If you’re an avid gamer, you must know that having the best gear money can buy can help a lot when it comes to outplaying your opponent, especially if your skill sets are pretty similar. And that’s pretty obvious if we’re talking about a gaming mouse in an FPS game: given 2 players of equivalent skill sets, the one with the best gear wins almost every time. And speaking of gear, today’s article is about choosing the best gaming headset money can buy. Or at least the best head-gear you can afford.
Joke aside, with all things being equal, a specialized gaming gear, like gaming keyboard, will make all the difference in the world, and the same stands true for the rest of your gear: all these factors combined, including the extra frames per second provided by a high-end gaming PC, will allow you to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat 9 times out of 10. Or at least that’s what the guy from the marketing department used to say.
Speaking of gaming headsets, there are a few things to contemplate before going into a buying spree. Stick with us, and we’ll guide you through the murky waters of today’s gaming-gear world, one step at a time.
How to Choose the Best Gaming Headset
Though it makes us sad to mention it, one’s budget is the ultimate deal breaker with regard to, well, basically anything, not just headsets. So, especially if you’re on a tight budget, you should be extra careful with choosing your gaming headset, but don’t worry, we’ve already done the research for you.
How much should you spend on a pair of cans is a good question. If you’re not an ultimate E-fighter in PGL or whatever, it doesn’t make sense to spend hundreds of dollars on professional grade gaming gear. However, don’t get cheap either.
Cheap stuff usually doesn’t last, and there’s a saying: I’m too poor to buy cheap things. You know, cheap gaming gear is not built to endure frequent use and abuse, and you’ll end up spending more money on 2-3 pairs of low-grade gaming headsets over a couple of years, instead of buying high-quality long-lasting headset in the first place. The general rule of thumb is that a decent gaming headset can be bought for $50 -$100, give or take. A high-end one may cost you several hundred dollars.
If money is no object, as in you have money to burn, shoot for the stars and disregard this section, go for the jugular.
After determining how much money are you ready to spend, make sure your headset is compatible with your gaming gear, as in your gaming system. As strange as it may sound, there are compatibility issues, as in cross-platform compatibility is not a given with absolutely every type of headset. Some of them only work on a single platform, while others are jacks of all trades. So, before you buy, make sure you got this issue covered.
Comfort is King
A comfy headset is essential, especially during prolonged gaming sessions. We all have different head shapes and ear sizes, yet despite this well-known fact, strangely enough, even reputable companies tend to build dreadfully uncomfortable headsets from time to time. Especially cheap headsets are known for feeling, well, rather cheap, after wearing them for only half an hour or so, due to bad ergonomics, horrible fit, too tight squeeze on the ears and so on and so forth.
If you intend to use your gaming headset for hours in a row, pay extra attention to the comfort issue. And the best way to determine how comfy a given headset is, besides reading this article obviously, is to check out online reviews from users. There are also metrics to look after regarding the comfort issue, things like soft padding, big ear cups, weight (the lighter, the better), how flexible the headband is etc.
Quality equals durability, there’s no way around it. The best things in life are not free, and if you want a high-quality gaming headset, well, you’ll have to pay the premium. Cheaper gear looks and feels flimsy, and it will fail rather quickly, especially with daily (heavy) use and abuse. Speaking of durability, some companies offer spare parts for their products, like ear pads and cables, which can be replaced if so required.
Open or Closed?
From an audiophile perspective, open headsets usually sound better than closed types. What’s the difference, you asked? Well, closed design headsets (over the ear) are built with a solid cup around the ear, which provides sound-proofing from outside noises. This type of design comes with obvious advantages, especially if you’re going to use the headset in noisy environments, and you want to be able to concentrate on your game.
On top of that, closed design headsets are not annoying for people around you, as in they can’t hear gaming sounds from the headphone even if they sit next to you. Open design headsets are the exact opposite, as they feature a perforated ear cup, which delivers a more natural/higher-quality sound and keeps your ears cool, but with 2 caveats: they allow ambient noises to reach your ears, and they leak sound out.
Sound quality is another issue that cannot be overlooked when you’re hunting for the best gaming headset. Commonly speaking, the good ones are more expensive, but they sound better, that’s the general rule of thumb. Metrics to look after in the (gaming) sound quality department include simulated surround technology (7.1 channel surround), how deep the bass is (especially for shooters aficionados) and noise cancelation technology.
If you’re serious about gaming, a good built-in microphone is a must-have, as it allows you to talk coherently with players from all around the world as you play online. Again, check the reviews, and see if users complain about crackling issues or bad sound quality. A high-end microphone with noise cancelation is able to discriminate between your voice and background noise, as in the mic listens only when you speak; when you’re silent, it doesn’t pick up background noise or even sounds from the speaker.
Wired or Wireless
This is an easy one: wireless headsets are more expensive and heavier than wired ones (goes to comfort), yet they come with the obvious advantage of mobility. Also, they require batteries to operate, and since they connect to your gaming rig via Bluetooth, interference may appear. Overall, wired headsets are better in terms of sound quality and overall comfort, but it all depends on personal preference.
Now, let’s take a look at the best gaming headsets (in no particular order), as we’ve picked one for every budget:
10 Best Gaming Headsets to Buy in 2019
SteelSeries Arctis Pro
Play Hard Go Pro
The SteelSeries Arctis Pro is a very popular gaming headset, boasting high-quality neodymium magnets for their high-resolution speakers, along with the company’s patented DTS Headphone:X v2.0 technology for spatial surround sound. The frequency range is pretty wide too, between 10 – 40,000 Hz, while the build quality is excellent, consisting of polished steel/aluminum alloy, for optimal fit and reduced weight.
Sensitivity wise, the Arctis Pro are pretty good, boasting 102 dB SPL (sound pressure level), which means they are very easy to drive and they’ll sound loud and clear even on your smartphone if that’s your “cup of tea” (read gaming rig). Moreover, these gaming headphones feature a built-in microphone, and I am talking about the Arctis ClearCast bidirectional mic, which is marketed as a studio-quality piece of gear, boasting noise cancelation technology and delivering crystal clear voice quality.
But wait, there’s more: SteelSeries threw into the mix their USB ChatMix Dial dial, which allows you to mix gaming sounds and audio chats on the fly, as in there’s no alt-Tabbing required. For gamers, this feature is as cool as it gets.
- top notch build quality, incredibly comfy
- stellar SPL/frequency range
- premium look and feel, professional-grade design
- Full spectrum customizable 16,8 million colors Prism RGB illumination lighting effects
- wired design
- both the headband and the ear cup hangers are made of metal (goes to durability)
- weigh just 12.3 ounces
- closed ear cup design makes them perfect for gaming in noisy environments
- Sound quality gets even better if you buy the dedicated GameDAC
- soundstage and surround-sound feature leave room for improvement
CORSAIR Void PRO
The Best PC Gaming Headset
The Corsair Void Pro is an interesting choice if you’re looking for a wireless gaming headset with Dolby 7.1 surround and RGB at an affordable price. On top of that, the Corsair Void Pro features a very interesting (as in futuristic) design in a carbon finish, along with high quality 50mm neodymium speaker drivers and a unidirectional built-in microphone which is said to reduce ambient noise for better voice quality. And yes, this time Corsair really improved mic-quality compared to the older generation.
Speaking of wireless technology, this gaming-centric headset offers up to 16 hours of battery life and up to 40 ft. range, with a frequency response between 20Hz – 20 kHz, audiophiles be damned. In terms of comfort, the Corsair Void Pro will not disappoint, as it boasts memory foam ear cups and microfiber mesh fabric, while the RGB royal-treatment technology works only for the Corsair logo on the ear cups.
- amazing value for money
- above average sound quality for gaming and movies
- cool design
- very comfortable
- weak bass at default setting
- open ear cup design leaks sound
- kind of plasticky
- users report minor issues with the microphone failing to turn-on automatically
Turtle Beach Recon 200
The Best Gaming Headset for PS4
The Turtle Beach Recon 200 is an amplified gaming headset that’s designed to work with PS4/PS4 Pro and Xbox One. Don’t worry, this baby also supports PC, Switch or mobile devices, but what makes it stand out from the crowd is the built-in amplifier, which powers-up the Recon 200’s 40 mm neodymium drivers.
To make a long story short, there’s no fancy virtual surround or Dolby 7.1, but boy, these cans sound awesome, especially in shooters. The audio is clearly tuned with gamers in mind, and there’s definitely an emphasis on low and high frequencies, with the middle range sounding kind of faded. But considering the price asked, that’s to be expected actually. Keep in mind, these are gaming-centric over-the-ear headsets, so don’t expect miracles if you’re an audiophile.
- awesome response on any device due to the built-in amplifier (requires charging to work)
- microphone monitoring, master volume wheel, mic monitoring wheel
- Xbox One/PS4™ platform switch
- solid build quality in 2-tone finish
- High sensitivity Flip-up Microphone delivers impressive chat performance
- lightweight and comfy due to memory-foam cushioning for the ear cups
- metal reinforced headband
- good value for money
- not suited for people with big heads, seriously
- short cable
- unrealistic bass for non-game use
HyperX Cloud Alpha
The Best Gaming Headset Under $100
The Hyper X Cloud Alpha gaming headset is one of those “middle of the road” kind of things, boasting dual chamber drivers and a very comfortable aluminum frame, along with a detachable microphone and PC, PS4, PS4 PRO, Xbox One, Xbox One S (HX-HSCA-RD/AM) compatibility, everything at a very affordable price (under $100) in a wired design.
The dual chamber driver technology is developed for providing a more detailed sound with less distortion, while the aluminum frame and the ergonomically designed (closed) ear cups confer the Cloud Alpha fantastic build quality and supreme comfort levels, even with extended use. On top of that, these gaming-centric cans sound absolutely amazing for their price tag.
- built to last
- amazing sound quality
- exceedingly comfortable
- excellent microphone
- premium design and feel
- cushy and soft ear cups, versatile cables
- detachable microphone with noise cancelling, in-line cable controls
- 13Hz-27,000Hz frequency range, 50mm drivers
- amazing value for money
- no virtual sound augmentation technology
- the microphone could be better
SteelSeries Arctis 3
The Best Gaming Headset for Xbox One
Here we have yet another SteelSeries model, the Arctis 3 2019 respectively, which is a very affordable gaming headset featuring cross-platform compatibility and a minimalist design. The Arctis 3 work on basically everything: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, VR, Android, and iOS, and they’re designed as game-centric headphones, boasting SteelSeries’ legendary ClearCast technology, which makes for an almost professional grade microphone, with noise cancellation and 48-decibel sensitivity.
To make a long story short, the SteelSeries Arctis 3 gaming headset is everything about affordable performance doubled down by supreme comfort, for which SteelSeries has already achieved legendary status in the gaming community.
- minimalist closed-headphone/wired design
- above average microphone and sound quality
- comfy and very light
- very convenient mic design (slides in/out of the left ear-cup)
- on-ear audio controls
- foldable design for easy transport
- no metal frame
- not suited for big-eared folks (seriously)
Razer Kraken Pro V2
The Best Budget Gaming Headset
The V2 are arguably the best budget headphones for gaming, boasting impressive sound quality and a rock solid built. The Kraken Pro V2 are also supremely comfortable, hence they check all the important boxes with regard to affordable no-nonsense gaming headphones.
But let’s talk a little shop: the Kraken Pro V2 are designed to please gamers looking for an easy to use and affordable solution for voice chat and gaming audio, making for a wired/closed design headset, which feels and looks great, and sounds even better. The bass is really impressive, while the sound stage is amazing for a closed back pair of cans. The microphone is also above average quality wise, being capable of capturing your voice crisp, clean and clear.
- amazing value for money
- premium look and feel, impressive build quality
- comfortable, sturdy and lightweight (322 grams)
- awesome sound quality for the price
- excellent unidirectional microphone
- 50 mm drivers, aluminum unibody design
- retractable microphone, inline volume control, extension cable included in the retail package
- 12 Hz – 28,000 Hz frequency range
- none really at this price
Amazing 7.1 Gaming Headset
The CORSAIR HS70 is a very interesting wireless gaming headset, featuring a minimalist (Sennheiser-borrowed) design, but we don’t have a problem with that since imitation is the ultimate form of flattery. On top of that, for an affordable price, you’ll get 7.1 virtual surround sound, 16 hours (all-day basically, if you’re not Korean) battery life and up to 40 ft. range via wireless connectivity.
To describe it in a few words, we can say that the HS70 is the ideal mainstream wireless headset. Did I mention affordable? The faux leather memory foam ear cups feature a closed-back design, and they’re held together by a solid metal frame, which is very flexible and lightweight, i.e. pretty comfy. Even if they’re designed for gaming, the CORSAIR HS70 can deliver a pleasant experience for music aficionados too, with their rich and warm sound.
- fantastic design
- high-quality aluminum-made chassis
- more than decent sound quality
- excellent microphone
- very comfy
- 50mm neodymium speaker drivers
- immersive gaming experience via 7.1 surround sound technology
- Discord certified
- don’t work with Xbox or PlayStation
- lack of customization options
ASTRO Gaming A50
The Best Wireless Gaming Headset
With money no object, the ASTRO Gaming A50 can be described as the ultimate gaming audio package (no ASTROturfing here, scout’s honor). Obviously, since we’re talking about premium wireless headser, you’ll have to pay beaucoup dollars if you’re looking to put your greedy little hands on this piece of equipment. But, you’ll get a lot of gaming headset for your money.
Wireless connectivity aside, we must mention Dolby Pro Logic llx, 7.1 surround sound, optical support for Mac (also works with PC, Xbox One S, PlayStation 4 right out of the box). And yes, the sound quality is also top-notch, with deep bass and crisp highs. However, there’s a caveat to all these advantages: the ASTRO A50 headset is rather large and bulky (some may say oversized), yet surprisingly comfortable, despite being an absolute unit.
- impressive overall sound quality
- closed design with good noise isolation
- great finish, fit well
- amazing in-game sound quality
- decent mic quality (nothing to write home about though)
- very comfy
- autonomy could be better (some report 6 hours of battery life, which is kind of lame compared to other brands)
- Larger than life
- rather expensive for what they are
The Logitech G533 is a classic wireless gaming headset, featuring Pro-G Audio Drivers and DTS 7.1 Surround Sound in a minimalist design. Being a Logitech product, the G533 is engineered to perfection and as reliable as they come, being nothing short of a wireless wonder.
If you’re looking for a no-nonsense wireless pair of cans, the G533 from Logitech really delivers where it counts: great sound, comfy fit, amazing wireless features and eas-to-use software.
- above average sound quality
- professional look
- minimalist yet ergonomic design which prevents sweating
- fit well, feel comfy
- very good soundstage both in gaming and music
- brilliant retractable microphone
- amazing value for money
- good autonomy
- PC only compatibility
- kind of plasticky
HyperX Cloud Flight
Last but not least, we have yet another wireless gaming headset from HyperX, the Cloud Flight respectively. If you’re looking for an awesome looking pair of wireless gaming cans with amazing autonomy (30 hours, which is almost double compared to the industry standard), these bad boys have your name on it. Besides amazing battery life, the HyperX Cloud Flight will provide you with world-class sound quality and comfort, even if it makes for the company’s first-ever wireless gaming headset.
Moreover, these babies come with built-in lighting, being suitable for both gaming and listening to music or watching Netflix or whatever.
- supremely comfy
- amazing battery life
- great sound and amazing noise isolation
- easy to set up
- solid voice-chat quality
- fit well, well-built and sturdy
- PC, PS4, and PS4 Pro ready
- rather bland design for some
- no surround technology
- plasticky look and feel
- don’t work with Xbox One