Next up is Hellblade, where I sit back and listen to the internal voices whirling around inside Senua’s head during the game’s opening boat sequence. Since Hellblade uses binaural audio techniques (which uses two microphones to accurately measure the distance between your head and where the sound’s coming from to create a proper 3D, 360-degree soundscape – try these examples with a pair of headphones on to see what I mean), this is a great test of how a headset can be immersive and create a fully-believable sense of place. I listen to see how up close and personal the main narrator can be, as well as how the other voices come and go and titter around the periphery. If a headset can make my spine tingle (as some of them have), this is a good sign.
We designed every feature with the serious gamer in mind -- from the large-diameter drivers for outstanding sound quality to the innovative construction for long-lasting comfort, no detail was overlooked. Fully adjustable, state-of-the-art microphones with muting capability enable crystal-clear in-game voice communication, making it easier than ever to take control of your gaming environment. And with both open- and closed-back models to choose from, you can opt for a natural or fully immersive sound experience.
The build is also something worthy of praise with the A10. ASTRO's design is very ergonomic and comfortable, so it shouldn't weigh down on the head at all. The ear cups use plush padding, instead of wrapped "leather" like most other headsets at this price, which helps with the comfort immensely. And since the A10 works on every platform, you'll be prepared for any and all gaming needs.
Thanks to the powerful box of tricks hidden within the transmitter, the SteelSeries Siberia 800 doesn't require any pesky additional software to be installed on your PC. The inputs and outputs on that same box also make this headset compatible with games consoles and you can even use the included 3.5mm cable to connect the headset to your mobile phone if you feel the need to do so.
It sounds great, too. HyperX chalks it up to the Alpha’s dual-chamber technology, which separates bass frequencies from the mids and highs. That could be the case, or it could be a gimmick—I’ve discussed it at greater length in our review. Either way, the upshot is that the Cloud Alpha sounds as good or better than plenty of its more expensive competition, and with slightly more bass kick this time around. (Read our full review.)
Shopping for gaming headphones is typically a very different experience than when looking at normal headphones for a commute or for office use. Gaming headphones tend be flashier and bulkier, with less thought given to portability or critical listening and more emphasis given to the microphone quality and active features. We’ve tested over 225 headphones and 107 wireless models and below are our top 5 recommendations for wireless gaming headsets.
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.
We brought in both the Beyerdynamic MMX 300 and the Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro Plus with Custom Headset Gear as potential upgrade picks. Although we all loved the comfort of the MMX 300, as well as its neutral, balanced sound and its overall design, we found that it required too much amplification to be a viable recommendation. The Game One delivered more bang for fewer bucks.
We also tested the HyperX Cloud II, Kingston’s updated version of our top pick, which features a USB sound card, surround-sound processing, a slightly superior microphone, and better padding on the headband. If you’re a laptop gamer without access to good analog audio jacks, it’s a smart buy. For most people, though, none of those enhancements justify the extra price.
When we tested the Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro Plus with Custom Headset Gear for the original iteration of this guide, we all loved its comfortable, roomy fit, as well as the fact that its bass performance could be tuned acoustically, without software EQ, via sliders on each ear cup. Unfortunately, the Custom Headset Gear shorted out on us right out of the box, and user reviews indicated that this was a startlingly common problem.
If style and looks matter to you and you're bored of the same old boring black headsets then the Razer Kraken 7.1 V2 in Mercury White is worth a look. This headset is strikingly beautiful, especially when combined with the other Mercury White products Razer has to offer. This unusual design might be an appeal in itself, but we wanted to see if it also stood up against the competition.
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 Monster Fatal1ty FXM 200 stood a real chance of dethroning our top pick, but we found that its build quality and padding didn’t match those of the HyperX Cloud. In our tests the sound was definitely tuned for action gaming, but the emphasis on midrange frequencies cost this headset a few points with atmospheric games like The Witcher 3 and orchestral-music-heavy games like Civilization VI.
Virtual surround sound is by no means a bad thing. Yes, it’s not as good as proper 7.1 surround sound, but in some cases it can help make music feel more immersive and all-encompassing than regular stereo. However, poor implementations of it can often destroy any sense of intimacy or breathing-down-the-back-of-your-neck-style dialogue, and it can sometimes make your game audio feel like it’s been turned into one great big echo chamber, so don’t be fooled by what it says on the box.
It’s still a fair chunk of change, I’ll admit – especially for those in the UK – but the HS70 is an absolutely superb headset in its own right. It doesn’t have as many fancy features as the Arctis 7 or the battery life of the Cloud Flight (although its 16 hours of uninterrupted air time is still nothing to be sniffed at), but if you’re after something simple that gets the job done, feels great and doesn’t involve trying to unravel a million cables, the HS70 is the headset for you.
After thoroughly testing nearly 70 headsets for over the course of two-and-a-half years, our testers still agree that Kingston’s HyperX Cloud is the right gaming headset for most people, thanks to its excellent long-term comfort, great sound quality for the price, light weight, exceptional build quality, and fantastic durability. After roughly thirty months of nearly constant use and abuse, including several road trips in which it was thrown into a backpack sans case, our original test unit still looks like we took it out of the packaging yesterday.
This headset is surprisingly comfortable for its low price point. Thanks to an adjustable headband, plush ear cups and lightweight build, the G430s felt nicer to wear than both Razer’s and HyperX’s headsets. That said, the G433’s lacked the noise cancelling properties of both, which may put some off, but in our opinion, that’s a small price to pay for this level of comfort
We do have a few PC-relevant nits to pick with the HyperX Cloud Flight, though. For one thing, its generous 30 hours of battery life only applies if you turn off the headset’s LEDs, which you’ll have to do every time you power the headset on, by double-tapping the power button. Why the headset doesn’t remember this setting is a bit of a mystery. We also missed some of the features found on other wireless headsets, like audible confirmation of battery life, and some sort of indicator of whether the mic is muted or not. Muting is accomplished by tapping the left ear cup, and the headset does beep when going in and out of mute mode, but some other indicator would have been appreciated. Especially given that the Cloud Flight’s mic is so hot that it does pick up the slightest bit of audio coming from the headset. In other words, unless you use push-to-talk, you’ll likely want to mute the mic on occasion.
While we have dedicated lists for the best PlayStation 4 headsets and Xbox One headsets, we don’t have one for Nintendo Switch. There’s a reason for that: Using a headset with the Nintendo Switch can be a bit of a mess. Sure, you can plug in any pair of headphones (rather than a headset), or even sync up a Bluetooth pair, but the Switch’s lack of an on-console voice chat function renders the headset question moot — if you can’t use the mic, then why bother? In order to use voice chat at all, you must download an app for your smartphone. Then you’ll need to connect to both the Switch and your smartphone via a splitter. This can result in a tangled mess.