiophile, you likely don’t pay much attention to the design of the headphone earcups – which is what the open-back versus closed-back is all about.
Open-back headphones have a natural soundstage since the back of the earcups are uncovered. You won’t have that enclosed feeling in your head as sound can pass through the back of the earpiece, as opposed to the closed-back version. Open-back headphones have an expansive, airy soundstage, which is both great for gaming and music. The only drawback is that it will leak in external sound because of the open design, and therefore isn’t suited for noisy environments.
The closed-back headphone is more common, and will naturally have some noise isolation because they enclose the ears. This type is suitable for noisy areas or when you just want to block out external noise. The listening experience is more intimate, but also less breathable for the ears.
Noise Isolation vs Noise Cancellation
You might see these two terms used interchangeably. Or you could see ‘passive’ vs ‘active’ noise cancellation. Don’t be confused.
True noise cancellation (the ‘active’ type) needs an active circuitry to filter out ambient noise. This means a separate battery or some other power source, which implies an added cost. Active noise cancellation will let some noise to filter in, allowing environmental awareness.
The more common type of noise isolation is the ‘passive’ type. Over-ear headphones have natural sonic isolation. It’s just a matter of how much your ears get sealed off from external noise based on earcup design.
Surround Sound And Soundstage
Not all games need surround sound, though it’s great if your game supports the format.
Having surround sound for FPS games will be an advantage because it has that wide soundstage needed for accurate positional audio. This is going to give great cues for enemy approaches. A realistic audio-scape is good for FPS. The more detailed the audio separation, the better.
But even you’re not an FPS gamer, a wide soundstage provides some deep level of immersion for RPGs and adventure games. And for music, a good soundstage can give you the feeling of being right in front of the band.
However, don’t discount pure stereo sound. A good stereo mapping of sound can still create decent positional audio, and a lot of music sounds awesome in stereo.
Wireless connectivity usually comes in three types; infrared (IR), radio frequency (RF), or Bluetooth. The most commonly used for headphones is Bluetooth. Bluetooth is fine for music, but there may be some latency issues when you’re gaming or watching movies – meaning audio doesn’t sync with the visuals.
Bluetooth technology is getting better but if you want to game on wireless, it’s a good idea to look for headphones that have a dedicated RF connection. An RF connection will have virtually zero lag, but it will need a dedicated dongle. Unlike Bluetooth, which can connect to anything that supports it.
Comfort is super-important if you’re planning on gaming for several hours. This is where the open-back design wins a little over the closed-back. The airiness of the open-back will keep your ears comfortable for hours. Even so, closed-back headphones can be very comfortable too. Quality, breathable materials, and a strong nod to ergonomics will contribute a lot to wearability.
No Microphone Is Not The End
Just because a headphone doesn’t have a mic, doesn’t mean you can’t game on it.
There are great headphones out there that can output your gaming sound just as they’re meant to be. Open-back or closed-back, the choice is yours.
Besides, if you need a mic for chatting, you can always invest in a modmic that can be attached to your headphones.
Hopefully, with our tips, you now have a more informed search to find the best gaming headphones without mic for you.