Most budget gaming headsets feature mostly plastic bodies and mediocre sound quality, but not the Corsair HS50. It’s a budget-friendly pick with a metal construction that both looks and feels premium. The headband and ear cups on the headset are on the larger side, mostly because of thick synthetic leather padding, but they're still super comfortable. There’s even a convenient volume dial along the left side of the headset, along with a mute button for the microphone. The noise-canceling microphone is removable, too, making the headset a travel-friendly pair that’s compatible with any game console, gaming laptop, and most smartphones.
While we have dedicated lists for the best PlayStation 4 headsets and Xbox One headsets, we don’t have one for Nintendo Switch. There’s a reason for that: Using a headset with the Nintendo Switch can be a bit of a mess. Sure, you can plug in any pair of headphones (rather than a headset), or even sync up a Bluetooth pair, but the Switch’s lack of an on-console voice chat function renders the headset question moot — if you can’t use the mic, then why bother? In order to use voice chat at all, you must download an app for your smartphone. Then you’ll need to connect to both the Switch and your smartphone via a splitter. This can result in a tangled mess.
The Razer Synapse software felt intuitive with familiar presets making it clear how to achieve the sound you want and the ability to individually control the type of sound and volume in each program was a nice touch. With a $110 Amazon price at the time of writing, the ManO’War isn’t pulling any punches. But it’s swings and roundabouts when looking at the ManO’War’s build quality. It feel’s surprisingly light for its chunky design, which although not necessarily a bad thing on its own, started to concern us when we realised how much flex there was in the frame. It lacks the solid feel that companies like Sennheiser are able to deliver on the Sennheiser PC 373D. We wish Razer had swapped the RGB lighting out for a 3.5mm jack or a more slim line design. Still, for the price - and if you don’t mind the chunkier design and lack of a hardwire option- the ManO’War could be the one to lead you to victory.
Wireless range is clearly another important factor when considering your headset purchase. SteelSeries say the Siberia 800 is capable of around 12 metres range, but in real world use we found it was more like five metres. This headset seems to struggle with passing through walls and floors where other wireless headsets we've tested managed just fine. This isn't necessarily an issue if you're gaming in a large room, but it is an issue if you want to carry on listening while you pop to the fridge for a snack or to the bathroom for a comfort break.
Despite the less involved sound editing options (you’re stuck with basic software rather than the 800s’ desktop transmitter) and the aforementioned design issues, the Arctis 7s still manage to be a dependable and complete gaming headset. The mic is brilliant at cutting out sound, the effective range is outstanding, and considering their much lower price than the 800s they make a wise mid-budget pick.
Virtual surround headsets feature ear cups that cover the entire ear. This type of headset uses only two discrete speakers, one on each ear cup, to create surround sound. Virtual surround headsets tend to have higher-end driver components which experts and consumers believe to be more durable, as well as have larger speakers which deliver more powerful and dynamic sound quality. Virtual surround headset achieves surround sound by using external or internal pre-amplifier or mix-amplifier modules, as well as several different algorithms, to convert stereo or surround sound signals into surround sound. The sound is divided and sectioned so as to deliver it in such a way that it creates an auditory landscape, thereby producing surround sound.
The true surround sound experience you get with the Asus Strix 7.1 headset is undeniably superb. Being able to switch profiles according to the game you're playing and adjust volumes on-the-fly is really useful when you're gaming. Positional audio is superior to that offered by lesser headsets and by those virtual surround sound headsets out there.
Okay, so Astro: The A50’s a few years old now, but still an excellent wireless headset. Astro’s biggest improvement with the latest refresh was the battery, overcoming a long-running weak spot and packing 12 to 15 hours of life—enough to get you through even a long day of gaming. Better yet, it features gyroscopes in the ears that detect whether you’ve set it down. It automatically shuts off 10 seconds later if so, and then seamlessly powers back on and connects to your PC when you pick it back up. Its base station also serves as a charger, a nice mix of function and beauty.
I’ve been fortunate enough to review affordable headphones, speakers, receivers, and home theater gear, as well as high-end audio gear, for more than a decade now. I served as East Coast contributing editor for Home Entertainment magazine and editor in chief of HomeTechTell, and in the past I’ve contributed to Electronic House, Big Picture Big Sound, Digital TV & Sound, and Home Theater magazine. I write about all manner of audio gear here at Wirecutter, as well as at Home Theater Review and Residential Systems.
The headset fits comfortably over my ears and doesn't completely block out ambient noise which personally I like. Chat audio is good and most people say I sound clear though one person said I sounded muffled. You can tweak mic settings through Playstation settings and the headset has it's own PSN app that can be used to further customize your audio."
As mentioned above, the microphone is pretty useless (let’s blame that on Cougar’s Metal Gear-esque naming conventions), and its high/treble reproduction isn’t as good as more expensive headsets, but its overall audio quality is perfectly good enough for the money. If you’re looking for something inexpensive to give to your kids or younger siblings, the Cougar Phontum is well worth considering.
It’s worth noting, though, that this is only the case with PC and PS4 platforms. For Xbox and mobile devices, you have to use the included 3.5 mm audio cable, and that does disable the headset’s chat functionality. Since we’re only really concerned with PC performance for the purposes of this guide, that wasn’t an issue, but it’s still worth noting.
Some Bluetooth office headsets incorporate Class 1 Bluetooth into the base station so that, when used with a Class 1 Bluetooth headset, the user can communicate from a greater distance, typically around 100 feet compared to the 33 feet of the more usual Class 2 Bluetooth headset. Many headsets supplied with these base stations connect to cellphones via Class 2 Bluetooth, however, restricting the range to about 33 feet.
Next up is Hellblade, where I sit back and listen to the internal voices whirling around inside Senua’s head during the game’s opening boat sequence. Since Hellblade uses binaural audio techniques (which uses two microphones to accurately measure the distance between your head and where the sound’s coming from to create a proper 3D, 360-degree soundscape – try these examples with a pair of headphones on to see what I mean), this is a great test of how a headset can be immersive and create a fully-believable sense of place. I listen to see how up close and personal the main narrator can be, as well as how the other voices come and go and titter around the periphery. If a headset can make my spine tingle (as some of them have), this is a good sign.
Our previous runner-up pick, Kingston’s HyperX Cloud Revolver, is still a favorite amongst most of our testers due to its great mic and lively sound. Although not as neutral as the HyperX Cloud, it’s great for action games, and the auto-adjusting headset was popular with all but one of our testers. Only the fact that the Kraken Pro V2 delivers much the same audio performance and similar comfort at a much cheaper price bumped this one off our list of top recommendations.
Well most software packages from headset companies include an EQ option alongside their presets. Presets are just EQ customizations done at the manufacturer’s end and saved as a handy option for users to switch on/off as required. However, as we discussed earlier people like different types of sound, so a bass boost preset for one person may be too much or too little of an increase in bass for another. Using the EQ option in the software package allows you to manually adjust specific frequency ranges to achieve different types of sound. Now this can sound and even look daunting the first time you see an EQ graph, however if you remember there’s only three main areas; Bass, Mid and Treble, with only an increase or decrease available in each area it can be as simple or complicated as you want it to be.
This brand is a bit more unknown than most popular names, but this headset is rated too high to not include in this article. The audio quality is great but has a bass boost (some may like it some may not), microphone monitoring (hear it back to yourself to test how you sound), chat volume control, and is USB powered. It’s a lower price-point headset with great features for the cost, and if you want something with a bit more bass and solid build that will last you a while, this is a great headset to buy. It’s one of our picks for best low-cost gaming headsets. Gamers Radar had this in their best gaming headsets budget-friendly pairs list as well.
The twist of a dial allows you to change the volume of the channels, adjust your mic sensitivity levels or adjust the surround sound profile to suit your preference the game you're playing. You can easily mute the microphone or turn surround sound on or off here too. There are also cables supplied to allow you to connect to speakers too, should you need or want to. This allows the option to switch between speakers and headphones when the need arises and demonstrates just how flexible this setup is.
Surrouding Stereo Sound: 57mm Hi-Fi driver brings super clear and superior sound effect when playing games. Noise cancelling Microphone (you can adjust microphone to 120 degrees up and down base on your own) and Surrounding stereo design is superb that you could feel in gaming environment once using, like shooting environment, drastic gaming situation. Perfect for plenty of games like World of Warcraft (WOW),LOL, Call Of Duty, GTA Series, Assassins creed etc.
A bundled audio transmitter with OLED display delivers relevant information about your audio experience, such as volume, battery life, and audio source. It’s also used to charge the headset’s batteries. The Arctis Pro’s 40-millimeter stereo drivers deliver plenty of power, and the attached noise-canceling mic is retractable and does a good job at picking up your voice. We just wish the headset were a little cheaper and was compatible with the Xbox One.
A year old now, and surpassed by the far superior Arctis Pro - but still well worth picking up. With amazing audio out the box and complete EQ customization available through the SteelSeries Engine 3 software, you can tell from the first utterance of noise that you’re on to a good thing. The surround sound packs an immersive, directional punch, and while music sounds impressive, setting up some EQ profiles really unlocks the unit’s potential. Stick to stereo though, as the DTS surround made directional noise harder to pinpoint. No competition for the Astro A50’s Dolby 7.1 solution.
If you’ve got money to burn and want the absolute best of the best, look no further than the Steelseries Arctis Pro + GameDAC. Not to be confused with its more expensive wireless and cheaper GameDAC-less Pro siblings, this middle offering in Steelseries’ Arctis Pro line-up is arguably the best of the lot – if only because it’s the only one to have proper Hi-Res audio support.
A headset combines a headphone with a microphone. Headsets are made with either a single-earpiece (mono) or a double-earpiece (mono to both ears or stereo). Headsets provide the equivalent functionality of a telephone handset but with handsfree operation. They have many uses including in call centers and other telephone-intensive jobs and for anybody wishing to have both hands free during a telephone conversation.
This gaming headset is one of the biggest beasts of them all. If budget isn’t in your vocabulary, stop right here. You have pro studio quality, wireless connectivity (some debate whether or not you should use a cable or immediacy when you game, however), 50 mm drivers, “Scout Mode” which apparently allows us to hear enemies before us (which we wouldn’t take completely serious but at the same time, if you’re concerned with audio quality and having an edge, this is the pair to get). If you’re not a fan of wireless headphones, especially for gaming, you can still use a cable here. However, the convenience is amazing (they market it to be lag and static free, so you can always be the judge of that). This thing is one of the best out there. This made it into PC Gamer’s best gaming headset article under the best high-end model.
With many desk phone models and softphone programs available, compatibility is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to selecting compatible headsets. Headsets Direct has numerous compatibility guides and resources to take the guesswork out of the selection process. We always ask our customers about personal preferences and their environment to ensure the headset fits perfectly for all-day wearing comfort, has excellent incoming and outgoing sound levels and quality, and meets the needs for maximum performance within the customer’s specific work environment. We have our popular Headsets 101 Guide available online, which is regularly updated, and each year we publish our Headset Buyer's Guide, displaying the best headset options for specific applications.
Another term you’ll see accompanied by a smattering of numbers is sensitivity or SPL (sound pressure level). Essentially, this is a measurement of how loud a headset will produce sound at a particular power level. Now, it’s worth taking this stat with a pinch of salt as due to variance in power sources (amps, interfaces etc.) the measurement of sensitivity is not always a true representation of how loud the headset will sound for you. Also as sensitivity is measured in decibels per milliwatt and power from your PC (and every other electrical device on the planet) is delivered in volts, the methods used by companies to arrive at their value of sensitivity can be inconsistent, which doesn’t really help anyone in deciding whether or not a particular headset is right for them.
Analogue headsets: These use one or more 3.5mm headphone jacks to transmit audio to and from the headset, and are often universally compatible with PCs, consoles and mobile devices. The sound quality will rely on your individual device however, and they won’t support surround sound out of the box. Keep in mind that on PCs with separate mic and headphone jacks, you’ll need a splitter. Some headsets will come with one, but not all. Check before you buy and pop one in your basket if you need one.
At this point we’d like to give you the best piece of advice out there surrounding headsets. Get your hands on them and try them out. Order some online and if you’re not happy with them, swap them for another set. That said though, every headset in our round-up bangs. Guaranteed. So if you’re not sure, have another read through our list, make your pick and sleep easy tonight.
It sounds great, too, and is completely wireless, allowing you to keep your gaming desk nice and clean without another tangle of cables in the mix. What’s more, its wireless transmitter isn’t just a little USB stick – it’s got its own cable, so you can position it wherever you like for the best signal. You also get a regular 3.5mm audio cable so you can use it as a wired headset as well if you prefer.
We have to be honest, we were umming and ahhing between the G933s or the G930s for this spot. Weighing up the pros and cons of old versus new, with the older 930s being very similar in terms of quality, yet lacking the versatility, battery life and finesse of the new 933s. However, we then noticed the G633s, which offer all the features and sound quality of the G933s but for half the price! The payoff? A single wire. And let’s be honest, there’s enough wireless tech already in this list to excite the most obsessively compulsive amongst us.
Because DECT specifications are different between countries, developers who use the same product across different countries have launched wireless headsets which use 2.4GHz RF as opposed to the 1.89 or 1.9 GHz in DECT. Almost all countries in the world have the 2.4 GHz band open for wireless communications, so headsets using this RF band is sellable in most markets. However, the 2.4 GHz frequency is also the base frequency for many wireless data transmission, i.e. Wireless LAN, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth..., the bandwidth may be quite crowded, so using this technology may be more prone to interference.
Design wise, the Alpha isn’t testing convention, incorporating the signature red and black colorway we’ve all come to expect from any gamer product released, ever. That said, the headbands high quality contrast stitching and embossed HyperX logo do well to compliment the minimalist design, resulting in something that might not match the Arctis range in terms of style, but could certainly teach the Sennheiser PC 373D (below) how to feel young again. And sound-wise, the Alphas deliver. The closed back design does well at isolating external noise, while the 50mm drivers take care of the rest. On par with the SteelSeries Arctis Pro, above, no other mid-range set creates the same clarity amongst the higher frequencies as the Cloud Alphas. Slight bass and mid boosts coupled with a lack of software again hints at the Alphas bias towards gaming, but music and movies still sounded superb. The detachable mic is a nice touch and pulls its weight in terms of sound quality, avoiding being too gainy, or conversely, too compressed.
And you would be missing out on some valuable gaming-centric add-ons, such as the dual 3.5 mm 2-meter extension cable with in-line volume control and mic mute, plus the easily swappable leatherette and velour earpads. The HyperX Cloud also comes with a short adapter cable (dual 3.5 mm to single 3.5 mm) for use with mobile devices, as well as an airplane adapter and a cloth carrying case. And since it’s an analog headset, it works just fine with PCs, Macs, and consoles alike, although you will need an adapter (sold separately) for the Xbox One.
A: Unfortunately, no. The Xbox One is the trickiest console to buy a gaming headset for. Previously, Microsoft required you to purchase a separate stereo adapter to use a 3.5-millimeter headset. Fortunately, the newest Xbox One controllers have a built-in 3.5-millimeter jack, just like the one you’d find on a PlayStation 4 controller or PC, so the adapter is no longer necessary. As for wireless headsets, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One headsets run at different frequencies, so make sure you're buying the correct one for your console. We recommend the ASTRO Gaming A50 wireless gaming headset for Xbox One users. You can read more about Xbox One headset compatibility here.
Not all telephone headsets are compatible with all telephone models. Because headsets connect to the telephone via the standard handset jack, the pin-alignment of the telephone handset may be different from the default pin-alignment of the telephone headset. To ensure a headset can properly pair with a telephone, telephone adapters or pin-alignment adapters are available. Some of these adapters also provide mute function and switching between handset and headset.
Perhaps most importantly, the HyperX Cloud is impressively comfortable—you can wear it for hours on end without cranial distress, plus its aluminum construction makes it durable despite its light weight. That, plus the headset’s great audio performance, made it a clear winner in our tests. It features a nice balance of atmosphere-enhancing high-frequency sounds, a clear sense of the direction that sounds are coming from, and good low-end rumble.
“I am loving these headphones. They are very comfortable even in gaming sessions lasting 12-plus hours. The audio quality even when using Bluetooth is very impressive. The thing that has impressed me the most about these has been the battery life. I believe they advertise 40 hours per charge with about a one- to two-hour charging time, and honestly they deliver. I try to charge them when I go to bed, but frequently forget to plug them in and they still keep going even after a couple days of forgetfulness.”