Where the Arctis 7s lose out to the pricier option are in their design. While the 800s rock a solid, comfortable headband, the Arctis 7s have a ‘ski goggle’ elasticated strap that gives you a sore head in long play sessions. And don’t get us started on the easily nudged wheels on the back of the cups ruining your volume settings every time you put them on…
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.
Once we had our potential top picks in each category, we went on to use them in extended gaming sessions, during which we sometimes wore the same headset for as long as 12 hours at a stretch. Our testing panel, which included people with various head and ear sizes, tried the headsets on a variety of games from massively multiplayer online role-playing games like Guild Wars 2 to 4X games (explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate) like the Civilization series as well as on puzzle, strategy, and action games.
"Works great for communicating over xbox live. Comes with the stereo headset adapter for controlling audio between game audio and party audio, as well as volume and muting controls. The separate adapter allows older xbox one controllers without the 3.5 audio jack to use headsets. The headset itself will work without the adapter if the controller is newer. Audio quality is good, and haven't had any complaints about my voice quality through the microphone."
Your choices range from basic wired earpieces and boom mics you can pick up for $20 at a drug store (or are included with your game console), to expensive, simulated surround sound, e-sports-oriented, wireless over-ear headphones available at enthusiast sites. You should get the one that fits your budget and needs. You don't need a ton of cash for a solid headset; about $50 can get you started if you don't want to jump into high-end features and connection options.
The Corsair VOID PRO RGB Wireless is a wireless headset that boasts a wide and comfortable fit. It has a large and easily extendable headband that fits nicely on the head, though we did find it sat a bit too loosely sometimes and would move about if you shook your head too vigorously. You can, of course, tighten and loosen to your liking but it isn't quite as tight fitting and all-encompassing as other headsets we've tried.
With PC desktop speakers going the way of the dodo and the speakers inside your monitor often unfit for anything more than the briefest of email pings, finding the best gaming headset for you and your budget has never been more important. They’re often the best way to play games without disturbing other people around you, and with more and more games utilizing online play and various types of co-op bits and bobs, they’re also one of the easiest ways to communicate with fellow players without having to resort to a separate mic setup.
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.
Battery life on this headset does appear to be a regular issue though, with battery draining in a short space of time. The SteelSeries Siberia 800 uses 1,000mAh Lithium-ion battery that SteelSeries claims is capable of 20 hours playback before recharging is necessary. During testing though, we found ourselves having to swap out the batteries more regularly than that. Therefore, with heavy use, you're unlikely to make it through an entire day if, like us, you're working and gaming on the same machine. Of course, most gamers won't be doing that, so might get a few days of gaming goodness out of it before the battery needs recharging.
Our latest Razer gaming headsets give you full voice chat capability over the PlayStation network, so you can talk to friends and other gamers while you play. Wireless headsets ensure freedom of movement and mean your gameplay is never restricted. Noise-cancelling gaming headsets block out background noise so you can pick up more audio detail from the game and focus completely on the game in hand without any unwanted disruptions. Most of our headsets are also compatible with Skype so you can use them for improved-quality VoIP chats.
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.
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 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.
This design means the SteelSeries Arctis Pro sits tightly on the head, while the deep earcups manage to successfully block out a lot of surrounding environmental noise. Though certainly not an active noise cancelling headset, it is one that reduces distractions significantly. We found that we were using mic sidetone settings here to be able to hear ourselves think while playing or listening to music if we had to talk to friends or family members, which is a testament to the quality.
The Thresher Ultimate cans are available in either Playstation or Xbox trim, but as both work happily with the PC via the base station, it just becomes a choice of whether you want the classic Razer green trim or the blue. I like the blue… I wasn’t massively taken by the headband at first, but having used the set for a while now they’re mighty comfortable, only pressing in a little around the bottom of the earcups. They are a touch heavier than the SteelSeries Siberia 800s, but the floating band does take most of the strain.
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.
Whether you’re playing from your couch, or getting up close and personal with your PC, a gaming headset has become a near necessity for gamers of any skill level. Sure, a boomin’ surround sound system can help immerse you in the action of your favorite games, but you can get a lot more bang for your buck with a top-notch gaming headset. And if you’re serious about multiplayer matches, a high-quality microphone to communicate with your friends (and rivals) is also crucial.