This lightweight and comfy design keeps your ears snug for long gaming sessions, and the large volume wheel on the earcup keeps the cable controller-free and as light as possible. The only downside to the headset is the immobile microphone, which could have benefitted from a removeable design, and ideally the rubberised mid-section swapped for some more malleable material as it currently adds very little in the way of adjustability.
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.
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.
With many desk phone models and softphone programs available, compatibility is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to selecting compatible headsets. Headsets Direct has numerous compatibility guides and resources to take the guesswork out of the selection process. We always ask our customers about personal preferences and their environment to ensure the headset fits perfectly for all-day wearing comfort, has excellent incoming and outgoing sound levels and quality, and meets the needs for maximum performance within the customer’s specific work environment. We have our popular Headsets 101 Guide available online, which is regularly updated, and each year we publish our Headset Buyer's Guide, displaying the best headset options for specific applications.
The sound quality, however, does not disappoint. This a virtual surround sound headset with audio that's been upgraded since the previous model. The large drivers offer a good range of sound with deep bass levels and a brilliantly immersive sound quality that gamers will love. Within the Razer Synapse software, you can calibrate the position of the audio to your own personal preference ensuring the best surround sound experience.
The Sennheiser GSP 600 is one of the best-constructed and best-designed headsets we’ve seen to date. Audio performance is also simply stunning, with perfectly balanced and detailed sound that enhanced our gaming experiences no matter what sorts of games we played. It’s a pricey headset, no doubt, but we all felt it earned its price tag without hesitation. The only problem? Those of us with larger heads simply couldn’t bear to wear it for long. Although the GSP 600 comes with a tension adjuster atop its headband, even at its most relaxed setting it hugged larger heads too tightly, especially for those of us who wear glasses.
The Elite Pro headset is a comfortable, good-sounding set of cans using Turtle Beach’s gaming heritage to great effect, and is now available in a PC specific design too. As a speccy nerd it also gets my vote because of its innovative ProSpecs Glasses Relief System – a simple system which creates temporary dimples in the ear-cups to stop them pressing your spectacles into your head.
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.
If you want to use your headset with last-gen systems like the PS3 and the Xbox 360, you'll need to see if the headset supports their own unique connections, or if adapters are available. PCs are the most flexible with gaming headsets, since they can work with USB headsets (which are generally only compatible with PCs), 3.5mm analog connections (though you might need a splitter adapter if your headset ends in just one plug), and often optical audio.
There are two types of Bluetooth headsets. Headsets using Bluetooth v1.0 or v1.1 generally consist of a single monaural earpiece, which can only access Bluetooth's headset/handsfree profile. Depending on the phone's operating system, this type of headset will either play music at a very low quality (suitable for voice), or will be unable to play music at all. Headsets with the A2DP profile can play stereo music with acceptable quality. Some A2DP-equipped headsets automatically de-activate the microphone function while playing music; if these headsets are paired to a computer via Bluetooth connection, the headset may disable either the stereo or the microphone function.
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 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.”
“This headset is amazing and built to last. I have had this headset for almost two years and it’s still looks like it’s brand-new. The fabric does not rip at all and the foam does not get squished down over time. The audio from the headset sounds great with its 7.1 surround sound and is also very soundproof. The microphone is decent — not good enough if you are someone who does a lot of recording — but super clear for talking with friends. The cable is higher quality and is not easy to rip out the the headset, which is nice. The biggest thing about this headset is that it doesn’t hurt your head! You can wear this headset for hours and it still feels great. Highly recommend.”
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.
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.
At this point we’d like to give you the best piece of advice out there surrounding headsets. Get your hands on them and try them out. Order some online and if you’re not happy with them, swap them for another set. That said though, every headset in our round-up bangs. Guaranteed. So if you’re not sure, have another read through our list, make your pick and sleep easy tonight.
Once we had our potential top picks in each category, we went on to use them in extended gaming sessions, during which we sometimes wore the same headset for as long as 12 hours at a stretch. Our testing panel, which included people with various head and ear sizes, tried the headsets on a variety of games from massively multiplayer online role-playing games like Guild Wars 2 to 4X games (explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate) like the Civilization series as well as on puzzle, strategy, and action games.
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.
The Cloud Alpha costs less than a hundred quid and yet it’s possibly the best analogue headset that we’ve tested. HyperX has crafted something that’s both compact and comfortable (although red remains the only colour choice), with the option of replacing the mic, cups and cable if needed. Thankfully the overall construction is reassuringly durable, in case you’re in the habit of throwing your ‘phones across the room in fits of despair.
Because 2.4 GHz Wireless Headsets cannot directly "talk" to any standard cordless telephones, an extra base-unit is required for this product to function. Most 2.4 GHz Wireless Headsets come in two units, a wireless headset and a wireless base-station, which connects to your original telephone unit via the handset jack. The wireless headset communicates with the base-station via 2.4 GHz RF, and the voice signals are sent or received via the base unit to the telephone unit. Some products will also offer an automatic handset lifter, so the user can wirelessly lift the handset off the telephone by pressing the button on the wireless headset.
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.
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.