Whether you’re an avid PC gamer or a devoted console enthusiast, it’s inevitable that the people you live with will eventually grow tired of the constant bleeps, bloops, and gunshots emanating from your video games. While you may already possess a high-quality pair of headphones and a webcam with a microphone for your multiplayer needs, there’s something appealing about having it all in one convenient package. This is where gaming headsets come into play.
Gaming headsets offer a seamless, all-in-one solution for your game audio requirements. They typically include a microphone, deliver decent sound quality, and come with lengthy cords to accommodate various gaming setups. However, it’s worth noting that, like any technological device, there is an abundance of gaming headsets on the market, and not all of them are of great quality.
When searching for a gaming headset, there are certain aspects you should consider. To ensure you make an informed decision, here’s a guide on what to look for:
Editor’s note: This article has been recently updated on June 6, 2022, to provide more information on gaming headset microphones and to feature headsets that meet current standards.
A comfortable headset is a good headset
The fit of over-ear headphones on your head is crucial, particularly when it comes to gaming headsets. When engaging in long gaming sessions, an ill-fitting pair can lead to physical discomfort, ultimately hindering your ability to fully immerse yourself in the gaming experience.
Although it may initially appear tolerable, over time, trapped heat, sweat, and friction can accumulate, resulting in considerable discomfort. Even minor inconveniences can become unbearable after an hour or so. Additionally, a slight imbalance in weight distribution can result in neck pain, while excessive pressure from the headband can cause ear soreness or even headaches.
The quality of a headphone’s seal has a significant impact on its sound quality. Insufficient isolation can significantly alter the audio experience, especially in headsets and games that rely on subtle directional cues.
The size and material of the headphone pad play a crucial role in achieving a proper seal. If the foam of the pad doesn’t create an effective seal right away, it may simply require some time to conform to the shape of your head. If the pad is too small to fully encompass your ear, it’s advisable to consider larger headphones or replacement pads with a larger circumference.
For those who wear glasses, it is highly recommended to opt for velour pads for your headset or choose gaming headsets that feature eyewear channels in the ear pads. Without these features, you are likely to miss out on a significant amount of bass. Take a look at the following chart, which compares frequency responses:
Please note that the examples in the chart represent a comparison in frequency responses.
They are incredibly rare, but a few gaming headsets offer the advantage of noise cancellation, effectively filtering out background noise and enhancing the clarity of your audio output. Even if you are gaming in a relatively quiet environment at home, this feature can be immensely helpful. External distractions such as traffic outside the window or disruptive roommates or family members won’t interfere significantly. However, it’s important to note that if you’re in search of a noise-canceling gaming headset, you’ll need to be prepared to invest a considerable amount of money. High-quality products like the Bose QuietComfort 35 II Gaming Headset or the EPOS H3PRO Hybrid don’t come cheap.
Being able to hear every footstep and distant gunshot from various directions can be a game-changer, especially when navigating Fatal Fields in Fortnite. Missing out on any of these sounds would be a real shame.
Most gaming headsets are typically constructed from inexpensive plastic materials, which may compromise their durability. It is crucial to prioritize finding a headset that exudes a sense of sturdiness. Ideally, opt for a model featuring a metal or wire frame, as this ensures enhanced robustness. However, if you find yourself limited to a plastic headset, ensure that it offers sufficient flexibility and adjustability to accommodate the unique shape of your head.
It is worth noting that headsets crafted from cheap or flimsy plastic can produce loud creaking noises even with slight pressure or tension applied. In fact, I have experienced a sudden, unexpected breakage of a headset due to the poor quality of plastic, despite not having an unusually large head.
Certain headsets, such as the Beyerdynamic’s Custom Game, incorporate a solid all-metal skeleton, rendering them highly resilient and capable of withstanding rigorous use. This is particularly important to consider if the headset will be utilized by an enthusiastic and passionate gamer.
Please note that the preceding paragraph has been revised for clarity and readability.
The microphone of a gaming headset is frequently underestimated, yet it’s crucial to consider several aspects when searching for one.
First and foremost, it’s important to manage your expectations regarding the recording quality of gaming headset microphones, as they generally fall short in this area. Particularly in the bass range of the frequency spectrum, these mics tend to struggle, resulting in individuals with deep voices sounding somewhat tinny. Additionally, these microphones often receive insufficient power through their designated connection, be it 3.5mm or USB, resulting in a potentially quiet sound output.
Please note that the revised paragraph is written in English.
Absolutely! There are several ways to address the limitations of headset microphone hardware, depending on your gaming platform. If you’re using a console such as the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X/S, the controllers themselves are equipped with sound cards that greatly enhance the quality of outgoing calls when you connect a 3.5mm gaming headset.
Moreover, gaming headset companion apps have introduced more advanced features to enhance microphone quality on PC. For example, Logitech G Hub now integrates the Blue Vo!ce mic suite into the features for the Logitech G Pro X and Logitech G733 headsets. Similarly, companies like Razer and SteelSeries offer microphone EQ and additional features in their respective apps. Even popular communication platform Discord can be of assistance, as its noise suppression feature is often remarkable, effectively masking or significantly reducing background noises, including the sound of someone eating chips directly into the microphone.
If you plan to use the headset on the go, similar to a regular pair of headphones, it may be worth considering a model with a detachable microphone. On the other hand, if you primarily game at home, this may be less of a concern. However, it is still important to ensure that the microphone is flexible and adjustable, as even minor adjustments can have a significant impact on call quality.
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Distinguishable from 3D sound, surround sound is a commonly found feature in gaming headsets that can hold significant importance depending on the type of game you play. Headsets equipped with surround sound offer an immersive 360-degree audio experience, employing multiple speakers to cover each ear. This technology enables you to accurately perceive sound coming from various directions, allowing you to discern if something is approaching from behind and to the right, for instance. While surround sound is considered a luxury feature in most entertainment mediums, it can provide a genuine competitive advantage in gaming, particularly for the millions of Fortnite players who consider it a necessity.
Surround sound comes in various standards, such as Dolby Atmos for headphones, DTS:X 2, Windows Sonic, and proprietary solutions developed by headphone manufacturers. Nowadays, nearly all gaming platforms incorporate their own form of spatial audio. Windows and Xbox consoles utilize Windows Sonic, while the PlayStation 5 employs its Tempest 3D audio engine. The advantage of these built-in standards is that they work seamlessly with any headset, whether it connects via USB or 3.5mm, making it less crucial for your new headset to include its own spatial audio solution.
It’s important to note that every gaming headset supports stereo sound as well. If you don’t feel compelled to delve into the intricacies of setting up spatial audio, a stereo headset will likely suffice. Players of MOBA games like League of Legends and DOTA 2, as well as those enjoying character action games or single-player experiences, will have no issues with a stereo headset. Rest assured that even if the headset you purchase lacks DTS or Dolby Atmos support, you still have viable alternatives available.
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How does the gaming headset look
I refer to this as the “roommate ridicule factor,” a crucial consideration when selecting a gaming headset. While some gaming headsets closely resemble ordinary headphones with an attached microphone, others resemble extraterrestrial spaceships perched upon your head. Certain models feature vibrant colors, peculiar angular designs, LED lights, and names that sound more fitting for a laser-firing apparatus than ear coverings.
This factor becomes particularly significant if you intend to wear your headset in public. Even if the microphone is detachable, it won’t be of much help if your head appears adorned with a miniature Tron lightcycle.
Finding a good gaming headset at an affordable price is not a difficult task. The market offers a range of options that deliver impressive performance, starting from around $60. So, you don’t have to spend a fortune to find the perfect headset. Budget-friendly choices like the Razer Kraken X and the Fnatic React headset provide solid, no-frills experiences without breaking the bank. Even when you approach the $100 mark, options like the HyperX Cloud Alpha and SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless deliver exceptional gaming experiences. Regardless of which headset you choose, as long as you keep the points mentioned in this post in mind, you will find a suitable option.
In addition, we have a variety of lists and Headset Reviews available, catering to both affordable and high-end preferences.