Our previous runner-up pick, Kingston’s HyperX Cloud Revolver, is still a favorite amongst most of our testers due to its great mic and lively sound. Although not as neutral as the HyperX Cloud, it’s great for action games, and the auto-adjusting headset was popular with all but one of our testers. Only the fact that the Kraken Pro V2 delivers much the same audio performance and similar comfort at a much cheaper price bumped this one off our list of top recommendations.
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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.
To make sure a headset can handle lighter instrumental tracks, I use a combination of Final Fantasy XV’s Piano Collection soundtrack, Austin Wintory’s Transfiguration EP from Journey, Ace Attorney’s Gyakuten Meets Orchestra concert, and a light sprinkling of my Breath of the Wild: Sound Selection CD and the Bravely Default soundtrack. I also listen to regular bands and songs, including the likes of Turin Brakes, Queen, Maximo Park, a bit of David Bowie and the opening themes to space anime Knights of Sidonia and grim naked giant anime Attack on Titan, again testing for overall balance, clarity and general toe-tapping grooviness.
One final caveat: The Game One reaches its full potential only with extra amplification, so it’s not the best pick if you game exclusively on consoles. When powered by the onboard analog audio output of my wife’s computer, it sounded good enough to become her favorite headset by far in terms of audio performance, and it was even better with the onboard sound card of my computer, although we had to crank the volume quite high. It didn’t reveal all of its nuances or its powerful bass capabilities until we connected it to the Creative Sound Blaster E5 DAC/amp with the amp’s high-gain mode engaged. In other words, the more power you give the Game One, the better it sounds, so if it seems like the right headset for you, consider adding a dedicated sound card or an external amp to your gaming PC.
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.
“Wow, do I love these headphones! I got tired of subtitling every game I played just because the family was asleep. I decided to shell out for these, and now I prefer them over my speakers! Great sound clarity and good bass. The surround sound is spot on. Also, they do a good job blocking out external sound. They are very comfortable around the ears. I was concerned about the padding wearing down over time, but as far as I can tell after nine months, there is no difference in ‘puffiness.’ Lastly, good battery life. I just played for over six hours last night and they were still charged. Highly recommended.”
Looks-wise, the black, brushed metal cup plates really compliment the gun metal arms. However, although we’re fans of the high contrast red cables, we do wish Creative had reduced the aggressive styling of their X logo, which, in our opinion is far too prominent, and detracts from the slickness of the brushed metal frame. Oh, and it lights up - yay? That being said, the headset is super comfy, lightweight, and built in such a way that allows it to bend, flex and twist without ever feeling like it’s about to break. So, top marks for design. The BlasterX software provides presets for your favorite games (CS:GO, DOTA 2 etc.) as well as the ability to tweak custom profiles. Some of the presets worked better than others, but, as the ability to completely customize your EQ settings is available, we can’t really ask for more. In true gamer-centric fashion, there’s even a Scout mode, that lets you hear footsteps easier in stereo. The virtual surround will appease some but, while it does add a layer of immersion for casual gaming, serious gamers will notice its poor, rear directional sound representation. The only real issue we’ve seen are complaints of poor Windows 10 drivers causing the left and right channels to switch intermittently, although we never ran into this issue ourselves.
"I’ve had this headset for five months now and I couldn’t be happier. Comfort is a major influence in my purchases and I was at first worried about the circular earcups, as they tend to press against my ears and cause cartilage cramps. But these are hefty, big enough that they surround my ears no problem. They are also incredibly light, so no having to worry about them tiring your head out.
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.
Many wireless mobile headsets use Bluetooth technology, supported by many phones and computers, sometimes by connecting a Bluetooth adapter to a USB port. Since version 1.1 Bluetooth devices can transmit voice calls and play several music and video formats, but audio will not be played in stereo unless the cellphone or media device, and the headset, both have the A2DP profile.
With the GameDAC converting the audio, the SteelSeries Arctis Pro then becomes a complete audio system that delivers tremendous sound with a range of tuning options. Like the SteelSeries Siberia 800, the control box offers a number of inputs and outputs. This headset is compatible with both PS4 and PC and comes with cables for USB and optical connections on those devices as well as an option to use the headset with a mobile phone.
Hi-Res audio isn’t the be all and end all for games at the moment (see our buying guide below for more info), but if you’ve got lots of Hi-Res audio tracks that you listen to at home or subscribe to services like Tidal, this could be a handy solution that meets both your home and game listening needs without having to buy a second pair of headphones.
Many of the differences between gaming headsets have to deal with comfort, or cosmetics as opposed to function; and anyone looking for in-depth reviews is already past the point of merely looking for a general something to fulfill a general function. They want something specific, that does specific things very well. The point is that the base technology to communicate through video games, to immerse oneself in a virtual experience, and to do so simultaneously with remote players is already here.
Owning the EVO ZxR is like owning many things at once: a high quality USB sound card, 7.1 virtual sound gaming headset, and a wireless headphone of high audio quality. Not to mention all the technologies powering the headset such as an Active Noise Cancellation feature, NFC, Bluetooth, and all other goodies from Creative such as Dialog Plus, CrystalVoice, etc. It’s a headset packed with geeky goodies!
We’ve never made any secret of the fact that most of our testers either went into this guide with a bias against wireless gaming headsets or learned to loathe them throughout the course of our testing. If you absolutely, positively can’t abide wires, though, we recommend the Kingston HyperX Cloud Flight. It doesn’t feel quite as durable as our top pick wired headset, but it’s still a well-constructed headset that doesn’t creak or rattle or otherwise feel flimsy in any way.
Another issue for surround sound, aside from space for the actual drivers, is space within the ear cup to allow that sound to disperse proportionately and create the intended sound. Now this is where you need to be careful, because some headsets do it much better than others. More often than not this is dictated by price. If we’re being frank, surround sound is kind of gimmicky in headsets. Although enjoyable for single player games or movies, for any online or competitive play you will want to use stereo, as it creates a much easier sound to distinguish in a space as confined as ear cups. That said we’ve highlighted the surround sound achievers in our list, so if you’re unsure be sure to check that out. And if you want a more music-focused headphone, check out our list of the best high-end headphones of this year.
“This headset is amazing and built to last. I have had this headset for almost two years and it’s still looks like it’s brand-new. The fabric does not rip at all and the foam does not get squished down over time. The audio from the headset sounds great with its 7.1 surround sound and is also very soundproof. The microphone is decent — not good enough if you are someone who does a lot of recording — but super clear for talking with friends. The cable is higher quality and is not easy to rip out the the headset, which is nice. The biggest thing about this headset is that it doesn’t hurt your head! You can wear this headset for hours and it still feels great. Highly recommend.”
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.
The ASTRO A10 serves as the company's entry into more "budget" headsets, but still lives up to the brand's name. This is evident in the sound quality. It comes through crisp and clear, supported with bass performance that wouldn't be expected from a $60 headset. Keep in mind, there is no surround sound feature in the A10, but that's somewhat expected given the price.
Steelseries’ premium headset is considerably more expensive than the Arctis 7, yet offers unrivalled audio quality and customisation in return. The Siberia 840 boasts a quietly understated design, rather than flashing lights and flair. Wireless support works perfectly with no pesky lag and the hot swappable battery system keeps you powered up at all times. Plus full Dolby 7.1 surround sound support means you get a truly immersive experience.
*While most USB headsets can be used on PS4, many are specifically made for PC and will require drivers or extra software to enable features like surround sound, EQ settings, and even mic support in some instances. Because of this, some USB headsets will have limited functionality on PS4. For those wanting a USB headset on PS4, seek out headsets that list PS4 compatibility explicitly, such as the Cloud Revolver S.