16 Best Gaming Headsets for 2019
- Studio-grade soundstage
- Detachable microphone
- Feels comfortable even with prolonged usage
- Multiple sound customization and equalizing options
- Wireless audio offers 2.4G lossless latency and works in a range of up to 40 feet
- Quality build materials that include aluminum alloy and air weave cushions
If you’ve ever unpacked your brand new console to find a meek little earbud or cheap mic strap that plugs into your controller, you understand the frustration that comes with an underwhelming mic. The lack of noise isolation and subpar performance of the options you’ll find out of the box are woefully ill-equipped to handle the rigors of competitive gaming, and they certainly can’t serve as an immersive alternative to a speaker system.
As gaming grows in popularity, so does the popularity of gaming headsets. There are a lot of great options on the market, and getting a decent gaming headset doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. We’ve highlighted some of the best, and we’re here to provide you with the knowledge you need to make an informed decision.
1. HyperX Cloud Revolver S Gaming Headset
The mid-range HyperX Cloud Revolver S isn't just a superb choice for gamers. It can work equally as well as your dedicated headphones for watching movies and listening to music. Built off of the already solid Cloud Revolver headset, it packs in a number of features that only improve on that performance. The presence of 7.1 channel surround sound creates a 360 degree aural experience, a huge performance booster in games where situational awareness is important.
From a glance, this 7.1 gaming headset could be mistaken for a more traditional pair of headphones. Its muted design is stripped of the flash and extravagance many of its contemporaries opt for. Instead of aesthetics, the build is focused more on comfort, and it gets that to a tee. The metal frame is sturdy and offset by rubber dampeners to prevent reverberation, while the memory foam structure creates phenomenal long term comfort for the wearer.
- Studio-grade soundstage
- Detachable microphone
- Feels comfortable even with prolonged usage
- Noise-cancellation technology certified by both Discord and TeamSpeak
2. SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless Gaming Headset
SteelSeries is revered throughout the gaming community for the quality of their keyboards, but the Arctis demonstrates that they can just as effectively design gaming wireless gaming headsets. The Arctis may sport a price tag exceeding $300, but gaming headset reviews frequently argue it as the best option around. The sound quality is exceptional, offering lossless and high fidelity certified audio, and the Bluetooth connectivity syncs easily to either a PC or Playstation 4.
Then there's the mic. Its ClearCast technology essentially nullifies background noise entirely and provides voice clarity at a pro studio level. Small life of features have been given a considerable amount of attention too. The dual battery system provides a combined 20 hours of playtime even if you don't rotate them on the charger. The inclusion of DTS Headphone:X v2.0 technology provides you with a great sense of situational awareness for games that support it.
- Multiple sound customization and equalizing options
- Wireless audio offers 2.4G lossless latency and works in a range of up to 40 feet
- Quality build materials that include aluminum alloy and air weave cushions
- Uses a dual battery system for longer continuous use
3. SADES SA819 Gaming Headset
Not all gaming headsets under 100 dollars are low quality, but the SADES gaming headset manages to provide a respectable entry level option for about $25. While its aesthetic design isn't anything to write home about, it's got the goods where it counts. The comfortable cans are pleasant to wear for even six hours or more at a time due to the ergonomic design of the ear cushions, and there's a distinct sense of sturdiness to the frame. But what's especially surprising about this cheap gaming headset is how good it sounds.
While you shouldn't expect to find high-end features like surround sound in this set, you can expect solid performance from the 50mm drivers. While the bass is a little weak and there's the slightest amount of distortion at the highest volumes, SADES has managed to squeeze a remarkable amount of sound quality into such an inexpensive model.
- Adjustable mic comes with controls built into the frame
- Noise cancellation tech is surprisingly solid for the price
- Sports a comfortable fit designed for longer gaming sessions
- Frame boasts a durable build
4. Logitech G Pro Gaming Headset
Logitech worked closely with players to design the G Pro gaming headset (a part of a larger G Pro peripheral series), and the result is a PC gaming headset that strips out all the unnecessary bells and whistles in favor of keeping costs down and getting the fundamentals right. You won't find RGB lighting or a garish design on this peripheral. Instead, you'll get a directional mic that performs well above the expectations you'd expect for a product at this price and inline access to volume and mute buttons.
The leatherette cups feel good on the ears and do a strong job of drowning out extraneous noise, and additional micro-suede covers can provide an extra level of comfort if that's what you're looking for. And while the sound quality isn't the best around, it can be easily magnified by filtering it through a sub-amp for a little more heft.
- Strong and comfortable despite its cheap and lightweight design
- Noise dampening leatherette cups
- Micro-suede covers included
- Detachable mic performs exceedingly well
- Works well with Logitech's other G Pro accessories
5. Sennheiser Game ONE Gaming Headset
Sennheiser has a reputation for quality in the headphones market, and it's a reputation that's well earned. While the company's background is largely in making headphones for professional studio use and audiophiles, their entry into the gaming headset market is a great piece of tech that should suit gamers looking for something in the mid-range of pricing.
Despite its plastic frame, this is a sturdy and comfortable feeling piece of tech, light enough to wear for long periods but stiff enough that you won't have to keep readjusting it on your head. As you might expect from a company like this, the sound quality in the cans is of especially high quality. The microphone conveniently goes onto mute as soon as you life it out of the way, and the open backed design prevents overheating without sacrificing sound isolation in the process.
- Two separate cords for easy compatibility with all your gaming devices
- Plush velour ear pads create an incredibly comfortable experience for the user
- Superb noise cancellation in mic
- Supported by a full two year warranty from the manufacturer
6. ASTRO Gaming A50 Wireless Headset
If you're looking for a gaming headset PC that won't leave you tethered to your machine, you'll want to check out the Astro Gaming A50. Unlike many of its brethren, the A50 wears its gaming sensibilities on its sleeve, and while the neon green design might not be the right fit for everyone, the breadth of features in this USB gaming headset certainly are.
The presence of Dolby 7.1 surround sound puts you right in the midst of combat by giving you a greater sense of situational awareness, but it's a versatile enough set to work for non-gaming purposes as well. It even comes with a headset stand that doubles as a charging station. A number of quality of life software features let you fine tune your sound and create a balance between your speaker feed and the in game music, dialogue, and sound effects.
- Great sound quality along the entire spectrum of highs, mids, and lows
- High level of customization through Astro Command Center software platform
- Optional mod kit provides noise cancelling functionality
- Boom mic has flip to mute functionality
7. CORSAIR Void PRO RGB Gaming Headset
Finding a wireless gaming headset under 100 dollars isn't easy, but finding a budget gaming headset that offers wireless while still being as good as the Corsair Void is practically unheard of. That's not to say there weren't some sacrifices made here. The build quality isn't as solid as some of its more expensive contemporaries, but that's more than made up for by the impressive sound that comes out of the drivers.
While many cheaper options focus on deeper, growling bass to emphasize gunfire and explosions at the expense of the mids and highs, the Corsair Void has a balanced soundstage all across the board. It also sports a solid battery life, a necessity if you're expecting to marathon hours at a time, and the PRO edition of this model supports virtual surround sound without the player needing to plug a 3.5mm port into their controller.
- Customizable RGB logo syncs with other Corsair peripherals
- Compatible with EQ balancing software
- Offered at an incredibly low price for a high-quality wireless headset
- Mic provides crisp and recognizable recording quality
8. HyperX Cloud Alpha Gaming Headset
The HyperX Cloud series is highly regarded among the gaming community, and while the Alpha model isn't the top dog in terms of their releases, it packs in a lot of value for its relatively modest price. The Cloud in the name is a reference to the cushioning that makes up the cups on this peripheral, and the result is a contender for the most comfortable gaming headset in this price range.
The flexible headband can suit gamers of any size, while the cushioning is strong, soft, and flexible without building up excess heat during longer gaming sessions. Both the audio from your game itself and the mic quality perform well above standards, and the Cloud Alpha enjoys remarkably low latency, ensuring that delayed sound won't get in the way of your gameplay. The detachable mic allows you to use this headset as a conventional pair of headphones as well.
- Incredibly comfortable memory foam design
- Noise cancellation microphone certified by both Discord and TeamSpeak
- Proprietary Dual Chambers driver technology minimizes distortion and creates an epic soundstage
- In-line audio controls give you easy access to mute and volume
9. Sennheiser GSP 600 Professional Headset
Sennheiser's GSP 600 PRO is clearly designed to compete with top line entries in the gaming headset market like the SteelSeries Arctic. And while the Arctic remains the name to be beat in this price range, the GSP is no slouch either. Sennheiser is a headphone company first and foremost, so it's no big surprise that they put audio performance front and center. This isn't the most comfortable gaming headset around, nor is its mic performance going to slay the competition, but there are few alternatives that can hold a candle to Sennheiser's entry where the soundstage is concerned.
The audio fidelity can match plenty of dedicated headphones on the market, and Sennheiser has opted for a sound that leans into the treble and vocals rather than pay disproportionate attention to the bass. This isn't a studio set by any means, but it offers a level of balance that's rare.
- Phenomenally strong aural performance for a gaming headset
- Very strong noise cancellation tech built into the mic
- Adjustable headband design lets you fit it to the specifications of your skull
- Metal hinge and exchangeable parts result in a durable choice that's easy to repair
10. Razer Nari Ultimate Gaming Headset
The Razer Nari Ultimate throws out a lot of buzzwords and proprietary technology. Normally that's a warning sign that a company's marketing team is working harder than their engineers, but the Nari Ultimate earns its pretensions. The most revolutionary tech on display here is HyperSense, a haptic response that employs the same sort of rumble functionality you'll find in all modern gaming controllers. That alone wouldn't make this an entry worth recommending, but it fortunately aces most of the fundamentals as well.
This Bluetooth gaming headset can retain its aural fidelity well even when cranked up to max volume. In a change from Razer's normal MO, there's a good balance of sound that doesn't linger too much in the heavy bass, and the inline controls are both intuitive and robust. The battery also boasts a 20 hour charge, but that's greatly diminished when making use of HyperSense or RGB lighting.
- HyperSense is a true game changer that feels like more than just a gimmick
- Makes use of THX Spatial Audio for truly top shelf surround sound
- Cushions infused with cooling gel prevent overheating
- Coordinates well with Razer's other PC gaming peripherals
11. SteelSeries Arctis 7 Wireless Headset
There are few lines that are as well regarded as SteelSeries' Arctis series, and while we've outlined the truly exceptional specs of the Pro model above, it's understandable that it might be well outside the price range of the average consumer. And while the Arctis 7 may constitute a meaningful downgrade from the Pro model, it's still a serious device that draws from the workmanlike engineering that SteelSeries is known for.
Despite its reasonable price point, the Arctis 7 offers the same level of comfort available in higher end Arctis models along with a respectably high-quality level of sound performance. It's not going to hold up to professional grade studio headphones if you're using it to listen to music or watch movies, but the combination of a solid soundscape and a great unidirectional mic create an all-around well balanced headset with some neat features to boot.
- S1 speaker drivers more or less mitigate the threat of distortion entirely
- 2.4G connection creates lossless performance with low latency
- Boasts a life of 24 hours on a single battery charge
- Supports multiple settings configurations
12. CORSAIR HS70 SE Surround Sound Headset
Looking for an affordable gaming headset that's both wireless and comes with support for surround sound? Look no further than the Corsair HS70 SE. From the simple black frame to the beige printed interior, this is a handsome piece of equipment, and the plush memory foam and adjustable headband contribute to an overall feel that's both comfortable and accommodating to your needs.
Then there's the sound quality, which comes about as close to flat as you could expect without investing in a full set of studio headphones. That results in a more robust breadth of sound than you'd expect with a lot of the more traditional gaming headsets around. Transitioning from a PC to a PS4 is a painfully easy process, which is a great choice if you're a gamer who prefers both options, and the battery life is decently above average with its 16 hour life span.
- Memory foam and adjustable cups are very comfortable
- 2.4GHz wireless audio is low latency and offers a range of up to 40 feet
- Unidirectional microphone is removable and offers exceptional fidelity
- Built from demanding and durable rugged metal components
13. HyperX Cloud Flight Noise Cancelling Headset
The HyperX Cloud is a prodigious series of peripherals, so prodigious in fact that it can support multiple different models in the same price range. The Cloud Flight will cost you approximately as much as the Cloud Revolver S, but its ability to carve out its own identity earns it a place on our list. The most notable is the fact that this is a wireless headset, but that's just scratching the surface of what's offered here.
While the bass is noticeably heavy, it never feels at the expense of the mids or highs, and there's no need to monkey around with external software to get the sound performance just right. What hasn't changed are the fundamental design sensibilities, and that's a good thing. The HyperX Cloud has long been one of the most comfortable gaming headsets on the market, and it continues to excel in that regular.
- Boasts an incredible battery life of 30 hours
- Built off of one of the most comfortable designs in the business
- Noise isolation mic is certified by both Discord and TeamSpeak
- LED settings can be customized to suit your personality
14. ASTRO Gaming A10 Gaming Headset
The Astro A10 is second only to the SADES SA819 in terms of cheap gaming headsets on our list. But inexpensive doesn't mean cheaply made. Roughly thirty bucks gets you access to a great mic and a pair of cans that pack an alarming amount of power into their drivers. In short, Astro has taken everything that gamers love about the impressive A50 and stuffed it into a much more affordable frame.
The expensive metal components of the A50 are traded in for more traditional plastic, but it still manages a pretty comfortable fit. Obviously that cheaper price tag has necessitated the sacrifice of features as well. A bendable mic that mutes when flipped up is about the only accoutrement available here, but that's hardly a big loss. This is a utilitarian choice through and through, and it really sticks the landing as far as all the fundamentals are concerned.
- Combines a great mic and great sound quality into an affordable package
- Aluminum headband and plastic frame are both surprisingly durable
- In-line volume control is easily accessible and useful
- Memory foam ear cushions provide an extra layer of comfort
15. Turtle Beach Elite Pro 2
Turtle Beach was the first company to make a gaming headset with the needs of console gamers in mind, and they haven't slowed down since. The Elite Pro 2 is the flagship of their universal gaming headsets, and while it's a pricy piece of equipment, it meets the standards that gamers have come to expect from Turtle Beach. The design is simple, understated, and comfortable, but there's a lot of power packed beneath those cushioned ear muffs.
The big selling point here is the inclusion of a separate amplifier that provides you with an extra performance boost and allows you to alter your volume without having to fiddle around with an inline control panel directly. Windows Sonic sound and stereo settings are both supported, and the former is one of the better executions of simulated surround sound you'll find.
- SuperAmp is a unique way to approach volume management
- Mic makes use of high-quality TruSpeak technology
- More easily control your gaming experience with audio presets
- Aerofit ear cushions provide a great level of comfort
16. Audio Technica ATH-ADG1X
Audio Technica 's experience may be outside the realm of gaming headsets, but they haven't been afraid to go unconventional with their ATH-ADG1X model. First is the open air design - a bold choice considering that noise isolation is such an important feature in gaming headsets. But it's a move that emphasizes comfort without having to rely on heavy padded cushions that could potentially lead to overheating.
This isn't something you'll want to be wearing on the subway, but it performs great in controlled environments without too much ambient sound. Fortunately, the directional nature of the microphone ensures that at least won't be too affected by outside influences. That leads us to the other unconventional choice: the 53mm drivers. Between the expansive frequency response, the light impedance, and the superb sensitivity, wearers can expect crystal clear sound despite the lack of any bells or whistles like surround sound.
- A back-to-basic headset that focuses on producing rock solid sound performance
- One of the few good gaming headsets to come in an open air design
- 53mm drivers deliver highly accurate noise without the need for surround sound
- Crystal clear communications via the above average directional mic
Best Gaming Headset Buyer’s Guide
Understanding the Specs
What defines a good gaming headset is bound to vary wildly from gamer to gamer. After all, the best gaming peripheral in the world won’t mean much if it’s not compatible with your preferred device, and the quality of the mic versus the quality of the drivers is going to change in priority depending on how serious you are about your multiplayer gaming. Wireless functionality, similarly, can vary from an absolute necessity to a nice but not critical feature depending on your play environment.
While we’ve outlined a number of helpful specs for each of the models we’ve featured here, it might not be readily apparent how important they are to your style of gaming. That’s why we’re going to dig in deeper and analyze what these various traits actually mean for your gameplay experience. Once you’ve read through this, the individual spec profiles will serve as a much more valuable cheat sheet for your shopping experience.
The modern era of gaming has opened up a dramatic and practically limitless number of devices for gamers, so narrowing down our compatibility options was more or less a necessity. We’ve chosen to focus on PC gaming as well as this generation’s top two consoles: the Playstation 4 and XBox One. Keep in mind that what works for the original PS4 and XBOne models will work equally as well for the Pro and X models respectively as well. While their performance may be souped up, the hardware fundamentals behind them are the same.
But that doesn’t mean that these options aren’t compatible with other gaming devices. You may have noticed that all of the headsets we spotlight support either all three of our featured devices or only the PC and PS4. Across the board, that covers a clear line of distinction: options that are wired and those that are wireless. It also makes it much easier to determine if your alternate device is compatible with the headset.
Wired headphones, which use a 3.5mm cable (which we’ll outline in more detail below), will work with practically any device you can imagine. The 3.5mm cable is ubiquitous, and ports are available everywhere from the Nintendo Switch to modern speakers to the interior of most contemporary cars. When you see a product listed as compatible with “PC, PS4, and Xbox One” then, you can expect basically universal compatibility.
Bluetooth headsets are a little more complicated. While a number of devices, including modern mobile phones, most modern wireless speakers, and the Nintendo Switch, are compatible with Bluetooth technology, that doesn’t mean they’ll work easily with a Bluetooth headset. Some devices may require the download of additional software to work with Bluetooth, and others like the Nintendo Switch flat out won’t work with Bluetooth wireless speakers.
In terms of compatibility, the Xbox One is a bit of a strange bird. The earliest version of the Xbox One controller doesn’t include support for 3.5mm cords, which means that while they’re technically compatible with traditional wired options, you’ll need to buy a special Microsoft branded converter for the privilege. Controllers released after 2015 come with the appropriate ports built in, so you needn’t worry if you have a more recent model.
Then there’s the question of wireless controllers. While the console wars are often framed in terms of platform-exclusive games, proprietary hardware is also a component. While Sony’s exclusive access to Blu-Ray discs isn’t a game changer, their access to Bluetooth is a different issue entirely. There is no Bluetooth compatibility whatsoever on the Xbox One, although if you really want a wireless headset, there are Bluetooth receivers on the market that can offer workarounds.
If you were to hear manufacturers explain it, there would practically be a different type of driver for every headset model on the market. Companies love coming up with names for their proprietary technology and outlining made-up features, but a full list of these drivers would read as largely incomprehensible in the context of our list. That’s why we’ve chosen to compare drivers according to their size. Essentially, these drivers are like tiny speakers inside the can of your headset. Most drivers come in at 40mm or 50mm in diameter, with a few notable exceptions like the Arctis Pro opting for smaller, directional 30mm drivers instead.
Logically it might seem like bigger is going to be objectively better as far as drivers are concerned, and there’s some truth to that. Since 50mm drivers are larger, they offer a wider soundstage. In essence, 50mm drivers cover more of your ear and as a result create richer sound. In contrast, 40mm drivers create a more concentrated sound. All things being equal, 50mm headsets will provide you with better bass while 40mm and smaller drivers will create a more balanced and delicate sound quality.
Unfortunately, all things are rarely equal. In the grand scheme of things, the size of the drivers aren’t going to make that great a difference because other factors like the headset design, diaphragm size, and quality of materials used in the driver design will have a more significant effect. The driver size can be a guidepost when shopping, but it shouldn’t be something you use as a deciding factor in your purchasing decision.
We’ve already talked briefly about the connectivity options in the compatibility section, but it’s worth digging a little deeper to understand the options available to you. The two primary connectivity options are 3.5mm cables (also known as AUX cords) and wireless Bluetooth (which primarily makes use of a USB dongle).
As far as 3.5mm cables go, the process of setting your peripheral up is basically plug and play. All you have to do is stick the cable into the source outlet and it should automatically output to your headset. One of the main advantages of 3.5mm cables are how ubiquitous they are, but they continue to be popular due to the relative consistency of their sound quality.
As long as the cable is in good shape, 3.5mm cables often perform reliably better sound quality than their wireless counterparts. In comparison, wireless headsets that use a USB dongle are more convenient in many ways, but keep in mind that operating them means using one of the sometimes limited USB slots on your PS4 or PC.
PC players may have one more connectivity option, depending on the model they’ve chosen. A rare few expensive headsets, like the SteelSeries Arctis Pro, offer support for optical cables. The main difference between an aux cable and an optical cable is that the former is analog while the latter is digital. What does this mean in literal terms? Less interference. An optical cord while deliver sound directly to your ear cups in its original format.
But in practical terms, most gamers won’t notice a great difference. If you hear hissing or crackling through your traditional aux cable, optical can fix that. Otherwise, it’s not really an issue. And since optical ports are far rarer than 3.5mm ports, it’s unlikely to be an issue for most gamers in the first place.
The more modern features a headset has the better, right? Not necessarily. Wireless headsets can offer a significant amount of convenience that their wired counterparts don’t, but that doesn’t mean that they’re objectively better. If you’re an XBox One or Nintendo Switch gamer, for instance, a wireless headset won’t do you much good, and if you play on multiple systems, you need to ask yourself if it’s worth buying more than one peripheral for the sake of convenience. On the other hand, many options have detachable boom mics, and a wireless option is a huge convenience if you want your set to double as a pair of headphones for your daily commute or jog.
3.5mm jacks also generally offer better sound performance because of the lag involved in Bluetooth signals. All of the wireless headsets on our list offer pretty solid performance, and none but the most serious audiophiles are likely to notice the difference in quality between a wired and wireless headset, but you’ll definitely want to look for an option with the lowest latency if you consider yourself a serious gamer.
You also have to consider how much convenience a wireless headset really brings. Playstation 4 Dualshock controllers and most brand name controllers for PC rigs come with audio jacks, and most players aren’t going to use a range of movement that really hinders your experience with a wired controller. But if you’re a PC gamer who relies on a mouse and keyboard rather than a traditional controller, chances are you won’t want to have to plug a 3.5mm cord directly into the jack on your laptop or tower.
In that case, a Bluetooth headset could be the ideal choice for you. Just be sure to watch the battery life. While a wired option will continue to work as long as the source it’s plugged into is powered, a wireless headset runs off its own battery. Normally you can expect a good ten or more hours of juice from a wireless battery per charge.
Surround sound in a traditional stereo system is a pretty basic idea. It splits sound into separate channels and projects them through two or more different speakers to create an aural experience that simulates real situational awareness. Obviously, the more speakers you have, the more realistic the depth of sound you can create. The problem is that it requires a significant amount of space and accurate positioning to fully and authentically create that illusion.
Those unfortunately aren’t luxuries that headsets or headphones really have, but through the use of clever workarounds, a new variety of surround sound that’s designed to replicate more traditional surround sound as accurately as possible. But it’s still a point of contention. While plenty of gamers love the experience that headphone surround sound provides, many professionals continue to stick to traditional stereo headsets.
There are two varieties of surround sound you’ll find when shopping for a gaming headset. True surround sound tries to take the fundamentals of traditional surround sound and pack it into a speaker. That means with 7.1 surround sound, the device actually contains drivers to pipe in the different isolated components of your favorite game’s audio. This isn’t always ideal, because packing in that many speakers means that each one is going to be less powerful than the larger drivers you’d get from a more traditional stereo headset.
Other headsets, like the HyperX Cloud Revolver S, make use of virtual surround sound instead, and while this technology was once seen as a gimmick (and a largely unsuccessful one at that), recent innovations have actually made this a pretty appealing technology. Devices with virtual surround sound make use of two drivers, same as a traditional pair of stereo cans. Rather than deliver the sound through multiple drivers, then, the sound is remixed before it reaches your ear. The digitally altered soundscape is illusory but specifically designed to simulate the impression that it’s coming from multiple directions.
So is surround sound the right choice for you? That depends. We’ve left true surround sound headsets off of our list because of their impracticality, but the tech behind virtual surround sound headsets are becoming increasingly more sophisticated and effective over time. And since they use traditional stereo drivers, there’s nothing to lose. You still get relatively powerful results and can turn off the surround sound to suit your needs.
But since virtual surround sound relies on algorithms that simulate rather than replicate a soundscape, it can still sometimes be inaccurate, and that makes many pros hesitant to rely on surround sound as opposed to traditional stereo. There are two popular formats available for surround sound: Dolby Atmos and DTS Headphone:X v2.0. While the algorithms have some highly technical distinctions, they work in the same fundamental way and are mostly comparable in terms of quality.
The frequency response refers to the spectrum of sound that a driver can pick up, measured in hertz and ranging from the deep lows of bass to the piercing crescendo of the highest trebles. The human audible frequency range is generally accepted as ranging from 20 to 20,000 Hz, and that’s the standard around which most headsets are based. If you find anything with a range more limited than that, you’re going to want to look the other way. So why should it matter what the frequency response is if it’s outside the range audible to humans?
For one, some sounds below 20 Hz or above 20,000 (also known as harmonic frequencies) can be heard, although on the low end it tends to manifest more as a tactile rumble than a sound. But the big reason is that a wider frequency range allows for a more stable soundscape with much less risk of distortion. While most manufacturers list the scale of their frequency response, there are more complications to consider.
The consistency of the frequency at ranges affects the balance of the varying ranges of sound. Frequencies up to 500 Hz are considered base, while 500 to 2,000 Hz are in the mid-range, and frequencies over 7,000 constitute treble. While the specifications of how each headset performs in each range is outside our purview, audiophiles may want to poke around in search of deeper analysis. There are plenty of resources online offering in-depth information on frequency response times.
Many manufacturers also list the frequency response time for their microphones. In most cases, they’ll be significantly narrower than what you’ll find in the headphone cans. There’s no need to worry. The 20 to 20,000 range covers the full range of human hearing, and it’s unlikely you’ll be hitting the highest highs or the lowest lows during your voice chat.
Every manufacturer wants to minimize the presence of outside noise in their headsets. After all, most gamers don’t play in a complete vacuum, and the distractions of outside noise can quickly take you out of the immersion of your gameplay experience. Strategic placement of drivers, cup design, and materials can all help reduce the presence of outside noise in your gaming experience, but noise isolation comes to mean something very specific as far as headsets and headphones are concerned. Instead of exclusively using passive means to block out sound, they make use of something called active noise control.
Through the presence of a microphone, these headsets analyze the sound that penetrates the headphones and creates a waveform that operates as the exact opposite of that sound, essentially canceling both out and leaving the user with the crisp enjoyment of the game’s audio. Noise cancellation is tracked in decibels, and while that can help you compare different products, it doesn’t tell you the frequencies that the noise cancellation covers. Unlike many of the specs here, there’s not a whole lot of balance between the upsides and downsides of noise cancellation technology. While options with noise cancellation are generally a bit more expensive than those without, that’s the only noticeable disadvantage of the technology.
Note that we only state whether the ear cups portion of the headset employs noise cancellation technology in our specs list. The majority of the options you’ll find make use of noise cancellation technology in the microphone as well to ensure clearer broadcasting when trying to communicate in multiplayer with less risk of distortion, feedback, or outside noise. The noise cancellation features can vary in terms of value, but if you’re looking to compete professionally (or just consider yourself a hardcore gamer), it’s never a bad idea to look for mics that are certified by popular voice chat platforms Discord and TeamSpeak.
While our specs cover a lot of the fundamentals you should evaluate when shopping for a gaming headset, there are other things that can’t be so easily quantified. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be analyzed before making a purchase.
Comfort is naturally a subjective thing, but if you’re going to be gaming for long periods of time, you need a headset that’s going to stand the test. Manufacturers have to walk a delicate balance by creating a dense enough layer of cushioning to rest comfortably over the ear (and ideally block out as much surrounding noise as possible) without overheating and causing the wearer to sweat. Weight is also a major consideration here.
The difference of a pound or two might not seem like much when you’re first testing out a headset, but you could be singing a different tune when you’re hours deep into a gaming marathon. As far as raw comfort is concerned, it would be difficult to find a better option than the HyperX Cloud. And fortunately, they come in a number of different designs (a respectable three of which showed up on our list).
Gaming headsets, and gaming accessories in general, sometimes have a tendency to be loud with their style. All you have to do is glance at the neon green hues of the Astro A50 to get a sense of the baseline for gaming accessories. But there’s actually a lot of diversity on the market.
The Razer Nari Ultimate, for instance, largely gives off the look of a solid pair of studio headphones and would otherwise be indistinguishable without its logo. Aesthetics should take a back seat to true performance features, but no one should have to wear a pair of ear cups they’re embarrassed by, and a lot of headsets come with cool customization options in the form of RGB lighting.
Gaming may not be a full contact sport like football or rugby, but that doesn’t mean that things can’t get heated. If you’re going to be wearing your headset for hours at a time, you’ll want something that’s going to last, and that’s especially true if you’re dropping a big chunk of change on your accessory. The reality is perhaps obvious. For a durable option, you want to aim for options that make use of high-quality materials.
Sennheiser’s GSP 600 stands out both for its rugged metal components and the ability to easily fix it with exchangeable parts, while Corsair consistently produces headsets that are rugged enough to stand the test of time. And while metal is always better than plastic, there are definitely some cheaper options on the market. Despite being one of the most inexpensive options we’ve listed, the Sades SA819’s plastic frame is a surprisingly strong option for more frugal consumers.
With gaming headsets, you can have it all. Models like SteelSeries’ Arctis Pro and Razer’s Nari Ultimate combine great hardware, comfortable designs, and sturdy frames with great proprietary software and even one of a kind features like rumble functionality. These are models that would be difficult to improve on in any major way, but you can expect to drop a few hundred bucks on them.
On the opposite end, options like the Sades SA819 and the Astro A10 get all the fundamentals right for approximately $25. Most shoppers will likely fall into the mid-range where most of these devices rest: highly functional headsets with some modern technology like surround sound and noise cancellation for a price in the ballpark of $100 to $150. If you’re on a strict budget, you may like our article on gaming headsets under 100 dollars.
What’s true across the board for these entries is their value. Whether you’re dropping twenty-five or two hundred and fifty bucks on one of these headsets, you can expect the performance and features to match or exceed what you pay.
A brand name can hold a lot of power. Most companies have a distinct personality, and understanding their reputation can help you understand what you can expect from their products at a glance. We’ve highlighted some of the best manufacturers in the business here, but they all have their own unique persona.
In terms of headsets, there are a few names that are worth their weight in gold. SteelSeries built a respectable name for themselves among gamers for their quality mechanical keyboards, but they’ve since become a heavyweight in the world of headsets as well. The Arctis line is renowned as one of the best options anywhere, with the Pro model sitting at the top of that pack. Then there’s HyperX – a brand known exclusively for the quality of their headsets, notably the Cloud series. Cloud models offer perhaps the most comfortable fit of any option on the market today, and they come packed with features to boot.
Sennheiser and Audio Technica occupy somewhat similar roles in this space. Both companies are more well regarded for their traditional headphones than they are for their gaming headsets. As a result, both companies generally tend to put out models with some of the best audio performance anywhere, though they’re sometimes a little light on features. Sennheiser’s sound quality is a little better on average, but Audio Technica is more consistent with the performance of their mics.
Both Astro and Turtle Beach were some of the earliest companies to hop on the gaming headset bandwagon, but as the market has grown more crowded, they don’t necessarily have the distinguished reputation they once did. The Astro and Turtle Beach headsets on our list are still quality, but there are a little more ups and downs in regards to their larger catalog.
Razer, Corsair, and Logitech are all more general peripheral manufacturers that still manage to put out pretty good and well-rounded headsets. Between the three of them, Corsair has the best overall consistency. Finally there’s Sades. This Chinese company may not be that well known, and their headsets may be dirt cheap, but the level of value for price is unparalleled by anyone.
Of course, name brand isn’t everything. While Razer has something of a shaky reputation among many gamers, and they arguably only have one headset that can hang with the competition, the Nari Ultimate is one of the best higher range headsets around, and its HyperSense technology is a true revelation you won’t find anywhere else. In other words, a brand name can give you some level of expectation and security, but don’t let it trick you into a sense of complacency. The long and short of it is that any of the headsets we’ve listed will be worth your time.
Microphone vs. Headphone Quality
If you’re exclusively a single player gamer, there’s no need for a gaming headset at all. A pair of headphones will suit you far better. But there’s plenty of range between esports pro and solo player. While some models like the Arctis Pro provide exceptional sound and mic quality, that’s usually a privilege reserved for the most expensive options on the market, and most gamers will need to make some sacrifices to suit their play style.
Are you a competitive player who needs to communicate clearly and precisely with your teammates? Do you want to be able to make outgoing phone calls through the peripheral? A quality mic is a must. Are you mostly a single player gamer, but you sometimes like to chat in the lobby? Would you like your headset to double as headphones for your commute? Then the headphones quality will likely need to take top priority. Sennheiser is a brand that got their start making headphones, and the quality of the sound performance in their headsets is largely unmatched.
There’s no doubt that headsets are complicated pieces of equipment, and that becomes especially true the more expensive they get. So many people new to the shopping experience ask whether or not they need to purchase a headset stand. The short answer is no. While these devices may be delicate, most models are built to be sturdy, and simply folding it and tucking it away in a drawer or leaving it on your gaming desk should suffice well enough for most players. Headsets don’t have to remain upright to prevent damage, and most mics can be folded up to prevent further damage.
But headset stands do come with some distinct advantages. If you prefer your space to be orderly, stands can bring an additional sense of structure to your gaming space, and they can ensure that your headset doesn’t get lost or stepped on. And for many gamers, a high-end gaming headset is as much a status symbol as anything else. In this case, stands can serve as an appealing way for you to display your gear. Headset stands won’t be the right choice for everyone, but they can bring a sense of structure to your room. Just keep in mind that they’ll take up more space as well.
Gaming headsets may seem deceptively simple on the surface. After all, they’re fundamentally just headphones with a microphone tacked on. But this relatively new market has become exceedingly sophisticated in a short amount of time. We hope this guide provides you with the tools you need to find the perfect headset and supercharge your gaming experience.