Closed headphones for streaming/gaming/music?

Greetings HiFi lovers/enthusiasts!

I’m looking for a great set of closed back headphones that I can use to stream (good sound isolation), game (fps/third person shooters), and listen to music at a ratio of 20%/50%/30%

Budget: ideally, less than $650 for just gaming with good isolation for streaming, or up to $900 for something that is also excellent with music)

Some options I’m currently considering:

  • Beyerdynamic MMX 300
  • Neumann NDH 20
  • Focal Elegia
  • MrSpeakers Ether CX
  • Dan Clark Audio AEON Flow 2 Closed
  • Audioquest Nighthawk
  • DT177X GO

Current DAC/AMPs:

  • ifi micro Black Label
  • Sound Blaster x7 Limited Edition
  • k5 pro
  • Zen Dac
  • Monolith THX DAC/AMP

SMSL SP200 THX-888


  • Blue Yeti
  • HyperX Quadcast
  • Antlion Modmic 4 (I think)
  • v-moda cable replacement mic (3.5mm?)
  • some other similar 2.5mm cable replacement mic

Open Back Headphones:

  • Koss KPH30iw - just received
  • Philips SHP9500 - no clamp, no bass, sounds tinny
  • Hifiman i4xx: main gaming set for playing Division 2 with my wife
  • Sennheiser HD6XX: main every day set
  • Monoprice 1060: my wife stole them after her Audeze Mobius’ right earpiece stopped working

Semi-Closed Headphones:

  • Fostex Dekoni Blue

Closed Back Headphones:

  • Cooler Master MH751: they’re my kids’ headphones for in-school computer class (so I might have to return them)
  • HyperX Cloud II: My daughter’s old headset before she went pink-exclusive…
  • HyperX CloudX with upgraded pads: quality issues, and leaks a little bit of sound
  • M40x with upgraded pads:
  • SoundMagic HP100: modified pads, but the pads make the headset too small for my ears
  • Sony WH-1000XM3: my go-to in the office for music listening due to ANC so I don’t hear keyboards/coworkers’ conversations.
  • Audeze Mobius: used for work meetings online. A bit too tight, ok for meetings and some gaming. Mic sounds pretty good. Does not allow proper use of amp/dac, needs to be turned on to generate sound.
  • Audeze EL-8 closed: good sound, a bit boomy, I think. Definitely good sound isolation, to the point of feeling a bit claustrophobic on long periods. I haven’t found balanced cables, and the OEM cables are a bit of a pain.

In terms of sound signature, I’d like something neutral, closer to how the music was recorded/mastered, without additional coloration. Detail, instrument separation, and sound stage are desired.

Thanks for your time and advice

Welcome to the forum.

I have the 177x Go and Elegia. I like the 177x for gaming but I don’t care for them for music. Elegia’s sound much nicer and work (for me at least) for gaming. Both have better imaging than my HD6XX. I find the Elegia more neutral than the 177x too, which are more V shaped.

My preferred pads on the 177x are perferated and don’t isolate as nicely, but that’s not a concern for my use case. They run cooler with the perf pads. I haven’t had issues with Elegia getting too hot with stock and isolates better than the perf pads.

For your price range you could look at the 1990s too that are supposed to be nice but I haven’t heard them before.

Thank you for your message.

I noticed the Elegia was at $450 at one point in Adorama. Wonder if it would ever come back down to that price. From the sounds I’m hearing, the Elegina would be a grand candidate! I was curious about the 177x Go, you commented that they’re more V shaped. Are they at all sibilant? I have some AKG 7XX and I didn’t know what people meant with sibilant until I had my ears tortured. Not sure if it’s just an issue with my hardware. I had heard some people complaining about some of the DT models having those similar issues, so I’m curious if it also affects the 177X Go? My budget is a bit open; for example, if it’s end-game, I can go higher; I just rather not, lol.

Thank you again.

It can be sibilant but not enough to bug me. I very briefly tried Fostex T60RPs and found them too harsh on the stock pads. I’ve used the 177x for hours long gaming sessions without issues, but do notice gunshots very easily lol. From what I have heard of the 1990 they are less harsh than the 177x but give it a day and someone with more audio experience and vocabulary will be along to help more than I can!

lol thank you I get what you’re saying. I have some Fostex Dekoni T50RP Blues but haven’t tried T60RP; are those the wood enclosure ones? I do have some specific pads Zeos suggested on the Blues. I also use HD6XX for most everything on my main setup; just figured that would not be good for streaming as the sound would bleed into the mic, and I’m also hearing PC fans that I’d rather isolate a little when they’re at 100% tilt.

I gave my wife a test of 10 different headsets and she chose the Monoprice 1060. Funny thing is I had just started using those myself. I had kept them in a box for over a year. They work fine when we’re playing together and we need to hear each other as well as the kids, but obviously there’s no isolation lol.

You commented both have better imaging than the HD6XX. I’m curious, how is the sound stage, given that they’re closed? and can they be balanced?

Yep, T60s are the wood ones. Both 177x and Elegia can be balanced with cable upgrades (have a longer one on order for the 177x from Hart currently but need to order one for the Elegia still lol).

I’m probably not the greatest to answer for soundstage. Would be pushing my vocabulary to articulate it correctly but here goes.

I’m very aware of listening to music on the 177x that I will swap to the HD6xx instead. Its not as enjoyable. The 6xx just gives a better sense of space and doesn’t seem so claustrophobic.

The Elegias sound great and I don’t swap them out, except for my weekends with the kiddo and want an open back in case she wakes up and calls out. I wouldn’t hear on the Elegias.

This is extremely helpful. Same boat in terms of open backs when I need to check for the kids lol.

And yes I feel that’s a great answer, that claustrophobic sense. I put the Audeze EL-8 Closed and I feel pressure on my ears! I mean, they really isolate, but I feel a bit claustrophobic. For now I feel like two great nods for the Elegia :slight_smile:

Thank you so much!

1 Like

No problem!

You may want to post what other headphones you have and what you like / don’t about them. (or update the topic post with it). It might give some of the guys something to directly compare to for you to get the best ideas for what is right for you. Would also be good to know your DAC /Amp sources. You may get different recommendations for headphones depending on what you are driving them with.

Thank you. My original post was so long that I felt like maybe it was making people not bother reading, so I deleted all the info about my current setups, headphones, mics, dacs, amps…it was also more directed toward streaming. But when I thought about it later, I figured really what I need is something I can game on and listen to music to, that isolates enough that the mic doesn’t pick it up.

I will update the OP to show some of this info. You’re right, it might help!


Bah! Ignore me on the 1990s, I dunno why I thought they were closed backs.

Wouldn’t ignore the 1990s tho bud. They don’t leak all that much sound and they are a godsend for gaming imo.

I strongly endorse the Elegia for your use case. I have the Elegia, CX, and Nighthawk from your list, and for soundstage, imaging, and dynamic musicality in a closed back, I’ve not heard better. The CX lacks some of the dynamics, though is super comfortable and great with isolation. It’s very neutral, but extends very well. Some would describe it as bass light, but the more time I spend with it, the more I realize that when the recording calls for it, the bass is there. The nighthawk are a very immersive experience, and I’d say equally as enjoyable to me as the Elegia, but are semi-open so they leak a bit more, and may not be quite as strong in imaging and neutrality that gaming benefits from.

Thank you,

I wasn’t aware of the semi-closed on the Nighthawk, I should have taken more attention. I’m hearing good things for the Elegia and is appreciated, specially if I can find them on sale. They’re “on sale” right now for $690 but it sounds like they’ve gone down to $500 and even $450 before.

@Falenkor, @Sgtdap are there multiple versions of the DT1990 Pro? 250 ohm, 600 ohm?

Anybody know of differences between DT 1990 Pro and T1 ? are they both open back?

Does the MMX 300 sound at all like a DT 1990 Pro?

From what I’ve read, the 1990 Premium 600 ohm are the ones to get. I’ve not heard any of them personally.

I’ve not seen a 1990 Premium model before like the 990s! too many different headphones lol.

The T1 is “Semi-open” but the T5 is the closed version. For all the Beyer models I’ve seen recommended, the higher the ohms seems to be the better choice but requires an amp vs phone driven, which isn’t a concern for your use case.

Thank you. Out of curiosity I’ve checked for the Beyers to see what all is out there. The cups remind me of the SoundMagic HP100 but obviously that model didn’t last; I just finished modifying the cable enclosure so I can use more standard cables because the original one ripped with little use.

So the Focal Elegia seem to be high up on the list right now. I’ve read some concerns of users of the Focal Elex stating that with certain frequencies the headsets couldn’t handle it, and someone else made remarks that this affects all of the focal headphones that use a similar configuration. Have any of you ever had an issue with the Elegia?

The only thing I’ve ever noticed is a very mild metallic timbre on occasion, but nothing that I would consider anything more than negligible.

Would the Elegia need any mod? pad swap, cable swap? or are they good on their standard OEM configuration?