Open back all-arounder headphones for gaming?

I’ve posted something similar for a closed back headset, and I ended up with an Elegia, as well as the Drop THX Panda.

However, I noticed now that I’m having some issues when I’m gaming with my wife because the headphones that I use in our bedroom (6XX) are not “open” enough, like I can’t hear her clearly.

Technically all we play right now is Division 2, and often times I miss a comment because I’m wearing headphones. It’s sort of a double edged sword; I wear the headphones because our daughter sometimes comes chill on the bed and watches videos on her tablet while she watches us play, and sometimes her tablet is loud (if she doesn’t put on headphones). I use speakers sometimes (MM-3) but when our kiddo comes, I put headphones so she can hear her stuff and we can hear ours. But, with 6XX I don’t hear my wife as much as I’d like.

I’m looking for an open back that will help me with the games we play and enjoy music in the background, or foreground depending on how the mood strikes, as well as be transparent in being able to hear my wife across the room. For example when I was using the M1060 rev2 I could hear my wife clearly. She uses those now, so she has no problem hearing me…lol

What I already have (Open back):

(fostex dekoni blue)
Dan Clark Audio Aeon 2 Open (on the way)

Available amps:
ifi micro black label
monoprice thx dac/amp
sp200 thx
schiit hel
ifi zen dac(amp)
loxjie p20
looking into getting a liquid platinum

As to specifics of what I’m looking for:
Something comfortable to game on for hours, open to the point of transparency, maybe somewhat warm sounding, neutral mids, and with clear highs, detailed with good separation, imaging and soundstage. I enjoy listening to all types of music, basscannons are not required. More often than not the audio won’t be very loud, but I want to clearly listen to the music and game cues effortlessly at lower and mid volumes (low enough to be able to hear my wife in case she tells me something)

Like I said, hearing my wife through m1060 was easy; hearing my wife through 6xx, not so much. IDK if that means going planar.

I haven’t tried the aeon 2 open yet but I figured they’d probably not be as open as what I was looking for, the aeon 2 open are for my office/gaming area for music/gaming, where I will be pumping some volume.

My thoughts were the Hifiman Sundara, hifiman xx edition, hifiman ananda, focal elex, focal clear, monoprice m1070, m570, dt880, LCD GX

note - I am somewhat sensitive to sibilant headphones

Thank you beforehand for you time and suggestions.

Best regards,

Mr Sprouts

Well I will tell you this the headphone that is literally slated as “feels like a closed back but sounds like an open back” isn’t going to be what your looking for lmfao however, fantastic headphone. I see you mention the liquid platinum please try to pair these two together it sounds so amazing when paired to the liquid platinums I use the open X on mine and it sounds great.

The absolute most open one I can think of though not very warm is the Hifiman Sundara(edition xx if you can afford it would be a warmer option and not so bright. leaks quite a bit of sound too and real open) that one just screams open backed and leaks a ton of sound out of it. I thought the dt 880 till you mentioned treble sensitive which makes me immediately point dead on at the Tygr 300r which should fit what your looking for in both sound and being able to hear outside the headphone as they are very airy pads and open backed. These are probably the only two that come to mind. I am sure someone else can make some recommendations though as well.

Seems to be a common thing with some planars but hifiman to my experience has some of the most open drivers for open back headphones

Thanks Falenkor, I had been interested on the Aeon X Open but since I couldn’t find them anywhere I went with the Aeon 2 Open on a deal. Not much of a deal but at $750 or so with balanced cable included it seemed to be ok.

I’ve wanting to try the Sundara. Well, wanted the hifiman xx edition but since I can’t find that anywhere… I wasn’t sure how the hifiman xx edition differs from the ananda, and differences between sundara and the other two.

I missed on a couple deals on the liquid platinum so we’ll see!

preferably going for something that can be balanced, but open to anything.

This is gonna be tough. Because something like a sundara is crazy open where you will definitely be able to hear stuff from the outside where a dynamic like the 6xx would probably block that out but it leaks TOO MUCH sound. Where it would bother your daughter and wife lol. Because it’s basically a mini speaker in your head. Not to mention that if you want a warm headphone it’s typically naturally thicker blocking out more outside sound imo. Have you considered the sound producing things that vibrate your skull or the ones that hang in your shoulders and produce sound? Can’t think of the name

Ah stuff like these

Actually now that I think about it I think many anc headphones literally have an option where they amplify outside noise so that you could hear people speak to you while listening to music. I would seriously consider that

Point is maybe don’t go for something particularly high end that’s possibly not gonna solve the issue and think about it a headphone for only use case with ok quality

I hadn’t thought about the neck speakers. And my wife does use a sony wh-1000xm3 when she wants tune outside noises out, but doesn’t even turn it on. I do have some 1000xm3 but the sound would be a bit too artificial and it isn’t “audiophile” type.

I’m not too concerned about sound leaking, to the amount that leaks from the m1060. I don’t know whether Sundara would leak more or less than the m1060. I’m fine with sound leakage because it can make my kid put on headphones…but the issue with using speakers was my wife sometimes got confused as to whether the sound was coming from her headphones of my speakers, so had to switch back to headphones for when we are doing more complicated content in division 2. I plan in taking my wife onto a couple other games because she got a bit burned from Division 2 when she realized there were certain pieces of gear that were locked behind 8-man raids. We tried to do the raids as a duo and without any knowledge…it wasn’t pretty. so stressful.

The wanting it to be somewhat high end, maybe mid to high, is that I want to be able to grab the headphones and enjoy music, and move them to a different setup for whatever reason, etc. I think I have a somewhat good variety of headphones as it is, and I think the he4xx were more open than the hd6xx, guessing the planar structure makes for more openness. So sort of looking for something similar to he4xx but more high end, that I can grab some balanced cables for, and put it through its paces. Does it need to be balanced? not necessarily, but I’d prefer the option. Does it need to be top of the line? no, but I have enough low to mid stuff that I’d rather go a little higher. Doesn’t need to be focal clear price, but open to anything $150-$1000 as long as it fits the bill.

I don’t hear sound coming out of the m1060 when my wife wears them, which makes me wonder how low she listens to them. I tend to listen a bit louder than she does, so I’d expect more leakage within reason.

Thank you for your comments :slight_smile:

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Ananda is essentially an upgrade to sundaras very similar more refined more detail the works. Edition XX is a pretty different signature as it has more bass more warm and more towards neutral on the treble instead of brighter sounding like the other two

I mean, theres close to nothing in the way of blocking that sound from leaking on the Sundaras. Hence why I said I don’t think I have heard anything that leaks that much they really do leak a ton, it’s also another reason why I make comments that it is fussy with modmics and the like due to that leak.

This may be an interesting option, didn’t know bout this personally. I would say to look more into these as potentials too then.

Drawing a bit of a blank here trying to think of a good open sounding headphone that can be balanced with a warm tone. I mean theres the T1.2 but that’s a pretty bright headphone. I don’t think anandas can be balanced neither can edition xx IIRC. Focals I don’t think will be open enough. Maybe an audeze lcd-2 balanced? Not sure though on this one its a tough call

Both can be balanced, as they are dual 3.5mm connectors like the 4xx and Sundara.

The Elex is also wide open, you’d just be waiting a bit on the Drop unless you can find one on the used market. I’d agree, though, that as great as it is, the Aeon is probably more isolating than you’re looking for. Something like an LCD-1 might be interesting, and can be run balanced (though not necessary) if you get an aftermarket cable.

The Ananda and Edition XX can be balanced. AFAIK, all the Hifimans save maybe their bluetooth models have a 3.5mm jack on each ear cup. So, they can be powered balanced with an aftermarket cable.

Wasn’t sure as I didn’t bother looking into it… hifiman sells balanced cables but it makes no mention of sundara or ananda. which is rather odd. Well, I guess I will still say yeah sundara or edition xx would be good in this case due to just how open those are

New hifiman models have dual 3.5mm. The old models use SMC (i.e. HE-500, HE-400) and the dual 2.5mm (i.e. HE-400i, HE-560).


How would one go about getting an XX Edition? need to buy used? does Drop bring those up again ever so often? or was it a limited run that is now gone? I questioned this as well in regards to the aeon x open, since they didn’t seem to be available anymore either.

is the used market the only option?

from drop over here on amazon.

everynow and then they will do another run of them if enough request them otherwise yeah used

It’s possible there might be another drop, but you could also just go with the Aeon RT direct from Dan Clark. Seems like essentially the same tuning changes as the Aeon X from the originals.

Try emailing Hifiman.

Is there clarification anywhere that they are the same tuning? The aeon open X was created by taking the Aeon Flow Open and adding some tuning found in the Ether CX which has more neutrality to its sound and a wide soundstage for a closed back.

If it’s the same tuning then thats interesting as you can order the RT already with its balanced cables

No, I’ve not seen confirmation anywhere that it’s the same re-tuning and I haven’t heard the RT, but since the primary change on the X was the pad swap to the Aeon 2 pad with interior perforations, it likely is pretty close.

Direct from the DCA site on the retuning
“Using our new perforated ear pads, ÆON Flow RT, Open has a more open sound than the original, with an improved top end and a lively and fun tone, with more emphasis on the deeper bass and a slightly leaner midrange.”

Is there any Audeze that would fit my requirements? Wondering if there’s anything from that brand that is worth considering since it seems I’ll be looking into planars for this specific task.

I read that for sure… Think I will shoot dan clark an email for some clarification on that one. Last time I sent them an email was due to the Hel Yeah bundle not disclosing whether the flows in the bundle were of the RT variation or not lol. Checked recently and it was corrected. I would definitely like to know if the RT version is the same open X as that would mean it’s a cheaper alternative since you don’t have to purchase the balanced cables separately, they aren’t cheap cables either, and least with Dan Clark I would expect them to get the order right as massdrop screwed up a ton of orders on the Open - X by not having the perforated pads on a bunch of them, damage on the box and product in some cases, and even not having the tuning pads or missing some of the tunings in the packet. Quite a bit of a mess on that one. Mine has everything for it thankfully and I love mine personally its literally my favorite relaxed headphone in my entire collection right beside my tygrs.

Sent them an email for clarification on that one

Audeze tend to have some dark tendencies so not the greatest for competitive gaming but just for regular use? Lcd-1 and LCD-2 maybe. Though when I checked out the lcd-2 it was fairly open but not as open as something from hifiman

thank you Falenkor.

Is there any other brand I may be missing, or any other speakers I should take into consideration?

I was thinking maybe LCD-GX or LCD-2. Trying to stay under the $1k mark lol

I probably need to focus first on the liquid platinum XD

An LCD-2 would probably be a bit dark. The GX is literally tuned for gaming and they have the most neutral sound signature among the most popular lineup. I’ve been using my lcd-x for gaming and they’re great for it. They have a really intense and thick sound. They’re also easy to drive so you really don’t need anything like a liquid platinum to get the going.