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.
For older models of telephones, the headset microphone impedance is different from that of the original handset, requiring a telephone amplifier to impedance-match the telephone headset. A telephone amplifier provides basic pin-alignment similar to a telephone headset adapter, but it also offers sound amplification for the microphone as well as the loudspeakers. Most models of telephone amplifiers offer volume control for loudspeaker as well as microphone, mute function and switching between handset and headset. Telephone amplifiers are powered through batteries or AC adapters.
If you’re primarily looking for a practical headphone for everyday casual use that also has a good enough mic for voice chat when gaming, then get the Logitech G433. They deliver a well-balanced sound, on par with much pricier headsets and they’re sufficiently versatile to use outdoors while commuting without attracting too much attention, unlike most gaming headsets.
Like the other headsets in the Arctis range, the SteelSeries Arctis Pro features a bi-directional noise-cancelling microphone that's retractable into the body of the headset. This mic is also bendable and flexible, so it can be easily moved into comfortable positions or out of the way if you need to stuff something in your face while you're gaming.
The sound is close to superb at this price range. You can find better, but it can be difficult at this level to find build quality to match. Sound is well-balanced, and the bass doesn’t tend to obfuscate the rest of the audio – a common symptom of gamer cans. For the most part audio remains consistent and clear from the 53mm drivers even at higher volume levels, too.
If you’ve read any of our other articles on the site, you’d see that Sennheiser is one of the best headphone creators ever. This particular gaming headset is rated highly among users so we were able to have confidence when taking a look it. When it comes to price it’s a bit higher as compared to others but for many good reasons. If sound accuracy and overall quality is important for your gaming, the 7.1 virtual surround sound and open-design ear cups are perfect for focus on sound. Their “ergonomic acoustic refinement” may be a fancy term, but built-in is their own technology focused on “sound accuracy”. The open-design means the earcups aren’t completed suffocating your ears which helps decrease the chances of pain from long use (it’s not like we play for 8+ hours a day…). Last but not least, the microphone has feasible quality for your teammates or enemies to hear and they’re quite comfortable. If you aren’t on a budget, this is one of the best gaming headsets out there as it’s been highly rated by users too.
Standard headsets with a headband worn over the head are known as over-the-head headsets. Headsets with headbands going over the back of the user's neck are known as backwear-headsets or behind-the-neck headsets. Headsets worn over the ear with a soft ear-hook are known as over-the-ear headsets or earloop headsets. Convertible headsets are designed so that users can change the wearing method by re-assembling various parts.
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.
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.
USB connections are the rectangular-shaped ports found on your computer. A benefit to using these is that they are completely digital, so failing a nuclear fallout (or accidental spillage on your machine/device) the signal should be perfect. Conversely to 3.5mm ports, your PC uses USB to connect everything from mice, keyboards and webcams to flash drives, audio interfaces and printers. This means you might not always have space to have everything connected at once. Bummer. The other downer to USB headsets is the fact that not every device has a USB port or if it does, it might not support audio output. For example, there’s no USB port on your phone or tablet and the ones on your TV don’t support audio output. This seriously limits the potential value of headsets such as the Sennheiser PC 373D, which although an amazing headset can ONLY be used at your computer.
When it comes to sound quality, this headset is fully capable and delivers a superb audio experience with deep bass notes, a good range and an impressive positional audio experience thanks to the DTS Headphone: X 7.1 surround sound technology. Although perhaps not as impressive as some of the other headsets on this list, the sound here is certainly high-quality and accurate.
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.
The HyperX Cloud Flight boasts an incredibly lightweight and comfortable frame, which, combined with up to 30 hours of battery life, results in a cozy wireless PS4 headset that you can truly wear all day. The Flight also delivers rich, accurate sound for competitive and immersive games alike, features a crisp microphone, and touts slick LED earcup lighting. The USB-powered Flight offers easy plug-and-play compatibility with any PS4, and doubles as a great PC headset.
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.
The sound quality is unbeatable at this price point. Directional noises are easy to pinpoint and bullets and explosions carry a certain amount of weight, however, the surround sound was less impressive and seemed thrown in. Custom EQing is available thanks to the Logitech Gaming Software, and although you can’t save individual profiles, it’s nice to see this feature included. HyperX Cloud Alpha take note. Music didn’t sound bad, but it wasn’t great. This could be fixed via EQ adjustment, and the lack of pre-set functionality makes it a chore. The mic quality is again unbeatable in this bracket, but with no noise cancellation those of you in noisy environments may lose steam friends quicker than you drop frames in Arma 3. That said, if you want a supremely comfortable, great sounding headset and mic for gaming at an unbeatable price, the G430 is a must buy.
Our previous runner-up pick, Kingston’s HyperX Cloud Revolver, is still a favorite amongst most of our testers due to its great mic and lively sound. Although not as neutral as the HyperX Cloud, it’s great for action games, and the auto-adjusting headset was popular with all but one of our testers. Only the fact that the Kraken Pro V2 delivers much the same audio performance and similar comfort at a much cheaper price bumped this one off our list of top recommendations.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We arrived at this conclusion not just by testing this one headset, but by also conducting hands-on (or is it ears-on?) testing of pretty much every gaming headset available in every price category. We've tested everything from super basic sub-$50 models to ultra-fancy $400 kits and everything in between. Throughout our testing, we've spent countless hours gaming, listened to all kinds of music, recorded plenty of Skype calls to examine microphone quality, and even worn them at local coffee shops to see if other patrons would laugh at us or not.
This sleek, minimalist headset has the versatility and simplicity that comes with a wired headset, but boasts excellent sound quality that rivals other headsets that cost two or three times as much. Because it’s a wired headset, you’ll be losing out on surround sound, but the stereo mix is strong enough that accurate positioning shouldn’t be an issue. The inclusion of a detachable mic adds to the HS50’s attractive-yet-unassuming design, and makes it possible for the headset to double as a quick pair of headphones, if need be.