If there is a new gaming console out, you can bet that you’ll have questions about what headphones you can use with them. Hearing your game audio correctly is just as instrumental to your immersion as the story and gameplay. Sound design and music can feel like it’s transporting you to another world, so having the right pair of headphones matters.
The Steam Deck is one of the newest gaming consoles to be released, developed by Valve from their popular digital game marketplace. It is bound to inspire questions about how to use it with your headphones. Thankfully, the Steam Deck provides a variety of options to connect your headphones with. This includes a 3.5mm headphone jack, which has been sorely missed on many modern devices like the most recent iPhone and Andriod smartphones. You also have a USB Type C connector that you can connect to Type C headphones. There’s also the wireless option, as the Steam Deck supports full Bluetooth functionality.
If you already have a pair of wired or wireless gaming headphones, then you should be good to go with the Steam Deck. However, if you’re seeking something new to really upgrade your game audio for the Steam Deck, here is what we think will make the best pairing.
Audio Technica has its hand in all sorts of audio hardware. They can usually be relied upon for a clear and accurate representation of sound in music production and casual listening. If you’re looking for the simplest closed-back gaming headset with a microphone, then the ATH-GL3 is a safe bet. Its design is sleek and boasts a big sound with its 45mm drivers. The sound is full and exciting, particularly in the bass. A perfect option for those who don’t wish to spend more than a hundred dollars on a gaming headset.
Another major headphone brand that is seen in both the audiophile and game audio space is Beyerdynamic. You’ll see their name a couple of times on this list in fact. They have a plethora of gaming headphones to choose from, and all of them are worthwhile for the Steam Deck. Both the MMX 100 and MMX 150 are recommended together here, as I think no matter which one you go for it’ll get the job done. They’ll both feature great imaging, but if you’re shooting for accuracy, the 150 is worth spending a bit more money on. The mix quality is also a bit better too. The MMX 150 is just a bit more precise when it comes to the details of the sound design, which might come in handy when playing competitive games. The MMX 100 is still a fine option though that goes a bit harder on bass for greater impact, and it is a nice alternative to the Audio-Technica GL3.
If you are really looking to upgrade your handheld game audio, dishing out the extra money for the MMX 300 is worth it. Not only will you get better details, dynamic range, and separation between spatial elements, but you’ll also get a better build quality. This is also a more comfortable headphone than the two cheaper versions, with your ears withstanding longer gaming sessions without any fatigue. You’ll also get one of the best mics on any gaming headset, featuring a condenser mix that has a transmission range of 30 – 18,000 Hz. Those who are really looking to heighten their experience with the Steam Deck might want to really think about investing in the MMX 300.
There are a few gaming headsets I could recommend from EPOS, but I think the H6Pro is the most enjoyable. I also wanted to include an open-back headphone to this list, in case you’re not worried about isolation. I find open-back headphones to work best for gaming in general, as the more open space gives more room for all the sound elements to individualize themselves. The H6Pro is an excellent gaming headphone that will really excite the sound of your games. Spatial imaging is wider than most gaming headsets, and it does a great job communicating scale. You’ll get more dimension from the sound signature while adding a strong bass presence and balanced midrange and high frequencies.
For just twenty bucks, it’s hard to ask for anything better. At its price, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a soundstage this wide, a bass this punchy, or highs this crisp. Everything that comes through the Chu is clean and understandable, as you’ll be able to localize each effect, music cue, and piece of character dialogue surprisingly well through its effective separation and range. Add in a solid remote mic for voice chat, and you got yourself a fine gaming earphone for twenty dollars.
This brand is a favorite here on Major HiFi, and with its sound, chat quality, and comfort, the EM205, and EM8C are hard not to recommend for gaming. I particularly like the EM8C if you’re looking for something that plugs straight into the Steam Decks Type C port. Expect some big bass with a decent soundstage and admirable chat quality. If you’re looking for something that is just a simple set of earbuds with a mic, look no further.
Final Audio has a ton of awesome IEMs, but the VR3000 is one of their only models that is made for gaming. These IEMs will deliver great pinpoint accuracy for an in-ear design while sporting a sizable width with a balanced dynamic response. The VR3000 never appears over-excited, which might not seem the best for your games at first, but it’s best at showcasing realism, which is just as important. These also have the best fit out of any IEM made for gaming, giving you a light body with an ergonomic housing that should make wearing the VR3000 for long periods of time a breeze.
You might want to dabble more in the world of IEMs to get the most out of using in-ear headphones with the Steam Deck. Especially if you don’t care about having a mic, and are just looking to hear great sound from your game. The Kato is a fantastic place to start, as it supplies you with crisp details and a layered soundstage. With the Kato, you’ll feel like you’ve got some of the fanciest gaming IEMs around, with its glossy silver or blue design depending on the variation you go for.
I want to include one open-back IEM on this list, so the Hook X is a no-brainer. This is one of the best open-back IEMs on the market, as it does the best job of reproducing a sound close to what the experience of planar headphones is like. With the Hook X, you’ll feel the sound wrap around you, and occupy a significant amount of headspace. If you’re not concerned with isolation, the Hook X is easy to become completely immersed in. Ambient soundscapes will suck you into the game world, all while adding engrossing textures to make each effect feel explosive. In addition to that, the Hook X is light and fits naturally in your ear.
For any list that compiles the best Bluetooth headphones for anything, the Momentum 4 has to show up somewhere. It is one of the best Bluetooth headphones on the market currently, and definitely a good set for gaming. The spatial imaging is solid, and the bass gives an envigorating life to the entire sound signature. You can use the Momentum 4 for many different forms of media, and if you already own a pair, then using them with your Steam Deck is sure to prove a worthwhile experience.
If I had to think of a competitor to the Momentum 4, it would have to be the PX7 S2 from B&W. The bass is similarly lively, and the soundstage is similarly spacious. The timbre is buttery smooth and contains a considerable slam. In my opinion, this is one of the best designs for a Bluetooth headphones too, as it sports a sleek and classy design. The blue variations are the most striking to me personally.
These wireless earbuds are specifically made with gaming in mind. When you have a set of earbuds like this that try to take in every characteristic that makes your game audio really stand out, you get an experience that feels more tailored for you. That’s when you get things like low latency getting a focus, and it can make a difference compared to some of your standard wireless headphones. This is what makes the GTW 270 a great set of earbuds, as it centers on that experience while also adding sound great imaging, and a meaty tone.