Analogue headsets: These use one or more 3.5mm headphone jacks to transmit audio to and from the headset, and are often universally compatible with PCs, consoles and mobile devices. The sound quality will rely on your individual device however, and they won’t support surround sound out of the box. Keep in mind that on PCs with separate mic and headphone jacks, you’ll need a splitter. Some headsets will come with one, but not all. Check before you buy and pop one in your basket if you need one.
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!
Although they're made from plastic, the A50’s don’t feel cheap, thanks to innovative design and great build quality. The new dock/wireless transmitter doubles as a wireless charger (very nice) and Astro have added an accelerometer in the headset which tells the battery when you are/aren’t using it. This enables the headset to sleep when not in use, which, when combined with the 15 hour battery life, alleviates the main gripe with wireless headsets: the battery life. The ear cups are open-backed and made from a soft fabric, which really adds to the comfort. Their modular magnetic design means you can swap them (and the headband) out for others available via the MOD kit. Astro’s shortcomings, and we mean short, start with the slightly over compressed mic. We definitely preferred the mic on the Arctis 7 and even the Cloud Alpha. Our other gripe was that although the Command Centre software is useful, it was far too complicated for the casual user. It’s a high price, but those who can invest will not be disappointed. This is next-gen stuff.
The only thing bigger than the size of this beastly headset is its sound. Out of the box, the ManO’War 7.1 has a spacious mix, giving the upper register room to breathe on top of bombastic, rich bass. When connected to PC via USB, the 7.1 further enhances the size and space the headset’s drivers create. The result is a fantastic auditory experience.
Flawless wireless functionality is just the tip of the iceberg for the SteelSeries Arctis 7. This attractive headset boasts excellent sound, deep customization features and an innovative headband that assures a perfect fit every time. You can also hook up the Arctis 7 to mobile devices via a 3.5 mm audio cable. No matter your platform or your genre preferences, the Arctis 7 is one of the best choices for it.
A headset is an audio hardware device that connects to a communication device, like a phone or computer, that allows the user to speak and listen hands-free. Headsets are different from headphones in that headsets allow the user to communicate rather than just listen. As such, headsets are typically used in any field where the user needs to multi-task with his or her hands while communicating with another person via the headset. These situations include customer service, technical support, gaming and more.
At just $50, the HyperX Cloud Stinger provides surprisingly punchy audio and relatively plush comfort at a very reasonable price. Out of all the budget headsets we tested, this one had the best audio quality and felt the most comfortable for long gaming sessions. Since it uses a 3.5mm jack it's also a versatile cross-platform headset, but keep in mind its boom mic is not detachable, so you might elicit some stares walking down the street rocking out to your tunes.
A: Unfortunately, no. The Xbox One is the trickiest console to buy a gaming headset for. Previously, Microsoft required you to purchase a separate stereo adapter to use a 3.5-millimeter headset. Fortunately, the newest Xbox One controllers have a built-in 3.5-millimeter jack, just like the one you’d find on a PlayStation 4 controller or PC, so the adapter is no longer necessary. As for wireless headsets, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One headsets run at different frequencies, so make sure you're buying the correct one for your console. We recommend the ASTRO Gaming A50 wireless gaming headset for Xbox One users. You can read more about Xbox One headset compatibility here.
The new SteelSeries Arctis 3 and Arctis 5, which were designed to mimic the aesthetic of less flashy headphones, impressed us with their light weight, though not necessarily their build quality and high price. The Arctis 7, meanwhile, is priced very attractively for a wireless headset and gives the LucidSound LS30 and HyperX Cloud Flight some stiff competition, but in our tests we found its microphone frustrating, and long-term comfort was an issue.
Those strange design notes aside, the Audio-Technica ATH-AG1x is one of the most impressive-sounding gaming headsets I’ve used. There is an open back version – the ATH-ADG1x – which I was expecting to sound even better, but I have to say this closed back version is my still personal recommendation. They’re easy to find Stateside, but can be a little tricky to track down online in the UK, so it’s worth checking out the actual Audio-Technica site first.
Despite the less involved sound editing options (you’re stuck with basic software rather than the 800s’ desktop transmitter) and the aforementioned design issues, the Arctis 7s still manage to be a dependable and complete gaming headset. The mic is brilliant at cutting out sound, the effective range is outstanding, and considering their much lower price than the 800s they make a wise mid-budget pick.
A nice extra you get with it is the stereo headset adapter. While it's a carryover because of early Xbox One controllers not having a 3.5mm audio jack, it's still a useful piece. When plugged into the controller, it offers easy volume controls and prioritization without having to go through the system itself. And it doesn't hurt that the headset is fairly comfortable, too.
Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) is one of the most common standards for cordless telephones. It uses 1.88 to 1.90 GHz RF (European Version) or 1.92 to 1.93 GHz RF (US Version). Different countries have regulations for the bandwidth used in DECT, but most have pre-set this band for wireless audio transmission. The most common profile of DECT is Generic access profile (GAP), which is used to ensure common communication between base station and its cordless handset. This common platform allows communication between the two devices even if they are from different manufacturers. For example, a Panasonic DECT base-station theoretically can connect to a Siemens DECT Handset. Based on this profile, developers such as Plantronics, Jabra or Accutone have launched wireless headsets which can directly pair with any GAP-enabled DECT telephones. So users with a DECT Wireless Headset can pair it with their home DECT phones and enjoy wireless communication.
No roundup of gaming headsets would be complete without a look at Astro’s offerings, so we brought in the A40 with MixAmp Pro, the A30 with MixAmp Pro, and the A50 Wireless for the first iteration of this guide. None of us were overly fond of the on-ear design of the A30, but I was smitten with the hard-hitting sound of the A40 and A50, especially with games like Dying Light. But noisy mics and the MixAmp Pro’s constant background hiss bothered all of us. After we wrapped up our original round of testing, Astro introduced a new digital MixAmp and a new version of the A50; we plan on giving them a listen for a future update to this guide.
While we have dedicated lists for the best PlayStation 4 headsets and Xbox One headsets, we don’t have one for Nintendo Switch. There’s a reason for that: Using a headset with the Nintendo Switch can be a bit of a mess. Sure, you can plug in any pair of headphones (rather than a headset), or even sync up a Bluetooth pair, but the Switch’s lack of an on-console voice chat function renders the headset question moot — if you can’t use the mic, then why bother? In order to use voice chat at all, you must download an app for your smartphone. Then you’ll need to connect to both the Switch and your smartphone via a splitter. This can result in a tangled mess.