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.
“This is simply the greatest headset I’ve owned so far, and many reviewers say they are the best-sounding headphones orientated toward gaming. They surprisingly have a decent mic as well and have good noise cancellation in the mic. I also have owned Turtle Beach, Corsair, and SteelSeries headsets, but none of them even get close to the quality of this one. The sound is very crisp, and since these are open-ear, soundstage and distancing are nearly perfect.”
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.
Headsets are available in single-earpiece and double-earpiece designs. Single-earpiece headsets are known as monaural headsets. Double-earpiece headsets may support stereo sound, or use the same audio channel for both ear-pieces. Monaural headsets free up one ear, allowing interaction with others and awareness of surroundings. Telephone headsets are monaural, even for double-earpiece designs, because telephone offers only single-channel input and output. For computer or other audio applications, where the sources offer two-channel output, stereo headsets are the norm; use of a headset instead of headphones allows use for communications (usually monaural) in addition to listening to stereo sources.
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.
The new SteelSeries Arctis 3 and Arctis 5, which were designed to mimic the aesthetic of less flashy headphones, impressed us with their light weight, though not necessarily their build quality and high price. The Arctis 7, meanwhile, is priced very attractively for a wireless headset and gives the LucidSound LS30 and HyperX Cloud Flight some stiff competition, but in our tests we found its microphone frustrating, and long-term comfort was an issue.
Analogue headsets: These use one or more 3.5mm headphone jacks to transmit audio to and from the headset, and are often universally compatible with PCs, consoles and mobile devices. The sound quality will rely on your individual device however, and they won’t support surround sound out of the box. Keep in mind that on PCs with separate mic and headphone jacks, you’ll need a splitter. Some headsets will come with one, but not all. Check before you buy and pop one in your basket if you need one.
Our only issue with the sound quality is the fact you are restricted to a 3.5mm analogue connection, which can cause sketchy feedback hums. You won’t notice it too much while playing, but content creators using a single audio channel in OBS/Shadowplay will definitely be affected. So, be aware. Although it’s not expected for the price point, we’re glad Corsair haven’t thrown a bolt-on virtual 7.1 feature in to the mix. That, coupled with the lack of RGB or clichéd gamer styling, tells us Corsair are trying to sell this headset based on its utility in an already overcrowded space. The HS50 is incredible value for money. It sounds awesome, is a pleasure to wear, and avoids all the gimmicks that usually turn us off. A digital connection would have been nice, and sure, a DAC (like the one on the Arctis Pro) would remedy this, but that extra cost negates the most attractive thing about the HS50.
The Logitech G35 Surround Sound Headset and G430 Surround Sound Gaming Headset were among the first models we researched for this guide, since my wife and I have owned them for years. The two of us agreed that we would trade them for the HyperX Cloud and HyperX Cloud Stinger, respectively, due to those models’ superior audio and build quality, even though both Logitech headsets boast superior microphones.
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.
The first thing that strikes home about the Turtle Beach Elite Pro Professional headset is the build quality. There's a flex and bend here which allows it to fit nicely on your head. Incredibly deep leather earcups are supported by a large and comfortable headband which includes a tension adjustment system that allows you to tweak the way the headset hugs your head.
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Turtle Beach’s professional gamer grade headset is comfortable. Beating out the Astro A50s for most comfortable in the list. This is thanks to their ComforTec fit system which allows adjustment of headband tension as well as ear cup position. Aerofit ear cups, comprised of spandex fabric and gel-infused foam also contribute to the cause. Turtle beach have thought outside the box and created a ‘glasses relief system’ that allows you to create a small channel in the ear cups for your glasses’ frames to sit in. Genius. And it really works. So 10/10 for comfort. But what about the sound? Well that’s top notch too. Similarly to the Arctis 7s, the sound is full and rich, but punchy and crisp enough to pick out individual footsteps and gunfire in the heat of battle. Music sounded decent, although, unlike the Arctis 7s, without a flat EQ profile available, it was slightly muddied by the bass.
When deciding between wired or wireless headsets, there are a few things to think about. You might find that wired headsets generally have a lower price point than a wireless option, offer less chance of interference from other devices, and will never leave you in the lurch because you forgot to charge them. On the other hand, wireless headsets don't have cords to tether you to your computer or console or trip you up and get disconnected during a critical game mission.
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By most measures, Razer’s ManO’War 7.1 — the wired, surround sound-equipped version of its wireless model of the same name — is a fantastic headset. Its virtual 7.1 surround sound is among the best on the market, the sound it pumps out of its large earcups is balanced, and its microphone is sleek and discreet, and yet outperforms most of the competition. The only real limiting factor is its size, which renders it a difficult choice for mobile use. But what it lacks in portability, it more than makes up for in performance.