This gaming headset is one of the biggest beasts of them all. If budget isn’t in your vocabulary, stop right here. You have pro studio quality, wireless connectivity (some debate whether or not you should use a cable or immediacy when you game, however), 50 mm drivers, “Scout Mode” which apparently allows us to hear enemies before us (which we wouldn’t take completely serious but at the same time, if you’re concerned with audio quality and having an edge, this is the pair to get). If you’re not a fan of wireless headphones, especially for gaming, you can still use a cable here. However, the convenience is amazing (they market it to be lag and static free, so you can always be the judge of that). This thing is one of the best out there. This made it into PC Gamer’s best gaming headset article under the best high-end model.
The HyperX Cloud is pretty traditional in overall design, so if you’re shopping for something with flashing LEDs or an aggressive look, it might not be the right pick for you. It’s a reskinned, slightly tweaked version of QPAD’s QH-90 gaming headset, which was a popular import item for gamers in the know before Kingston introduced it to North American buyers. The QH-90, in turn, is essentially the Takstar Pro 80 Monitor headphones with the addition of a removable boom mic and gaming-oriented connectivity. So the Kingston HyperX Cloud started its life as a highly respected, very affordable high-fidelity pair of headphones, which contradicts the popular notion that you’d be better served by dedicated headphones and a clip-on mic for your gaming needs. If you were to purchase the Takstar Pro 80 and add a decent mic, you would end up paying more than you would for the HyperX Cloud.
There's a volume wheel on the earcup which allows for easy volume changes on the fly. This same button has another use too. Pushing in the volume button switches between EQ settings which as default include FPS competition, pure direct, movie theatre, clear-cut and bass boost. This allows you to change the sound quality settings easily depending on what you're doing and you can tweak further within the software.
As well as sounding great, the Audio Technica ATH-ADG1x also has an interesting design. Instead of the usual headband that sits on top of your head, this headset uses two pads that sit on either side of your head and thus don't squash your head or all your hair in a band shape. We found this had unusual results during testing that basically make us look like we were sporting a Mohican but also turned out to be incredibly comfortable.
In our latest round of testing, we really found ourselves torn over the RIG 800LX. The lift-to-mute mic is nice, and we found the performance of the mic to be superior to the HyperX Cloud Flight. Audible voice cues about battery life were also much appreciated, as was the headset’s modular design, which allows you to tweak the fit. Unfortunately, the 800LX is tuned to deliver more bass than its drivers can really handle at any appreciable volume, which led to a lot of distortion when we played action games.
Most budget gaming headsets feature mostly plastic bodies and mediocre sound quality, but not the Corsair HS50. It’s a budget-friendly pick with a metal construction that both looks and feels premium. The headband and ear cups on the headset are on the larger side, mostly because of thick synthetic leather padding, but they're still super comfortable. There’s even a convenient volume dial along the left side of the headset, along with a mute button for the microphone. The noise-canceling microphone is removable, too, making the headset a travel-friendly pair that’s compatible with any game console, gaming laptop, and most smartphones.
Overall, the A50 leads in sound quality, while the Siberia 800 gets the edge in ease-of-use and comfort, plus the aforementioned charging method. With more and more excellent headsets in the $150 range, it’s hard to justify spending twice as much on either of these—they’re definitely not twice as good. But either way, the battle over this top spot continues on into the future.
Although they're made from plastic, the A50’s don’t feel cheap, thanks to innovative design and great build quality. The new dock/wireless transmitter doubles as a wireless charger (very nice) and Astro have added an accelerometer in the headset which tells the battery when you are/aren’t using it. This enables the headset to sleep when not in use, which, when combined with the 15 hour battery life, alleviates the main gripe with wireless headsets: the battery life. The ear cups are open-backed and made from a soft fabric, which really adds to the comfort. Their modular magnetic design means you can swap them (and the headband) out for others available via the MOD kit. Astro’s shortcomings, and we mean short, start with the slightly over compressed mic. We definitely preferred the mic on the Arctis 7 and even the Cloud Alpha. Our other gripe was that although the Command Centre software is useful, it was far too complicated for the casual user. It’s a high price, but those who can invest will not be disappointed. This is next-gen stuff.
The one downside is the microphone, which feels fiddly - it’s hard to get a good position in front of your mouth. But that’s the lone disadvantage, and it’s offset against the incredible sound, the superlative comfort, and the quirky and creative design. You also get 7.1 sound, if you need it; we think the Creative Sound BlasterX H7 Tournament Edition does that particular aspect a little bit better, but it’s very minor. As a whole, the soundstage is still excellent, and it’s very easy to pick out the positioning of particular elements in-game. And with the EQ settings packed in, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more likeable pair of cans. For gaming audio, this headset is the best available right now.
These large round ear cups are designed to be comfortable and pleasant to wear, but they also give space to house the large 53mm stereo drivers. These drivers are where the action happens. They're designed to deliver an audio experience that's unparalleled and indeed, we were impressed with the quality of the sound coming of these cans. They open your ears to new sounds you might not have otherwise noticed in games and music and we couldn't help but be impressed with the quality of the sound, no matter what we were doing.
What keeps it from being the stand-out winner are several annoyances. For starters, the A50 uses the 5GHz band, which means the range isn’t great. Even sitting at my computer, I occasionally noticed interference. A built-in battery also means that if you do forget to charge it, you’re stuck attaching it to your PC with a MicroUSB cable while you play. And the audio, while quite good and superior to the Arctis Pro Wireless, still is easily outdone by $300 headphones. (Read our full review.)
Once we had our potential top picks in each category, we went on to use them in extended gaming sessions, during which we sometimes wore the same headset for as long as 12 hours at a stretch. Our testing panel, which included people with various head and ear sizes, tried the headsets on a variety of games from massively multiplayer online role-playing games like Guild Wars 2 to 4X games (explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate) like the Civilization series as well as on puzzle, strategy, and action games.
We also found this wireless headset to have the best battery life we've seen. We managed to squeeze out over 20 hours of use during testing, though we would recommend charging before it goes flat or you'll have an uncomfortable experience thanks to the short charging cable. A power light underneath lets you know when it's running low by changing colour with a traffic light system warning you when the charge is getting low. A red light is a bad sign and time to get it plugged in.
Positional audio is clearly important to gamers. A good headset will help gamers know where the enemy are, which direction the threat is coming from and present a more immersive experience. So it's surprising to find that the SteelSeries Siberia 800 isn't up to scratch in this area. It's still better than a stereo headset, but not as good as some of the other surround sound headsets on this list.
They will also have wireless mic support when connected to your PC or PS4, but you will have to use them wired with your Xbox One controller if you want voice chat. On the upside, they have and have a great 24hr + battery life and can also be used completely wired, even if the battery runs out. The available companion app is only for PC, but it has some powerful customization options and you can save your favorite settings under multiple presets.
Desktop devices using Bluetooth technology are available. With a base station that connects via cables to the fixed-line telephone and also the computer via soundcard, users with any Bluetooth headset can pair their headset to the base station, enabling them to use the same headset for both fixed-line telephone and computer VoIP communication. This type of device, when used together with a multiple-point Bluetooth headset, enables a single Bluetooth headset to communicate with a computer and both mobile and landline telephones.
There are two types of Bluetooth headsets. Headsets using Bluetooth v1.0 or v1.1 generally consist of a single monaural earpiece, which can only access Bluetooth's headset/handsfree profile. Depending on the phone's operating system, this type of headset will either play music at a very low quality (suitable for voice), or will be unable to play music at all. Headsets with the A2DP profile can play stereo music with acceptable quality. Some A2DP-equipped headsets automatically de-activate the microphone function while playing music; if these headsets are paired to a computer via Bluetooth connection, the headset may disable either the stereo or the microphone function.
The Plantronics Blackwire 3200 Series includes corded UC headsets that are durable, comfortable, easy to deploy and come in a variety of connectivity and wearing options. Add insights from Plantronics Manager Pro, an additional Software-as-a-Service offering, and you've got a future-proof solution. Blackwire 3200 Series with Plantronics signature audio provides top notch features at a price you can afford.
Even without the benefit of surround sound, the HyperX Cloud did an admirable job of creating a nice sense of space for all of our games. With shooters such as Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, Star Wars Battlefront 2, Doom, and Dishonored 2, I always felt like I had a good idea of where my enemies were and in which direction I needed to focus my attention. The addition of Razer Surround software (which we discuss in detail below) enhanced that effect even more.
Larger drivers have been known to produce lower bass frequencies, however, the quality of the driver and its enclosure is more important than its size. Now this information is not always available, but companies such as SteelSeries often use the same drivers across multiple headsets, so a quick google will often tell you how good a certain driver is. A good example would be the SteelSeries Arctis 7, which uses S1 speaker drivers which are also found in their $300 headsets. Not bad for a $150 purchase.
In addition to a fast processor and a clear display, gamers of every skill level recognize the need for great sound to get the rich, immersive gaming experience desired. Though similar to headphones, the best gamer headsets are different in two important ways. First, they have outstanding surround sound capabilities that add realism to the console- or PC-gaming session, providing the competitive edge needed to react instantly to even subtle sound cues, such as footsteps coming up behind you. And second, gaming headsets allow you to communicate with as well as listen to fellow gamers from around the world.