Granted, it’s a lot of money to spend on a pair of dedicated gaming headphones, but this time Audio-Technica has brought its audiophile origins to bear in its design, making the sound reproduction of the AG1x fantastic. Like the HyperX Cloud, we’re talking about 53mm drivers, but the AG1x offers a slightly wider frequency response, ranging between 15Hz and 35KHz, adding extra clarity to the high tones.
And while we do think the soundstage isn’t as good as that found in models like the HyperX Cloud Revolver S, the audio quality is still phenomenal. It feels natural, balanced, and clear, without overcooking any one element. The model we’ve linked to here is the base headset, but if you want, you can shell out an extra $70 and pick up SteelSeries’ GameDAC - a high-end audio converter that is geared towards gaming. We don’t think it makes a huge difference - it’s overkill for most people, and doesn’t give a dramatic improvement on the base sound - but it’s nice to have the option. And when you consider just how good - and affordable - this headset it, it’s hardly surprising we’ve ranked it so highly. There is also a wireless version, but we think it's way too overpriced for what you get; if you can deal with a lone wire, this offers excellent value.
Initial setup and pairing with the transmitter box is a breeze and there's an easy to use on/off button on the headset itself to save battery life. We did find the transmitter was a bit less user-friendly as you have to dive into settings to send it to sleep when you aren't using it. It's also worth noting that the transmitter uses quite short power, USB and optical cables which means you need to keep the box quite close to your gaming machine.
When deciding between wired or wireless headsets, there are a few things to think about. You might find that wired headsets generally have a lower price point than a wireless option, offer less chance of interference from other devices, and will never leave you in the lurch because you forgot to charge them. On the other hand, wireless headsets don't have cords to tether you to your computer or console or trip you up and get disconnected during a critical game mission.
Another issue for surround sound, aside from space for the actual drivers, is space within the ear cup to allow that sound to disperse proportionately and create the intended sound. Now this is where you need to be careful, because some headsets do it much better than others. More often than not this is dictated by price. If we’re being frank, surround sound is kind of gimmicky in headsets. Although enjoyable for single player games or movies, for any online or competitive play you will want to use stereo, as it creates a much easier sound to distinguish in a space as confined as ear cups. That said we’ve highlighted the surround sound achievers in our list, so if you’re unsure be sure to check that out. And if you want a more music-focused headphone, check out our list of the best high-end headphones of this year.
For ease of use, there's a mic mute button and volume wheel on the headset's cable. This is always a welcome addition, especially when the design means you cannot easily fold the mic out of the way and there's no automatic muting for doing so. We did find the volume controls a little finicky, in that they were very sensitive and would suddenly deliver loud audio when we least expected it, but otherwise it's a great design that works well.
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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.
At just $50, the HyperX Cloud Stinger provides surprisingly punchy audio and relatively plush comfort at a very reasonable price. Out of all the budget headsets we tested, this one had the best audio quality and felt the most comfortable for long gaming sessions. Since it uses a 3.5mm jack it's also a versatile cross-platform headset, but keep in mind its boom mic is not detachable, so you might elicit some stares walking down the street rocking out to your tunes.
There are also cues to let you know when the battery is running low. Regular beeps when the battery level is getting low and a flashing light on the earcup next to the charging port to warn you in plenty of time and give you the choice to either start charging early or have a rough idea of how much gaming time is left before you run out. It's certainly nice to have the option to switch between the wired and wireless modes with ease though.
We remember our first gaming headset pair was made by Plantronics. This model is ranked pretty high everywhere because of it’s price-to-value ratio. You again have some 7.1 surround sound by Dolby, 40 mm drivers, volume controls on the ear pads (pretty convenient, more so than a cable in our opinion), comfortable ear cushions and a noise-cancelling microphone. If this headset is cheaper than the previous listed on certain websites, we would grab it for sure as it brings us similar specifications and features as most out there. There are also some cool spin joints to allow your headphone cups to lay flat on your desk if they’re not in use. Not to mention Plantronics is a brand name you can trust that will last you quite a while if you take care of them (aka not throw them at the wall).
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.
The one performance criticism we all had was that its flexible boom microphone was only good, not great. It delivered voices clearly (with no distortion and very little noise), but all of our online testers who have met me in meatspace reported that my voice sounded a little high-pitched and nasally through the Cloud’s mic. My regular Magic Duels opponent, who graciously tolerated constant pauses to our matches so that I could swap out headsets, summed it up: “You’re coming through loud and clear; it’s just that your voice is missing that booming radio-announcer quality that makes you sound like you.”
We designed every feature with the serious gamer in mind -- from the large-diameter drivers for outstanding sound quality to the innovative construction for long-lasting comfort, no detail was overlooked. Fully adjustable, state-of-the-art microphones with muting capability enable crystal-clear in-game voice communication, making it easier than ever to take control of your gaming environment. And with both open- and closed-back models to choose from, you can opt for a natural or fully immersive sound experience.
Wireless headsets are generally more suited to those there console boxes that sit beneath your TV so you can lounge around on your sofa without falling over a string of cables every time you get up to make a cuppa, but they’re also a good choice if you want to cut down on the warren of PC cables you’ve got building up behind the back of your case. Just bear in mind that you’ll still need a free USB port for their wireless transmitter or dongle, as well as somewhere to charge them when they run out of juice.
This wireless gaming headset from ASTRO is a top-shelf offering with superb fit and an included charging station. It gives users the ability to choose between an open-back and closed-back audio experience. The audio quality of the A50 is also superb, headed by the capability to deliver 7.1 Dolby Surround Sound. It comes in two variants — one for the Xbox One and the other for PS4 compatibility.
Telephone headsets connect to a fixed-line telephone system. A telephone headset functions by replacing the handset of a telephone. Headsets for standard corded telephones are fitted with a standard 4P4C commonly called an RJ-9 connector. Headsets are also available with 2.5mm jack sockets for many DECT phones and other applications. Cordless bluetooth headsets are available, and often used with mobile telephones. Headsets are widely used for telephone-intensive jobs, in particular by call centre workers. They are also used by anyone wishing to hold telephone conversations with both hands free.
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The HyperX has a history of delivering reliable gaming headsets across the board, and the Cloud Stinger is no different. Admittedly, the build quality of the headset isn't going to be anything special. It's an unassuming headset that, while all-plastic, doesn't feel cheaply made. The Stinger is also fairly comfortable for the price, though the ear pads could be a bit thicker.
We also found this model less fatiguing for long gaming sessions than any other headset in its price range. Only the more expensive Sennheiser Game One seriously outmatched it in that regard. The HyperX Cloud features genuine viscoelastic memory foam in its earpads (both the leatherette and velour options), not the cheaper foam found in many other headsets and headphones. Our panel agreed that having a choice between the two kinds (and the ability to so easily switch them) was a nice touch. And neither of the HyperX Cloud’s earpad sets caused me any amount of appreciable discomfort when I wore my thick, cellulose-acetate-framed glasses, whereas many of the other headsets in our roundup did. Even the company’s new HyperX Cloud Alpha, which bests the Cloud in terms of bass performance and aesthetics, is no match for the original in terms of long-term comfort.
With a frequency range more impressive than Tiger Woods’ love affairs, three EQ modes and Dolby’s virtual 7.1 surround sound, Astro have got it covered. On its default setting, the A50s produced one of the most immersive audio gaming experiences we encountered. The ‘studio’ setting gives a flatter EQ, allowing movies and music to be heard as intended, whilst the ‘pro’ setting reduced bass, allowing footsteps and other slight noises to be more distinguishable.
The other big advantage of this headset is that we all found our own voices easy to hear, even without the benefit of mic monitoring. The Game One doesn’t mix the input from its microphone into the output of the headphones, as some gaming headsets do. Instead, its open-back design allowed our voices to reach our own ears with very little encumbrance and no delay. Our online testers also loved the way our voices cut through the sound mix on their end. The Game One’s mic uses active noise cancellation, which does a good job of taming room noise but creates a slightly thinner tone that make it less than ideal for recording voiceovers, podcasts, or other professional audio material. But again, clarity of communication was our primary consideration when we were gauging the quality of the microphones, and this Sennheiser headset excelled on those grounds.
If you’re seeking even better audio performance, a far better microphone, a more engrossing gaming experience, and superior long-term comfort, all of our testers agreed that the Sennheiser Game One remains the best pick for both audiophiles and hardcore marathon gamers. But you’ll pay about 50 percent more for it. Unlike most gaming headsets, the Game One has an open-back design, meaning that the earcups surrounding its drivers are vented, not solid shells. This design not only makes the Game One sound more open and spacious but also makes the headset lighter and cooler to wear for extended periods of time, though it does mean that people sitting next to you may be distracted by the sound of your games. Also, the headset really doesn’t reach its full sonic potential without a bit of extra amplification, so you need a good dedicated sound card or a headset amp.
Beyerdynamic’s Custom Game is a delicious sounding headset that’s second only to the Sennheiser Game One in terms of detail and spaciousness. It delivers wonderfully dynamic sound, with bass that can be acoustically tuned via sliders on each ear cup. While we still prefer the sound of the Game One overall, if you tend to game with other people in the room and you don’t want them hearing what you’re playing, this one is a great alternative.
After thoroughly testing nearly 70 headsets for over the course of two-and-a-half years, our testers still agree that Kingston’s HyperX Cloud is the right gaming headset for most people, thanks to its excellent long-term comfort, great sound quality for the price, light weight, exceptional build quality, and fantastic durability. After roughly thirty months of nearly constant use and abuse, including several road trips in which it was thrown into a backpack sans case, our original test unit still looks like we took it out of the packaging yesterday.
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.
On the GameDAC you have access to a range of different settings that include equaliser pre-sets, Game/ChatMix levels, surround sound options, RGB illumination, mic sidetone and more. We like how easy these controls are to use and how simple it is to switch not only between Hi-Res audio and the other sound settings, but to adjust things like volume of the mic and the colour of the RGB lighting with ease.
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.
That said, you’re going to get a lot more distance and freedom from a wireless headset, which makes them best for large living room setups where you’re going to be sitting on one side of the room and your console or PC is at the other. Keep an eye out for battery life ratin, as well. Most headsets can survive for at least a few straight hours of play, but there’s nothing worse than having to stop in the middle of an intense match to plug in your headset’s charging cable once the batteries are tapped.