For gamers looking for an immersive gaming experience, finding the perfect headphones overshadows your other peripheral needs, like RGB keyboards and mice. Nothing draws you into the game quite like surround sound and booming bass to accompany the game’s soundtrack.
Studio headphones can be a good option for some gamers who also listen to a lot of music in addition to gaming. However, gaming headphones are largely better suited for enhancing the full potential of an immersive game. The difference in frequency response range makes studio headphones great for audio recordings, but not ideal for gaming.
That’s not to say, however, that studio headphones don’t have their benefits. In this article, we’ll discuss the differences between both types of headphones and why studio headphones might be a good choice for some gamers.
The Differences Between Studio and Gaming Headphones
There are a few key differences that separate studio headphone performance from gaming headphones. Before we discuss the benefits of studio headphones, let’s figure out what those differences are.
The most apparent difference between studio headphones and gaming headphones is, quite obviously, the nature of their design.
Studio headphones are designed for delivering the full sound of a musical audio recording. Gaming headphones are designed to enhance the dynamic sounds of gunshots and movement in a game.
While studio headphones can relay game audio without losing too much of the effect, they simply aren’t designed for it. They are designed to relay music audio, which has an entirely different set of frequencies.
This often means that gamers using studio headphones for gaming lose the rich, dynamic audio the game contains. To some, that won’t matter, but to a majority of gamers, it does.
Another key difference related to purpose is the versatility of each type of headphone. With gaming headphones, listening to music isn’t as fulfilling as listening with studio headphones.
Conversely, studio headphones are great for music and will work for gaming as well, just with a flatter audio relay. This makes studio headphones more versatile than gaming headphones for those who are less particular than others about audio relay.
When comparing studio headphones to gaming headphones, you’ll find that quality studio headphones are often more expensive than comparable gaming headphones.
Gaming headphones are generally cheaper and work great for gaming, but with the low price, you sacrifice music audio quality. More expensive studio headphone options will have great music audio quality, and they’ll work just fine for gaming.
On average, quality gaming headphones within an affordable range go for $50 – $100. Studio headphones of comparable quality go for $100 – $200.
You can find cheaper options for both, but the cheap options for studio headphones are a much lower quality than cheap options for gaming headphones.
If you’re a multiplayer fanatic who loves talking to your friends during a group session, studio headphones aren’t for you. Studio headphones don’t come with a microphone, which means you’ll need to figure out a different way to talk online.
Gaming headphones almost always come with a microphone to facilitate online multiplayer, which makes them the ideal choice for gamers. Put shortly, studio headphones disrupt the seamlessness of the online multiplayer environment for chatty players.
The key distinction between these two types of headphones is the frequency response of the speakers within them. Studio headphones have a wide frequency response range than gaming headphones.
With a wide range of frequency responses, studio headphones can pick up higher and lower pitches than gaming headphones. This allows them to offer a far higher-quality sound than gaming headphones and a less influenced soundstage.
Not sure what frequency response is? Let’s go over that in more detail.
What is Frequency Response?
Frequency response, put simply, is the full range of pitches that a given speaker can pick up on and relay. The low end of the range represents how low of a bass pitch can be relayed, and the high represents the treble.
Human hearing, in general, can pick up on sounds from 20Hz to 20KHz (or 20,000Hz). This range represents the audible pitches of sound, not the volume.
So, how does this translate to headphones?
High-quality studio headphones typically have a range of 4Hz to 40KHz, which means they can pick up on pitches outside of the typical human’s hearing. This provides the listener with the full soundstage of the recording, but some aren’t able to discern between extreme pitches.
Gaming headphones generally have a much narrower range of 12Hz to 28KHz. The bass and treble are tweaked on these to enhance dialogue and movement sounds, the soundtrack, and explosive sounds.
This difference in frequency response ranges is the main distinction in audio quality between the two types of headphones. With studio headphones, you capture the widest range of pitches possible. With gaming headphones, the speakers are tweaked to provide a narrower, game-oriented soundstage.
Why Use Studio Headphones Rather Than Gaming Headphones?
Now that you’re familiar with the differences between studio and gaming headphones, it’s time to discuss the benefits of using studio headphones.
While gaming headphones are optimized for video game audio, studio headphones still take the cake in terms of overall quality. The wide range of frequency responses will still provide the richest sounds but might miss the dynamics of the game.
For gamers that like to listen to music while they play, or whenever, studio headphones might be the right choice. They’ll get the job done for the game you’re playing, meanwhile offering a far better music relay than gaming headphones.
Studio headphones have been around far longer than gaming headphones, and thus have a wider range of pricing and styles. With studio headphones, there are more comfortable options than gaming headphones.
Studio headphones also have a wider range of functions. You could buy studio headphones for audio recording/mastering, bass-boosting, or noise-canceling features. This, in addition to the wider price range, makes it easier to find the perfect headphones for your needs.
If you play a lot of soundtrack-heavy games, like Thumper or Beat Saber, studio headphones are the best way to immerse yourself. Games geared towards their soundtracks often utilize the same frequencies as music recordings do.
This means that studio headphones are better equipped to capture the fullness of the soundtracks, making the experience that much more immersive. A wide frequency response range enhances the intent of the soundtrack without sacrificing any functionality.
For environmentally oriented games, like The Last of Us 2, you’ll want gaming headphones. The boosted bass and tweaked treble are ideal for tracking movement and background sounds.
Can I Buy Gaming Headphones with Studio-Level Quality?
Yes, but they are very expensive. There are a fair number of studio-level headphones geared towards gaming on the market. The main drawback to these is price, but the microphone and sound quality might be worth the investment to some.
If you have the cash to spend on a pair of these headphones, the benefits are tremendous. You get the high-quality sound of a studio headphone with the perks of a gaming headset. These are a great option for those who can’t decide what they need, but want a good (yet expensive) middle-ground.
Does Bluetooth Connection Affect Audio Quality?
In short, yes, but it depends on the manufacturers of the Bluetooth device and the speaker you’re connecting to. There are ways for manufacturers to reduce interference and quality diminishing, but those features often come only with expensive options.
Typically, wired headphones deliver higher sound quality than Bluetooth alternatives. This is due to the direct connection, which mitigates any interference that might happen between your relaying device and the speaker.
If you’re an audiophile listening to rich, dynamic music, you might notice the difference between Bluetooth and wired headphones. For gamers, though, the difference is negligible, which is a good thing; wires on a desktop are a hassle.
Can I Use Gaming Headphones for Music Production?
You may have read through this article and come out wondering the opposite of what brought you here. The answer to your new question, then, is that you probably shouldn’t use gaming headphones for music production.
Studio headphones will work alright for gaming purposes, but this versatility doesn’t translate vice versa. Gaming headphones have a much narrower frequency response range, which means you’ll lose important aspects of your audio recording.
This makes it difficult to discern between changes in pitch and other nuances you’d normally hear in an audio recording. It’s effectively the same as trying to use a regular PC for gaming purposes, which can work, but certainly not to its full potential.
The differences between studio and gaming headphones are vast, but this doesn’t mean that studio headphones are bad for gaming. For any game that isn’t solely environmentally oriented, studio headphones will work just fine. The main problem you’ll run into is not having a microphone when you want to talk to teammates or friends.
To help you in your search, determining your budget is a great first step. Once you know what you can spend, determine what features you desire most, and compare your options through that lens. With enough probing, you can often find a perfect blend of price and quality for your needs.