Hifiman’s Ananda open-back headphones aren’t what I would call the most obvious choice for a gaming headset – they lack a microphone and debuted at $999, for one – but they also sound incredible, are super comfortable and are currently $600 off at Amazon in the US… so I thought this might interest the audiophile gamers out there!

Reviews of the Ananda are extremely positive even at its original $999 price point, with most journalist and enthusiast reviews pointing towards the incredibly wide sound stage, impressive clarity and neutral sound delivered by the planar magnetic drivers – qualities that can work just as well in competitive or cinematic gaming scenarios, perhaps with a little EQ-ing.

Having used high-end planar magnetic headphones for gaming in the past (Audeze’s $900 LCD-GX, if you were interested), these sorts of headphones can be a great choice for a wide range of game genres – and of course, they’re brilliant for listening to music too.

The nice thing about the Ananda is that they are quite low impedence for high-end headphones, meaning that they can be used without an expensive amplifier – even on-board sound cards ought to be sufficient, though you will likely get better results with even a cheap USB DAC; I used the 20-ohm LCD-GX with an Elgato Wave XLR interface without any issues.

The downsides to these headphones? Beyond their price, which is admittedly much more reasonable at $399 than $999, is that as with other open-back designs, they leak a lot of noise into the environment and don’t have a lot of lower end grunt, though this is intrinsic to open-back designs and thus doesn’t come unexpected. I use these sorts of headphones in my home office, where things are relatively quiet and I want to be able to hear a knock on the door, so they suit me just fine.

All in all, quite a weird one for RPS, so do let me know if you’re interested in this kind of thing or you’d rather I stick to the more out-and-out gaming gear! Thanks for joining me and have a good one.

Will Judd

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