The Best Headphones for VR Gaming

An audio legend escapes from my closet pile

Alex Rowe


SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 gaming headset sitting next to a Quest 2 VR headset on a desk.
Photo taken by the author.

Before I started covering more gaming software, I spent years and years reviewing gaming headsets and studio headphones. I burned through dozens of different pairs, engaged in the intellectual exercise (and nightmare consumerism) of trying to find the best headset for every use case and budget.

Since abandoning that relentless pursuit, I’ve whittled my ever-changing headphone collection down to a few favorites — and a few others that I placed randomly into my closet. Over the last month I’ve been exploring the world of VR games. I’m a new Quest 2 owner, and I can already feel the siren song of other VR headsets calling to me.

This new platform inevitably re-ignited the search for better gaming audio quality. The Meta Quest hardware ecosystem actually has pretty good built-in sound, with full 3D spatial processing and surprisingly decent speakers right on the sides of the headset. The default audio experience is a little lacking in the bass range, particularly on the Quest 2, but suitable for most basic gaming tasks.

However, since those speakers are open to the environment, they also leak all of your audio to anyone else who might live in your house. Furthermore, if you live in a weird suburban neighborhood full of leaf blowers like I do…