“Audio-Technica proves that open-back design isn’t just for audiophiles.”
Detailed sound reproduction
The earcup material is not comfortable
Weaker bass might not be for everyone
Video games aren’t just about nailing sick vents, they’re telling stories in a way that’s truly unique to the media. Along with great gameplay, gamers often expect excellent single-player adventures that immerse the player in that world. A big part of that comes from the game’s soundtrack.
The Audio-Technica ATH-GDL3 Open Back Gaming Headset lives up to expectations of immersive sound and delivers outstanding reproduction allowing you to hear every note with crystal-clear fidelity in a wide soundstage and wonderful.
Before we get into the operation of the ATH-GDL3, I would like to briefly mention the packaging. Not only is the box gorgeous thanks to the Japanese-inspired art that wraps it around the right side and on the back, everything that saves a pair of plastic string bags is made of cardboard or paper. Audio-Technica has kicked it out of the park when it comes to sustainable packaging, but I’m not sure I would throw this box away because it looks so good.
Unfortunately, the artwork on the box doesn’t continue on the actual headphones, but they’re still nice looking boxes. The version we were sent to review is the “white” option, it’s simple and comes in only three colors: White, black, and silver. These would look great as part of a desk or PC setup that leans towards the white aesthetic, but they also pair well with PlayStation 5.
The white areas of the earphones are made of plastic, the black on the headband is a silicone-like material, and the silver feels like aluminum. The black grille on the back of the headset is also made of plastic. The included 3.5mm headphone jack cable feels like the perfect length at 1.2 meters (about 4 feet – not too long or short) and is high quality. Audio-Technica also includes a 3-meter cable (only 10 feet away) for PCs that use a 3.5mm split design further away.
The open nature of the design allows you to hear yourself clearly even during intense gaming sessions.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t just the 3.5mm headphone jack on both sides of that cable: The side that plugs into the headphones is noticeably larger. I’ve never seen this before on a gaming headset, and I can’t say that I can think of one particular reason why Audio-Technica had to go this route. That giant part twists and locks into place to keep it in place.
The cable only attaches to one side of the headset, the left side, which might bother an audiophile but shouldn’t be a big deal for gamers. At least in my opinion, it’s pretty easy to get used to the direction of the cable. Also, it’s unusual to see the ability to plug in either side on this model of headphones.
The ATH-GDL3 have an open-back design that many, I’ve included, appreciate the wide soundstage they provide as well as the comfort that comes from letting the ears breathe a little more than inside the closed headphones. . I’m really excited to see this cans style implemented into a gaming headset.
They are lightweight and combined with an open back design makes them comfortable to wear for long periods of time.
That open back also means that for gaming, Audio-Technica didn’t need to design a way for the headset to transmit part of your voice back to the headset so you can actually hear what you’re saying; The open nature of the design allows you to hear yourself clearly even during intense gaming sessions.
The controls on the headphones are limited to the mute switch and the volume dial. This switch shows three settings: Off, Mute, and On, but the “Mute” and “Mute” switches are actually a single setting and simply mute the microphone. I wish the mute switch was a bit easier to toggle, as it can be hard to find when you’re wearing them since it’s located along the back of the left earcup, right above that volume dial. The headset also doesn’t give you any kind of feedback if you’re muted, so you’ll have to pay attention to that to make sure you don’t forget its status.
Audio-Technica leans towards a Japanese aesthetic when it comes to design, so there’s not much beyond what’s really needed on the ATH-GDL3, which means there’s not much to say either. I happen to like the design choice, but some may find what is offered here a bit confusing.
Designed for comfort
One of the remarkable points of the ATH-GDL3 is that they are lightweight and combined with an open back design makes them comfortable to wear for long periods of time. I can confirm that these headphones are extremely lightweight and I had no problems there. The padding of the earcups is perfectly comfortable and the headband rests quite gently on the top of my head and I never felt any pressure there.
That said, I’m not the biggest fan of the material Audio-Technica chooses for the earcups, which affects how long I can comfortably wear them.
You can hear every detail in the world of video games with incredible precision.
I tend to prefer leather ear cups, which feel cool on the head, over fabric ones. Audio-Technica opted for fabric earcups, which means that after a while, the ATH-GDL3 started to feel warm on my head despite the airflow provided by the open back design. As a result, I found that my wear limit for this can is about three hours.
I’m fully aware that this is a personal preference that may not all be shared – a few of my friends like the fabric earcups on their headphones. But since Audio-Technica doesn’t offer another cup option in the box and it’s not clear to me how to swap them out if you want to use another material, that’s something to keep in mind.
When I first put on these headphones, it became clear to me that they were made by a company with extensive experience in making boxes for a discerning ear. The quality of the sound is exceptional.
Open again Headphones often trade off deep, resonant bass for a wide and clear soundstage, and the ATH-GDL3 does exactly that. You can hear and enjoy every note played through these headphones and hear every detail in the world of video games with incredible precision. Traditional music, as well as video game scores, have a crisp clarity that is rare in headsets designed for gaming.
These headphones also do a great job of balancing gaming audio with chat audio – another big win when it comes to competitive gaming.
But that clarity comes at the expense of richness, so some people might say the music sounds hollow or too clinical for their tastes. I compared the quality of these with the Sony Pulse and Steel Series Arctis 1 headphones and both are less accurate in how the notes are displayed than the ATH-GDL3, but both have better roundness. at low level.
That’s not to say Audio-Technica boxes can’t produce great low-end: They absolutely do. The Rolling Drums in Aloy’s Theme from Forbidden Horizon in the West appear spectacularly, as do the horns in Destiny 2 Witch Queen Theme. So while the lows are not the focus, they are displayed as well as the mids and highs.
In short, the experience from the ATH-GDL3 headphones is very balanced and flat, which is what I would expect from a headset of this type. If you like a little rumbling sound in your headphones, these won’t provide that, but if you want to hear every detail of every note rendered accurately and evenly, they’re great.
I also think the detail offered by this headset is extremely beneficial for competitive gaming where every audio cue is crucial to win. For example, footsteps were crystal clear through the ATH-GDL3s, and I never found myself caught off guard by an opponent because I didn’t hear them coming.
These headphones also do a great job of balancing gaming audio with chat audio, and are able to deliver both clearly without becoming too cluttered – another big win when it comes to competitive gaming.
On that note, it’s worth discussing the microphone: it’s very good, but perhaps a bit too sensitive. Out of the box, the microphone picks up a lot, and I felt as though I had to place it about an inch away from my mouth compared to me with other microphones. Otherwise, my sound will peak from the perspective of my friends on the other end of the line. It also picks up a lot of other sounds from my office, like my hands on the keyboard, the joystick, or even me fidgeting in my office chair. My friends never complained about my squeaky chair before I used the ATH-GDL3 headphones.
Sensitivity aside, the microphone represented my voice very well and was more nuanced than other headphones I’ve used. Basically, my voice through this microphone sounds very close to my actual voice, without any bass. It’s not outright podcasting mic quality, but it’s very good and your teammates should be able to hear your voice very clearly. What more could you ask for?
The Audio-Technica ATH-GDL3 open-back headphones are made with gamers in mind to enjoy their music with clarity. Some people may find the sound quality a bit too clinical, but I really like how they render the audio very accurately, especially when it comes to competitive first-person shooters where I need it. Hear every signal to react to a changing battlefield.
For $129, I’m really impressed with this headset. Even if you don’t play games, they have a great soundstage and are great for music too.
Is there a better option?
If you’re looking for a similarly styled headphone with a little more emphasis on bass, you might want to consider. Those headphones also have fabric earcups, but they’re made of a softer, less uncomfortable material like the ATH-GDL3. Audio-Technica also makes a sealed version of the ATH-GDL3 called the ATH-GL3, which is also worth considering for those who like that style.
How long will they last?
Audio-Technica offers a two-year limited warranty, but nothing can go wrong on the ATH-GDL3. The odds are pretty high that if they work the first year, they’ll work for the next 10 years thanks to their simple design and well-crafted parts.
Should you buy them?
It’s correct. TheOutstanding clarity and precision at lows, mids, and highs packed into a lightweight and simple design.