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!
Coming up with a list of best gaming headset recommendations is always fraught with difficulty. What might be super comfy for one person might be absolute agony for another, and trying to find one that suits your own musical tastes, be it ultra bass-y or a more moderate, tempered kind of approach, is another challenge altogether. As such, lists like this are always going to be highly personal based on the person testing them – which, in this case, is yours truly who prefers a more balanced kind of sound and has always struggled to find something that doesn’t give me a headache after 30 minutes of use.
The build quality is exceptional at this price, with a design not dissimilar to our favourite HyperX headset. It’s comfy, lightweight and it doesn’t clamp down on your head like an alligator snapping turtle, unlike some headsets we’ve tested. The built-in controls on the left earcup are a welcome touch – preferable to in-line controls – and keeps the cable nice and light. The mic is removeable, sounds decent enough for party chat, and features great manoeuvrability.
The most important feature, however, is the brilliant sound performance. The basic, out-of-the-box stereo mix, which is the baseline regardless of connection type or console, is excellent, with a snug balance and punchy bass that enhances gameplay and music. The surround sound and EQ features — specifically the bass boost — only serve to further enhance the experience. The cherry on top is that the headset is extremely comfortable, with a sturdy design, plush padding, and an auto-fitting headband. Sounds like a winner to us.
If style and looks matter to you and you're bored of the same old boring black headsets then the Razer Kraken 7.1 V2 in Mercury White is worth a look. This headset is strikingly beautiful, especially when combined with the other Mercury White products Razer has to offer. This unusual design might be an appeal in itself, but we wanted to see if it also stood up against the competition.
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.
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.
In terms of battery life, the Corsair VOID PRO RGB Wireless managed somewhere around 15-17 hours before it needed charging. Not quite as good as the Steel Series Arctis 7, but still pretty impressive. The bonus with the Corsair headset though is the fact that it comes with a fairly long (1.5 metre) USB to micro USB charging cable, which means that when it does run low on charge you can simply plug it in and keep on gaming.
Simply put: the Arctis Pro Wireless sounds spectacular. It features a naturally flat and well-balanced sound, accurate reproduction, and offers a vivid soundscape that makes for an incredible listening experience – good enough to make even a die-hard audiophile crack a smile. The microphone isn’t your run-of-the-mill unit either, and eliminates background noise exceptionally well.
“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.”
Desktop devices using Bluetooth technology are available. With a base station that connects via cables to the fixed-line telephone and also the computer via soundcard, users with any Bluetooth headset can pair their headset to the base station, enabling them to use the same headset for both fixed-line telephone and computer VoIP communication. This type of device, when used together with a multiple-point Bluetooth headset, enables a single Bluetooth headset to communicate with a computer and both mobile and landline telephones.
The $99 HyperX Cloud II headset is the best midrange headset because it's the whole package. Not only does it do the job quite well by delivering punchy, ear-tingling audio, but it has awesome features other headsets lack and goes above and beyond what you expect from a headset for the price. For example, though it's a USB headset you can simply disconnect its cable from the included 7.1 surround sound dongle and connect it to any device with a 3.5mm jack, including an Xbox, PlayStation, Switch, or phone.
In our latest round of testing, we really found ourselves torn over the RIG 800LX. The lift-to-mute mic is nice, and we found the performance of the mic to be superior to the HyperX Cloud Flight. Audible voice cues about battery life were also much appreciated, as was the headset’s modular design, which allows you to tweak the fit. Unfortunately, the 800LX is tuned to deliver more bass than its drivers can really handle at any appreciable volume, which led to a lot of distortion when we played action games.
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.
What a relief! A gamer-focused, sub-$50 dollar headset, without colors bright enough to blind us. Not only does the HS50 appease the gods of visual subtlety, its audio quality is pretty heavenly, too. While it doesn’t quite transcend to HyperX Cloud Alpha levels, games sound full, bright, and balanced. Music and movies sound natural, avoiding the typical low end boost of gaming headsets, but clearly lack definition across the upper mids and highs. Fear not, as any discomfort caused from the harsh highs will soon be alleviated - thanks to the super plush, faux-leather cups that are so plush that glasses-wearers won’t even realise they’ve got their specs on. Just remember to double check you’re still wearing them before leaving the house.
Check out any list of ‘best gaming headsets’ and you’ll find either this or the original HyperX Cloud’s in there. Kingston is a brand we’re all aware of when it comes to PC stuff and this model is also rated very positively among users. They are relatively affordable if you’re comparing them to our first model listed above, and with these you’re getting 53mm drivers, echo cancelling technology, a wide frequency response, some memory foam pads and high-quality. One of the best all-around value-based gaming headsets in our opinion. It’s also offered in a few different color schemas if you want some aesthetic choices. We’d grab this if you still want a high-quality headset but want to save a few dollars.
While the HyperX Cloud is a great headset for most gamers, no headset is perfect for everyone. If you’re more discerning when it comes to sound quality in games, movies, and music, or if your gaming sessions run a little longer than the norm, consider the Sennheiser Game One. This headset was by far the favorite of all our testers (even our online helpers) due to its stellar audio performance, exceptional long-term comfort, and fantastic noise-cancelling microphone, but you’ll pay at least 50 percent more for that performance. Also, you might need to upgrade your sound card or headphone amp.
Next, I record myself talking for a bit in Audacity to see how its microphone performs, and I also try to wear the headset for as long as possible to see how comfortable it is over long periods of time. Admittedly, a lot of headsets tend to struggle in this area for me, as I’ve either got a head that’s secretly shaped like a Minecraft block underneath all my hair, or every headset manufacturer on the planet has a mysterious grudge against me and they’ve collectively designed each of their headsets to only last for about 30 minutes before they start to press down and pinch the top of my head. Obviously, the longer I can wear one without this happening, the better.
The one downside is the microphone, which feels fiddly - it’s hard to get a good position in front of your mouth. But that’s the lone disadvantage, and it’s offset against the incredible sound, the superlative comfort, and the quirky and creative design. You also get 7.1 sound, if you need it; we think the Creative Sound BlasterX H7 Tournament Edition does that particular aspect a little bit better, but it’s very minor. As a whole, the soundstage is still excellent, and it’s very easy to pick out the positioning of particular elements in-game. And with the EQ settings packed in, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more likeable pair of cans. For gaming audio, this headset is the best available right now.
The H7 Tournament Edition is Creative’s flagship gaming headset, and although the high contrast colorway might steer some off course, what’s going on below deck will leave competitors with a sinking feeling. With its upgraded 50mm FullSpectrum drivers, the H7 sounds amazing: delivering a rich and full tone across games, movies and music, it truly is one of the better sounding sets in our list. It might not handle mids and highs quite as well as the Sennheiser PC 373D, but cutting half the price makes that an easy compromise to live with. The microphone is also decent, and, while it doesn’t hit the heights of a dedicated USB condenser, it’s up there with the slightly more expensive Arctis 7.
That said, you’re going to get a lot more distance and freedom from a wireless headset, which makes them best for large living room setups where you’re going to be sitting on one side of the room and your console or PC is at the other. Keep an eye out for battery life ratin, as well. Most headsets can survive for at least a few straight hours of play, but there’s nothing worse than having to stop in the middle of an intense match to plug in your headset’s charging cable once the batteries are tapped.