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.
But I’m still replacing it. Why? Well, aesthetics are a huge reason. If you want an indication how Logitech’s design language has shifted in the past year or so, look no further than the G933 and G533. The G933 was all sharp angles and science fiction. The G533 on the other hand is sleek, professional, restrained. With a piano-black finish and soft curves, it looks like a headset made by Audio-Technica or Sennheiser or a more mainstream audio company—not necessarily a “gaming” headset. I like it.
The sound quality, however, does not disappoint. This a virtual surround sound headset with audio that's been upgraded since the previous model. The large drivers offer a good range of sound with deep bass levels and a brilliantly immersive sound quality that gamers will love. Within the Razer Synapse software, you can calibrate the position of the audio to your own personal preference ensuring the best surround sound experience.
When you have decided for the headset of your needs, you expect to have the gaming headset for many years. With our German engineered technology our gaming headsets don't just look great, they are built to last, too. Only top quality materials are used and the attention to detail is superb. The speakers are engineered and manufactured at our own facilities in Europe and the braided fabric cable ensures long-lasting durability.
Here at the Strategist, we like to think of ourselves as crazy (in the good way) about the stuff we buy (like pillows), but as much as we’d like to, we can’t try everything. Which is why we have People’s Choice, in which we find the best-reviewed (that’s four-to-five-star reviews and lots of ’em) products and single out the most convincing. While we’ve written before about the best gaming mouses and external hard drives, and our favorite virtual-reality headset, here we’ve found the best-reviewed gaming headsets on Amazon. (Note that reviews have been edited for length and clarity.)
“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.”
In addition, the HyperX Cloud performed admirably when we fitted it with its mobile adapter cable and paired it with my iPhone. Bass-heavy tracks such as Björk’s “Hyperballad” and Beastie Boys’ “3-Minute Rule” have nuances in the lowest octaves that most game soundtracks simply don’t deliver, and this Kingston headset proved to be more than up to the task of delivering them faithfully.
The microphone is excellent and slides into the earcup when not in use. The icing on the cake is excellent software that lets you customize the sound and even assign profiles to games. All in all, the Arctis 7 has every feature we could ask for in a headset, and it comes wrapped in an understated package that's both sophisticated and all-day comfortable. When it comes to wireless gaming headsets, at this price it really doesn't get any better than this.
This new headset features the close and comfortable fit of the Arctis range. With a freshly styled gunmetal finished headband supported by a swappable ski goggle-style band that can be easily tightened or loosened depending on your preference. This design is surprisingly comfortable as it's the material headband that sits on your head, not the metal, so you don't get an unpleasant pressure on your noggin while you're gaming.
The battery life is decent, rated at around 16 hours, which bore up during our testing. But one of my real bug bears is there seems to be no easy way to tell how much capacity is left in your battery – having a level indicator would be nice. The wireless connection, however, is strong and stable and the audio excellent, so they definitely get the win for us.
It's also true that if a headset doesn’t sound good, then spending a single cent on it is a waste of money. But what is ‘good’ sound? Well, that depends entirely on your taste. Some people like bass heavy sound that reverberates through everything in a ten-mile radius, others prefer a natural more balanced sound, and a few have been known to prefer a bit of both. Therefore, if you’re dead set on a specific sound it’s probably wise to choose a headset that comes with EQ software, which enables you to manipulate the sound to your taste. (Surround sound is another consideration, but we’ll cover that a bit later.) Finally the price. This should be thought of in three distinctions. Firstly, what is your budget? Second, what are other companies offering for roughly the same price? And finally, what reputation does the company have, especially surrounding warranties and customer service?
3.5mm connections are the round ports found on not only PCs but also on phones, tablets, T.Vs, car stereos and pretty much anything else that emits sound. Except iPhones, because Apple suck. Anyway: the obvious benefit of having a 3.5mm headset is that you can use it on any of these devices. The Logitech G430, for example, is an average-sounding headset at an entry level price, but can be used on more devices than you can shake a stick at. The potential negatives are that because it’s an analogue connection, if the build quality isn’t up to scratch on either A) the headset or B) the device, it can affect the quality of the sound being sent by your mic or received by your cans. Another benefit of the 3.5mm connection being used on PC’s is that ONLY audio devices use 3.5mm connections, so you should always have room to connect. Not something that can always be said for the USB ports.
Digging through the hundreds of currently available gaming headsets in search of the right model is a daunting task. I know this because it took me more than 40 hours just to compile a list of currently sold gaming headsets and weed out the obvious losers by reading owner reviews on Amazon.com and posts on /r/pcgaming. I then turned to expert sources such as Tom’s Guide, Digital Trends, PCWorld, PCMag, TechRadar, and the forums at Head-Fi.org for help in whittling down the 237 potential candidates to the 37 headsets we listened to in the first round of testing in 2015, plus another 12 in 2016, 11 new models at the beginning of 2017, and 10 at the beginning of 2018.
Virtual surround sound is by no means a bad thing. Yes, it’s not as good as proper 7.1 surround sound, but in some cases it can help make music feel more immersive and all-encompassing than regular stereo. However, poor implementations of it can often destroy any sense of intimacy or breathing-down-the-back-of-your-neck-style dialogue, and it can sometimes make your game audio feel like it’s been turned into one great big echo chamber, so don’t be fooled by what it says on the box.
They obviously work best for those who are going to be sitting right next to their PC or console, though many devices, including the Nintendo Switch system — as well as the controllers for Xbox One, PS4, and Wii U — all feature 3.5mm jacks, making distance less of an issue since these devices will be in your hands. Keep in mind the length of the connection cable if you’re connecting via 3.5mm to a PC, TV/monitor, or a sound system. In some cases, extensions or swapping for a new cable might be necessary to get the distance your setup requires.
The ear cushions are large and fit well too. They're made from a microfiber mesh fabric backed with memory foam to provide comfort while gaming. We found this mesh fabric to be a little scratchy when compared with leather or other styled fabrics on the other headsets we've tested, but it did mean that we weren't suffering with issues from sweating or overheating during long gaming sessions.
Headsets come in a variety of styles, such as color, head mounting, and ear coupling. Since headsets typically have two ear pieces, there is usually a connecting piece between the ear pieces, which allows the user to mount the headset on their head. That head mounting can be on top of the head or behind it. Ear coupling provides more options, such as over ear (circum-aural), on ear (supra-aural), earbuds, and canal. Finally, headsets are also available in wired and wireless styles.
We’ll likely be accused of playing favorites with this one, but after thorough testing in which only one of our testers was aware of the brands involved, we all agreed that Kingston’s new HyperX Cloud Stinger is the clear choice for gamers looking to spend $50 or less on a new headset. Compared with most budget headsets, the Cloud Stinger is surprisingly well-built and comfortable thanks to its cushy headband and relaxed fit. In our tests, its audio performance was noticeably better than that of anything else in its price range, thanks to its beefy 50 mm drivers and well-balanced sound. Our testers also went gaga over the Cloud Stinger’s new microphone, which is a substantial upgrade over the mic of even our top pick: Not only does it sound better, but also you can mute the mic just by raising the boom into the vertical position. This design does mean that the mic isn’t removable, which has long been a selling point of our top pick, the original HyperX Cloud, but the mic is especially sturdy, and it stays locked in place and out of the way when not in use.
If you’re looking for a competitive, lightweight and stylish alternative to larger headsets, the SoundBlasterX P5 is certainly the way to go. One of the best headsets we’ve ever tested.The maximum volume is enough to give you a headache, but when dealing with quieter audio sources, you’ll be thankful they’ve got the power you need. When maxed out, the sound is distortion free and still sounds nicely balanced, while the bass offers up a lot of detail without drowning out the rest of the mix.
Audio is the Void Pro Wireless’s only weak spot, which you could argue is not a great weak spot for a headset to have. Playback is very bright, with a small-sounding and treble-heavy mix that’s tiring to listen to long-term. You can’t do much about the first, but spending some time with an EQ can mitigate the latter—I recommend adding a touch of bass and bringing down the high end a bit.
Some gamers simply love boosted bass, especially when playing shooters and other action-heavy games. If you fit that bill but find yourself disappointed by the fact that most bass-heavy gaming headsets also rattle and shake and distort far too easily, the newly redesigned Razer Kraken Pro V2 might be just what you’re looking for. The V2 delivers rich and robust bottom end and is also the most comfortable (and seemingly durable) Razer headset we’ve tested to date, especially with the optional oval ear cushions. While our testers preferred the more balanced sound of our top pick with a wider variety of games, the Kraken Pro V2 is a very compelling alternative if you want low end.
Finding a gaming headset that really suits your needs can be tricky. There’s a thin line between spending slightly more on a good-sounding headset with a feature you like the idea of, and paying over the odds for one with features you’ll never use. Sometimes the jargon and marketing terms can be pretty overwhelming, with the necessary easily becoming entangled with the unnecessary. So how can we simplify this? The three most important factors to consider are sound quality, comfort and price - and of those, comfort is paramount. You’re going to spend a lot time with this little guy. Crossing vast wastelands, encountering strange and intriguing alien species and er, listening to Spotify. So it’s important your headset doesn’t weigh you down or become irritating. The most important areas are the ear cups, headband and weight. Fortunately 99% of gaming headsets are reasonably comfortable these days regardless of price. The more premium offerings simply increase that comfort by using patented fabric tech and made up science names. Comfy, but definitely unnecessary. And while we're on the subject of design, you might want to color-coordinate things with your existing gear, like your mouse and keyboard. A gaming session with a color-coded setup can be a lot of fun, and really get you in the mood. While we don't spend a ton of time talking about color, you can check out our lists of the best gaming mice, and best gaming monitors, which should help you put together one hell of a setup.
Do you even need a dedicated gaming headset at all? If audio quality is the be-all-and-end-all for you it might be interesting to note there’s a growing trend of using audiophile headphones, coupled with discrete desk-based microphones, so you can still yell abuse at your gaming buddies while enjoying the absolute best aural experiences money can buy.
The Razer Thresher Ultimate packs everything you could want in a wireless headset. It's supremely comfortable, it sounds great and it has a 16-hour battery to last through a long day of gaming. The headset's 7.1 surround sound makes it easy to hear enemies coming, while its handy on-ear controls allows you to effortlessly balance game and chat audio. It doesn't hurt that the Thresher is one of the slickest set of wireless cans around, with stylish PS4 and Xbox One variations and an included receiver stand that'll make the peripheral look great sitting next to your console.
The best examples are the 7.1 surround sound and 3D audio. The surround sound will provide a rich audio experience to help immerse you in whatever game you're playing. The 3D audio will bump up the quality on select PS4 games by providing directional differences in sound. The best example of this is on PSVR, where the sound adjusts with your head movement.
What keeps it from being the stand-out winner are several annoyances. For starters, the A50 uses the 5GHz band, which means the range isn’t great. Even sitting at my computer, I occasionally noticed interference. A built-in battery also means that if you do forget to charge it, you’re stuck attaching it to your PC with a MicroUSB cable while you play. And the audio, while quite good and superior to the Arctis Pro Wireless, still is easily outdone by $300 headphones. (Read our full review.)
Will Greenwald has been covering consumer technology for a decade, and has served on the editorial staffs of CNET.com, Sound & Vision, and Maximum PC. His work and analysis has been seen in GamePro, Tested.com, Geek.com, and several other publications. He currently covers consumer electronics in the PC Labs as the in-house home entertainment expert... See Full Bio
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 only issue with the sound quality is the fact you are restricted to a 3.5mm analogue connection, which can cause sketchy feedback hums. You won’t notice it too much while playing, but content creators using a single audio channel in OBS/Shadowplay will definitely be affected. So, be aware. Although it’s not expected for the price point, we’re glad Corsair haven’t thrown a bolt-on virtual 7.1 feature in to the mix. That, coupled with the lack of RGB or clichéd gamer styling, tells us Corsair are trying to sell this headset based on its utility in an already overcrowded space. The HS50 is incredible value for money. It sounds awesome, is a pleasure to wear, and avoids all the gimmicks that usually turn us off. A digital connection would have been nice, and sure, a DAC (like the one on the Arctis Pro) would remedy this, but that extra cost negates the most attractive thing about the HS50.
Stereo simply means two channels, a left and a right, and is created with a pair of drivers. One in each ear cup. Surround sound, which in gaming headsets is almost definitely 7.1, refers to 7 drivers and a subwoofer. Now packing all those drivers into a headset isn’t always possible, so a lot of companies use their pair of stereo drivers mixed with some digital wizardry and recreate the impression of that sound. This is referred to as virtual 7.1 and is the case for 99% of the headsets in our list excluding the ASUS Centurion. Most either use Dolby virtual 7.1 surround sound or DTS Headphone:X surround sound.
The SteelSeries Arctis 7 is the best all-round headset. It offers a super-comfortable fit and all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a top-end product, including wireless support and virtual surround sound. The Razer Kraken Pro V2 is great, easy to use and – most importantly – affordable. It doesn’t offer more advanced features such as wireless support or virtual surround sound, but for the money you’ll struggle to do better.
The build is also something worthy of praise with the A10. ASTRO's design is very ergonomic and comfortable, so it shouldn't weigh down on the head at all. The ear cups use plush padding, instead of wrapped "leather" like most other headsets at this price, which helps with the comfort immensely. And since the A10 works on every platform, you'll be prepared for any and all gaming needs.
As you'd expect from a headset with "RGB" in its name, this version also includes RGB lighting. This lighting is part of the Corsair logo on the side of the ear cups and can be adjusted via the Corsair CUE software. You can set various colours and adjust the way the lighting works within the software, but the highlight for us was probably the "lighting link" function that syncs the lighting with other Corsair RGB products to light them in the same way e.g. keyboard and mouse.
On the upside, they have a decent sound quality, an above-average microphone that captures speech well and a comfortable enough design for longer gaming sessions. They have a decent battery life that lasts about 10.8 hours and only take about 3 hours charge fully. They also support Bluetooth, which as a better range than using them with their USB dongle, but it also has more latency.
Two other new Logitech headsets, the G433 and G233 Prodigy, promise a comfortable, lightweight experience with the support of high-quality Pro G audio drivers. Both headsets offer removable microphones, but only the G433 headset comes equipped with 7.1 surround sound, an extra pair of earpads, and a USB cord featuring volume control. The prices for these models fall around and above that of our top pick. When we test these headsets, we’ll examine the durability, the fabric finish, the removable mesh earpads, and the differences in quality across PC, console, and mobile device use. Logitech claims its G Pro headset—designed in collaboration with pro gamers—has ear pads with “50 percent more sound isolation than other ear pads” and a pro-grade microphone designed for improved clarity.
The Cougar Phontum is by no means perfect (its microphone may as well go in the bin), but at this kind of price, it’s still a great buy for those on a budget. With its metal frame and large, plush ear cups, the Phontum’s build quality is outstanding for a headset that costs less than £50 / $50, and it’s infinitely preferable to the overly plastic construction of its nearest rival, the Turtle Beach Recon 150.
“I have owned a number of Mpow products. They all have been good products at great prices. When I got them I found them comfortable and the audio surprisingly good for the price. However, the biggest surprise was the 7.1 [surround sound] audio. While gaming, I was surprised to hear gameplay all around me! I could pinpoint the direction of other players by sound. It’s amazing and something I had anticipated spending five times as much to experience! The headset is full over-ear and comfy. So far the spring-and-cable-adjusted sizing has worked perfectly and the audio is beautifully balanced for gaming.”
Virtual reality, of course, represents a new kind of headset–a headset with a component that simulates the visual field. The technological development comes at a cost, however: being immersed in such a headset can cause severe motion sickness. It perhaps gives pause to consider that such things were the science-fiction dreams of many who lived not more than fifty or a hundred years ago…though lightsabers are still forthcoming.
In-game audio comes through as crisp and clear as you might think. On one end, the insanity of a Battlefield 5 match will percolate perfectly, with explosions and gunshots ringing all around you. On the other, the epic music of 2018's God of War will be even more booming and entrancing thanks to the MMX 300. That clarity even translates to the microphone, so you won't have to worry about how clear you're coming in on your end.
This is great if you already own lots of Hi-Res audio tracks or subscribe to something like Tidal, but as for gaming… it’s currently unknown how many, if any, actually support Hi-Res audio or whether you get any extra benefit over non-Hi-Res audio headsets. Personally, I’ve never been able to tell the difference between Hi-Res and CD, and that’s after multiple demos and tech PRs doing their darnedest to convince me otherwise. As a result, it’s probably worth it if you’re into Hi-Res audio stuff outside of gaming, but don’t go paying extra if you’re only going to be using it for games.
We brought in both the Beyerdynamic MMX 300 and the Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro Plus with Custom Headset Gear as potential upgrade picks. Although we all loved the comfort of the MMX 300, as well as its neutral, balanced sound and its overall design, we found that it required too much amplification to be a viable recommendation. The Game One delivered more bang for fewer bucks.
The $99 HyperX Cloud II headset is the best midrange headset because it's the whole package. Not only does it do the job quite well by delivering punchy, ear-tingling audio, but it has awesome features other headsets lack and goes above and beyond what you expect from a headset for the price. For example, though it's a USB headset you can simply disconnect its cable from the included 7.1 surround sound dongle and connect it to any device with a 3.5mm jack, including an Xbox, PlayStation, Switch, or phone.