Within the settings is an option for activating "Superhuman Hearing" - a sound setting that's meant to give you an extra gaming edge by allowing you to more easily make out enemy footsteps or other distinguishable sounds that might save your life in the middle of a gaming battle. You can turn this on and off with the F10 key by default or assign your own preferred hotkey. In practice, we didn't feel that this setting made a huge amount of difference over and above the positional tracking already offered by the 7.1 surround sound, but it's nice to see additional options like this which offer extra features that are simple yet effective.
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.
And while we do think the soundstage isn’t as good as that found in models like the HyperX Cloud Revolver S, the audio quality is still phenomenal. It feels natural, balanced, and clear, without overcooking any one element. The model we’ve linked to here is the base headset, but if you want, you can shell out an extra $70 and pick up SteelSeries’ GameDAC - a high-end audio converter that is geared towards gaming. We don’t think it makes a huge difference - it’s overkill for most people, and doesn’t give a dramatic improvement on the base sound - but it’s nice to have the option. And when you consider just how good - and affordable - this headset it, it’s hardly surprising we’ve ranked it so highly. There is also a wireless version, but we think it's way too overpriced for what you get; if you can deal with a lone wire, this offers excellent value.
The mic is equally good. We found voice capture with the mic to be clear, and we dig the minimalist design of the boom mic, which can be easily flipped up when not in use, or extended and bent for finding the optimal distance. As is often the case with Logitech gear, the headset has several neat idiosyncrasies, like a textured pad on the USB receiver for extra grip and internal “beeps” to inform you of volume changes, low battery levels, or mic enabling. It’s also, thankfully, devoid of any gaudy lights or “cool” decals, opting instead for a simpler and therefore more attractive aesthetic than most other headsets out there. While not necessarily groundbreaking, these are nice touches nonetheless.
The SteelSeries Arctis Pro is compatible with the SteelSeries Engine 3 software, which means it's open to a range of other tweaks, customisation and personalisation according to your needs. The addition of the GameDAC though means that you don't need that software to enjoy the headset in its full glory. On a desk the DAC offers the ability to change settings on-the-fly and it as a separate unit it means PlayStation gamers can enjoy all those settings too without needing to plug into a PC.
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.
Despite the less involved sound editing options (you’re stuck with basic software rather than the 800s’ desktop transmitter) and the aforementioned design issues, the Arctis 7s still manage to be a dependable and complete gaming headset. The mic is brilliant at cutting out sound, the effective range is outstanding, and considering their much lower price than the 800s they make a wise mid-budget pick.
Pulling them from the packaging I was a little concerned about how they might sound. My prejudices were quickly dismissed as soon as I started using them. The 50mm directional drivers deliver an impressive, balanced sound, with a decent amount of separation in the audio. The Stinger, then, is a well-priced headset with a surprisingly detailed sound.
Speaking of audible pleasure, the sound produced by the Flight is very good indeed. Delivering a satisfying blend of lows and mids that really add a sense of weight to your gaming endeavours. The highs, although a little harsh the louder you push them, stay bright and detailed for the most part. We really enjoy the simple look of the Flight, and, while we are so over black and red, it works well here. So, we’ll let it slide. However, the rotating ear cups - while cool and practical - feel delicate when they pivot. It’s also worth noting that wireless functionality doesn’t work for Xbox One consoles. You’ll need to connect using the 3.5mm jack, at which point your mic stops working. Yikes. At least that protects other players from some of the nerd rage.
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.
So why is it number nine? And below the Razer? Well, it just doesn’t go above and beyond in any area aside from its cost. We know the A50’s from Astro cost an extra $100 more, but they are pushing boundaries with their tech. The 373s just do everything you’d expect from a well-established audio company selling wired headsets at high price points. On top of that, they are USB only, which pretty much limits them to PC use. So although a brilliant headset, we can’t give the 373s a place in our top five because they’re priced too high. Also, we’re all for understated design, but we can’t help but feel the 373s are teetering on the wrong side of dull. That said, if you want one of the best sounding, well built and most comfortable headsets available just to use on your PC...and money is no object…this is the one we’d go for.
We have to be honest, we were umming and ahhing between the G933s or the G930s for this spot. Weighing up the pros and cons of old versus new, with the older 930s being very similar in terms of quality, yet lacking the versatility, battery life and finesse of the new 933s. However, we then noticed the G633s, which offer all the features and sound quality of the G933s but for half the price! The payoff? A single wire. And let’s be honest, there’s enough wireless tech already in this list to excite the most obsessively compulsive amongst us.
While the HyperX Cloud is a great headset for most gamers, no headset is perfect for everyone. If you’re more discerning when it comes to sound quality in games, movies, and music, or if your gaming sessions run a little longer than the norm, consider the Sennheiser Game One. This headset was by far the favorite of all our testers (even our online helpers) due to its stellar audio performance, exceptional long-term comfort, and fantastic noise-cancelling microphone, but you’ll pay at least 50 percent more for that performance. Also, you might need to upgrade your sound card or headphone amp.
Within the settings, you can also adjust the "Chat Mix" which basically allows you to change the volume levels of the games you're playing compared to those from any chat programs you're using (Discord, Mumble, Teamspeak and the like). This sort of flexibility allows you to easily setup the audio quality and volumes to match your personal preference.
Battery life on this headset does appear to be a regular issue though, with battery draining in a short space of time. The SteelSeries Siberia 800 uses 1,000mAh Lithium-ion battery that SteelSeries claims is capable of 20 hours playback before recharging is necessary. During testing though, we found ourselves having to swap out the batteries more regularly than that. Therefore, with heavy use, you're unlikely to make it through an entire day if, like us, you're working and gaming on the same machine. Of course, most gamers won't be doing that, so might get a few days of gaming goodness out of it before the battery needs recharging.
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Kingston’s newest model, the HyperX Cloud Alpha, resulted in the most heated debates among our testers of any headset in the roundup to date. The Alpha is based on our top pick, the HyperX Cloud, but its earcups have been substantially modified with dual chambers that tune the bass and mid/upper frequencies separately. The result? Undeniably better bass performance than the original Cloud. The problem? The Alpha is also significantly heavier and hotter than the original Cloud, making it much less comfortable during marathon gaming sessions. If you’re looking for comfort and bang-for-the-buck, we still like the original HyperX Cloud. If you want some extra bass kick and a better microphone, we recommend upgrading to the Cloud Revolver, which might be a little heavier than the Alpha, but still manages to be more comfy (especially for larger noggins) due to its self-adjusting suspension headband and roomier earcups.
The available options for audio quality will vary depending on what device you're planning on using the headset with. On PC you can activate DTS Headphone:X virtual surround sound to make the most of your gaming sessions, but only if Hi-Res audio is turned off. On PS4 with an optical input you can enjoy the joy of Dolby 5.1 surround sound. There's a good mix of options here to adjust the sound to your own personal preference.
The result of this design is a superb audio quality that includes deep bass notes, a wide audio range and an excellent surround sound quality. We found this headset to joy to use when watching films, playing games and listening to music in equal measure. The only downside to this was we found that despite the quality of the audio, sometimes directional/positional audio was off and sounds we should have been able to hear in-game weren't there. Comparing this experience to other surround sound headsets, we found the SteelSeries Siberia 800 unfortunately lacking.
Simply put: the Arctis Pro Wireless sounds spectacular. It features a naturally flat and well-balanced sound, accurate reproduction, and offers a vivid soundscape that makes for an incredible listening experience – good enough to make even a die-hard audiophile crack a smile. The microphone isn’t your run-of-the-mill unit either, and eliminates background noise exceptionally well.
If you are a gamer and you need to communicate with other players you need a built-in microphone in your gaming headset. Our headsets come with a signature microphone in a class of its own. It provides high-end noise cancellation, so you can chat to fellow players with crystal clarity. If you want to enjoy your valuable me-time without communicating with other players, simply raise the boom arm in vertical position and you are off the air.
In terms of battery life, the Corsair VOID PRO RGB Wireless managed somewhere around 15-17 hours before it needed charging. Not quite as good as the Steel Series Arctis 7, but still pretty impressive. The bonus with the Corsair headset though is the fact that it comes with a fairly long (1.5 metre) USB to micro USB charging cable, which means that when it does run low on charge you can simply plug it in and keep on gaming.
There are two exceptions. The first is another Razer product—Razer Surround—a software download that adds surround-sound processing to any stereo headphones or headset. It comes in two versions: a basic free download that offers surprisingly convincing “7.1-channel” surround effects, and a Pro version that adds selectable bass boost, adjustable dynamic range compression, voice-clarity processing, an equalizer with 11 presets as well as custom settings, and (most important) the ability to calibrate the surround-sound experience specifically for your headset, your head, and your ears. The Pro version is a free download for anyone who purchases select Razer headsets, or you can buy it standalone for $20 (at the time of this writing).
That said, you’re going to get a lot more distance and freedom from a wireless headset, which makes them best for large living room setups where you’re going to be sitting on one side of the room and your console or PC is at the other. Keep an eye out for battery life ratin, as well. Most headsets can survive for at least a few straight hours of play, but there’s nothing worse than having to stop in the middle of an intense match to plug in your headset’s charging cable once the batteries are tapped.