Looking for a more immersive gaming experience? For truly immersive gameplay, you need to lose yourself in the audio as well as the visual. Our gaming headsets allow you to experience crystal clear stereo surround-sound, putting you at the very centre of the action and bringing the latest games to life. Whether you’re into eSports, MMO or cutting-edge VR, you’ll find a headset designed for you.
The mic is equally good. We found voice capture with the mic to be clear, and we dig the minimalist design of the boom mic, which can be easily flipped up when not in use, or extended and bent for finding the optimal distance. As is often the case with Logitech gear, the headset has several neat idiosyncrasies, like a textured pad on the USB receiver for extra grip and internal “beeps” to inform you of volume changes, low battery levels, or mic enabling. It’s also, thankfully, devoid of any gaudy lights or “cool” decals, opting instead for a simpler and therefore more attractive aesthetic than most other headsets out there. While not necessarily groundbreaking, these are nice touches nonetheless.
Having a higher-end gaming headset is great because 1) you have high-quality sound that can give you an edge in your game (especially if foot steps or FX are critical, such as when we played Counter-Strike because hearing the enemy before they heard you was an obvious advantage). Not only can you hear footsteps\sound FX quicker than the others but also the direction they come from can also be easier to decipher if your headphones are built well.
They will also have wireless mic support when connected to your PC or PS4, but you will have to use them wired with your Xbox One controller if you want voice chat. On the upside, they have and have a great 24hr + battery life and can also be used completely wired, even if the battery runs out. The available companion app is only for PC, but it has some powerful customization options and you can save your favorite settings under multiple presets.
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.
That's where so-called "true" surround headsets come in. These headsets are designed with multiple drivers to deliver a more realistic experience than that offered by the virtual ones which often just work with two (left and right) drivers. There aren't many true surround sound headsets about, but the Asus Strix 7.1 is one of them and it's the best from what we've seen.
Logitech has announced the G533 Wireless Gaming Headset, a model designed solely for use with Windows PCs. It has a noise-cancelling, foldable microphone, as well as volume controls on the left earcup, and it uses Pro-G audio drivers. Logitech claims the headset has a 15-hour battery life and a wireless connectivity range of about 49 feet, but we have to test those things ourselves. The G533 is available now, and we hope to add it to our next update.
The Custom One Pro Plus was a crowd favorite thanks to the ability to tune its bass performance on the fly without resorting to software equalization. We liked, but didn’t love, this pair in tests for our best over-ear headphones guide. Out of the box, however, our pair’s mic cable had a short in it, causing the sound to cut out if the cable wasn’t positioned just right. Judging from owner reviews, this problem is disturbingly common.
In addition, the HyperX Cloud performed admirably when we fitted it with its mobile adapter cable and paired it with my iPhone. Bass-heavy tracks such as Björk’s “Hyperballad” and Beastie Boys’ “3-Minute Rule” have nuances in the lowest octaves that most game soundtracks simply don’t deliver, and this Kingston headset proved to be more than up to the task of delivering them faithfully.
Digital headsets: Featuring an integrated DAC (digital-to-analogue converter), digital headsets offer cleaner sound, higher volumes and software integration. USB-connected headsets will work on PC/Macs and PlayStation consoles, while optical-based headsets will work with Xbox and PlayStation consoles, plus PCs with optical ports either on the motherboard, internal sound card or USB sound card.
Only long-term testing over the next few months will reveal whether or not the Kraken Pro V2 is as durable as its lightweight aluminum frame makes it feel, but so far we have no real concerns there. One thing we all definitely loved, though, is the retractable nature of the headset’s mic. In terms of sound quality and volume, it’s pretty much identical to that of the HyperX Cloud—in other words, it’s good enough—and our online testers never reported hearing any sound bleed between the headset and mic.
We also tested and compared with the Asus ROG Centurion, which is the flagship model and theoretically the new and improved version but found some issues with the microphone on some models which caused serious communication issues. Asus offer settings recommendations and tweaks for improving that quality, but we found that even then it didn't compare with the Asus Strix 7.1.
There is one caveat to the audio, though, and that’s to do with what you’re plugging the ATH-AG1x headset into. The Audio-Technica cans only use a 3.5mm connection and they really come into their own when plugged into a dedicated discrete sound card (remember them?!) or an external DAC/ headphone amp like Creative’s Sound BlasterX G5. If you’re spending this much money on a quality headset you’ll really benefit from making sure the rest of your audio setup is capable of matching it.
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.
The sound quality is great for games and comes with ‘FPS’, ‘Moba’ and ‘Cinematic Gaming’ presets. Music also shines and Logitech’s Gaming Software allows all presets to be adjusted and custom ones to be created, something we wish HyperX would employ on their Cloud Alpha headset. Buttons on the ear cups allow quick swapping between profiles and the mic quality was adequate for standard use. The headset although slightly heavier than some, is very comfortable, especially around the ear cups. It feels solid too - something the more expensive ManO’War failed to be - for considerably less money. It has USB and 3.5mm connectivity allowing use across multiple devices, which some higher priced models can’t claim. Aside from the custom preset features, the G633 comes with RGB lighting (of course), and Dolby 7.1 or DTS X Surround. If you want a high-end headset without the High-end price tag and don’t mind wired connectivity, this is the one for you.
Our only gripe with this headset design is the sidetone appears to be constantly on and you cannot turn this off in Windows settings. This means you have to put up with the sound of your own voice coming back at you through the headset. We assume this is necessary due to the all-encompassing nature of the earcups otherwise you'll likely find yourself shouting, especially when playing louder games.
From the company that brought you the Cloud Revolver, the Cloud Silver, the Cloud...you get the point. The Cloud Flight is wireless, but most importantly, it’s comfortable. Weighing in at a mere 10.6oz, and cushioned by the super plush, closed-back ear cups, the lightweight, all plastic design of the Flight is an absolute dream to wear. And as for battery life: provided you forego the questionable design choice of flashing LED lights (on an ear cup only the stationary in your room will see) you can expect up to thirty hours of audible pleasure. Choose not to forego the aforementioned, and your Flight will have to make an emergency landing after just thirteen. Splosh.
Turtle Beach’s professional gamer grade headset is comfortable. Beating out the Astro A50s for most comfortable in the list. This is thanks to their ComforTec fit system which allows adjustment of headband tension as well as ear cup position. Aerofit ear cups, comprised of spandex fabric and gel-infused foam also contribute to the cause. Turtle beach have thought outside the box and created a ‘glasses relief system’ that allows you to create a small channel in the ear cups for your glasses’ frames to sit in. Genius. And it really works. So 10/10 for comfort. But what about the sound? Well that’s top notch too. Similarly to the Arctis 7s, the sound is full and rich, but punchy and crisp enough to pick out individual footsteps and gunfire in the heat of battle. Music sounded decent, although, unlike the Arctis 7s, without a flat EQ profile available, it was slightly muddied by the bass.
Stereo simply means two channels, a left and a right, and is created with a pair of drivers. One in each ear cup. Surround sound, which in gaming headsets is almost definitely 7.1, refers to 7 drivers and a subwoofer. Now packing all those drivers into a headset isn’t always possible, so a lot of companies use their pair of stereo drivers mixed with some digital wizardry and recreate the impression of that sound. This is referred to as virtual 7.1 and is the case for 99% of the headsets in our list excluding the ASUS Centurion. Most either use Dolby virtual 7.1 surround sound or DTS Headphone:X surround sound.
Positional audio is clearly important to gamers. A good headset will help gamers know where the enemy are, which direction the threat is coming from and present a more immersive experience. So it's surprising to find that the SteelSeries Siberia 800 isn't up to scratch in this area. It's still better than a stereo headset, but not as good as some of the other surround sound headsets on this list.
And yes, SteelSeries maintains a place on the list, with the new Arctis Pro Wireless bumping its predecessor, the Siberia 800. Though the Astro A50 sounds better, this headset’s been a favorite of mine for a while—mostly because of its battery system. Rather than charging the battery in the headset, the Arctis Pro Wireless instead allows you to swap between two removable packs. One can power the headset for up to 12 hours while the other charges in the side of the base station. There’s literally no way you can run out of battery in the middle of gaming.
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
The other option worth looking into is Windows Sonic for Headphones, a free feature included in the Windows 10 Creators Update released in 2017. While not quite as convincing as Razer Surround, Windows Sonic does add a nice sense of space to games, and also allows for more precise positioning, which we very much appreciated. Windows Sonic can also be upgraded to support Dolby Atmos for Headphones for around $15. We found the latter to sound slightly more processed and unnatural, but if you want to try it out, there’s a free trial available.
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.
The microphone is excellent and slides into the earcup when not in use. The icing on the cake is excellent software that lets you customize the sound and even assign profiles to games. All in all, the Arctis 7 has every feature we could ask for in a headset, and it comes wrapped in an understated package that's both sophisticated and all-day comfortable. When it comes to wireless gaming headsets, at this price it really doesn't get any better than this.