When buying a gaming headset, the most important decision is probably what interface you are going with. Digital headsets on USB have taken over the market, but analog options (commonly on 3.5mm jacks) still stand their ground. Should you lean towards the latter, consider these recommendations on some of the best analog headsets for gaming.
If you’re still pondering on the interface, let’s dive into why analog headsets haven’t fully been surpassed by USB. This mostly comes down to the exceptional compatibility the 3.5mm audio jack retains to this day. While a clunky digital connector is easy to use on desktops, the analog alternative works on basically anything you can plug it into.
With the traditional audio connector, a pair of headphones easily connect to controllers, tablets, and many other smart devices. Additionally, analog output is preferred for more professional audio equipment, like sound cards or DACs. Especially over there, analog reigns supreme.
As they are fully analog, these headsets lack nifty features like integrated virtual surround upscaling. In turn they might offer well-balanced and often neutral sounds, which some gamers still prefer. When needed, the sound quality can always be enhanced on the system’s side, or by plugging in more professionally minded sound cards. If you’re into tweaking your audio yourself, analog headsets are your go-to.
What makes a great analog gaming headset? Our top picks aren’t definitive in any means, but these stand out with their exceptional performance. That means reliable audio quality, a good amount of comfort, as well as reasonable pricing. Whether you’re aiming for a budget pick or a studio-grade piece of equipment, there surely will be something that catches your eye.
Without further ado, let’s get to listing some great analog headphones for gaming…
The Razer Kraken has come a long way. Some might remember the original Kraken as a gaming staple of the early 2010’s. The brightly colored monstrosity leaned into overdriven bass sounds, just as much as dubstep did back around that time. And just like that whole music genre, it was a hate-it-or-love-it ordeal. These days, ever since the Razer Kraken Pro V2, the Kraken excels with more neutral clarity.
Razer tweaked and rebranded the Pro V2 to what is now simply known as “the Razer Kraken”. This sturdy piece of tech features reliable 50mm drivers, tweaked for gaming performance. The bass still packs a punch like its predecessor, but clearly doesn’t overstay its welcome. The new Kraken succeeds in pulling you into any game, with a knack for spatial awareness, out-of-the-box.
Even though it looks quite bulky and rigid, the Razer Kraken is exceptionally comfortable. The sturdy build let’s you play for hours on end, without pressing into your skull in any way. The thick leatherette ear pads are even infused with some kind of cooling gel, ensuring it doesn’t get sweaty in there.
The retractable unidirectional microphone doesn’t get you podcasting, but it’s an easy way to get you talking to teammates. This can be output over the usual combo jack, but a separate audio connector splitter is included as well. As the mic is fully analog too, your audio cues get picked up natively by most gaming systems. Over on PC and Mac, Razer’s Synapse software can still upscale the stereo sound to “7.1” virtual surround.
Moving away from gaming oriented headsets, you might want to consider some professional alternatives. These headphones aren’t tweaked to enhance game sense in any way, but excel in providing the most neutral of soundscapes. If that sounds good to you, Audio-Technica’s iconic ATH-M50X is a promising contender.
Those who know the ATH-M50X, will see it everywhere. From popular content creators to world class musicians, these headphones are a driving force in professional audio. That is, of course, not without reason. For a relatively affordable price point, Audio-Technica offers highly reliable reference sound.
If you want to listen to media the way sound engineers intended it to sound, the ATH-M50X is a cheap way of getting there. These headphones are incredibly clear and well-defined, throughout their entire frequency response. Just don’t expect overly heavy basses, or “fake” surround of any kind.
With its heavy focus on professional monitoring, the ATH-M50X lacks an integrated microphone. Through headphones-attached accessoires, you can always “upgrade” a headset like this — Audio-Technica even manufactures some of their own, like the ATGM2. Alternatively, you can ditch the boom mic entirely. Streamers and content creators often prefer their seperate studio microphones, anyway.
If HyperX products excel at anything, it’s their strong price-to-performance ratio. For the HyperX Cloud II, that rings especially true. This simplistic headset doesn’t break the bank, but offers great audio quality in a myriad of ways.
The Cloud II can connect to basically anything over its 3.5 mm audio jack, combining input from the detachable microphone. Over a nifty, included USB sound card, both input and output can be upscaled, although mostly exclusive to Windows and Mac. The DAC will grant the 53mm drivers a quick-and-easy virtual surround sound upscaling, as well as active noise cancellation on the microphone part.
However you choose to use it, the HyperX Cloud II performs reliably. The soundscape is vivid, with a hint of warmer bass tones. Meanwhile, the helicopter pilot-esque design nets you a durable and comfortable audio companion. Depending on the color you choose, the headset can look rather subtle, but don’t be mistaken: this is quite the package for its price.
Another strong contender in the lower price ranges is RIG. This gaming oriented subsidiary of Nacon was once a Plantronics brand, bringing in some seniority in audio engineering. RIG focuses on balanced performance and comfort, but does so with less pizzazz-y features. It’s still highly reliable stuff, it’s just more tunnel-visioned on affordable performance. Headsets like the RIG 500 Pro underline that vision.
RIG’s 500 Pro model comes in many colors and console brandings, but they all work in the same fashion. The 50mm drivers and detachable mic are connected over a 3.5mm combo jack, with either in-line controls or a controller-mounted dial. Especially the latter proves exceptionally handy, although the dial-connector is less useful in PC set-ups. Either way, it’s a testament to the ease-of-use of the headset.
The native audio quality is rich, with additional emphasis on crisper sounds. It’s not exactly great for music, but delivers solid spatial awareness in most games. Additionally, the PC and Xbox branded models come with a free Dolby Atmos license in every box. This will essentially work on any headset (and most Windows and Xbox devices), but makes the RIG line of headsets a great contender for spatial awareness in general.
Design-wise, RIG opts for a future-techno-alien approach. It might look a bit wacky at first, but it’s well-built all the way through. The ear cups can be clamped into different positions, while the elastic headband and sturdy plastic arch keep everything in place. The result is a headset that squeezes neatly around your head frame, without remotely squishing it. As such, most RIG headsets remain comfortable, even in long-winding gaming binges.
The Arctis 3 is SteelSeries’s best analog option, which is rather affordable too. It features the same luxurious build from top range Arctis headsets — complete with ski goggle suspension band — just in a more straight-to-the-point manner. The Arctis 3 features detachable analog connectivity, a retractable microphone and neatly designed ear cushions.
All in all, it’s a lightweight and sleek all-rounder. The integrated S1 drivers come in at 40mm width, on a somewhat more narrow frequency spectrum than more expensive models. It’s not exactly the richest of sounds, but the Arctis 3 sounds great in competitive games. The fact that the build is tailored to eSports professional standards doubles down on that competitive angle.
The same goes for the retractable “ClearCast” microphone. It gets you gaming alright, but the shallow pick-up pattern is not suited to host any longform commentary with it. Again, this is quite acceptable for the price point. Most of the budget goes directly to competitive and comfortable results, and the Arctis 3 delivers just that.
While Corsair kicked off their headset division with some rather brash products, they later “went back to basics” with their HS line of headsets. Less RGB, more straight-to-the-point performance. The Corsair HS50 Pro does just that, while swapping USB out for a 3.5mm jack. The result can mostly be seen as Corsair’s take on the popular HyperX Cloud II.
Not unlike their competition, Corsair opts for a simplistic headset. The sturdy build features ample 50mm drivers, basic on-ear controls and a detachable mic, making for a flexible all-rounder. Parts of the ear cup might show wear-and-tear over time, but the aluminum headband and sturdy cushions will last you many gaming adventures over the years.
As expected, the microphone is somewhat shallow, but that surely can’t be said for the speakers themselves. These balanced drivers produce clear and remarkably loud soundscapes, without dipping into select frequencies too aggressively. The headset can easily double as headphones for enjoying music, possibly even on-the-go. With its subtle design, detachable mic and well-defined drivers, the Corsair HS50 Pro fits into many scenarios that don’t involve gaming.
That’s all, for our recommendations on analog gaming headset. It’s quite all quite lot of audio, but all of these perform great with a myriad of games. We hope this list has brought you at least a tip or two that might have interested you.
Is there anything else you would like to know? Or do you perhaps have a great suggestion on analog headphones for gaming yourself? Don’t be shy, and let your voice be heard. We are always lurking around in the comment section to help you out, or to discuss additions to any of our recommendations!