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.
Of all the headsets we tried, the Razer Tiamat 7.1 created the most convincing surround experience, which didn’t surprise us since it includes five distinct drivers in each earcup: a 30 mm front-channel driver, a 30 mm center-channel driver, 20 mm surround and surround-back drivers, and a 40 mm low-frequency effects driver. Still, the surround-sound experience wasn’t entirely convincing, and the Tiamat 7.1 failed to create a satisfying front soundstage.
The design is pretty out-there on this one. Two giant owl eyes emanate from each ear cup, on a Pan’s Labyrinth vibe. Combine that with the amazing bass response these kick out, and things going bump in the night could well have your neighbors calling the police. ASUS claim the dual antenna feature provides a faster response time than Bluetooth, and although we can neither confirm nor deny this statement, we can confirm that the signal never dropped.
We also listen to music and watch movies with each headset in order to size up its usefulness for consuming multimedia. For wireless headsets, we keep a log of how long the peripheral lasts before the battery completely drains. We use voice recordings to evaluate each headset's microphone, as well as listen back to any Twitch broadcasts we've conducted with them on.
The Elite Pro headset is a comfortable, good-sounding set of cans using Turtle Beach’s gaming heritage to great effect, and is now available in a PC specific design too. As a speccy nerd it also gets my vote because of its innovative ProSpecs Glasses Relief System – a simple system which creates temporary dimples in the ear-cups to stop them pressing your spectacles into your head.
Although this is the PC edition of the headset, there are still other connections possible here. There's a 3.5mm jack included in the box that makes the headset compatible with consoles and mobile devices too. The result is a flexible headset that offers a great sound experience wherever you're using it. Though, the full unadulterated surround sound experience is limited to PC.
Optical connections, like USB, are digital connections and come with similar benefits. However, unlike USB they are designed for audio use only meaning if you have one on a device, chances are it will be free to use. That said, unless you have an expensive motherboard or an upgraded soundcard, it’s unlikely you will have one. The most likely place to find them is on any modern TVs or games consoles. This is due to the popularity of TV surround sound systems and gaming headsets on consoles. This is why the Astro A50 is such a versatile choice. Although expensive, it has USB and Optical connectivity meaning it can be used on 99% of devices around the home.
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.
The build quality is exceptional at this price, with a design not dissimilar to our favourite HyperX headset. It’s comfy, lightweight and it doesn’t clamp down on your head like an alligator snapping turtle, unlike some headsets we’ve tested. The built-in controls on the left earcup are a welcome touch – preferable to in-line controls – and keeps the cable nice and light. The mic is removeable, sounds decent enough for party chat, and features great manoeuvrability.
Beyerdynamic’s studio grade DT 1770 Pros are another beautiful-sounding set of headphones. Again, they sport a broad frequency range of 5Hz – 40KHz, and complement that with some of the crispest bass tones you’ll hear. That robust bass is so well controlled that it doesn’t touch the mid-range one jot. And they’re also considerably cheaper than the mighty Focal pair.
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.
As for audio fidelity? It’s not quite equal to the G933, but the differences are minimal. The G533 lacks a bit of oomph, especially at lower volumes, and its 7.1 support is subpar. Those are hardly reasons to stay away, though—most people will run the headset loud enough to counteract the headset’s lack of presence, and virtual 7.1 is (in my opinion) pretty much always bad. The G533 is worse than the average, but the average is still something I choose to avoid day-to-day.
Check out any list of ‘best gaming headsets’ and you’ll find either this or the original HyperX Cloud’s in there. Kingston is a brand we’re all aware of when it comes to PC stuff and this model is also rated very positively among users. They are relatively affordable if you’re comparing them to our first model listed above, and with these you’re getting 53mm drivers, echo cancelling technology, a wide frequency response, some memory foam pads and high-quality. One of the best all-around value-based gaming headsets in our opinion. It’s also offered in a few different color schemas if you want some aesthetic choices. We’d grab this if you still want a high-quality headset but want to save a few dollars.
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.
Secondly, it means the quality of the sound is on a new level. We found the audio range of this headset to be mighty impressive. It opens up your ears to new sounds you might not have heard in game before, but also delivers a wider range in music too. The bass notes are excellent, the highs and lows are a joy and there's no denying the high-fidelity audio is certainly impressive.
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.
The Razer Kraken 7.1 V2 in Mercury White is a cracking headset offering from Razer. It's beautiful and sleek. There are a few niggles with the design, the lack of volume controls and the slightly questionable build quality being the main two. But for looks and audio performance, it's worth considering. It's also one of the more affordable virtual surround sound headsets on the market, so if you want something that performs, looks great, but doesn't break the bank, then this might be it
But perhaps more important for the purposes of this guide, I’ve been a hardcore gamer since 1980. I’m primarily a PC gamer these days, although I do dabble in consoles from time to time (when a new Gran Turismo game is released, for instance, or for the occasional round of Worms). And whether I’m playing massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), strategy games like Civilization VI, shooters like Doom, or the latest version of Magic: The Gathering, chances are good that I’m logged in to my private Ventrilo chat server, either to coordinate group attacks or to chew the fat with my gaming friends and guild mates. Granted, I’ll probably never break the personal record I set back in October 2011, when I played Rift for 24 straight hours during an Extra Life charity event, but I tend to spend at least 15 to 18 hours per week wearing a headset.
Can you hear that? No? Can’t say we’re surprised. Unless you’ve experienced a great gaming headset first hand, you won’t even realize what you’re missing out on. But just like the HD revolution a few years ago, once you sample it for yourself, you’ll wonder how you ever gamed without it. If you thought looks were everything, you must have heard it wrong. Whether you’re a gaming audiophile with money to burn, or a gamer who’s already burnt all their money, we’ve got you (and your ears) covered, in our list of the best gaming headsets of this year.
The following is our list of the top 10 best gaming headsets in the market today. Let us know if you have any questions or comments, or feel that we missed an important model. If you have some personal experience with any of these, please add it as well! If you were in need of those without wires, be sure to read our best wireless gaming headsets as well.
Positional audio is clearly important to gamers. A good headset will help gamers know where the enemy are, which direction the threat is coming from and present a more immersive experience. So it's surprising to find that the SteelSeries Siberia 800 isn't up to scratch in this area. It's still better than a stereo headset, but not as good as some of the other surround sound headsets on this list.
In our latest round of testing, we really found ourselves torn over the RIG 800LX. The lift-to-mute mic is nice, and we found the performance of the mic to be superior to the HyperX Cloud Flight. Audible voice cues about battery life were also much appreciated, as was the headset’s modular design, which allows you to tweak the fit. Unfortunately, the 800LX is tuned to deliver more bass than its drivers can really handle at any appreciable volume, which led to a lot of distortion when we played action games.
But, if you stop to think about it, we're already in the future. It's hard to deny that the recent developments, and future possibilities in virtual reality technology are exciting. With big money from the likes of Facebook and Google now committed to the enterprise, virtual reality is suddenly becoming more than the pipe dream of some indie developer working out of a garage.
"I’ve had this headset for five months now and I couldn’t be happier. Comfort is a major influence in my purchases and I was at first worried about the circular earcups, as they tend to press against my ears and cause cartilage cramps. But these are hefty, big enough that they surround my ears no problem. They are also incredibly light, so no having to worry about them tiring your head out.
Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) is one of the most common standards for cordless telephones. It uses 1.88 to 1.90 GHz RF (European Version) or 1.92 to 1.93 GHz RF (US Version). Different countries have regulations for the bandwidth used in DECT, but most have pre-set this band for wireless audio transmission. The most common profile of DECT is Generic access profile (GAP), which is used to ensure common communication between base station and its cordless handset. This common platform allows communication between the two devices even if they are from different manufacturers. For example, a Panasonic DECT base-station theoretically can connect to a Siemens DECT Handset. Based on this profile, developers such as Plantronics, Jabra or Accutone have launched wireless headsets which can directly pair with any GAP-enabled DECT telephones. So users with a DECT Wireless Headset can pair it with their home DECT phones and enjoy wireless communication.
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.
Many wireless mobile headsets use Bluetooth technology, supported by many phones and computers, sometimes by connecting a Bluetooth adapter to a USB port. Since version 1.1 Bluetooth devices can transmit voice calls and play several music and video formats, but audio will not be played in stereo unless the cellphone or media device, and the headset, both have the A2DP profile.
Every Arctis headset supports 7.1 Surround Sound, though the Arctis 3 and Arctis 5 also feature the more upmarket DTS Headphone audio protocol, and the Arctis 7 is the only model of the three that has steel alloy elements in its build. The 7 is compatible with every major gaming console and gaming computer. Unfortunately, the Xbox One only supports a wired connection with an included cable. We recommend the Arctis 7 for its impressive 15-hour battery life, extremely comfortable fit, and top-notch sound quality. Plus it's a lot cheaper than other wireless options, but sounds extremely good.
As we’ve already mentioned, the speakers inside your headset are called drivers. The most common distinction between a driver (and one you’ll find plastered over the box of your latest purchase) is its size in millimeters. The most common in gaming headsets being 40mm. Some use 50mm, some 30mm and true surround sound headsets even use 20mm as rear left/right additions. It is important to note that a larger driver does not mean a louder or higher quality sound. There are many more factors at play including the mass of the driver, the material the driver is made from, how the driver has been tuned and the size of the enclosure (ear cup) that the driver is placed in.
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.