The Cloud Alpha costs less than a hundred quid and yet it’s possibly the best analogue headset that we’ve tested. HyperX has crafted something that’s both compact and comfortable (although red remains the only colour choice), with the option of replacing the mic, cups and cable if needed. Thankfully the overall construction is reassuringly durable, in case you’re in the habit of throwing your ‘phones across the room in fits of despair.
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.
It also, of course, leads to a sound that’s never quite as open or expansive as that of the Game One, nor as detailed. But compared with other closed-back alternatives, the Custom Game delivers smoother midrange, more natural-sounding dialogue and music, and superior dynamics that benefit virtually any genre of game, from music-driven offerings like the Civilization series to cinematic shooters like Battlefront 2.
Their battery life is very good, but somewhat situational; if the LEDs are turned off they have almost 30 hours of continuous playback and can recharge in as little as 3.6 hours. However, with the LED on, you will only get about 12 hours at most. On the upside, they have a good wireless range and very low latency (20ms), great for gaming and watching videos.
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.
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.
Next, I record myself talking for a bit in Audacity to see how its microphone performs, and I also try to wear the headset for as long as possible to see how comfortable it is over long periods of time. Admittedly, a lot of headsets tend to struggle in this area for me, as I’ve either got a head that’s secretly shaped like a Minecraft block underneath all my hair, or every headset manufacturer on the planet has a mysterious grudge against me and they’ve collectively designed each of their headsets to only last for about 30 minutes before they start to press down and pinch the top of my head. Obviously, the longer I can wear one without this happening, the better.
One thing I really like about the headset is the headband; it's more robust than it looks, springing back into place after we bend it up so that the headband is nearly flat. Creative did this by using steel underneath the padding instead of plastic. While doing this with other headsets often makes me cringe, the Sound BlasterX H5 happily takes the bending in stride.
Headsets can be either wired or wireless, with wireless models generally costing more. More important is that each gaming headset supports different system, handheld, and computer connections. For the PS4 Pro, Xbox One X, most mobile devices, and some computers, you can use Bluetooth for a wireless headset (the original Xbox One lacks Bluetooth support). Other systems require a different wireless connection, often with a separate base plugged into your console or computer.
Turtle Beach’s professional gamer grade headset is comfortable. Beating out the Astro A50s for most comfortable in the list. This is thanks to their ComforTec fit system which allows adjustment of headband tension as well as ear cup position. Aerofit ear cups, comprised of spandex fabric and gel-infused foam also contribute to the cause. Turtle beach have thought outside the box and created a ‘glasses relief system’ that allows you to create a small channel in the ear cups for your glasses’ frames to sit in. Genius. And it really works. So 10/10 for comfort. But what about the sound? Well that’s top notch too. Similarly to the Arctis 7s, the sound is full and rich, but punchy and crisp enough to pick out individual footsteps and gunfire in the heat of battle. Music sounded decent, although, unlike the Arctis 7s, without a flat EQ profile available, it was slightly muddied by the bass.
With a decent mic, one of the strongest wireless signals in its price range, and a very rich-sounding default audio, the ManO’War 7.1 from Razer really curb-stomps most of the competition. You get virtual 7.1 surround sound, custom EQ options, and a retractable mic. That mic doesn’t sound as good as the HyperX Cloud Alpha, but is still solid - and easy to position. And as a whole, the headset is noticeably comfortable, thanks to its huge leatherette ear cups. More cushion, however, inevitably leads to more pushing in terms of size and weight, and after extended periods the plush leatherette cups became hot and sweaty. This is definitely in-part due to the round shape of the cans, something the Logitech G430 (below) avoids for considerably less cash. Keep that in mind when you buy.
If you don't baulk at the price (as it's over £200), then the SteelSeries Siberia 800 should certainly be a consideration. In terms of wireless gaming headsets, this one is the cream of the crop. It's packed full of features, including cross-platform support for Xbox360/One, PS3/PS4 and mobile devices, as well as analogue, optical and USB inputs for PC that allow you to take advantage of the Dolby Digital and virtual surround sound processing power inside the box.
Setting this headset up is as easy as plugging a USB cable into your PC or optical cable into your PS4 then plugging that into the control box with the other cable going to the headset itself. Then the GameDAC talks you though set-up depending on what device you're using and how to use the controls. Using this box is as simple as adjusting the volume wheel and click it in to accept settings to twisting to adjust with a separate button to go back or exit.
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.
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While it’s hard to top the Arctis Pro, even Steelseries’ more affordable Arctis models, including the Arctis 3, 5, and 7, are impressive alternatives, identical to the Pro in terms of comfort and only a modest step down in performance and features (the Arctis 7 was our previous top pick, in fact). There are wired and wireless versions of each of these headsets, and while they require the Steelseries Engine 3 software to use the surround sound and EQ features (meaning these features are PC-only), they still sound great even without these extras. So, should the Arctis Pro reside outside your budget, any of these Arctis models could compete for the top spot on our list.