But as much as I’ve been rather blown away by the audio quality I’m not such a fan of the overall design. The wing support concept is a little too wacky for my tastes and means the headset doesn’t feel like it’s sat too securely on your head. There’s no real headband, just two tensed paddles which rest on top of your bonce. It’s definitely comfortable, and I’m not saying I want my headphones to have a vice-like grip on my skull, but a robust brain-cuddle is certainly more reassuring.
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.
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.
It sounds great, too, and is completely wireless, allowing you to keep your gaming desk nice and clean without another tangle of cables in the mix. What’s more, its wireless transmitter isn’t just a little USB stick – it’s got its own cable, so you can position it wherever you like for the best signal. You also get a regular 3.5mm audio cable so you can use it as a wired headset as well if you prefer.
While it isn’t perfect, the new HyperX Cloud Flight is our new top pick for cable-haters for a number of reasons. It delivers good audio performance, fantastic range, exceptional comfort, fantastic battery life, and simple setup. We would prefer to see more intuitive controls, as well as audible notifications for things like battery life, and the lack of a replaceable battery is a bit of a bummer. But the pros outweigh the cons with this one, especially for the price.
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.
Making sure you’ve got the right aural setup for your gaming rig is absolutely vital to getting the ultimate experience, and a quality gaming headset has a massive part to play in the overall immersion of PC gaming. We’ve tested the latest and greatest from the top manufacturers in the land, from Turtle Beach headsets, Razer, HyperX, SteelSeries, Sennheiser, and more, all to help you figure out what the right set of cans is for you and the games you play.
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.
The Asus Strix 7.1 headset is a gaming peripheral with a strong focus on quality and a big, bold design. This is a monster piece of kit, as you'd expect for a headset at this price point. The design is robust, strong and flexible. This is a big headset that sits nicely on the head, clamping tightly, yet comfortably to your ears to give you an enveloping audio experience whatever you're doing.
The one thing to be aware of is the overall setup. Unlike other wired headsets, the A40 headset plugs through the MixAmp instead of a controller. From there, you have to run a USB and optical cable to the system you're playing on so it can pull the audio. Pulling directly from the system helps produce that clear quality, but then you'll have at least three cables running around.
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.
I purchased the astro a50 over a year ago and I was impressed. I gave it away recently and am ready to buy a next pair. Wireless is the way to go for me but as I see you didn't include the a50 are you saying that it isn't good? I have been looking at reviews and was leaning towards another pair of a50's. How soon do you think you can review and compare them? PS4 gamer.
The Razer Synapse software felt intuitive with familiar presets making it clear how to achieve the sound you want and the ability to individually control the type of sound and volume in each program was a nice touch. With a $110 Amazon price at the time of writing, the ManO’War isn’t pulling any punches. But it’s swings and roundabouts when looking at the ManO’War’s build quality. It feel’s surprisingly light for its chunky design, which although not necessarily a bad thing on its own, started to concern us when we realised how much flex there was in the frame. It lacks the solid feel that companies like Sennheiser are able to deliver on the Sennheiser PC 373D. We wish Razer had swapped the RGB lighting out for a 3.5mm jack or a more slim line design. Still, for the price - and if you don’t mind the chunkier design and lack of a hardwire option- the ManO’War could be the one to lead you to victory.
If you’ve ever had as much trouble finding a comfortable headset as I have, then the Steelseries Arctis 7 is a revelation. Its ski-goggle headband might not look as comfy as other headsets with fistfuls of padding to their name, but its clever suspension design means the steel frame never actually touches your head, allowing me to wear it for hours and hours without issue. Whereas other headsets often always leave me with a vice-like headache after 30 minutes, the Arctis 7 just lets me get on with playing games.
The HyperX Cloud’s frequency response is as true to life as you could hope for from a headset that sells for less than $100. Pitting this pair against the Sony MDR-7506 (our top pick for the best over-ear headphones under $200 four years running), our testers found that the HyperX Cloud wasn’t quite as neutral as the Sony model. We found its treble response slightly less even, its midrange a tiny bit less smooth, and its bass a touch fuller. But we liked its sound better with games and even with some music and movies. We also found the HyperX Cloud more comfortable over long periods of time, though not by a lot, and it offered better isolation from external noise.
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 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.
If you are on a tight budget and don't like the look or style of the HyperX Cloud Stinger, you should definitely check out the HS50 from Corsair. They are the same price as the HyperX Cloud Stinger, and extremely close in performance and comfort (for our reviewer it was as close as it gets in these type of comparisons). It's a stereo headset so there's no fancy surround sound, but that's typical at this price.
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.
Astro’s A50 is the wireless update of the company’s previous flagship, the Astro A40, and sports all the same hallmarks as its last-gen brethren — but we’re not complaining. If you can justify the dent to your savings account, the Astro A50 will grant you 5.8GHz wireless technology and virtual 7.1 surround sound within a solid, over-the-ear design. The headset’s unidirectional mic helps isolate your voice from ambient noise, and features an intuitive quick-mute feature. A selection of distinct EQ modes and cross-platform support further boost its appeal.