Kingston’s newest model, the HyperX Cloud Alpha, resulted in the most heated debates among our testers of any headset in the roundup to date. The Alpha is based on our top pick, the HyperX Cloud, but its earcups have been substantially modified with dual chambers that tune the bass and mid/upper frequencies separately. The result? Undeniably better bass performance than the original Cloud. The problem? The Alpha is also significantly heavier and hotter than the original Cloud, making it much less comfortable during marathon gaming sessions. If you’re looking for comfort and bang-for-the-buck, we still like the original HyperX Cloud. If you want some extra bass kick and a better microphone, we recommend upgrading to the Cloud Revolver, which might be a little heavier than the Alpha, but still manages to be more comfy (especially for larger noggins) due to its self-adjusting suspension headband and roomier earcups.
As mentioned above, the microphone is pretty useless (let’s blame that on Cougar’s Metal Gear-esque naming conventions), and its high/treble reproduction isn’t as good as more expensive headsets, but its overall audio quality is perfectly good enough for the money. If you’re looking for something inexpensive to give to your kids or younger siblings, the Cougar Phontum is well worth considering.
It's also true that if a headset doesn’t sound good, then spending a single cent on it is a waste of money. But what is ‘good’ sound? Well, that depends entirely on your taste. Some people like bass heavy sound that reverberates through everything in a ten-mile radius, others prefer a natural more balanced sound, and a few have been known to prefer a bit of both. Therefore, if you’re dead set on a specific sound it’s probably wise to choose a headset that comes with EQ software, which enables you to manipulate the sound to your taste. (Surround sound is another consideration, but we’ll cover that a bit later.) Finally the price. This should be thought of in three distinctions. Firstly, what is your budget? Second, what are other companies offering for roughly the same price? And finally, what reputation does the company have, especially surrounding warranties and customer service?
As we've said before, the microphone quality of a gaming headset is clearly important for the modern gamer. The good news then is that this headset has a capable microphone that delivers a reasonable audio quality. As you'd expect it includes noise cancelling features which reduce the ambient noise from the surrounding environment to ensure you're heard clearly when you need to be.
Your budget – Fortunately, as compared to some high-quality studio headphones, gaming headsets aren’t too big of a dent on your wallet. There are however some super high-end models you may want to look at that will cost you. If you do have the cash, you definitely will not be let down. However, if you’re on a limit, there are some budget-friendly choices (such as gaming headsets under $100) we found as well.
The plush ear cups and double strap headband provide a lot of comfort, however the 10 hour battery life was disappointing especially considering the Astro A50s have a lot more tech to power and last 33% longer. Considering the lack of RGB, we can only assume it relates to the dual antenna tech. The audio quality is decent and fully-customizable via ASUS’ Sonic Studio software, and we enjoyed using the headset in-game as much as we did whilst listening to music. The surround sound was impressive at this price point and although it wasn’t as well-executed as the ASUS Centurion, it’s definitely in contention for best value surround on the list due to costing less than half the price. The only real negative aside from battery life is the sheer volume of competition at this price point. If you’re looking for a wireless headset that won’t drop out when you need it most and want a beefy bass response with awesome 7.1 surround sound, this could be for you.
The headphones function to convert sound by way of a soundcard, from digital (computer) to analog (headset). USB headsets connect to the computer by way of USB, and so sound conversion occurs in the headphones themselves or in a control unit. Inside the ear cups is where the magic happens. This is where the drivers live, and drivers are to headsets as gasoline is to vehicles. The larger the driver, the better sound will be produced.
The Xbox One Stereo Headset is perfect for the Xbox One owners who want to rep Xbox pride in every aspect of their gaming life. Thankfully, it's also a reliable headset for Xbox gamers who may also be on a budget. It still delivers solid audio for the gamers who need some extra boom out of their headset. Given the $59 price point, it won't deliver the insane quality of premium ASTRO headsets, but it still outperforms most headsets around the same price.
The design of the Corsair Void Wireless is an acquired taste, to say the least, and we still can’t tell if we like it or not. Inside the Void’s plastic casing, you will find the metallic subframe, and the main reason for the Void's undeniable durability. On the other hand, the external plastic of the Void feels pretty cheap, and, when coupled with the unconventionally-shaped (but extremely comfortable) earcups, there’s a lot of horizontal movement when the Void is on your head.
Take a note of the ‘x’ at the end of the name of this Audio-Technica ATH-AG1x headset – that single character is important because there is also an ATH-AG1 headset. It was the forerunner to this updated version and was a set of cans which failed to build on Audio-Technica’s high-end aural heritage. Don’t mix up the two because you’ll be seriously disappointed and be missing out on one of the best gaming headsets around.
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.
In short no. No it’s not. Believe it or not, bi-directional mics (which pick up noise from the front and back) actually works better. Working in a figure eight, the pick-up has a very tight front and back pattern rejecting noise from the sides and anything further than eight inches away. This creates something called the proximity effect, a natural frequency boost across the bottom end, resulting in a richness that unidirectional tech lacks. It also helps with the noise cancelling effect, as only acoustic sources very close to the mic (your mouth) receive the Proximity Effect, essentially boosts your voice above everything else.
To get a feel for the headset, I fire up my Final Fantasy XV soundtrack in iTunes, paying special attention to how it handles the battle theme of Hunt or Be Hunted. This particular track has a lot going on with a number of different instruments in play, from its busy bass section to its fast and frantic piano and strings melodies. If a headset can handle this without one section overwhelming another, we’re onto a winner. If I need extra reassurance, I throw in a bit of Omnis Lacrima for good measure.
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.
Two things made it a real standout as compared with all other wireless gaming headsets we’ve tested. Firstly, it just sounds fantastic. While it doesn’t play very loudly—a criticism that applies to virtually all wireless headsets—its audio is well balanced and clear, and it delivers a nice mix of detail, positioning, and impact. And even when cranked to full volume, which we had to do to really immerse ourselves in Battlefront 2, it never distorts.
The A50 have a good wireless range and a 13 hour battery life, which should be more than enough for most gaming sessions. They also have dock charging, which is easy-to-use and looks great on your TV stand but it takes 6 hours to fully charge the headphones which is not ideal. On the upside, the available PC app allows you to customize the EQ and save different presets.
Logitech’s latest headset, the Logitech G533, brings several impressive features to a solid, attractive design, most notably the DTS 7.1 surround built into the speaker. This wireless headset comes standard with some simple-to-use software that can control the equalizer settings and enable the surround sound. It just so happens to have the best surround sound staging we’ve used in a headset, bar none. Whether you’re playing a first-person or third-person perspective game, sounds emit within the headphones from the proper location, making navigating these virtual worlds easier. The headset also performs well with 2D games. Regardless of what kind of games you play, however, the G553’s sounds excellent thanks to its 40mm Pro-G drivers (we did notice some minor wireless hum when nothing was being played through the headphones but that was absent during gameplay).