I remember the time when video games used to be about the single-player experience. These games would take you far away from home, and transport you into worlds of wonder, mystery, and awe. Your gear was irrelevant at the time. There were no “Intel i7” or “Windows 10”, and much less “gaming peripherals”. It was just you and your MS-DOS personal computer. As long as you had one, you were basically the king of the school playground, and every kid in the yard would gather around and pester you with questions about the latest games. Ahh, those were the times.
Nowadays, the gaming industry has expanded to such lengths that there is a whole market dedicated to video game accessories and peripherals. Most of which are destined to boost a gamer’s aesthetics, and perhaps to score him some “street cred” among his peers. On the other hand, other products can definitely give him an edge against his opponents. For instance, a gaming mouse with additional buttons can add adaptability to a user’s strategies by granting him easy access to various shortcuts and macros. Whereas a gaming headset with increased audio capability can help the gamer to identify where the source of certain sounds are coming from, and allow him to survive situations where his character would otherwise perish due to ambushes and sneak attacks. This is especially important in competitive FPS games, where listening to your opponent’s footsteps is paramount to staying concealed and winning the match.
With gaming’s increased popularity, the market is logically flooded with tons of “gaming” products, most of which are simply regular gear, with a gamer sticker slapped on it. For this reason, choosing the right accessories and peripherals can become a real challenge, since most users can’t tell the decent products apart from the rest of the rabble. It doesn’t help that, in the case of gaming headsets, the terminology used to advertise the products can, at most times, go over the user’s head, and make it even harder for him to pick the right product for his needs. For instance, it’s easy to know that a mouse with 19 buttons offers more functionality than, say, a tri-button mouse. Whereas, if you’re offered a headset with “40mm neodymium magnet drivers”, versus another one with “50mm ultra clear speakers”, it’s hard to actually decide which one to buy, based on that fact alone.
In that sense, we can chalk up the difficulty of purchasing a decent gaming headset to lack of information and, in the case of casual or enthusiast gamers, lack of knowledge regarding the products they’re searching for. Fortunately, we have compiled a list of the best headsets available in the market today, for your convenience. But before we dive into our picks, let’s go over the basic elements that should be considered when shopping for the best headsets.
Now that we know what to look for in potential headphones, we can effectively decide which model to settle on by ourselves. However, if you’re still having trouble making up your mind, we have compiled a list of some of the best products on the market. Feel free to use it to get a general idea of what to look for.
For quite some time now, Astro Gaming has consistently delivered some of the best peripherals for use in gaming environments, especially in console gaming. This product, in particular, is optimized to create a quality sound by Astro’s very own sound engineers. This headset is equipped with Dolby 7.1 surround sound technology, which is used to create a great sense of immersion on all your games, as well as a spatial accuracy that can allow you to track your opponents from a distance.
This headset is a product of cooperation between sound engineers and professional gamers and was fine-tuned to provide the best audio experience with a moderate price tag. The A40 can also be heavily customized and adapted to a wide range of situations. The mod kits compatible with this device can be used to transform it from an open back to a closed back headset with premium isolation capabilities. The microphone of this headset is equipped with noise canceling technology, can be set on either side of the device, and can also be detached when not in use.
Truly this is one headset you must consider if you’re looking for the best of the best, without breaking the bank in the process. It’s worth mentioning that the A40 is the official headset used by Call of Duty pro teams Optic Gaming and Team Enyus.
Much like our previous entry, the HyperX Cloud Revolver was developed with professional gaming in mind. Designed in Sweden by Kingston’s team of engineers in conjunction with professional gamers, this product was created to satisfy all the requirements a professional gamer may have.
On of the biggest features this headset has going for it is its huge 50mm speakers, which can create a great soundstage for the user to immerse himself in his favorite games. The audio range created by Kingston’s proprietary drivers generate a great sense of depth and width to the game’s audios, which in turn provide greater spatial accuracy, without relying on surround technology. The ear cups are lined with the leatherette the HyperX Cloud series is famous for, which provides unparalleled levels of comfort even through the longest gaming sessions.
The microphone of this product is fully detachable and features state of the art noise cancellation technology, so your teammates can clearly hear your voice, and your voice alone. Additionally, the durable steel frame these cans are made with ensure that you won’t be replacing them anytime soon, as it provides optimum durability while maintaining a lightweight presentation.
Logitech is one of the bigger companies that has a department dedicated to producing lines of peripherals exclusively for gamers. The G430 belongs to their series of mid-range headsets, providing a decent amount of features while keeping a relatively low price tag.
This headset is powered by Dolby 7.1 technology, which creates a great soundstage for the user and allows him to fully immerse himself in the glory of surround sound. Logically, the stage created by Dolby technology, coupled with this headset’s premium isolation capabilities, allows the user to enjoy great spatial accuracy.
While this headset is really nothing much to look at, its lightweight frame and comfortable padding made out of a breathable fabric ensure hours of comfort, with no ear strain, even after long gaming sessions. One great feature that is common with Logitech headsets is its noise-canceling microphone, which automatically mutes itself when the boom is raised. While we admit that this feature neither makes nor breaks the deal, it’s still nice to have around.
Razer is a company that has built its fame on creating some of the best gaming peripherals in the market. Their line of gaming mice are some of the best in the world, famous among professional gamers for providing top-notch quality, and sturdy durability.
Unfortunately, we can’t say the same for their line of headsets. Most of them provide meager quality sound, which is a far cry from the quality of their other peripherals. However, there is one headset that shines above the rest like a radiant sun dispelling the shadows of the night.
The BlackShark is by far the best headset Razer has to offer, with the drawback of being a tad unsightly for most gamers. This headset is equipped with 40mm neodymium magnet drivers, which aren’t actually much to look at. However, the quality of sound generated by Razer’s sound technology. The highs created by this headset are crisp, and its lows are accentuated without sounding boomy or too intense.
The cups wrap snugly around the user’s ears, creating a great soundstage. And the leatherette the pads are made from provides a great deal of comfort even after hours of gaming. Despite not looking the part, the BlackShark’s microphone can be detached and stored safely when not in use.
The Kave XTD by Roccat is this company’s proposal to the mid-range headset market. This product offers tons of features that earn it a top spot on this list. For starters, this headset is equipped with big, 500 mm speakers that provide a crisp stereo sound. This makes the XTD a great alternative for those wanting a headset both for gaming and for listening to music.
At a glance, the XTD has a simple design. Yet the apparently plain appearance belies a comfortable product. Both the headband and ear cups are lined with padded cloth, which can prove to be highly comfortable if a bit hot during long gaming sessions. The onboard noise canceling microphone is fully rotatable and can be detached when not in use. Additionally, this headset has inline audio control, which allows the user to adjust the volume and microphone on the go.
The above headsets are some of the greatest value picks you will find on the market. The idea of this list is to help you understand what you should be looking for while avoiding overspending on unnecessary features. And if you decide to settle upon one of the models we mentioned before, you can rest assured that you will receive your money’s worth in a quality product.
Anyway, there still some models we’ve found that for, one reason or another, deserve an honorary position on this list. Consider the following:
SteelSeries is another company that manufactures some of the best quality gaming peripherals in the world. They have everything from gaming mice, headsets, and mouse pads, to gaming keyboards, and headphones, among others.
The Siberia line of headsets is one of the best this company has to offer. Both the 350 and the 200 offer plenty of features, with a decent price tag. The 350 is equipped with DTS Headphone:X technology, providing an exceptional soundstage with surround sound capabilities that offer great spatial accuracy. The main difference that this headset has with the more affordable Siberia 200, is that the latter is not equipped with surround sound capabilities. This difference doubles the cost of the 350, relative to the 200 which, in our opinion, is worth it only if you desperately need the surround technology.
Other than that, both headsets are made with similar designs. The Siberia 200 are arguably lighter than its big brother, while the 350 offers LED customization capabilities. Both products are equipped with retractable microphones and inline audio control on the cord.
The Z60 by Turtle Beach is a more affordable alternative to the Siberia 350 for users who want a headset with DTS Headphone:X 7.1 technology. This factor alone makes the Z60 worth every penny. But wait, there’s more. This headset is equipped with massive 60 mm speakers. I can’t stress how big the soundstage provided by this headset is; you’ll feel like you’re actually living the game.
The comfort created by this product leaves nothing to be desired as well. The breathable mesh that makes up the padding of the ear cups wrap nicely around the ears, creating a comfortable seal that isolates the user from ambient noises. The DTS Surround mode can be toggled at will, for those moments when you just want to listen to music, without immersing yourself too much in the action. Another feature worth noting is that this headset is equipped with dynamic chat boost, which adjusts the volume of your teammates’ voices when the action escalates, allowing to hear every command at all times.
This headset is the upgrade to the G430 we mentioned above. This time around, this product is equipped with both Dolby 7.1 and DTS Headphone:X 7.1 technologies, and an equalizer that can be adjusted through Logitech’s gaming software. This headset was created fo0r the most demanding gamers out there that don’t conform to just any quality of sound.
Similar to the G430, the G633 has a foldable noise canceling microphone, that is also automatically muted when the boom is folded. Other than that, you’re just paying more for somewhat increased sound quality, a prettier design, and adjustable LEDs, compared to the G433.
For the most part, the expensive headsets will offer better performance than their cheaper counterparts. However, if you’re like us, and enjoy getting the best bang for your buck, then you would do well to familiarize yourself with some of the terms we will describe in the section below. That way, you can purchase an awesome set of cans, without breaking the bank in the process.
The very first thing you will want to ask yourself before browsing for headset models is the purpose said headphones are going to perform. If you’re looking for the very best audio quality, then you’re best off with a pair of dedicated headphones with crisp highs, and booming lows. The main drawback with this is that you will be sacrificing the very element that makes headsets shine in a cooperative multiplayer environment; voice chat capabilities. While this issue can easily be circumvented by purchasing a great pair of ‘phones and a cheap standalone microphone, you’ll still be better off by packing these into one convenient package, and purchasing a headset. And since the practicality of having your audio and voice input in one place simply can’t be beaten, we’ll be focusing on the best gaming headsets in this list.
Another thing you want to consider when pondering about your future headset’s purpose is its comfort. If you’re going to purchase a headset to use in the workplace during Skype meetings or the like, then comfort will take the backseat while voice and audio capabilities will take the spotlight. On the other hand, gamers that often participate in long gaming marathons will definitely need a comfortable and lightweight headset. As a general rule of thumb, try to avoid leather earpads whenever possible. Leather tends to make your ears sweat, which in turn can lead to chafing in the long run. What you’ll want to do is make sure that the ear pads of your new headset are made out of a breathable and soft fabric, while also ensuring that the product is lightweight to avoid the neck fatigue caused by heavier headsets during long gaming sessions.
One last thing to consider when evaluating the headset’s purpose is what platform it’s going to be used on. While this is mostly self-explanatory, gamers that want to look for a headset for their PS4 or Xbox One will have to take the extra step of making sure they’re compatible with the device.
Another great question that you should ask yourself when shopping for gaming headphones is if you prefer them wired or wireless. This one is important, considering that each variant has several advantages and drawbacks compared to the other.
The advantages of wired headsets are pretty obvious; you won’t have to deal with battery issues, and your headset will perform as it always did in the great majority of situations. The main drawback is that you have to deal with wires that could, at worst, get really tangled and cause endless frustration. While newer models have braided and anti-tangle cables, this is still a factor that could be taken into consideration when browsing for wired headsets.
The debate between wireless headsets versus their wired counterparts is a very heated topic. And while there isn’t conclusive evidence that puts one over the other, the unfortunate reality is that wireless headsets need to deal with several issues that other ‘phones don’t. The main weakness is that wireless headsets are somewhat data-limited by their connection.
You see, most wireless headsets connect to the computers via Bluetooth. As many of you may know, this technology allows to devices to pair wirelessly across small distances. What you may not know, though, is that, in order to properly transmit the information between the two devices, the data must first be encoded (compressed). The method used for this compression is called Low Complexity Subband Coding (SBC), and what it basically does is make the data (in this case, the audio signal) smaller so that the sound can keep up with what’s happening on the screen. For voice chat and calls, SBC can really work wonders towards powering your wireless headset, but in gaming and music listening is where the flaws start to appear. Since the audio has to be encoded before being relayed into your headset, a lot of data can be lost, which results in an overall lower audio quality, compared to a wired connection. This article does a heck of a better job explaining what I just tried to elaborate, so take a look if you’re interested in learning the limitations of Bluetooth.
In short, if you’re inclined to purchase a wireless headset, try to go the extra mile and choose a model that connects via Wi-Fi. While a bit more expensive, this technology allows for faster data transmission between the two devices, creating and overall better sound quality
Most manufacturers feature their own proprietary technology to power their headsets. But in some cases, some companies rely on existing technology to provide the best audio experience for their users. The DTS Headphone:X and Dolby technologies happen to be two of the most popular options, currently featured on tons of headsets, and while they are created to offer similar functions, they have slight variations in the way they do this.
Starting off with Dolby. You have most likely heard of this technology by now. For more than 2 decades, Dolby has been providing one of the best audio experiences, and it is used in many, if not all, films. Dolby’s 7.1 surround technology is frequently used on headsets for their wide range of audio fidelity, and capacity to provide pinpoint spatial accuracy in all situations. As FPS gamers can attest to, having surround sound capabilities can make the difference between life and death in most matches, since it will allow you to pinpoint your opponents’ positions from their footsteps and gunfire sounds. Dolby’s top-quality audio compression and unpacking are the ones responsible for providing the great quality it’s known for.
DTS Headphone:X is a more recent innovation in surround sound technology, which provides arguably better quality audio than Dolby. In most cases, DTS provides better fidelity and an improved soundstage compared to Dolby. The main drawback is that headsets which provide this sound technology tend to be expensive, which puts them out of some gamers’ budgets. Nevertheless, if you’re looking for best audio fidelity in your video games, don’t settle for less than DTS.
It’s important to note that, while these two technologies create a better surround sound experience than stereo headsets, they also tend to create more distortion. This is in part due to the method used to recreate the surround sound, which is by using multiple speakers packed into each driver, which work together to provide an immersive experience to the user. While this is great for video games, it doesn’t translate very well when performing other tasks, such as music listening sessions.
In short, if you’re looking for a headset not only for gaming but for listening to music as well, consider purchasing a stereo variant, instead of investing in surround sound technology. You could save a lot of money, and acquire a product that is best suited to your interests.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. After all, you wouldn’t want a pair of cans that provide a meager sound quality, right?
There are several factors which may affect a headset’s performance in the sound quality department, one of the most important being the size of the drivers. In this case, bigger is better. Smaller drivers (speakers) can provide a smaller soundstage, which limits the range of sounds that can effectively be heard at any given time. Smaller speakers tend to produce tinny sounds and are generally lacking in bass, which is a big factor for gamers since the sounds of your opponent’s footsteps are usually registered in the low frequencies.
As a general rule of thumb, always consider the size of the drivers as an important factor when browsing for headsets. And always lean towards the bigger speakers if you want to obtain the best possible sound quality.
This factor may not be a deal breaker for most since microphone quality is mostly taken for granted with most modern headsets. However, only the most hardcore gamers truly know the anguish caused by a teammate that can’t communicate properly due to faulty equipment. Keep in mind that, without a microphone, headsets wouldn’t exist; they would simply be called headphones. In that sense, you’d do good to consider the voice input quality of your potential new headset. Be sure to give preference to those with noise-canceling technology to avoid the ambient noises from interfering with your input.
Unlike with the size of the speakers, when it comes to pricing, more is not always better. Keep in mind that, when you’re investing in a headset, you’re not only purchasing a product but a brand as well. And sometimes, these brands can be really expensive!
In some cases, you will find headsets that are lacking in the features department but can still go for a much higher price that other, better headsets. To make the best possible choice, it is recommended to drop any pretense of shopping by brands, and instead opting to examine potential models individually. In most situations, you will find a model that offers all the features you will ever need, but that may not be from any recognized brand. If this is the case, be sure to read up on user reviews before coming to a decision.
This one is more of a nitpick than an actual factor you’d want to consider. Some headphones, such as Razer’s chroma series, offer the possibility to customize their appearance, Whether by customizing the color of their LEDs, by letting you attach magnetic stickers to them, or by allowing you to replace the plastic casing entirely.
If you’re looking to add your own special touch to your headset, then be sure to pick a model with customization capabilities.
As you can see, there are definitely a considerable amount of headsets available on the market nowadays. And understandably, this grand selection of models makes it difficult for even the most seasoned gamers to pick a model best suited to their needs, without blindly leaning towards brand quality. Nevertheless, with the information in this article, you should now be able to properly take a look at a list of headsets and make the best choice, without blowing over your budget.
Good luck and happy shopping!
Product images sourced from Amazon.com
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