Audio-Technica has long stood near the peak of high-fidelity audio, so I was excited by the prospect of putting that same tech into a gaming headset. Luckily, the ATH-GDL3 headset did not disappoint.
Out of the box, the “Air” headset was unlike any I’ve ever worn. I couldn’t believe how light it was when I put it on—as light as those basic headsets you used to get in hospitals or with your new Walkman back in the 90s. In this case, however, you also get sizable yet comfortable earcups, and a band that stretches to fit even my large dome easily.
While I thought my current go-to headset was comfortable enough, Audio-Technica has truly knocked it out of the park. I wore the ATH-GDL3 for hours on end, and it never grew uncomfortable, which is something I can’t say of any other set I’ve tried to date.
I was most excited to experience the audio quality on this high-fidelity headset, and it absolutely did not disappoint. The first thing I will christen a new headset with is my favourite album, and this time I was floored. Crisp audio filled my ears, bringing out little details I normally don’t hear in these 20-year-old songs. Even at lower volumes, I could pick out subtleties that lesser headphones can’t convey.
“I wore the ATH-GDL3 for hours on end, and it never grew uncomfortable…”
This power transferred well into games as well. The open-back design truly enhances spatial audio, allowing me to pick out other players’ footsteps in Fortnite easier than ever, or experience the bustle in Final Fantasy XIV’s cities with new depth.
Granted, there is a downside to the “open-back” approach—a lot of sound bleeds out. As such, I might not recommend the ATH-GDL3 so readily for use while streaming or recording your own voice. When I tested it, my USB microphone was able to pick up the music I was listening to from a decent distance, with the headset on and the volume around 80%. It’s enough to interfere with your audio or make podcast editing a little more of a chore.
As such, the ATH-GDL3 are less noise-cancelling than others, at least up close. For instance, with the volume at a moderate level I could hear my family if they were in the same room, but less so from a different floor. After so long with isolating headsets, it was even weird to hear my own voice so well. If you use headsets to avoid bugging roommates, these might not be the most optimal choice.
On the left earcup you’ll find the standard set of onboard controls—volume and a mute switch, alongside the detachable, bendable mic arm. The volume slider is tucked in close to the headset and less convenient to roll than other headsets, but otherwise very serviceable. The headband can extend on either side, allowing for a customized snug-and-secure fit. To its credit, it has a huge range; I struggle to find hats my size, but at max extension the ATH-GDL3 becomes loose on me.
While I don’t see myself using the ATH-GDL3 while streaming or podcasting, it makes a persuasive argument to be my go-to for late-night game sessions, when the family is in bed, and I can utilize its dynamic sound. If nothing else, it’s certainly become my headset of choice for really savouring music.