Anyone who has ever consulted with Reddit on the matter of picking a gaming headset that gives you the best bang for your buck knows there’s only one reasonable piece of advice: each pair of headphones can be a gaming headset if you slap a mic on it — and it will probably sound better than any gaming headset marketed as such.

I’m being deliberately hyperbolic, but this argument actually holds water: there’s a marketing “penalty” to the price of almost every popular gaming headset, with some rare exceptions of course (HyperX, if you ask denizens of r/headphones). That means you often end up paying for the brand, not for the audio quality.

There are also certain limitations to gaming headsets. Some of them are locked to specific platforms or consoles, they won’t work with your phone, and they generally make for a poor music listening experience. That’s not to say they’re bad, they just tend to do only one thing well — gaming.

Unlike r/headphones members, though, I’ve got the ears of a brute and I usually care little for those other things gaming sets suck at. I’ve been using a pair of Astro’s wireless A50 and I’ve got no complaints. I was also pleasantly surprised by the sound quality of the cheaper Razer Kraken Ultimate.

I’m not really in the market for a new gaming headset. I’m more than happy with what I’ve already got.

But the question kept lingering in my mind: can it be that non-gaming headsets are actually better for gaming? I was desperate to know.

So when Nura told me it’s working on a new gaming microphone that will pair with its bizarre looking, but stunning sounding headphones, my curiosity was immediately piqued.

Well, I spent last night gaming with the Nuraphone and the new mic, and I’ve got some thoughts.

Looks can be deceiving

Let me put it out there: Instagram has been feeding me Nuraphone ads for ages and, while I was certainly intrigued by their design, I was skeptical.

The very sight of their unusual earcup construction gave my ears a visceral feeling of discomfort. I mean, it looks like the earcups suffered a mutation that made them spontaneously grow earbuds. I was convinced that wouldn’t feel good in my earholes.

I’ve got tight ear canals (or whatever the proper anatomical term is) and I suspected wearing the Nuraphone for a prolonged period of time — like a lot of gaming sessions are — would cause my ears to ache. Like Apple’s earbuds and AirPods do.

I was terribly wrong.

Plugging a set of premium earbuds in your canals always feels weird. The enhanced isolation almost gives an odd sensation I associate with having water stuck in my ears — without any of the unpleasantness that comes with it. But once you put on some tunes, the audio quality takes over and that strange feeling of unfamiliarity swiftly evaporates.

That’s how my first two minutes of wearing the Nuraphone felt like.

I’ve been playing Trentemøller’s “Still On Fire” on repeat for the past couple of days, so it was fitting to listen to it one more time with the Nuraphone.

I had only one reaction: FUCK. The sound was ridiculous, I could feel every little shift in tone and timbre. For the first time ever I felt like I knew what headphone connoisseurs are talking about when they bemoan cans that sound “flat.” The experience was unbelievably corporeal and nuanced.

I couldn’t wait to find out how that experience translates when it comes to sounds of gunshots, explosions, and blood spilling on the ground. So I strapped up and fired up Call of Duty‘s Warzone.

Not so fast

Welp, it turns out I had skipped an important step in the Nuraphone experience: fine-tuning the cans to the specificities of my own earholes.

An integral part of Nura’s marketing is that its headphones adapt the sound they produce based on your own hearing. I’ll spare you the details, since my colleagues Napier and Callum have already gone in depth about that process, but the bottomline is that you’ll have to download Nura’s app for iOS or Android to take care of that.

(I did ask Nura if there are any plans to roll out an app for Windows, but that’s not on the agenda for now.)

Downloading an extra bit of software always feels like a hassle, but I didn’t really mind it with Nuraphone, since I can technically use the cans for stuff other than gaming. It made sense.

nuraphone sound profile