If you already have a favorite pair of headphones that either has a cheap inline microphone or no mic at all, consider the Antlion Audio ModMic 5 (pictured above). It's a boom mic that attaches easily to your favorite pair of headphones, and can be removed when not in use thanks to a two-piece magnetic mount. You won't get any of the gaming-specific features of dedicated gaming headsets with the ModMic (and wireless is right out), but it lets you use your beloved old cans for voice chat. Just make sure you have the right connection or adapter to use it with your preferred game platform.
“I am loving these headphones. They are very comfortable even in gaming sessions lasting 12-plus hours. The audio quality even when using Bluetooth is very impressive. The thing that has impressed me the most about these has been the battery life. I believe they advertise 40 hours per charge with about a one- to two-hour charging time, and honestly they deliver. I try to charge them when I go to bed, but frequently forget to plug them in and they still keep going even after a couple days of forgetfulness.”
As mentioned above, the microphone is pretty useless (let’s blame that on Cougar’s Metal Gear-esque naming conventions), and its high/treble reproduction isn’t as good as more expensive headsets, but its overall audio quality is perfectly good enough for the money. If you’re looking for something inexpensive to give to your kids or younger siblings, the Cougar Phontum is well worth considering.
This wireless gaming headset from ASTRO is a top-shelf offering with superb fit and an included charging station. It gives users the ability to choose between an open-back and closed-back audio experience. The audio quality of the A50 is also superb, headed by the capability to deliver 7.1 Dolby Surround Sound. It comes in two variants — one for the Xbox One and the other for PS4 compatibility.
On the upside, they have a decent sound quality, an above-average microphone that captures speech well and a comfortable enough design for longer gaming sessions. They have a decent battery life that lasts about 10.8 hours and only take about 3 hours charge fully. They also support Bluetooth, which as a better range than using them with their USB dongle, but it also has more latency.
Logitech’s latest headset, the Logitech G533, brings several impressive features to a solid, attractive design, most notably the DTS 7.1 surround built into the speaker. This wireless headset comes standard with some simple-to-use software that can control the equalizer settings and enable the surround sound. It just so happens to have the best surround sound staging we’ve used in a headset, bar none. Whether you’re playing a first-person or third-person perspective game, sounds emit within the headphones from the proper location, making navigating these virtual worlds easier. The headset also performs well with 2D games. Regardless of what kind of games you play, however, the G553’s sounds excellent thanks to its 40mm Pro-G drivers (we did notice some minor wireless hum when nothing was being played through the headphones but that was absent during gameplay).
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.
If you’re after a wireless gaming headset with marathon long battery life, then you’d do well to check out Kingston’s HyperX Cloud Flight. The Cloud Flight’s quoted 30 hour battery life is one of the best in the market, and during our tests we found it to have more stamina than any other headset we’ve tested. Add to this its excellent noise cancelling mic and the Kingston HyperX Cloud Flight quickly becomes an ideal choice for people that regularly enjoy prolonged gaming sessions.
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.
In terms of sound, most of the Razer headsets that we’ve tested in the past have been quite bass-heavy, and the Kraken Pro V2 continues this trend. What sets it apart from its brethren is that it’s never overwhelmed by its own bass. We never noticed the distortion common to other Razer offerings, even when subjecting it to heavy explosions and raucous gunfire.
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.
Specifications: Headset Speakers: 40mm diameter speakers with neodymium magnets Condenser Microphone Frequency Response: 50Hz - 15kHz Weight: 6.4 oz (233g) Speaker Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20kHz, >120dB SPL @ 1kHz Cable length: 16 ft. (4.87m) System Requirements USB port: Available USB Port PS3 console with optical audio output or AV cable to support optical output: Advanced SCART AV cable In-line Amplifier Dimensions: Height .5 in (1.27 cm), Width: 2 in (5.08cm), Depth: .75 in (1.905 cm) Maximum analog input level with volume control on maximum setting: 2Vpp (700mVrms) Headphone Amplifier: Stereo DC-coupled, 35mW/ch, THD <1%, Frequency Response: DC - 30kHz Bass Boost: Bass Boost continuously adjustable from 0dB to +12dB @ 50Hz Mute switch: Mic mute switch Mic output: 2.5mm mic output jack USB connector for power: USB co...
Where this headset falls short is with its requirement for the Tactical Audio Controller (sold separately) to get to the EQ presets. It costs an extra $150, which in our opinion is ludicrous. On top of that the microphone is average at best. A real shame as the headset is amazing as standard, and if it afforded the EQ preset options and a better mic, it could easily be in our top 5. As it is, we’ll include it, but it needs some serious rethinking.
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.
Razer is huge among the gaming gear world especially their computers, keyboards and mice. So what about their headsets? This particular model is by far their best and is actually quite affordable. A big plus is the color choice which is always nice, but the specs include foldable ear cups, 2 m extension cable with audio/mic splitter, decent 40 mm drivers, a light weight for a comfortable fit and suitable microphone. What’s really a plus with Razer products is the sleek look, but for the price this headset is solid. It isn’t a beast or something considered top-of-the-line, but it gets the job done. We’d check it out if you want a medium price point, average specs but sweet looking headset.
Make no mistake about it, though, this is probably too much bass for games that rely on atmospheric music or have a lot of dialog. While all of our testers loved the effect with big dumb action games like DOOM, we found that the deep bass tended to make dialogue in games like Battlefront 2 a little too chesty, and it did no favors to orchestral game soundtracks, like those of the Civilization games. Tweaking the EQ settings in the Razer Surround Pro software helped a lot, and also brought out a good bit more detail, but access to that feature does add another $20 to the cost of the headset.
The battery life is decent, rated at around 16 hours, which bore up during our testing. But one of my real bug bears is there seems to be no easy way to tell how much capacity is left in your battery – having a level indicator would be nice. The wireless connection, however, is strong and stable and the audio excellent, so they definitely get the win for us.
The Razer Synapse software felt intuitive with familiar presets making it clear how to achieve the sound you want and the ability to individually control the type of sound and volume in each program was a nice touch. With a $110 Amazon price at the time of writing, the ManO’War isn’t pulling any punches. But it’s swings and roundabouts when looking at the ManO’War’s build quality. It feel’s surprisingly light for its chunky design, which although not necessarily a bad thing on its own, started to concern us when we realised how much flex there was in the frame. It lacks the solid feel that companies like Sennheiser are able to deliver on the Sennheiser PC 373D. We wish Razer had swapped the RGB lighting out for a 3.5mm jack or a more slim line design. Still, for the price - and if you don’t mind the chunkier design and lack of a hardwire option- the ManO’War could be the one to lead you to victory.
Making sure you’ve got the right aural setup for your gaming rig is absolutely vital to getting the ultimate experience, and a quality gaming headset has a massive part to play in the overall immersion of PC gaming. We’ve tested the latest and greatest from the top manufacturers in the land, from Turtle Beach headsets, Razer, HyperX, SteelSeries, Sennheiser, and more, all to help you figure out what the right set of cans is for you and the games you play.
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.
If you're an audiophile that also loves to game, the SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC gives you the best of both worlds. This PS4 and PC headset features a premium metal version of the already-superb Arctis design, and includes digital-to-analog converter that supports 96-kHz/24-bit audio and a plethora of customization options. If you want to enjoy the same Arctis Pro design without being tethered to your desk, the $329 Arctis Pro Wireless is also an excellent option.
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A year old now, and surpassed by the far superior Arctis Pro - but still well worth picking up. With amazing audio out the box and complete EQ customization available through the SteelSeries Engine 3 software, you can tell from the first utterance of noise that you’re on to a good thing. The surround sound packs an immersive, directional punch, and while music sounds impressive, setting up some EQ profiles really unlocks the unit’s potential. Stick to stereo though, as the DTS surround made directional noise harder to pinpoint. No competition for the Astro A50’s Dolby 7.1 solution.
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.
Another term you’ll see accompanied by a smattering of numbers is sensitivity or SPL (sound pressure level). Essentially, this is a measurement of how loud a headset will produce sound at a particular power level. Now, it’s worth taking this stat with a pinch of salt as due to variance in power sources (amps, interfaces etc.) the measurement of sensitivity is not always a true representation of how loud the headset will sound for you. Also as sensitivity is measured in decibels per milliwatt and power from your PC (and every other electrical device on the planet) is delivered in volts, the methods used by companies to arrive at their value of sensitivity can be inconsistent, which doesn’t really help anyone in deciding whether or not a particular headset is right for them.
If you’re looking for the best value for your money when getting a gaming headset, then you can’t do much better than the Steelseries Arctis 7. They are comfortable and well-built gaming headphones with a lot of connection options, making them suitable for most devices in your home. Their USB transmitter has a regular AUX input that will work with your TV, audio system and consoles.
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.
If you’re looking for a competitive, lightweight and stylish alternative to larger headsets, the SoundBlasterX P5 is certainly the way to go. One of the best headsets we’ve ever tested.The maximum volume is enough to give you a headache, but when dealing with quieter audio sources, you’ll be thankful they’ve got the power you need. When maxed out, the sound is distortion free and still sounds nicely balanced, while the bass offers up a lot of detail without drowning out the rest of the mix.
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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.