Headsets come in a variety of styles, such as color, head mounting, and ear coupling. Since headsets typically have two ear pieces, there is usually a connecting piece between the ear pieces, which allows the user to mount the headset on their head. That head mounting can be on top of the head or behind it. Ear coupling provides more options, such as over ear (circum-aural), on ear (supra-aural), earbuds, and canal. Finally, headsets are also available in wired and wireless styles.
If you’ve read any of our other articles on the site, you’d see that Sennheiser is one of the best headphone creators ever. This particular gaming headset is rated highly among users so we were able to have confidence when taking a look it. When it comes to price it’s a bit higher as compared to others but for many good reasons. If sound accuracy and overall quality is important for your gaming, the 7.1 virtual surround sound and open-design ear cups are perfect for focus on sound. Their “ergonomic acoustic refinement” may be a fancy term, but built-in is their own technology focused on “sound accuracy”. The open-design means the earcups aren’t completed suffocating your ears which helps decrease the chances of pain from long use (it’s not like we play for 8+ hours a day…). Last but not least, the microphone has feasible quality for your teammates or enemies to hear and they’re quite comfortable. If you aren’t on a budget, this is one of the best gaming headsets out there as it’s been highly rated by users too.
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.
As with all of our gamer peripherals, we rigorously test each headset before fully reviewing. If a device is compatible with different platforms, consoles as well as PC, then we’ll be sure to try it out on the lot. Wired or wireless, we check that the audio quality is good enough and that features such as surround sound support work as expected. We also make sure the mic clearly picks up your voice, even in a noisy environment, so your online pals can hear every zinger and sick burn.
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.
This headset is powered by the headphone amplifier control box that sits neatly on your desk. This little box of tricks is the hub for the audio and allows you to easily change between settings, adjust volume and even tweak lighting on-the-fly. It acts as the sound card and works to process the surround sound audio to deliver the accurate audio experience you'd expect from a headset of this quality.
But here’s the first problem. Just like on the ManO’War, the ear cups are round which, if you have big ears will be a comfort issue. Fear not though, loyal Razerians, oval-shaped ear cups are available…for a price. In terms of sound, the overall impression is good, edging out the previous champ in this bracket – the Corsair Void RGB. Definitely punching for its price, the Kraken’s 50mm drivers and design of ear cup do well at creating and delivering the lows. The mids and highs carry a certain level of clarity but start to muddy throughout the higher volumes. Everything is customizable inside of Razer’s Synapse suite though, meaning you can tweak ‘til your heart's content. Although the V2 Pro isn’t the flagship Kraken (that would be the 7.1 V2), the lack of RGB lights and artificial surround sound means Razer can deliver a real blow to the low/mid-range market. With great build quality, impressive sound and no gimmicks, it’s hard not to recommend paying the extra $20 and upgrading from the Logitech G430…Until we think about those round ear cups.
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.
A bundled audio transmitter with OLED display delivers relevant information about your audio experience, such as volume, battery life, and audio source. It’s also used to charge the headset’s batteries. The Arctis Pro’s 40-millimeter stereo drivers deliver plenty of power, and the attached noise-canceling mic is retractable and does a good job at picking up your voice. We just wish the headset were a little cheaper and was compatible with the Xbox One.
Will Greenwald has been covering consumer technology for a decade, and has served on the editorial staffs of CNET.com, Sound & Vision, and Maximum PC. His work and analysis has been seen in GamePro, Tested.com, Geek.com, and several other publications. He currently covers consumer electronics in the PC Labs as the in-house home entertainment expert... See Full Bio
If you game on the PlayStation 4, the Nintendo Switch, newer Xbox One models, or most handheld gaming devices, you can just plug a single 3.5mm headphone jack into the controller or system and start playing. The Xbox One works in a similar way, but if you have an older Xbox One gamepad you might need Microsoft's Xbox One Stereo Headset Adapter to use a wired headset with it. Most headsets on this list can connect to your preferred system one way or another.
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.
The sound quality is great for games and comes with ‘FPS’, ‘Moba’ and ‘Cinematic Gaming’ presets. Music also shines and Logitech’s Gaming Software allows all presets to be adjusted and custom ones to be created, something we wish HyperX would employ on their Cloud Alpha headset. Buttons on the ear cups allow quick swapping between profiles and the mic quality was adequate for standard use. The headset although slightly heavier than some, is very comfortable, especially around the ear cups. It feels solid too - something the more expensive ManO’War failed to be - for considerably less money. It has USB and 3.5mm connectivity allowing use across multiple devices, which some higher priced models can’t claim. Aside from the custom preset features, the G633 comes with RGB lighting (of course), and Dolby 7.1 or DTS X Surround. If you want a high-end headset without the High-end price tag and don’t mind wired connectivity, this is the one for you.
Surrouding Stereo Sound: 57mm Hi-Fi driver brings super clear and superior sound effect when playing games. Noise cancelling Microphone (you can adjust microphone to 120 degrees up and down base on your own) and Surrounding stereo design is superb that you could feel in gaming environment once using, like shooting environment, drastic gaming situation. Perfect for plenty of games like World of Warcraft (WOW),LOL, Call Of Duty, GTA Series, Assassins creed etc.
“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.”
These are some of the deepest and most comfortable earcups we've seen on any gaming headset we've tested. This design not only reduces the pressure on your ears from the drivers (as they're not resting on your ears) but allows delivery of a comfortable and all-encompassing sound as you game. These cups also include a cooling cloth on the inside which stops your ears from sweating and helps maintain that superb comfort.
Those strange design notes aside, the Audio-Technica ATH-AG1x is one of the most impressive-sounding gaming headsets I’ve used. There is an open back version – the ATH-ADG1x – which I was expecting to sound even better, but I have to say this closed back version is my still personal recommendation. They’re easy to find Stateside, but can be a little tricky to track down online in the UK, so it’s worth checking out the actual Audio-Technica site first.
Having a higher-end gaming headset is great because 1) you have high-quality sound that can give you an edge in your game (especially if foot steps or FX are critical, such as when we played Counter-Strike because hearing the enemy before they heard you was an obvious advantage). Not only can you hear footsteps\sound FX quicker than the others but also the direction they come from can also be easier to decipher if your headphones are built well.
Closed-back headphones restrict external noise entering and internal noise leaving your cans. The main benefit of this for gamers is that you are unlikely to hear any noises happening around you which could distract you from the actions. Another benefit for any late night gamers out there, is that you won’t be disturbing anyone in your house with Duke Nukem’s lude “Shake it, baby.” At 4am. A couple of potential cons with the closed-back design are comfort and sound quality. Due to the lack of airflow in and out of the cans, closed back (especially leather coated) headsets can get your head pretty sweaty, which after a while can become pretty uncomfortable. Secondly, because noise is trapped inside the cans it can sometimes create an unnatural sounding, or bottled up audio. This is entirely subjective so definitely worth checking out yourself. The best closed-back headset on our list is the HyperX Cloud Revolver S.
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The most important feature, however, is the brilliant sound performance. The basic, out-of-the-box stereo mix, which is the baseline regardless of connection type or console, is excellent, with a snug balance and punchy bass that enhances gameplay and music. The surround sound and EQ features — specifically the bass boost — only serve to further enhance the experience. The cherry on top is that the headset is extremely comfortable, with a sturdy design, plush padding, and an auto-fitting headband. Sounds like a winner to us.