Open-back headsets come with the opposite pros and cons. You'll be able to hear any noises going on around you and if you have the volume cranked too loud, anyone in the house will hear whatever it is your cranking. Open-back headsets are generally more comfortable as they get less hot due to the ventilation and sound tends to comes across more naturally. Personally we prefer open-back due to comfort and sound quality, however it’s completely subjective, with pros and cons varying significantly across different models. You should also be aware that some headsets that look open-back often aren't; just because it has a grille doesn't mean it's open. Perfect example: the AUDEZE Mobius, AUDEZE are known for their open-back headphones, but this isn't one of them, even thought it looks it. We'll be testing a pair soon - at the time of writing, they're super new, and a review model is currently on its way to us!
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 Corsair VOID PRO RGB Wireless is a wireless headset that boasts a wide and comfortable fit. It has a large and easily extendable headband that fits nicely on the head, though we did find it sat a bit too loosely sometimes and would move about if you shook your head too vigorously. You can, of course, tighten and loosen to your liking but it isn't quite as tight fitting and all-encompassing as other headsets we've tried.
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
Most high-end gaming headsets claim to offer some form of surround sound, but this isn't accurate. The vast majority of surround sound headsets still use stereo drivers (often a single 40mm driver for each ear) to produce sound. The surround aspect comes from Dolby and DTS processing technologies that tweak how the headsets mix sound between your ears to give an impression of 360-degree audio. It's an artificial effect that wouldn't provide a true surround sound image even if the headset had individual drivers for each channel; there simply isn't enough space for the sound to resonate to produce the impression of accurate directional audio. However, it can make things more immersive and improve your ability to track the direction sounds from left to right.
Within the settings is an option for activating "Superhuman Hearing" - a sound setting that's meant to give you an extra gaming edge by allowing you to more easily make out enemy footsteps or other distinguishable sounds that might save your life in the middle of a gaming battle. You can turn this on and off with the F10 key by default or assign your own preferred hotkey. In practice, we didn't feel that this setting made a huge amount of difference over and above the positional tracking already offered by the 7.1 surround sound, but it's nice to see additional options like this which offer extra features that are simple yet effective.
The included USB transmitter dongle provides great wireless range, audio and chat support for your PS4 and PC. You can also use their audio cable and plug them into your console’s controller and have audio and mic support for the Xbox One that way. They’re also an excellent choice for watching movies or listening to music wirelessly when at home, since the transmitter has an input for a regular AUX cable that will work with your TV, receiver and most audio devices. It also has very little latency (20ms).
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.
Secondly, it means the quality of the sound is on a new level. We found the audio range of this headset to be mighty impressive. It opens up your ears to new sounds you might not have heard in game before, but also delivers a wider range in music too. The bass notes are excellent, the highs and lows are a joy and there's no denying the high-fidelity audio is certainly impressive.
It sounds great, too, and is completely wireless, allowing you to keep your gaming desk nice and clean without another tangle of cables in the mix. What’s more, its wireless transmitter isn’t just a little USB stick – it’s got its own cable, so you can position it wherever you like for the best signal. You also get a regular 3.5mm audio cable so you can use it as a wired headset as well if you prefer.
The true surround sound experience you get with the Asus Strix 7.1 headset is undeniably superb. Being able to switch profiles according to the game you're playing and adjust volumes on-the-fly is really useful when you're gaming. Positional audio is superior to that offered by lesser headsets and by those virtual surround sound headsets out there.
Our previous runner-up pick, Kingston’s HyperX Cloud Revolver, is still a favorite amongst most of our testers due to its great mic and lively sound. Although not as neutral as the HyperX Cloud, it’s great for action games, and the auto-adjusting headset was popular with all but one of our testers. Only the fact that the Kraken Pro V2 delivers much the same audio performance and similar comfort at a much cheaper price bumped this one off our list of top recommendations.
Will Greenwald has been covering consumer technology for a decade, and has served on the editorial staffs of CNET.com, Sound & Vision, and Maximum PC. His work and analysis has been seen in GamePro, Tested.com, Geek.com, and several other publications. He currently covers consumer electronics in the PC Labs as the in-house home entertainment expert... See Full Bio
+Build Quality is very sturdy: This is the first thing i noticed when i got the headset out of the box, and it was extremely surprising. I did not expect a headset of this price range to have a build this sturdy. There are plenty of headsets more expensive than this one that feel super flimsy so to have a build like this at this price is really something i did not expect.
You can read our best headphones for gaming as well as best USB microphone articles if you want to go the route of two high-end models in one. However, the biggest benefit of a high-quality gaming headset is convenience. We have our headphones and microphone all-in-one, ready to take action as we slip them onto our head. They’re also great for traveling if you plan on playing at a friend\team’s house. At the same time, there’s always the route of having separate entities as well.
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.
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.
This no frills headset from Razer has been built to provide gamers with a headset that sounds good, feels comfortable and costs less. To be fair to them, they came pretty close. The aluminium frame is both lightweight and flexible. The retractable mic feels robust. The headband doesn’t clamp too hard on your head and the sound-isolating ear cushions feel plush.