Audio-Technica ATH-GL3 and ATH-GDL3 review: I really wanted to love these [Video]

One of my first dedicated PC “headsets” was a pair of Audio-Technica ATH-M50x’s that I used for editing with a mod mic attached to the side when gaming. Since then, Audio-Technica has come out with some dedicated gaming headset offerings like the wireless ATH-G1WL we reviewed. Today we’re taking a look at the latest headsets from Audio-Technica – the ATH-GL3 closed-back headset and its open-back variant the ATH–GDL3. Coming in at a much more affordable price point than gaming headsets of the past, how do they stack up? From my experience, it’s a mixed bag. Be sure to hit the video below to see all of the details.


Both headsets are wired, which makes them pretty simple when it comes to the feature list. There are two variations available – the entry-level and more affordable $99 ATH-GL3 and the open-back $130 ATH-GDL3. Both come in black or white colorways. 

Besides a similar shape, they both have a detachable mic and are very lightweight. 


Both headsets feature a very similar design with the only really noticeable difference from the outside being the covers on the earcups. The open-back GDL3 has a, I believe, very thin metal grill which reveals the drivers inside the ear cups while on the closed-back GL3, the solid earcups cover up the drivers. 

The thin metal headband uses a rubber strap that actually rests on your head. There is a smooth and easy size adjustment on each side of the headband with exposed wires that easily move along with the sizing adjustments. While the earcups won’t rotate to lay flat, there is significant play in them to ensure that they sit flush against your head. There is also plenty of room for tilting up and down for a secure fit. 

Audio-Technica ATH-GL3 and ATH-GDL3: Video

All of the controls are located on the bottom of the left earcup. From front to back we have the detachable mic port, the audio cable plug, a recessed volume dial, and a mic mute toggle switch. 

The recessed volume wheel can be a bit difficult to find, but that also means it’s difficult to accidentally bump. Compared to headsets with larger dials that I bump every time I take the headset on and off, I prefer this smaller recessed design. 

Both headsets come with two cables. The first is a four-foot cable with a TRRS 3.5mm plug on the end to work with gaming controllers and smartphones. The other is a nearly 10ft cable with a split connection for mic and audio. This makes it really easy to run to the back of a PC or sound card like the EPOS GSX300.

Lightweight comfort

Even though the design is very similar between the two headsets, there are some big differences when it comes to comfort. 

What they share in common, though, is that they are both incredibly lightweight at about 230g for the GL3 and closer to 220 for the GDL3. In addition, they have a pretty light clamping force so they don’t feel like they have a death grip on your head. 

One thing that sets them apart is the ear cushions. The shape is the same with a circular outer diameter that matches the shape of the cans, but a more oval shape on the inner diameter. Starting with the closed-back GL3, the ear cushions feature a faux leather exterior while the flat part that makes contact with the skin is a softer fabric. 

On the open-back headset, the entire cushion is a softer fabric with no sign of faux leather.

One other key difference is the depth of the ear cups. While the cushions look nearly identical when it comes to depth, what’s under the fabric is different. Removing the ear cushions reveals that on the closed-back Audio-Technica ATH-GL3, the drives are flat, meaning they sit directly up against the fabric cover from the ear cushion.

On the GDL3, however, the drivers are pushed back deeper in the can leaving more room for ears which makes a huge difference to me for comfort. 

On the GL3, the tops of my ears sit up against those flat drivers. If the headset wasn’t as light as it is, this would quickly become too fatiguing for me. But since the clamping force is so light, it wasn’t as fatiguing as the MMX line from Beyerdynamic or the Virtuoso from Corsair.

Driver comparison: Audio-Technica ATH-GL3 on the left, GDL3 on the right.

The open-back GDL3, on the other hand, has plenty of room in there thanks to that deeper driver design which makes the headset extremely comfortable. I could easily wear this headset all day thanks to the lightweight design and deeper ear cup. 

The rubber headband works well for these headsets once again thanks to that lightweight design. When the headset is this light, there isn’t going to be as much pressure on the top of your head.

How do they Sound? 

When it comes to sound, the two headsets are completely different. Let’s start with the good – the closed-back Audio-Technica ATH-GL3. With a massive frequency response of 10-35,000 Hz, the GL3 hits low and can reach into the highs but overall, the headset has a bit of a darker sound to it. 

For the most part, things are pretty round. There is a small boost to the low-end which makes for fun gameplay, but mids track well with other neutral gaming headsets that I’ve tried like the Epos H3 and even my Philips Fidelio X3 headphones.

Highs start to get a little shyer on the GL3, though. They’re present but I didn’t find the best clarity when compared to other headsets. Now I never found that to be troublesome when playing Battlefield 2042 or Escape from Tarkov, but I noticed it more when listening to music. 

When gaming the GL3 still provided a full and fun listening experience that let me easily pick out the direction of audio cues. Stereo separation and imaging are pretty good on the GL3.

The ATH-GDL3, though, is a different story. Even though I find this headset to be extremely comfortable, I didn’t care for the sound. The lows are still there and similar to the GL3, but the mids take an immediate step back that was jarring when directly comparing the two headsets. Mixed with the same kind of shy or pulled-back highs, the GDL3 seemed almost muddy which meant that the clarity that’s necessary for gaming wasn’t there. 

This is a huge shame because on paper I love everything about the ATH-GDL3. I’ve been a long-time user of Audio-Technica’s headphones and the idea of an affordable open-back headset from a storied audio brand outside of the normal gaming brands was very exciting to me. But, unfortunately, it didn’t deliver on the audio front. 

Mic check

As a gaming headset, the microphone sounds pretty good on the Audio-Technica ATH-GL3 and GDL3 but it’s not as crystal clear as the HS80 or even the MMX mics. My voice came through with some good depth and presence but maybe teetered on the side of being muddy. Instead of cutting out the low-end like a lot of gaming headsets have done in the past in favor of clear comms, these mics keep a more full and natural sound. If clarity is of the utmost importance to you and your squad when gaming the full sound might be a distraction on the battlefield, but for most, I think this more natural sound is a good fit.

9to5Toy’s Take

For $100, though, there are some great wired headsets out there. While writing this review I pulled out the EPOS H3 to give it a test and was once again very impressed with the comfort and audio quality. Clamping force was a bit much, but that also means that the EPOS has a little better passive noise cancellation. 

We also have the recent MMX line from Beyerdynamic that we reviewed. I think the $100 MMX 100 wins in terms of audio, but those headsets were much more uncomfortable for me which is a huge consideration when it comes to gaming. 

While I don’t think I can recommend the open-back ATH-GDL3 based on the sound, I’m still in a mixed bag for the closed-back GD3. If it had the same recessed driver design of the GDL3 giving it some more room in the earcup, it would be a no-brainer. I enjoyed the sound for both gaming and listening to music.

But with my ears pressing up against the drivers, it can get fatiguing over time. Now I know that isn’t an issue for everyone and plenty of people will find this satisfactory, but this is my biggest complaint on the GD3. 

Buy Audio-Technica ATH-GL3

Buy Audio-Technica ATH-GDL3

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