“I don’t write reviews but this headset is freaking awesome. Clear sounds, amazing quality of audio, and the microphone doesn’t suck. This is very comfortable to wear, the padding is really soft and it holds your head really well. Setup was easy — just stick the USB dongle into a USB port, turn it on, and boom! You’ve got 30 hours of battery, so you don’t have to charge so often.”
Steelseries’ premium headset is considerably more expensive than the Arctis 7, yet offers unrivalled audio quality and customisation in return. The Siberia 840 boasts a quietly understated design, rather than flashing lights and flair. Wireless support works perfectly with no pesky lag and the hot swappable battery system keeps you powered up at all times. Plus full Dolby 7.1 surround sound support means you get a truly immersive experience.
The first major consideration is what gaming platform(s) you’ll be using with the headset, as the supported connection will differ from console to console. Modern headsets will connect via one (or more) of the following ways: Single 3.5mm, dual 3.5mm (one for headphone audio and one for mic), wired USB, wireless USB, or Bluetooth. Here’s a quick breakdown of which connection type is supported by each of the modern gaming platforms:
The Razer Kraken 7.1 V2 is, as you might have gathered from the name, the second version of this headset. It's also another surround sound headset from Razer that offers an excellent audio experience in a beautifully packaged shell. This headset is available in black, gunmetal grey and mercury white. We felt that the white version was certainly the most appealing, unless you're the sort of gamer that likes to stuff cheesy crisps while you play.
Here’s another high quality gaming headset that’s also considered to be pretty affordable. You get some on cable controls (volume or mute) for convenience, some 7.1 surround sound (Dolby), rotating ear cups, and decent quality ear pads (not necessarily memory foam but they’re soft and won’t hurt after a long time of use). Lastly, the mic has some noice-cancellation tech built-in so you’ll be clear as day to who you’re speaking to (or yelling at). The frequency response isn’t quite as wide as the previous pair listed but they still get the job done. Since they’re a bit cheaper we can sacrifice quantitatively because bigger drivers doesn’t always mean better sound quality. It has over a thousand reviews for a reason.
As well as sounding great, the Audio Technica ATH-ADG1x also has an interesting design. Instead of the usual headband that sits on top of your head, this headset uses two pads that sit on either side of your head and thus don't squash your head or all your hair in a band shape. We found this had unusual results during testing that basically make us look like we were sporting a Mohican but also turned out to be incredibly comfortable.
While it isn’t perfect, the new HyperX Cloud Flight is our new top pick for cable-haters for a number of reasons. It delivers good audio performance, fantastic range, exceptional comfort, fantastic battery life, and simple setup. We would prefer to see more intuitive controls, as well as audible notifications for things like battery life, and the lack of a replaceable battery is a bit of a bummer. But the pros outweigh the cons with this one, especially for the price.
Perhaps the most significant feature that sets the Game One apart from most of its competition is that it sports an open-back design. The earcups of the headset are vented, leaving the back side of its drivers open to the air instead of encasing them in a solid shell of plastic or metal. You’ll often see this design in high-end headphones such as the Sennheiser HD 5XX series, from which the Game One derives its drivers and “Eargonomic Acoustic Refinement” sound-channeling technology. But you rarely see the design in headsets in general, primarily because it comes with one disadvantage: Open-back headphones and headsets don’t offer a lot in the way of noise isolation, either incoming or outgoing. Anyone sitting in the room with you can hear what you’re hearing to some extent, and you can hear, to a lesser degree, the sounds of people and things in the room with you.
Sound quality is an essential consideration for any gaming headset purchase. While headsets often deliver stereo sound with a single speaker for each ear, many models feature additional speakers per ear cup to deliver a true, very impressive surround sound experience. Though it may seem like a no-brainer, comfort is also very important, since you may be wearing your headset for hours at a time. Look for headsets that have padded or foam headbands and ear cups. Many headsets with microphones include noise cancellation which helps the person you're competing with hear you by differentiating between your voice and background noise. And volume control may be important to your game experience, which is why many headsets include a separate control switch that adjusts in-game chat independently of game audio.
As we’ve already mentioned, the speakers inside your headset are called drivers. The most common distinction between a driver (and one you’ll find plastered over the box of your latest purchase) is its size in millimeters. The most common in gaming headsets being 40mm. Some use 50mm, some 30mm and true surround sound headsets even use 20mm as rear left/right additions. It is important to note that a larger driver does not mean a louder or higher quality sound. There are many more factors at play including the mass of the driver, the material the driver is made from, how the driver has been tuned and the size of the enclosure (ear cup) that the driver is placed in.
If you don't baulk at the price (as it's over £200), then the SteelSeries Siberia 800 should certainly be a consideration. In terms of wireless gaming headsets, this one is the cream of the crop. It's packed full of features, including cross-platform support for Xbox360/One, PS3/PS4 and mobile devices, as well as analogue, optical and USB inputs for PC that allow you to take advantage of the Dolby Digital and virtual surround sound processing power inside the box.
Initial setup requires installation of the SteelSeries Engine software which allows you to switch between profiles (with different equaliser settings) depending on what program/game you've launched – therefore you can set it to music for Spotify or to gaming when you launch your favourite games without the need to manually change in the settings each time.
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.
When it comes to sound quality, this headset is fully capable and delivers a superb audio experience with deep bass notes, a good range and an impressive positional audio experience thanks to the DTS Headphone: X 7.1 surround sound technology. Although perhaps not as impressive as some of the other headsets on this list, the sound here is certainly high-quality and accurate.
To get a feel for the headset, I fire up my Final Fantasy XV soundtrack in iTunes, paying special attention to how it handles the battle theme of Hunt or Be Hunted. This particular track has a lot going on with a number of different instruments in play, from its busy bass section to its fast and frantic piano and strings melodies. If a headset can handle this without one section overwhelming another, we’re onto a winner. If I need extra reassurance, I throw in a bit of Omnis Lacrima for good measure.
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.
Because of their detail they can be a little harsh on the high end, but that also makes them incredible with in-game audio. The open-backed nature of the Utopias means that any open-world game’s soundscape becomes hugely expansive. So often I’d have to take them off, so sure was I that someone was talking to me from the real world when it was just another NPC just out of sight.
“Wow, do I love these headphones! I got tired of subtitling every game I played just because the family was asleep. I decided to shell out for these, and now I prefer them over my speakers! Great sound clarity and good bass. The surround sound is spot on. Also, they do a good job blocking out external sound. They are very comfortable around the ears. I was concerned about the padding wearing down over time, but as far as I can tell after nine months, there is no difference in ‘puffiness.’ Lastly, good battery life. I just played for over six hours last night and they were still charged. Highly recommended.”
Specifications: Headphones 50mm diameter speakers Speaker Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20kHz, >120dB SPL @ 1kHz Condenser Microphone Frequency Response: 50Hz - 15kHz Cable length: 12 ft. (3.7m) In-Line Amplifier Headphone Amplifier: Stereo DC-coupled, 35mW/ch, THD <1%, Frequency Response: DC - 30kHz Bass Boost fixed: +6dB @ 50Hz Mic mute switch Maximum analog input level with volume control on maximum setting: 2Vpp (700mV rms) 3.5mm plug for line input
Well, it’s not the price, that’s for sure. Its MSRP is $100 / £90, but you can find easily find it for considerably less on a regular basis. Roccat has aimed this straight at the HyperX Cloud Alpha’s price point, and it hits the nail right on the head for price and performance in that bracket, and easily breezes past the competition if you find it for a good deal less.