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.
The advantages of having a gaming headset may be pretty apparent, but to introduce our article we thought we’d give some thoughts. For one thing, you obviously need some sound to hear the footsteps of those enemies. You’ve also got that microphone handy to communicate with your team (or enemies!), which is obviously the biggest component of multi-player games. Having a gaming headset for your adventures is pretty self-explanatory when it comes to benefits, but what about investing in a headset that’s above the norm for a few more dollars?
“I have owned a number of Mpow products. They all have been good products at great prices. When I got them I found them comfortable and the audio surprisingly good for the price. However, the biggest surprise was the 7.1 [surround sound] audio. While gaming, I was surprised to hear gameplay all around me! I could pinpoint the direction of other players by sound. It’s amazing and something I had anticipated spending five times as much to experience! The headset is full over-ear and comfy. So far the spring-and-cable-adjusted sizing has worked perfectly and the audio is beautifully balanced for gaming.”
Based on our testing, the best headset for gaming is the SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC (See it on Amazon). They're not wireless because they use an inline DAC (Digital to Analogue Converter), but they sound so good and the inline controls are just downright swank. They're also extremely comfy, have RGB lights, and look and feel positively decadent thanks to premium materials throughout.
Every Arctis headset supports 7.1 Surround Sound, though the Arctis 3 and Arctis 5 also feature the more upmarket DTS Headphone audio protocol, and the Arctis 7 is the only model of the three that has steel alloy elements in its build. The 7 is compatible with every major gaming console and gaming computer. Unfortunately, the Xbox One only supports a wired connection with an included cable. We recommend the Arctis 7 for its impressive 15-hour battery life, extremely comfortable fit, and top-notch sound quality. Plus it's a lot cheaper than other wireless options, but sounds extremely good.
Headsets can be either wired or wireless, with wireless models generally costing more. More important is that each gaming headset supports different system, handheld, and computer connections. For the PS4 Pro, Xbox One X, most mobile devices, and some computers, you can use Bluetooth for a wireless headset (the original Xbox One lacks Bluetooth support). Other systems require a different wireless connection, often with a separate base plugged into your console or computer.
As we've said before, the microphone quality of a gaming headset is clearly important for the modern gamer. The good news then is that this headset has a capable microphone that delivers a reasonable audio quality. As you'd expect it includes noise cancelling features which reduce the ambient noise from the surrounding environment to ensure you're heard clearly when you need to be.
Virtual reality, of course, represents a new kind of headset–a headset with a component that simulates the visual field. The technological development comes at a cost, however: being immersed in such a headset can cause severe motion sickness. It perhaps gives pause to consider that such things were the science-fiction dreams of many who lived not more than fifty or a hundred years ago…though lightsabers are still forthcoming.
This is great if you already own lots of Hi-Res audio tracks or subscribe to something like Tidal, but as for gaming… it’s currently unknown how many, if any, actually support Hi-Res audio or whether you get any extra benefit over non-Hi-Res audio headsets. Personally, I’ve never been able to tell the difference between Hi-Res and CD, and that’s after multiple demos and tech PRs doing their darnedest to convince me otherwise. As a result, it’s probably worth it if you’re into Hi-Res audio stuff outside of gaming, but don’t go paying extra if you’re only going to be using it for games.
The Turtle Beach Elite Pro Professional is a gaming headset that offers superb quality surround sound audio, an excellent microphone and, most importantly, a comfortable gaming experience for a reasonable price. If you're a glasses wearer or a gamer that loves long gaming sessions and wants an encompassing and immersive sound that's as comfortable as it is enjoyable then this is the headset for you.
With the MixAmp, you can set audio preferences for game or chat depending on what you're doing, whether that's enjoying the world of God of War thanks to the Dolby button or creating a private network with other ASTRO A40 owners while you make a raid in Destiny 2. The ability to daisy chain MixAmps to create a private voice network is a serious bonus with this headset. And if you game on PC or Mac, the ASTRO Command Center will allow you to get into the nitty gritty audio quality and really allow for deeper sound customization.
Logitech has announced the G533 Wireless Gaming Headset, a model designed solely for use with Windows PCs. It has a noise-cancelling, foldable microphone, as well as volume controls on the left earcup, and it uses Pro-G audio drivers. Logitech claims the headset has a 15-hour battery life and a wireless connectivity range of about 49 feet, but we have to test those things ourselves. The G533 is available now, and we hope to add it to our next update.
Although not technically a noise-cancelling headset, the design of the headset does deliver a passive noise-isolation which helps block out a lot of the external noise which might interrupt and ruin your gaming immersion. Another highlight of the design of the Turtle Beach Elite Pro Professional headset is the ProSpecs Glasses Relief System. This is a unique design we've not seen elsewhere, which allows you to adjust the fit of the earcups to create a small channel in the cushioning to account for the arms of your spectacles and reduce the pressure on your head as you game. A nice addition and an extra level of comfort.
While video games may once have been a niche hobby, today it’s a serious pastime engaged in by serious people and they need serious equipment. With the advent of online gaming, gamers need quality gaming headphones that will allow them to communicate with their teammates while not losing any of their in-game audio. Klipsch gaming headphones are built with high performance speakers making you feel like you’re truly in the game. In addition, the quality construction means they’ll remain comfortable even after long gaming sessions.
With the rising popularity of multiplayer games like Fortnite, PUBG and Overwatch, having a good gaming headset can sometimes make the difference between a clutch, well-coordinated last-minute victory and crushing defeat. A typical, wired headphone may give you good enough audio for gaming but may lack a compatible microphone and chat support to plan a winning strategy with your teammates. The right gaming headset should work with most of your consoles, be comfortable enough that you don’t have to take them off mid-game and ideally be wireless with enough range, so that you can comfortably game from your couch.
Stereo simply means two channels, a left and a right, and is created with a pair of drivers. One in each ear cup. Surround sound, which in gaming headsets is almost definitely 7.1, refers to 7 drivers and a subwoofer. Now packing all those drivers into a headset isn’t always possible, so a lot of companies use their pair of stereo drivers mixed with some digital wizardry and recreate the impression of that sound. This is referred to as virtual 7.1 and is the case for 99% of the headsets in our list excluding the ASUS Centurion. Most either use Dolby virtual 7.1 surround sound or DTS Headphone:X surround sound.
The SteelSeries Siberia 800 connects to your gaming machine via a transmitter that also works as the amplifier and hub for the various inputs and outputs. This little box sits neatly on your desk and gives you easy access to volume controls and a range of settings. The highlight is the selection of inputs which includes optical in and out meaning you can make use of full Dolby 7.1 surround sound processing at a higher quality than your average gaming headset.
Although this is the PC edition of the headset, there are still other connections possible here. There's a 3.5mm jack included in the box that makes the headset compatible with consoles and mobile devices too. The result is a flexible headset that offers a great sound experience wherever you're using it. Though, the full unadulterated surround sound experience is limited to PC.
The SteelSeries Arctis Pro features premium drivers which the company claim are capable of delivering double the audio range of most standard headsets (at 40,000Hz). This has a number of implications in the use of this headset. Firstly, if you're a PC gamer this means that you can dive into the settings on the GameDAC (Digital Audio Converter) and switch over to Hi-Res audio. Doing this means the little control box then does the leg work and transforms sound into High-fidelity 96kHZ/24-bit audio. You can then open up Windows sound settings and see the full glory of the high-end audio.
The Thresher Ultimate cans are available in either Playstation or Xbox trim, but as both work happily with the PC via the base station, it just becomes a choice of whether you want the classic Razer green trim or the blue. I like the blue… I wasn’t massively taken by the headband at first, but having used the set for a while now they’re mighty comfortable, only pressing in a little around the bottom of the earcups. They are a touch heavier than the SteelSeries Siberia 800s, but the floating band does take most of the strain.
Virtual surround headsets feature ear cups that cover the entire ear. This type of headset uses only two discrete speakers, one on each ear cup, to create surround sound. Virtual surround headsets tend to have higher-end driver components which experts and consumers believe to be more durable, as well as have larger speakers which deliver more powerful and dynamic sound quality. Virtual surround headset achieves surround sound by using external or internal pre-amplifier or mix-amplifier modules, as well as several different algorithms, to convert stereo or surround sound signals into surround sound. The sound is divided and sectioned so as to deliver it in such a way that it creates an auditory landscape, thereby producing surround sound.
Like we do for all the products we test, we put gaming headsets through the ringer. We judge them based upon their audio performance, mic performance, wearability, battery life, and wireless connectivity. We play games featuring various sound experiences to ensure the headsets will sound great during frenetic action, as well as quieter moments. We also listen to non-gaming audio and videos, including a selection of music from various genres at differing bit rates to discern whether the headsets perform well outside of a gaming context.