If you consider yourself a serious gamer, you know the importance of hearing every sound and your opponent's every move. It can give you a serious advantage in any game. If you're not as serious and just enjoy playing with friends, you understand the importance of superb sound quality and communication capabilities.
No matter which gaming category you fall under, we can all agree that a fantastic gaming headset can make a game turn from good to great.
There are many features to consider when picking your new headset, and we are here to break down the ins-and-outs of them all so you can get a step above your gaming competition.
Features to Look for in Gaming Headsets
Wireless (Bluetooth) vs wired
The answer to the wired vs wireless gaming headset debate tends to be all about preference. Some players want a wire-free experience to sit in any position and distance from the screen as they please.
Other gamers prefer not changing the headset batteries or worry about the battery life mid-game and go the wired route. Many of the newer, high-end options are wireless, but there are still a lot of excellent wired options that made the list.
If you want to focus on your game and tune out your surrounding world, you'll want to make sure the headset you choose offers a noise cancellation feature. Gaming headsets with memory foam tend to come paired with noise cancellation, so be on the lookout for those partner-in-crime features to bring you the best audio experience.
Comfort is key, and getting the desired size and shape for your earpads and the headset's headband is essential. The ear padding can be made out of pure foam, velour, pleather or leather. It also correlates with noise cancellation, as some pads protect your ears for maximum comfort while others focus on blocking out as much sound as possible.
If you find a headset you like that has poorly reviewed earpads, you can usually swap them out with aftermarket pads.
Many headsets have headbands that are made of plastic and can cause discomfort after wearing for long periods. If you want the best build quality, it's recommended that you look for a metal or wire frame that's more sturdy for maximum comfort and protection.
If you consider yourself an audiophile, then you know that you're shopping for the best sound quality at the lowest price. But many people overlook their own sound when talking with others. Find a headset that offers superb audio quality with a high-quality microphone or boom mic for yourself so that your friends and teammates can clearly hear and understand what you're saying.
It's important to note that wireless headsets with a wireless dongle (not Bluetooth compatible) are not the best option for multi-platform use. If one device doesn't have the correct dongle to plug into, the headset cannot be used unless you buy an adapter.
If you decide to go with a wireless option, a Bluetooth connection headset is recommended. Make sure you check that the headset is compatible with your current gaming system. You don't want to pick a headset that will only work with the Xbox One or PlayStation 4 and not the new Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5, for example.
Aesthetics and Comfort
As much as you want the best overall sound quality in your headset, you should pay attention to how it looks and feels, especially if you're a streamer and people will actually be seeing you wearing the headset. Something that's too bulky may look silly and leave you with a headache after wearing it for extended periods. The headset's functionality is essential, but some gamers would argue that style is just as important when you're trying to be the best gamer possible.
Now that you're in the know, check out some of the best gaming headsets on the market right now.
This is one of the cheapest, high-quality headset options. The adjustable ear cups allow you to find your most comfortable fit for hours of play. This wired headset offers a sound system with 7.1 surround sound for PC gamers and is multi-platform compatible with the PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One and Nintendo switch.
This headset is also Discord certified for the best gaming communication and voice chat possible.
Considered one of the best values on the headset market, this sleek Razer headset is the lightest Kraken headset ever, weighing in at 250 grams, which is around 40% lighter than similar headsets. The 7.1 Surround Sound is intended for positional audio control in your games.
The bendable noise-cancelling microphone reduces background and ambient noises to offer gamers excellent communication with other players with little to no distractions.
Overall, this headset has a lot of high-end bells and whistles for a low-end price.
This wired Fnatic headset is meant for gamers who like to have total control over their in-game audio. Fitted with 53mm drivers, the headset offers customization for precise directional sound, with individual sound chambers for bass and mid to high frequencies.
The microphone on the headset is detachable for when you're playing by yourself and only looking for in-game sounds. It can be put back on when you're ready to communicate with friends or teammates.
Fitted with custom-tuned HyperX virtual 7.1 surround sound, The wired HyperX Cloud Alpha S is the updated version of the highly-praised original Cloud Alpha headset. The audio control mixer is perfect for gamers who communicate with others often because of its ability to balance in-game audio with teammates or non-game audio. Plus, the dual-chamber driver system reduces distortion and provides fantastic overall sound.
In this upgraded version, the memory foam ear cushions have been enhanced with extra breathable leatherette for maximum comfort.
The SteelSeries Arctis 1 is an excellent wireless headset compatible with all devices, but was designed specifically for the Xbox. Use this headset in the comfort of your gaming room or take them on-the-go with a USB dongle for on-the-go gaming. With 20-hour battery life, this headset seems to offer the most versatility in the mid-priced headset range.
The one downside gamers have shared is that the shallow ear cups are not as comfortable as they thought they would be at this price point. This headset has been said to pair well with the Nintendo Switch as well as the Xbox.
Related: Xbox Game Pass [Reviewed]
Coming in at around $330, this headset was designed with serious gamers in mind. According to the descriptions, " The Arctis Pro offers premium Hi-Res speakers with high-density neodymium magnets that reproduce a full, expansive frequency range from 10–40,000 Hz with stunning realism and clarity."
The battery will last for 20 hours of gaming, and instead of buying a USB dongle to connect to devices, the Arctis Pro has Bluetooth compatibility for an easy transition from consoles to mobile devices. If the features aren't enough to sell you on this luxury model, it has over 9,600 reviews on Amazon with four and a half stars out of five.
Gamers are raving about this wired headset having excellent microphone quality for optimal communication. The customizable features — such as the sound slider — help you create the sound environment you desire. The fantastic sound quality comes partnered with six interchangeable design covers so you can look good while everything sounds good.
One of the downsides of this gaming headset is that it's very bulky and heavy, which can get uncomfortable after a long period of wearing the headset. This is not the headset for those who prefer lightweight headsets.
The Audeze Mobius Premium 3D Gaming Headset was voted best headset for esports gaming by IGN in 2019 for its incredible audio, connectivity options and comfortable memory foam design. This headset is unique because it offers 3D audio and 7.1 virtual surround sound capabilities for a more intense understanding of your gaming environment.
The Audeze's HQ application allows you to change more settings than any other headset on this list. It even enables you to measure your own intra-aural and head circumference distances and add the room ambiance to calibrate the best possible audio for you.
One complaint that gamers shared is that the over-ear memory foam takes quite a while to shape to your ears and head, but it offers maximum comfort once it does. So, if you can get past the $399 price tag, this is one of the best wireless gaming headsets on the market.
The HyperX Cloud Orbit S is a wired headset with many features, but the Audeze planar magnetic drivers, Waves Nx head tracking and 3D audio technology stand out as the best features offered.
Not sure what head tracking is? The Orbit S describes it as "tracking the position of your head nearly 1000 times a second to stabilize the soundscape, which places you in the center of your own 3D audio atmosphere." This is perfect for gamers who always find themselves in serious situations and need full spatial awareness.
This sleek Turtle Beach wireless gaming headset will keep you looking cool while offering great audio and fun features that you didn't know you needed for your gaming experience. One standout feature is the Flip-to-mute mic, which allows you to push the microphone away from your mouth to quickly mute yourself without looking for a slider or flipping a switch.
Turtle Beach also offers an exclusive "Superhuman Hearing" sound setting and four signature audio presets to give you the best sound quality, which is part of the reason Rex Freiberger, CEO of Gadget Review opts for Turtle Beach headsets. He adds, “In-game audio is crisp and clear on a Turtle Beach headset and your voice communication will never be garbled or otherwise negatively impacted by the quality of the headset. They’re ideal for gaming and streaming, with many professional streamers using them.”
The 15-hour battery life is excellent for gamers who want to use the headset in multiple sittings without worrying about charging it after every use.
One downside of this headset is that it doesn't have Bluetooth for its wireless connection and requires you to plug in a mini-USB transmitter into your device whenever you want to use it.
Gear Up For Great Gaming
Now that you know what you should be looking for in your headset, it's time to get your gaming on. Make sure to review each feature and find the headset or pair of headphones that best align with your everyday needs. You may find that spending a little extra can go a long way for quality and durability, but each gamer is unique in what they need to perform their best every gaming session.
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The 10 Best Gaming Headsets:
- Corsair HS60 PRO
- Razer Kraken X Ultralight Gaming Headset
- Fnatic React Gaming Headset
- HyperX Cloud Alpha S Gaming Headset
- SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless
- SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless Gaming Headset
- Beyerdynamic Custom Game Interactive Gaming Headset
- Audeze Mobius Premium 3D Gaming Headset
- HyperX Cloud Orbit S Gaming Headset
- Turtle Beach Stealth 600 Gen 2