We primarily relied on two PCs for testing: a custom-configured Maingear PC, which is built on an MSI Z97-G45 gaming motherboard with an integrated headphone amplifier, and a highly upgraded Frankenstein machine, which started its life as a Dell Inspiron 560 and whose onboard sound performance can best be summed up as pretty average. We also added Creative’s Sound Blaster E5 high-resolution USB DAC and portable headphone amplifier to the mix just to ensure that any power-hungry headsets had sufficient amplification. For USB headsets, we relied exclusively on direct back-panel USB connections rather than routing through hubs.
“This is simply the greatest headset I’ve owned so far, and many reviewers say they are the best-sounding headphones orientated toward gaming. They surprisingly have a decent mic as well and have good noise cancellation in the mic. I also have owned Turtle Beach, Corsair, and SteelSeries headsets, but none of them even get close to the quality of this one. The sound is very crisp, and since these are open-ear, soundstage and distancing are nearly perfect.”
"Works great for communicating over xbox live. Comes with the stereo headset adapter for controlling audio between game audio and party audio, as well as volume and muting controls. The separate adapter allows older xbox one controllers without the 3.5 audio jack to use headsets. The headset itself will work without the adapter if the controller is newer. Audio quality is good, and haven't had any complaints about my voice quality through the microphone."
Standard headsets with a headband worn over the head are known as over-the-head headsets. Headsets with headbands going over the back of the user's neck are known as backwear-headsets or behind-the-neck headsets. Headsets worn over the ear with a soft ear-hook are known as over-the-ear headsets or earloop headsets. Convertible headsets are designed so that users can change the wearing method by re-assembling various parts.
SURROUND SOUND READY FOR XBOX ONE - Xbox One’s Windows Sonic for Headphones delivers immersive virtual surround sound to bring your games, movies and music to life. *Windows Sonic for Headphones provided by Microsoft for Xbox One (and compatible Windows 10 PCs). Also compatible with Dolby Atmos® for Headphones (Additional purchase may be required.)
The one performance criticism we all had was that its flexible boom microphone was only good, not great. It delivered voices clearly (with no distortion and very little noise), but all of our online testers who have met me in meatspace reported that my voice sounded a little high-pitched and nasally through the Cloud’s mic. My regular Magic Duels opponent, who graciously tolerated constant pauses to our matches so that I could swap out headsets, summed it up: “You’re coming through loud and clear; it’s just that your voice is missing that booming radio-announcer quality that makes you sound like you.”
The SteelSeries Arctis 7 is the best all-round headset. It offers a super-comfortable fit and all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a top-end product, including wireless support and virtual surround sound. The Razer Kraken Pro V2 is great, easy to use and – most importantly – affordable. It doesn’t offer more advanced features such as wireless support or virtual surround sound, but for the money you’ll struggle to do better.
We tried our best to find a headset with surround performance that impressed us, but for the most part, we weren’t able to. We tested one headset with multiple drivers in each earcup, plus a number of USB headsets with built-in Dolby, DTS, or Creative surround technologies (which create a surround-like experience using only two drivers, through a combination of delay and other audio processing).
Here’s a higher price point model that competes with the best in terms of overall quality. Memory foam earcups, deep and rich sound to where they be fine for watching movies or even listening to music leisurely, and the overall fit is superb due to the suspended headband. There are also some rotating dials on each earcup to adjust the volume and mute the mic (one on each). You also have adapters for PC, Mac, PS4 and mobile along with the package, so if you’re a multiple system gaming like us, you’re good to go no matter what. Tech Radar loved them in their Siberia Elite Prism review.
“The first thing to know is that I am rough on headphones. I am a college student and play Xbox for a few hours every night. These headphones have been with me for months, and I would be more than happy to buy another set if they broke today. They travel well, and have made multiple trips back and forth between home and school, packed in a backpack without space for the original box. I can clearly hear game sounds I have never heard before, and I have been told my voice sounds very clear in party chat.”
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.
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.
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.
Comfort is as important as audio quality when it comes to long and enjoyable gaming sessions. An uncomfortable headset can ruin a good gaming run when your ears ache and your head hurts from the pressure. If this is something you've struggled with when trying other headsets then the Turtle Beach Elite Pro Professional might be the answer to your prayers. This headset strikes a brilliant balance between comfort and superb sound that will leave you gaming happily for hours.
Gaming headphones feature an over-ear design on almost all occasions in order to better accommodate their massive audio drivers. Higher-end offerings will help you take your gaming experience up a notch by offering support for DTS and Dolby Surround Sound standards, but we've also highlighted headsets that still sound superb without breaking the bank. We've sorted the best from the rest to find the best-sounding and most comfortable headsets available, and included picks for the PC and every major gaming console.
YouTubers, Twitch streamers, podcasters, and anyone else who requires the best possible audio quality may want to skip a headset altogether. Instead, we recommend pairing top-tier headphones with a free-standing mic (and, if you’re really after the best quality, a USB mixer). A setup like this is going to be exclusive to those using a PC — or at the very least those who do their editing and voice capture there — and is going to be a lot more expensive.
But I’m still replacing it. Why? Well, aesthetics are a huge reason. If you want an indication how Logitech’s design language has shifted in the past year or so, look no further than the G933 and G533. The G933 was all sharp angles and science fiction. The G533 on the other hand is sleek, professional, restrained. With a piano-black finish and soft curves, it looks like a headset made by Audio-Technica or Sennheiser or a more mainstream audio company—not necessarily a “gaming” headset. I like it.
Larger drivers have been known to produce lower bass frequencies, however, the quality of the driver and its enclosure is more important than its size. Now this information is not always available, but companies such as SteelSeries often use the same drivers across multiple headsets, so a quick google will often tell you how good a certain driver is. A good example would be the SteelSeries Arctis 7, which uses S1 speaker drivers which are also found in their $300 headsets. Not bad for a $150 purchase.
By most measures, Razer’s ManO’War 7.1 — the wired, surround sound-equipped version of its wireless model of the same name — is a fantastic headset. Its virtual 7.1 surround sound is among the best on the market, the sound it pumps out of its large earcups is balanced, and its microphone is sleek and discreet, and yet outperforms most of the competition. The only real limiting factor is its size, which renders it a difficult choice for mobile use. But what it lacks in portability, it more than makes up for in performance.