USB connections are the rectangular-shaped ports found on your computer. A benefit to using these is that they are completely digital, so failing a nuclear fallout (or accidental spillage on your machine/device) the signal should be perfect. Conversely to 3.5mm ports, your PC uses USB to connect everything from mice, keyboards and webcams to flash drives, audio interfaces and printers. This means you might not always have space to have everything connected at once. Bummer. The other downer to USB headsets is the fact that not every device has a USB port or if it does, it might not support audio output. For example, there’s no USB port on your phone or tablet and the ones on your TV don’t support audio output. This seriously limits the potential value of headsets such as the Sennheiser PC 373D, which although an amazing headset can ONLY be used at your computer.
Compared with the results from its larger siblings, the Cloud and the Cloud Revolver, the overall tonal balance of the Cloud Stinger isn’t quite up to the same standards. In our tests the bass wasn’t quite as rich and impactful, and the treble exhibited a comparative lack of smoothness that two of our testers described as “slight harshness.” That said, this slight edge to the higher frequencies wasn’t as bad as what we heard from some other headsets costing considerably more.
It goes without saying that when choosing a gaming headset, sound quality is king. Why else upgrade if not for better quality audio? Value for money is also important: we’re sure hearing Adele singing live in our living room would sound better than on CD, but we very much doubt we could justify singing to the note of her six figure fee (plus we only really know that one song…and just the chorus).
The HyperX Cloud Stinger are an above-average gaming headset just below $50, so you don’t have to spend as much but you will have to make some sacrifices. They’re the cheapest of the HyperX line up so they won’t have the premium build quality and detachable microphone of the Cloud II or Cloud Alpha. They’re also not wireless like the Cloud Flight. But on the upside, their wired design has no latency and will work with controllers of both consoles.
The Asus Strix 7.1 offers a fantastic surround sound experience with "true" surround sound delivered from 10 drivers that is as close to the proper surround sound experience as you're going to get without actually buying a full speaker setup. The quality of the audio is superb whatever you're doing and we found this headset to be comfortable even after hours and hours of wear.
While wireless headsets are obviously more flexible when it comes to your connection to the source device, a major constraint for USB or Bluetooth wireless headsets is compatibility, as the table above shows. You’ll only be able to use USB wireless models with PS4, PC, and, in some select cases, Xbox One or Nintendo Switch. Bluetooth headsets are compatible with PC, PS4, PS Vita, mobile devices, and, conditionally, the Nintendo Switch.
Ordinarily it's hugely important when buying headphones, but not so much for gaming headsets. Most come with digital connections (USB, Optical) which have fairly standardized power outputs. Those that don’t, come with their own in-line or standalone amp/wireless transmitters. The all-in-one convenience of gaming headsets is half their charm (and half their limitation), something which is definitely highlighted in their plug and play functionality. We’re not saying people haven’t plugged their 3.5mm Razer Kraken Pro V2 into a 1/8”converter and blown them on some monster amp - we’re sure they have – but part of the premium price tag you pay when purchasing one of these products goes towards maximizing accessibility while minimizing technical know-how.
No roundup of gaming headsets would be complete without a look at Astro’s offerings, so we brought in the A40 with MixAmp Pro, the A30 with MixAmp Pro, and the A50 Wireless for the first iteration of this guide. None of us were overly fond of the on-ear design of the A30, but I was smitten with the hard-hitting sound of the A40 and A50, especially with games like Dying Light. But noisy mics and the MixAmp Pro’s constant background hiss bothered all of us. After we wrapped up our original round of testing, Astro introduced a new digital MixAmp and a new version of the A50; we plan on giving them a listen for a future update to this guide.
“It’s no wonder why this gaming headset has so many rave reviews. Comfortable on the ears, great sound quality, crystal clear mic, and rad blue lights. The lights are powered by the USB cable that’s attached. If you’re not a fan, go ahead and unplug it from your computer. This is a great feature to have when it’s 12 a.m. and your wife is trying to sleep. Don’t want to disturb her with the lights? No problem. The closed-ear headphones work well at keeping sound cupped. This means little to no sound leaks from the earphones. The mic is also great. I love how it flips back into the headset. And, according to my teammates, my voice is clear. I’ll just have to take their word for it.”
Because 2.4 GHz Wireless Headsets cannot directly "talk" to any standard cordless telephones, an extra base-unit is required for this product to function. Most 2.4 GHz Wireless Headsets come in two units, a wireless headset and a wireless base-station, which connects to your original telephone unit via the handset jack. The wireless headset communicates with the base-station via 2.4 GHz RF, and the voice signals are sent or received via the base unit to the telephone unit. Some products will also offer an automatic handset lifter, so the user can wirelessly lift the handset off the telephone by pressing the button on the wireless headset.
Interestingly, the SteelSeries Arctis 7 uses the same drivers as the flagship Siberia 800, so you won't be too surprised to hear that the audio quality on this headset is just as superb. The processing is slightly different though, this headset uses DTS Headphone:X 7.1 which delivers a pretty precise surround sound experience. In fact, we'd say the positional audio on this headset is superior to the Siberia 800, but still not as good as other headsets on this list.
The Razer Kraken 7.1 V2 in Mercury White is a cracking headset offering from Razer. It's beautiful and sleek. There are a few niggles with the design, the lack of volume controls and the slightly questionable build quality being the main two. But for looks and audio performance, it's worth considering. It's also one of the more affordable virtual surround sound headsets on the market, so if you want something that performs, looks great, but doesn't break the bank, then this might be it