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(Pocket-lint) - The Audio-Technica ATH-GDL3 stands out from the crowd compared to other gaming headsets for its striking blue highlights (there's no fancy RGB lighting or anything here).

But a pared-back design is just fine, especially from a headset that promises high-fidelity sound with an open-back soundscape, all with a reasonable price tag. 

So how does it really hold up against its nearest competition?

Our quick take

We were surprised by how easy the Audio-Technica ATH-GDL3 was to wear for long periods - it's certainly more comfortable than it looks. It would be better with deeper earcups, but otherwise this is a cracking option if you're looking for a lightweight, great-sounding headset with that open-back style. 

Audio-Technica ATH-GDL3 review: Lightweight gaming headset is supremely comfortable

Audio-Technica ATH-GDL3

4.0 stars
For
  • Lightweight design
  • No mic monitoring necessary
  • Capable drivers
  • Comfortable fit for hours and hours
  • Long 3.5mm cable
Against
  • Earcups are too shallow
  • Volume wheel is too small
  • Mute button has no light/audio cue

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Lightweight design equals comfortable fit 

  • Less than 220 grams
  • Two detachable cables:
    • 3.0 m (9.8') with 3.5 mm (1/8") mic and headphone plugs for computers
    • 1.2 m (3.9') cable with a 3.5 mm (1/8") TRRS plug for PS5/XBX/other consoles
  • Detachable Hypercardioid boom mic

When first getting the ATH-GDL3 out of the box, we thought that this headset felt a bit cheap and flimsy. But that initial thought was quickly dismissed when we realised it was purposely designed to be lightweight.

Pocket-lintAudio-Technica ATH-GDL3 Open Back review; photo 7

Indeed, it weighs less than most mobile phones, and paired with a gentle clamping force it's remarkably easy to wear - even for long gaming sessions. We happily wore this headset all day long working and listening to music, then into the night gaming as well, without any fuss. 

This was another surprise as the earcups aren't particularly deep. They are, however, crafted from a soft cloth material with pleasant padding. They don't block out a lot of external noise, but you wouldn't expect that from an open-back headset anyway. 

That's an important part of the Audio-Technica ATH-GDL3 design: open-back means you hear a lot more of what's around you in addition to your audio output stream. It's not necessarily as immersive as a closed-back headset, but it does give a nice wide soundscape and a natural sound. This is beneficial as there is no mic monitoring on this headset, so the open-back design means you can hear yourself talking when you need to. 

Pocket-lintAudio-Technica ATH-GDL3 Open Back review; photo 3

The Audio-Technica ATH-GDL3 is designed to work with both PC and console. It comes with two cables - a longer three-metre split headphone and mic 3.5mm connection for PC, and a much shorter 1.2m single cable for use on PS5, Xbox Series X, and other gaming consoles.

We appreciate having the extra length in the PC cable, as it's usually standard to have just two metres length. Though we will note that the cable does appear quite thin and perhaps not as durable as other braided cables we've seen on other headsets. There is also a risk of getting it caught on things due to its length, but it does detach from the headset easily, so that's a bonus.  

Wide and open, but capable sound

  • Open-back design, 45mm drivers
  • 10-35,000Hz frequency response

The 45mm drivers aren't the largest we've seen - that accolade goes to the Audeze Penrose at 100mm - but they are surprisingly loud and capable. We were impressed with both the bass and the audio range, though as with other open-back headsets it can sound a bit hollow at times. 

Pocket-lintAudio-Technica ATH-GDL3 Open Back review; photo 12

Audio-Technica claims the ATH-GDL3 is a "high-fidelity" headset, but doesn't specify specifically what that means. Other headsets we've seen, such as the Corsair Virtuoso XT, are able to output 96kHz/24-bit audio quality.

That said, we did enjoy the sound of this headset. It's rich and capable, with a nice wide and natural soundscape and decent positional audio too (depending on the game's mastering). There's no virtual surround sound here, without Dolby Atmos or Windows Sonic sound, but that doesn't mean it's not a great sounding headset for the money. 

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Adrian Willings · Audio-Technica ATH-GDL3 mic test

The microphone is obviously an important part of any headset and we're pleased to report that it's a great-sounding one here. There's only a little compression and results are certainly richer sounding than some other headset mics we've tried. It's perhaps not as rich as the Beyerdynamic MMX 150 or the Corsair HS80 but it's still great for the money.  

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To recap

A comfortable gaming headset with a great mic, lightweight design and a lot more besides. We just find the earcups a bit too shallow, otherwise this is a decent, affordable headset.

Writing by Adrian Willings. Editing by Mike Lowe.