Gaming headsets are an absolute necessity for gamers of all skill levels, from beginner to eSport Pro. But with so many gaming headsets are available in the market, it can be hard to pick out the perfect fit. Most gamers look for top-quality surround sound experience and, because these headsets are typically worn for long periods of time, comfort and fit. That’s just the start, however, as lighting, size, microphone quality, and connection can all play into it your decision as well. But not all factors are of equal importance - if you are buying a gaming headset for the first time, you will need to know what factors are important to you.
Although there are various similarities between conventional headsets and gaming headsets, here is what really differentiates them from one another and why you should invest in a gaming headset:
1. RGB Lighting
Gaming headsets tend to have a less “office-y” look and often feature specialized designs, RGB lighting, and multiple color options. Some gaming headsets also have different RGB light settings, allowing for advanced customization. But, it should be noted that style has no bearing on sound quality and its relative importance will entirely depend on the consumer’s personal preference.
Since gaming headsets are usually worn for extended durations, they are usually bigger in size and often have cushioned ear cups making them more comfortable. Because of their bigger size, they are also slightly heavier than conventional headsets.
Most gaming headsets have a built-in microphone to allow gamers to easily communicate with their teammates and friends. Some models feature a detachable microphone, others a retractable microphone, and some headsets permanently and prominently feature the microphone. If you are looking at gaming headsets, be sure to know how you plan on using them – if you don’t have a separate microphone, don’t get a gaming headset without a mic!
If you are buying a gaming headset for the first time, it is important to identify the most important decision-making factors to get the biggest bang for your buck. There are a few key ways in which gaming headsets differ from one another:
· Since most gamers prefer a completely immersive environment, the sound quality is often the most important factor.
· Comfort is the usually second most important factor, as gamers will most likely use their headsets for extended periods.
· Gaming headsets are available in both wired and wireless options. Wireless headsets offer greater flexibility and convenience, without the risk of getting caught up in wires in the heat of the moment.
· It’s also worth considering a multi-platform (such as PC, Mac, PlayStation, and Xbox etc.) gaming headsets rather than one platform for greater flexibility.
· Battery life and how long it takes for the gaming headsets to charge (if needed) is also an important consideration. You don’t want your headset dying on hour two of a twelve-hour marathon!
· Some gaming headsets have a mic included. However, this is not the case with all available options. Whether this feature is a requirement will again depend on your needs.
· And, of course, price. Gaming headsets are available at both ends of the spectrum, ranging from $299.99 to $25. The best choice will largely depend on your distinct needs and budget.
As mentioned above, it is important to decide between wired and wireless gaming headphones. While wireless headsets continue to improve and are becoming more and more popular, there are some great wired options also available in the market. Wireless gaming headsets will generally be more expensive than their wired counterparts, but do offer some serious benefits. Wired gaming headsets are more susceptible to breakage due to tangled wires (I know I’ve knocked my headset off my desk more than once when my wires got caught on my chair….). Plus, if you’re wearing a wireless headset and you need to sprint away for any reason mid-game, your teammate can keep you aware of anything going on. Nothing worse than coming back to a game to find an enemy shotgun in your face!
If you're getting a gaming headset, you're going to want Surround Sound. It enriches the fidelity and depth of the sound by employing multiple audio channels that surround the listener. But not all surround sound is the same. Gaming headsets usually have two types of surround sound technology:
1. Virtual Surround Sound System
In virtual surround sound technology, the “surround sound” effect is created via drivers and programs on your headset and computer. Because virtual surround sound doesn't use as many physical parts to create surround sound, the gaming headsets employing virtual surround sound technology tend to run cheaper than the headsets with natural surround sound systems. And, while it’s not quite as up-to-snuff as true surround sound, it’s still leagues above the standards of non-gaming headsets.
2. Real Surround Sound System
In real surround sound technology, the headset has special hardware that allows it to produce sounds that are just like real life. It adds an element of reality to the auditory experience. Nevertheless, better technology comes at a higher price. Thus, gaming headsets with real surround sound technology are more expensive.
There are tons of gaming headsets currently available, but we’ve narrowed it down to just six of our favorite wireless gaming headsets.
1. SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless Gaming Headset
The SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless Gaming Headset is one of the most popular gaming headsets currently available. It offers stable dual wireless technology with 2.4G cordless and Bluetooth connectivity for mobile devices. This headset has a 40 feet range which is better than most other gaming headsets offer. The dual-battery system comes with a second battery for more efficient use; you won’t need to be without the headphones even when the spare battery is charging. The headset produces 40,000 Hz hi-resolution audio and comes equipped with a bi-directional ClearCast microphone which promises studio-quality sound along with background noise cancellation. The Arctis Pro Wireless headset is created with high-quality materials like polished steel and aluminum alloy. The unique Arctis ski goggle headband and Air Weave fabric-based ear cushions offer maximum comfort for extended use.
2. Astro Gaming A50 Wireless Headset and Base Station
The Astro Gaming A50 Wireless Headset and Base Station costs $299.99 and is compatible with PlayStation 4 (PS4), PC, and Mac. With the revolutionary ASTRO Gaming design, it offers an exceptional surround sound experience to gamers, as well as the ASTRO Audio V2 for a complete and smooth frequency spectrum for localization of sound for a competitive edge. The Dolby audio experience offers clarity, sound directionality, and a competitive advantage. This gaming headset also has built-in MixAmp technology to optimized chat and game sounds on the fly.
3. Audeze Mobius Premium Wireless 3D Over-Ear Gaming Headset
The Audeze Mobius Premium Wireless 3D Over-Ear Gaming Headset is another great option. The headset uses Audeze Planar Magnetic drivers which utilize magnetic fields to generate sound. This headset is known worldwide for its superior sound quality. They are a perfect accessory to add an extra oomph in your gaming experience. This headset has been developed in collaboration with Waves, the world’s largest developer of audio DSP technology and a technical Grammy award recipient, and combines their groundbreaking NX era with Mobius. This is the first headset to offer an immersive Surround Sound experience to customers without additional software or hardware.
4. Dell Alienware Wireless Stereo Gaming Headset
The Dell Alienware Wireless Stereo Gaming Headset is a popular choice. This headset can be customized to any of 16.8M colors in its two zones with AlienFX permit personalized in-recreation lighting fixtures. But don’t let all the color lead you astray – the headset not only looks good but also offers an elevated Virtual Surround Sound experience and an understated wide acoustic initial. It also has high-fidelity 40mm neodymium drivers, amazing bass, and an expansive soundscape for a remarkable gaming experience.
5. HyperX Cloud II Wireless Gaming Headset w/ 7.1 Surround Sound
The HyperX Cloud II Wireless Gaming Headset w/ 7.1 Surround Sound is compatible with Windows PC, PlayStation 4, Playstation 5, and Nintendo Switch. It has a long-lasting battery which allow the headset to be used for up to 30 hours. This is a wireless headset that relies on the 2.4GHz wireless technology and 53mm drivers has impressive audio quality along with a 7.1 virtual surround sound for better positional audio. The premium memory foam and leatherette deliver unmatched comfort. Its detachable microphone is both Discord and TeamSpeak certified and features an LED indicator that allows you to see when the mic is on mute. The mic monitoring allows you to hear your own voice to ensure that it is neither too high nor too low and can be heard clearly.
6. Logitech G PRO X Wireless Lightspeed Gaming Headset
The Logitech G PRO X Wireless Lightspeed Gaming Headset is equipped with Logitech’s Lightspeed wireless technology that offers an exceptional experience without compromises in latency, connectivity, or battery. Gamers can use this headset for up to 20 hours at a time and up to a range of 15 meters using a robust 2.4 GHz frequency. This headset also has a detachable 6 mm PRO microphone with Blue VOICE filters that deliver crisp sound because of advanced noise reduction and compression technology. This headset will cost $199.99 but is worth the price because of the next-generation X 2.0 with surround sound beyond 7.1 channels.
Now comes the most important question: what is the best headset for me? There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, and it will largely depend on your individual circumstances and preferences. But, if you're a gamer who plans on spending multiple hours in-game multiple times a week, a gaming headset is the way to go. And, if you're looking for more personalized recommendations, stop by your local Micro Center and talk to one of our associates. They'll happily walk you through your needs and help you pick the best headset for you!
More from the Micro Center Community:
Looking for more information about headsets and audio? We’ve got Community Sections just for that, as well as articles on Steel Series peripherals and Choosing Parts for your PC Build. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for, don’t hesitate to post a new discussion and the Community will be happy to help!
Awesome guide! One thing that people seem to not take into consideration is what material the headphones are made out of. Plastic/pleather or cloth. I point out that if you are going to wear them for awhile getting the plastic/pleather make for some horribly uncomfortable ear sweat. I shoot people to the cloth models to lessen the sweat factor. Just some thing that gets overlooked.
Good point John! Beyond this, you can sometimes tell the difference between Closed and Open-back headphones! As you mentioned the material makes a huge difference. So much so, that there are some 1st party and many 3rd party replacement ear pieces.
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