With the advent of VR and increasingly powerful OSs, gaming studios are stepping up to provide the best immersive experience money can buy. Studios now dedicate a good portion of their resources on providing, not just the best graphics, but also amazing souclndtracks and soundscapes to complete the immersion. Consumers are also willing to shell out over $1000 on gaming laptops in order to take advantage of the high quality experience.
However, something that is often underrated or looked over by most is the need for a pair of dedicated gaming headphones. What a wasted opportunity it is, to own a powerful enough system to enjoy crystal clear graphics, but miss out on the enjoyment and beauty of the soundscapes.
A good pair of gaming headset should complement your gaming experience by providing you high fidelity acoustics, thus bringing virtual reality one step closer to your reality.
Buyer’s Guides for Gaming Headsets
To tackle this behemoth task to find the perfect headset, we’ve come up with a handy guide to help you know what to look out for. Here are a few key areas which can help you prioritise your needs when whittling down your choices.
A lot of gaming headset companies spend their efforts on their audio driver and design. But, in order to stay competitive price-wise, they sacrifice the build quality by using cheap plastic. The light-weight plastic is often non-durable and vulnerable to breakage when dropped or under stress. Gaming headsets which use a lower grade of plastic tend to creak when you gently flex the headband or ear cups.
There are also headsets which use metal for a premium feel and extra durability. However, this adds on to the weight of the headset.
There are companies that have incorporated flashy RGB lightings into their headset, which really help gamers to stand out. Some even have sophisticated software dedicated to adjusting the lightings to as many as 16 million color combinations.
The ergonomics of gaming headphones plays a huge part in determining a good gaming headset.
Physical Touch Points
First and foremost, you should check the comfort of the physical touch points – headbands and ear cups. Memory-foam cushion is a popular choice when it comes to this. The thickness of the cushion matters too. Ear cushions with a good amount of padding will prevent your ears from touching the drivers.
Clamping Force and Weight Distribution
Next, let’s look at the clamping force and the weight distribution of the headset. A strong clamping force will give you headaches but a headset with loose clamping force will trouble staying snug on your head. Having a well-balanced weight distribution can also help keep the headset from slipping.
Rotatable Ear Cups
If you like to hang your gaming headset around your neck, you should also look out for ear cups that can be rotated and open flat. A rigid ear cups creates pressure and abrasions on the neck and shoulders.
Open-back / Close-back
An open-back headset keeps the air flowing through your earcups, hence, it can keep your ears cool and dry. This is particularly helpful for gamers who sweat a lot or are gaming in a warm environment.
But, the downsides for open-back headphones are the lack of noise isolation and also sound leakages. So, if you are gaming in a noisy environment or are in close confines with people who need silence, open-back might not be a good choice.
If you look through the specifications of your gaming headsets, the frequency response will be stated by the manufacturer. This refers to the range of sound frequency that the headset can output. Most gaming headphones will have a frequency response in the 20 – 20kHz range.
Easy To Drive?
Some gaming headsets might need more power to drive or, in laymen terms, reach its maximal potential volume. A headset that needs more power to drive might sound lacklustre when used with a mobile phone. Thankfully with the Headphone Power Calculator, it’s very easy to calculate how much power your headphone needs.
Size of the Driver
The common audio drivers used are in either 40mm or 50mm diameter and are made from neodymium magnet.
For certain games, it is crucial for the player to be able to hear as much detail as possible. Being able to pinpoint sounds spatially is consider an extra edge for the game.
All modern gaming headsets have the basic 2.0 basic stereo channel system. This means that the headsets have two channels of sounds from both ear cups.
It is possible to simulate 7.1 surround sound effects with a two-channel stereo headphone. The most popular surround sound technology is the “Dolby Headphone”. Headphones which licensed this proprietary technology will carry the label – “Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound”.
Another commonly used surround sound technology that you will find for higher-end gaming headsets is the “DTS Headphone: X 7.1”. This, too, is a proprietary technology developed by DTS (Dedicated To Sound). It can reproduce 12 channels of bi-aural surround sound with any pair of stereo headphones.
With surround sound technology, a gamer can hear footsteps behind him or bullets whizzing past his head. A great gaming headphone can replicate a realistic and immersive soundstage.
Different types of games call for the need for different sound signatures. A First Person Shooter(FPS) game needs the player to listen for subtle sounds, like footsteps. Hence, headsets with slightly forward mids are preferred over a headset that emphasises on bass.
As for games that aren’t so competitive and include great soundtracks or effects, you will want a headset with a v-shaped sound signature which places more emphasis on bass and treble. In that case, you can experience a more intimate feel for dynamic sounds effects like explosions.
But if you want a headset that is flexible for all types of games, a headset with a well-balanced sound signature is preferred.
The audio control allows the gamer to make adjustments, such as volume control, switching of EQ profile, mute mic, etc… This audio control can be found either
- inline, along the cables
- integrated onto the headset
- on an external transmitter
Most headsets will include a software that allows you to tune and save custom EQ profiles. With these, you can have your preferred sound signature. Some even include quick-access buttons to switch EQ profiles on the fly when you are gaming.
Having smooth communication is crucial for team-based games like CS:Go and Dota. A poor quality microphone(mic) can compromise your mission.
Firstly, a good mic must be sensitive enough to pick up your voice clearly. The mic sensitivity for the gaming headsets in our list ranges from -44dB to -34dB.
Mic Polar Pattern / Directionality
A mic polar pattern refers to how a mic picks up sound from different directions. There are three common types of directionality:
An omni-directional mic, like its name entails, picks up sound equally from all directions.
A uni-directional mic picks up the most sound from either the front or the back. It picks up lesser ambient noise than a omni-directional mic.
The bi-directional mic picks up the least sound from the sides and picks up the most sound coming from both the front and rear. Mics with this polar pattern will pick up the least ambient feedback.
For a master class on polar patterns, you can read this article from Shure.
Not all headsets are suitable for every gaming platform. Some are dedicated for PC gaming while some are able to support multi-platforms and even VR gaming sets.
Look at the fine prints for console support. Even though they suggest that certain consoles are supported, they might include a disclaimer stating the need for an adaptor.
For example, the Xbox One wireless controllers that are produced before June 2015 have no 3.5mm port. Users have to purchase an additional headset adapter.
Some consoles, like the PS4, need a separate optical cable and USB cable for game audio and chat audio in order to control each audio channel individually.
Best Gaming Headsets 2017
We have hand-picked the 10 best gaming headsets for 2017. The selection varies from wired to wireless, prices range from $49.99 to $299.99 and all of them work on multi-platforms. These extensive headset choices should be able to meet both your budget and gaming needs.
So let’s take a look at the list.
|HyperX Cloud Stinger||No||No||💰 Check Price|
|SoundBlasterX H5||No||No||💰 Check Price|
|SteelSeries Arctis 5||DTS Headphone:X 7.1||No||💰 Check Price|
|HyperX Cloud Revolver ||No||No||💰 Check Price|
|Logictech G933 Artemis Spectrum||- Dolby 7.1|
- DTS Headphone:X
|Yes||💰 Check Price|
|LucidSound LS30 |
|No||Yes||💰 Check Price|
|Dolby 7.1||No||💰 Check Price|
|Sennheiser GAME One|
(Strong Runner Up)
|No||No||💰 Check Price|
|SteelSeries Siberia 800||- Dolby Digital|
- Dolby Pro Logic IIx
- Dolby 7.1
|Yes||💰 Check Price|
|Audio-Technica ATH-ADG1X||No||No||💰 Check Price|
Priced at $49.99, this is truly one of the best entry-level gaming headsets you can get out there. Why bother with a cheap brand-less gaming headset which you have to replace quickly when you can fork out an additional $10 for a good quality headset?
Almost all headsets at this price range are made from plastic due to price constraints and, like what we mentioned earlier, they can feel quite cheap too. You can hear the creaking sound of the plastic with a slight flexing of the ear cups or the headbands. They also feel fragile and non-durable. But the HyperX Cloud Stinger is an exception.
The headset frame is made from matte plastic with some glossy accents. It feels solid and premium to touch. The headset does not creak when flexed. The headband also has an adjustable steel slider that gives a satisfying click at every notch.
The ear cups have memory foam ear cushions that are very soft and have enough padding to keep the ears from touching the drivers. The headset weighs a mere 275g. With the combination of the lightweight and comfortable cushions, you quickly forget that you are wearing the headset.
The ear cups are rotatable and can turn flat while lying around your neck. These small details are truly what differentiates a great gaming headset from a good gaming headset.
The clamping force of this close-back headset is strong enough to keep it snug over the ears and you get pretty decent noise isolation from the headset.
The uni-directional mic comes with noise cancellation. The voice picked up was clear with not much ambient feedback. The flexible mic can be easily adjusted and you can swivel it up to keep it away.
The sound signature of the Stinger is well-balanced. However, there is not much dynamism to the overall sound quality. You might not be able to enjoy the exciting soundtracks of the game but at least you will not miss out the sound of your enemy sneaking up behind you.
The Stinger also has several bonus features which more expensive headsets have as well. Firstly, the headset’s driver is at the larger end with 50mm. It also has a wider range of frequency response at 18 – 23kHz. You can swivel-to-mute where you mute your mic by swiveling the mic up. The volume slider, conveniently located on the headset, is also intuitive to use.
Overall, HyperX Cloud Stinger has great ergonomics, an above average noise-cancelling mic and also a good amount of extra features. Most importantly, all these for just $50. Colour us impressed. The only downside is probably the sound quality, but at least it has a balanced sound signature.
- »Soft Memory Foam Ear Cushion
- »Foldable ear cups that can rest flat on neck
- »Lightweight (275g)
- »Noise cancellation, uni-directional mic
- »Broader frequency response
- »Clear and crisp vocals
- »Intuitive volume slider
- »Sound quality can be more dynamic
If you are interested in something more exciting sound-wise but want to keep it within an $80 budget, take a look at the Sound BlasterX H5. Known for their excellent sound engineering, Creative surprised us with this mid-tier headset and not just with its sound quality.
The H5 comes with a reinforced steel headband and an aluminium frame. The steel headband is able to undergo extreme bending and the headset feels sturdy and durable. One of the lightest headset in our list, the H5 weighs only 260g, less than the combined weight of 4 apples.
The memory ear cushions are soft and comfortable. We felt no signs of discomfort, even after long gaming sessions with glasses on.
Disappointedly, the ear cups can only be rotated inwards with a limited range of movement. The clamping force has just the right amount of pressure and keeps the headset snug on your ears.
The headset also has 12 points of adjustment which make it suitable for all head sizes.
The noise-cancellation mic performance is decent. A windscreen is provided to fit over the mic. This can further reduce other unwanted audio feedbacks like wind sounds.
The voice captured on the uni-directional mic is clear, but if you listen close enough, you can still hear the static noise. Such mic issues are very common among gaming headsets but the H5 handled this better than the average ones.
The flexible mic is also detachable so you can use your headset like a pair of normal headphones for listening to music on the go.
When it comes to Creative products, you can be rest assured that they will not let you down in terms of sound quality. The bass, mids and highs are well-balanced and they sound good out of the box. The vocals are clear and distinct and the highs are not overboard. The superior sound quality is produced by their 50mm “Full Spectrum™” audio driver which they also use for other higher-end gaming headsets.
If you want surround sound for the H5, you can separately purchase the Sound Blaster G1 7.1. It is a external sound card that can power headphones of up to 300 Ohm and supports 7.1 input signals for realistic surround effects.
But if you prefer a much bass-ier sound, the H5 comes with the Acoustic Engine Lite software that allows you to switch between different EQ profiles. However, the software feels half-hearted. It only offers 4 presets for different game types. You cannot individually adjust the values and there are no physical quick access buttons on the headset to switch profiles too.
As mentioned, the default EQ is pretty good on its own so we did not really find a need to use the software.
Overall, the H5 manages to deliver a comfortable, sturdy pair of headphones with excellent sound quality that can go beyond gaming. All these for less than $100. If you are not a fan of EQ tweaking, the scant amount of software configuration offered should not bother you.
Although it does not look very flashy and lack fanciful features like the RGB lighting, it overachieves on all the core features of a gaming headset for its price tag.
- »Well built aluminium frame
- »Super flexible reinforced steel headband
- »Able to wear spectacles and enjoy long gaming sessions
- »Uni-directional mic is clear
- »Well-balanced sound signature with above average sound quality
- »Quite a steal at less than $80
- »Ear cups are not rotatable outwards, cause slight discomfort when hang around the neck
- »Software has minimal EQ configuration options
SteelSeries launches the Arctis collection which comprises of the Arctis 3, 5 and 7. The Arctis headsets wow-ed us with their jam-packed features. All models have the same base headphone with some upgrades between them. For this list, we picked the Arctis 5 because it hits the sweet spot for both its price and features. So, let’s take a deep dive into the SteelSeries Arctis 5.
The SteelSeries Arctis 5 is made from high-quality plastic and have a rubber-ish texture on most of the surface which feels surprisingly quality to touch. It’s not as flexible as the Sound BlasterX H5 but it is definitely not stiff. Overall, it has a sturdy and durable feel.
The headset has an understated yet mature design which we love. It is not flashy but still maintains the vibes of a gaming headset. The ear cups are lined with RGB lightings which can be customised to your preferred colours and can be switched off.
The Arctis 5 uses a suspension headband system made from a ski-goggle strap. It stretches and rests comfortably on top of the head. The detachable headband is also machine washable.
The ear cushions are made from “AirWeave” materials which are inspired by fabrics found in athletic clothing. The special fabric makes the earcups “breathable” and keeps the ears cool and dry. The ear cushion paddings are thick and cushy. Additionally, the earcups can rotate outwards and also open up flat.
Weighing only 280g, it lies subtly on the head without any hints of discomfort.
There are some complaints of the strong clamping force from certain buyers as well as contrasting complaints where the headset slips off easily. However, both scenarios did not happen to us.
The best way to find out is to head down to your nearest electronics store and try it for yourself.
The Arctis 5 uses the bi-directional Clearcast microphone. It is the only headset on this list that is bi-directional, so we had really high expectations. Alas, in our test, the performance is just above average and is comparable to the two headsets above.
However, the gooseneck mic is fantastic and has a really good range of movement. You can easily keep the mic away by retracting it.
The microphone has a mute indicator light which is a handy design feature because we are often unaware of a muted mic until it is too late. However, the indicator light is too bright and can be distracting in dark rooms.
Using the same driver, “S1 Speaker”, from their $300 flagship headphones, it delivers a strong performance in this department. The game audio sounds really dynamic and the wide soundstage quickly immerses you in the game. It also utilises the excellent DTS Headphone:X technology for the 7.1 surround effect. The Arctis 5 is “fun-sounding” with its emphasis on the bass and treble. The mids are not as veiled as most headphones with v-shaped sound signatures, so be rest assured that sound details are still preserved.
For a more customised sound profile, you can adjust the EQ in the SteelSeries Engine software.
The ChatMix Dial is an external USB audio control that let you adjust the volume of the game audio and chat audio separately. This comes in extremely handy when you are multi-tasking between gaming and chatting.
The ChatMix Dial only work for PC and not consoles.
Overall, the SteelSeries Arctis 5 provides very good value for its price tag. You get a bunch of extra features for just a slight increase in budget from the Sound BlasterX H5. If you prefer a gaming headset that has a stronger bass and treble straight out of the box, the Arctis 5 should rank pretty high up on this list.
- »Understated, yet mature design
- »Ski-goggle headband to ease the pressure on head
- »AirWeave ear cushion keeps ears dry and cool
- »Lightweight at 280g
- »Gooseneck mic
- »Mute light on mic
- »Fun-sounding headset
- »ChatMix Dial allows you to adjust game and chat volume on the fly
- »The bi-directional Clearcast mic is over-hyped
- »Might not suit every head size
As the sequel to the popular HyperX Cloud ll, the HyperX Cloud Revolver retains the same comfort factors while ramping up on the sound quality and having a fresh new look.
Using their signature HyperX memory foam ear cushions and headband, gamers with HyperX Cloud II will find themselves in familiar territory. Both headsets utilises the close-back design too. However, that’s where the physical similarity stops.
The Revolver has a fresh new look with a glossy emblem on the earcups. It also incorporates a steel suspension frame with an elastic self-adjusting headband.
The suspension frame gives an extra protection layer around the headband. You can hang the headset by the suspension frame for storage, thus reducing the amount of abuse the headband goes through.
The Revolver is definitely one of the bulkier headset on this list, weighing 376g (including the mic) and having larger ear cups. The clamping strength of the frame is moderate, so you might find the headset slipping off occasionally, especially with any sudden head movements.
There is an issue with the steel suspension frame as well. The steel frame is like a sponge for sound. When you put the headset on or move your head around, it absorbs the hit and produces an annoying sound that carries over into the ear cups. You will get used to this after a period, but it is jarring at the beginning.
The earcups are totally rigid and does not move at all. This is a curious design as even their lower-end headsets have rotatable ear cups.
However, the overall build quality is still above average and you will either love or hate the steel suspension frame.
The noise cancellation mic is detachable and allows you to use the headset as a portable headphone for music listening on-the-go. The mic is longer than usual gaming mics in the market and has a good range of adjustment.
It also provides a good separation between the background noise and your voice. However, you will still get that subdued white noise.
The biggest investment the HyperX made in the Revolver is the sound quality. They angled the 50mm driver in a manner that can project sounds directly into the ear for precise audio. This is the kind of technology you will find used by higher-end headphones brands, like Sennheiser.
The Revolver has wide sound staging that allows you to detect accurate audio cues. You can even pick up subtle sounds like footsteps and as well as gunfire direction.
The game audio sounds rich. The bass responded with impact for explosions and you can hear crisp details in the sound effects like bone crushing or bending metal in car crashes.
With such good sound performance, it is perfect that the mic is detachable. We find ourselves using the Revolver as a recreational headphone even after our gaming sessions.
Overall, the HyperX Cloud Revolver is definitely one for the HyperX fans who want an upgraded audio experience. Although the HyperX has removed features such as the 7.1 surround from the Cloud II to give us the Cloud Revolver, this move might have been to negate a huge price bump for the premium sound experience.
- »Directional 50mm drivers
- »Self-adjusting headband
- »Detachable mic to convert into normal headphones
- »Excellent sound quality that provides immersive sound experience
- »Slightly bulky at 379g
- »Annoying sound caused by the steel suspension frame
As we move down this list, the price of headsets gets higher. We expect the headsets to have features that can justify the price and the Logictech G933 Artemis Spectrum is certainly packed with them.
TheG933 is a wireless gaming set that can be used in wired mode too. It uses 2.4 Ghz wireless technology which allows the headset to operate lag-free.
The battery life is decent and can last from 8 – 12 hours, depending on your lighting usage which we will get to later. It also has a range of up to 12m indoors, and 15m outdoors. Impressive wireless ability aside, let’s take a closer look at the build quality of the G933.
The G933 looks slightly outlandish and seems almost like a desperate attempt to look like a gaming headset. It has two RGB lighting zones – light strips on each earcup and the emblem itself – that can be adjusted on their software. The earcups are rotatable and can open flat. Logitech mentioned that the ear cushions are removable and “machine-washable”.
The G933 is considered to be a big gaming headset. With the ear cups sticking out at 2.5 inches from the sides of the head, it weighs at a hefty 374g.
The ear cups use a breathable sports mesh fabric and keep the ears cool and dry. The undercushion of the headband is cushy and relieves any topdown pressure.
Due to the peculiar design of the headset, the weight distribution leans heavily backwards. This means if the headset is worn in a upright position, it slips off easily. The smooth sports mesh material of the ear cushion also contributes to the lack of grip. Hence, we had to make a conscious effort to place the headset in a slightly forward position.
Other than the slipping issue, it is still a comfortable gaming headset with a moderate clamping force.
The uni-directional mic is a two-part mechanism. You swivel it out to reveal the mic then extract the flexible boom.
You can mute the mic in two ways:
- Swivel it up to mute the mic or
- Press the mute button on the audio control
Most headsets will only offer you one option, but not the G933. Also, if you choose the second route, there will be an indicator light on the mic to signal mute mode.
The mic works surprisingly well. Not as good as a dedicated desktop mic, but the static sound is not audible at all and it picks up voice clearly. There is a slight nasal effect, but it is not obvious.
If you want to play your mobile games while traveling and have to use the mic for communication, you can choose to use an inline audio control that has a built-in mic. With that, you can fold away the boom mic and not have it sticking out conspicuously. Once again, the G933 blows us away with such attention to details.
Instead of the usual neodymium magnets used for most audio drivers, the G933 uses Logitech’s patent-pending advanced Pro-G audio drivers for sound production.
These drivers are made with hybrid mesh materials and are a rare sight in gaming headsets. The 40mm drivers are also angled slightly towards the ears. An audiophiles’ favourite, the Audio Technica AD700X, also has such similar design.
The headset delivers a well-balanced sound signature and gives good punchy bass with crisp mids and highs.
Keeping up with their standards, the G933 offers a plethora of choices in their software, Logitech Gaming Software.
For surround sound, you can pick between Dolby 7.1 or DTS Headphone:X 7.1. For lighting, you can select up to 16.8 million colours for your RGB lightings in the two lighting zones. If you have a penchant for fanciful lighting, you can even set glow patterns. However, we recommend switching lightings off to extend the battery life.
There are three programmable “G-keys” on the right side of the ear cups. These “G-keys” can be used to set tons of stuff, such as switching of audio profiles, activate PTT communication, etc.
Lastly, the G933 supports “audio mixing”. You can listen to audio from up to three devices like listening to your game audio while taking a call. Using the USB mix adapter, you can hook up audio sources from two additional devices. Sounds pretty chaotic at first, but this is one of those niceties that you never thought you needed.
There is an useful forum discussion that helps troubleshoot common G933 issues.
If you can look past their “unique” design and are looking to upgrade your headset, the G933 is a serious contender for the best bang for your buck.
- »Able to operate in either wireless or wired mode
- »Two audio controls – on headset and inline
- »Pro-G Audio driver
- »Well-balanced sound signature
- »Choice between Dolby 7.1 and DTS Headphone:X 7.1 surround sound
- »Programmable G-keys
- »Barely audible static noise in mic
- »Not a balanced weight distribution
- »“Unique” design of the headset
6. LucidSound LS30 – Editor’s Pick
LucidSound is a relatively new brand but their founders are no stranger to acoustic sound. Chris Bon Huben, the ex-founder of TRITTON, left his former company and started LucidSound. He wanted to bring the best of different gaming headsets and combine them into an affordable one. Thus, creating the LucidSound LS30. Let’s find out if it is worth the hype.
The LS30 is an elegant gaming headset. The two-toned (black and silver) combination with a brushed metal emblem on the ear cups looks slick without appearing obnoxious. The mic is detachable, hence, you can wear it out in public like a pair of normal headphones.
The LS30 has a premium feel to it. Weighing at 355g, it is slightly heavier than some of the gaming headsets we have on this list. However, it is still very comfortable.
It also comes in white and gold tone
Comfort and Fit
The thick padding on the ear cups is cushy and we can keep the headset on for hours. The clamping force is moderate and keeps the headset snug without any discomfort.
The ear cups are fully rotatable and can rest comfortably around your neck.
The battery life lasts up to an impressive 15 hours but your mileage may vary, depending on the usage. The range is decent at 9m, compared to the other wireless headset in this list.
The audio controls on this headset are innovative and intuitive. To adjust volume, you rotate the ring on the outer edge of the left ear cup. To balance the chat and game audio, you do the same on the right ear cup. The mic mute button is conveniently located on the emblem on the right ear cup while you can also mute the game audio by pressing the emblem on the opposite side.
Additionally, you can switch between three different EQ mode – Normal, Bass Boost and Treble Boost, by pressing a quick access button on the headset.
The audio controls, in terms of innovative engineering, are well ahead of the rest.
The mic is very impressive. It performs almost as good as those higher-end gaming headsets which you will see later on in the list. There is no static noise and most importantly, no nasal effect. Although the mic picks up pronunciation sounds like “hiss” and “pop” easily when we talk, this can be easily solved with an additional windscreen.
The detachable mic has a mute light indicator and the headset also comes with a built-in mic which we used for mobile gaming.
On top of all that, the LS30 supports mic monitoring or sidetone out of the box. This means that you can hear your own voice from the headset which is a useful feature since the headset has pretty good noise-isolation.
The sound quality did not disappoint. The bass was tight and has punch to it. The mids were crisp and the subtle sound effects were clear. The highs are controlled without distortion. Overall, it is a well-balanced gaming headset.
Even though there is no surround sound technology, the spatial cues were still on-point and accurate.
Overall, the LucidSound LS30 is a gaming headset that is well-thought-out and it is evident the designers really put themselves in the shoes of a serious gamer. We highly recommend this gaming headset.
- »Premium Build
- »Elegant design
- »Innotive, yet intuitive audio control. One of the best designed controls in the market.
- »Mic is static and nasal-free. Almost comparable to other mics by higher-end headset
- »Mic monitoring
- »Excellent sound quality
- »Slightly heavy (355g)
- »Need a windscreen to reduce “hiss” and “pop”
7. Astro A40 TR – Editor’s Pick
The Astro A40 TR is one of the more stylish gaming headset on this list. The black with gold accent color scheme works for us but your taste may vary.
Even though the headset is mainly made of plastic, the overall build quality still feels premium. It is on the heavier side, weighing in at 360g, but you do not really feel the weight while wearing it.
Customisation is the core design philosophy in this headset. The ear cushion and headband are changeable from leather to cloth. The headset can be modified from a open-back to a noise-isolating close-back design by changing the speaker tags on the earcups.
These swappable parts are called mod kits and they are sold separately.
Using a sliding mechanism, the headband can also be adjusted to a comfortable height.
The noise cancellation mic picks up voice clearly and is one of the better mics that we tested on this list. The level of static is non-existent and the nasal effect is less evident than the rest.
The mic is detachable and can be attached on either side of the ear cups. This is incredibly useful since not everyone has the same preference for mic positioning.
The sound quality of the A40 is impressive. It performs brilliantly for movies, music and games. The bass is tight and punchy, and the vocals are clear and crisp. There was no distortion even at a loud volume. For games that have fast-paced music and dynamic sound effects, the A40 brings out that intended effect which are usually veiled behind lower quality headsets. The soundstage is wide and you can easily be immersed in the game with the Dolby 7.1 surround sound.
If you like to have a personalised sound profile, the EQ can be tuned with their ASTRO Command Center Software.
If the impressive sound quality is not enough, you can further upgrade it by using it with the MixAmp Pro TR. It is a USB sound card with audio controls. With that, you can adjust your game and voice volume, choose up to 3 different EQ modes and also click to mute.
The MixAmp Pro also increases the range of the frequency response from 20 – 24kHz to 10Hz – 24kHz. This is an impressive range of frequency responses and one of the widest we have on the list.
Overall, the Astro A40 combines style, comfort and quality into a dynamic headset. The sound quality is impressive and the mic is one of the better performers in this list. There is honestly not much to pick on except for the additional cost for better performance like noise isolation mod kits and the MixAmp.
So if you are a serious gamer who are in search of a headset that can give you an edge, this might be the headset you are looking for.
- »Stylish looking
- »Great build quality
- »Mic quality is one of the best in this list
- »Impressive sound quality with movies, music and games
- »Additional edge with the MixAmp Pro
- »With the upgrades like the mod kits and the MixAmp, things can get costly quickly
8. Sennheiser GAME One – Strong Runner Up!
Sennheiser is one of the few famous headphone manufacturers that dipped their toes into the gaming headsets industry. Naturally, we have high expectations with their sound quality but can they deliver a headset that can also satisfy the needs of a gamer? Let’s find out.
From the exterior, the GAME One gives very little hint of being a gaming headset. In fact, it looks like a conventional headphone with a mic attached.
But when it comes to comfort, the Sennheiser brought their A-game. The velour covered XXL ear pads oozes comfort and the breathable materials keeps your ear cool and dry.
Made from all plastic, the headset is lightweight and only weighs 300g.
We were disappointed to find that the ear cups can only rotate a few degrees. This means they cannot be opened flat and hang around neck comfortably or be easily portable.
The GAME One has a open-back design which allows you to game for long hours without feeling hot and sweaty but the downside, as with all open-back headphones, will be the noise leakage.
The GAME One has a higher impedance level for a gaming headset at 50 ohms but they make up for it with a sensitivity level of 116 dB. However, we still recommend using a external amplifier for mobile gaming.
Although the GAME One has no surround sound technology, it does not lose out in terms of soundscape imaging. The immersive sound clarity is top-notch. It also has one of the widest frequency response on the list with 15 – 28kHz.
The headset works brilliantly with music and carries their lush quality over to game audio. Incredibly well-balanced, you get the best of all three frequency responses in one headset.
The big surprise we have about the GAME One is the mic. First, it has the convenient swivel-to-mute function which we love. Secondly, the mic quality just blows the competition out of the water. Zero static noise and no nasal effect. The noise cancellation effects were so good that it hardly picked up any external noise except our voices. Sennheiser has done what many other gaming headset manufacturers couldn’t. A mic that is worthy to be used not just for chatting but also for podcasting.
To say that Sennheiser did well with the GAME One will be an understatement. Overall, it might not have a lot of “gaming” features like RGB lightings, programmable buttons etc. But what it has is pure and simple – premium comfort, amazing sound quality and an impressive mic. If you are on the market for a serious gaming headset, look no futher.
- »Extremely well-balanced sound signature
- »Amazing details in sound quality
- »The best mic on the list
- »Open-back design leaks sound. Might not be suitable in shared places
- »High impedance, might need an external amplifier for mobile gaming
- »Has comparatively less features than other headsets
The SteelSeries Siberia 800 is our second wireless gaming headset in the list. This is one of the higher end SteelSeries headsets. Priced at a premium range of more than $200, does it have features that justify its hefty cost? Let’s find out.
The stylish Siberia 800 has a matt black frame surface and a glossy emblem on the sides of the ear cups. The orange accent appears inside the ear cups and also on the stitching along the ear cups. It has a premium modern look and feel to it.
The cushy memory foam of the ear cushion and headbands provides us with comfort, even after long gaming sessions.
At first sight, it looks heavy with the big ear cups and thick cushion, but owing largely to its plastic frame, it only weighs 318g. It’s considered lightweight for wireless headsets.
The battery life lasts an impressive 20 hours. SteelSeries even provide you an additional battery so that you can hot swap the flat battery out with a fresh one without stopping your game for a recharge. The flat battery can then be charged using a provided transmitter while you continue gaming.
The Siberia 800 is lag-free and has a low latency at only 16ms. Using continuous frequency hopping technologies, the Siberia 800 prevents any interference from other sources.
The audio controls can be found conveniently on the headset. However, the power button and the mute mutton are situated side by side. Very often, we find ourselves switching off the headset by accident when fiddling for the mute button.
The uni-directional mic has a mute light indicator as well. But, unlike the Arctis 5, the mute light is duller and less distracting in dark rooms. In terms of noise cancellation, the static sounds are eliminated but the nasal effects are audible.
The sound quality of the Siberia 800 is great. A well-balanced sound signature brings out the detailed mids, clear highs and a punchy bass. It works beautifully for music enjoyment as well.
The headset offers not 1, not 2 but 3 different types of Dolby surround technology for immersive gameplay:
- Dolby Headphone
- Dolby Digital
- Dolby Pro Logic llx
The Siberia 800 comes with a transmitter with a OLED display. You can have a overview of the current EQ profile, audio sources, battery life and volume on the display.
The transmitter allows the gamer to adjust the game and chat audio balance on-the-fly. As mentioned above, it acts as a battery storage and charger for the headsets too. It takes some time to learn to connect and configure the transmitter. But once it is set up, it operates pretty smoothly. The EQ can also be adjusted on the transmitter itself, instead of using the software.
Overall, the SteelSeries Siberia 800 performs brilliantly as a gaming headset with its great sound quality. The setup of the additional transmitter is slightly cumbersome at first but the benefits that it brings overshadows the cons. The battery charging transmitter is a clever way of making sure your wireless headset never runs out of juice. For that alone, we think the price is justifiable.
- »Lag-free wireless experience
- »Slick modern design
- »OLED transmitter that give overview of headset status
- »Never run out of batteries again
- »Power and mute buttons are too close to each other
- »Transmitter cumbersome to setup
The Audio-Technica ATH-ADG1X is THE premium headset on this list, both in terms of price and quality.
From the first touch, the ATH-ADG1X oozes quality with its all-metal honeycomb ear cup housing and the edgy-looking 3D Wing Support headband system. Despite the large metal ear cups, the headset only weighs 285g.
The 3D Wing Support system is an interesting mechanism that can adapt to the wearer’s head and supports the headset from falling. Without the traditional headband pressing down on the head, it gives the wearer extra comfort. However, due to the large ear cups and smooth material, we find the headset sliding down after a period of usage and had to be adjusted back to the original position. If you sweat during your gaming session, this might be a problem.
Luckily, the ATH-ADG1X has an open-back design which allows your ears to stay cool and dry.
The ear cups have plush cushions which provides maximum comfort. The large ear cups will fit most ears and the thick padding prevents the ears from touching the driver. This is comfortable even for those who wear glasses.
If you prefer one with a better isolation, there is a closed back version of the ATH-ADG1X
The mic is one of the best on this list and is comparable to the Sennheiser GAME One. There was no static noise and certainly no dreaded nasal effect. Just like the Arctis 5, the gooseneck mic provided a great range of adjustment which we really like.
Unfortunately, the mic is not detachable. You can only swivel it up to keep it away.
Despite that issue, the ATH-ADG1X is still an all-round quality mic.
The ATH-ADG1X has the biggest audio driver in the list at 53mm. The frequency response is also the widest we have seen at 5 – 35kHz. The impedance is higher than usual gaming headsets but still lower than the Sennheiser GAME One at 48 ohms.
The sound quality is amazing. Even without surround sound, the sound imaging is great. You can hear the spatial positioning of your enemy fires well and the vocal details are really crisp. The bass is punchy without being overpowering. The treble is clear without distortion at higher volume.
Combined with the open-back design, the soundscaping is just incredibly immersive. The sounds merge seamlessly with your surrounding environment and there were times where we got confused whether certain sounds are coming from the game or real life.
Despite the gorgeous looks of the headset, it is puzzling why Audio Technica missed that out on the inline audio control. The control box is not appealing and the volume control is also tuned quite badly. The volume control will have no effect for most of the dial. But at the 90% mark, the volume will suddenly surge up. On top of that, when you toggle the mute switch, you will hear this annoying popping sound.
However, these control box issues can be bypassed with an external DAC/amplifier.
Overall, the sound quality and mic are on par with the much cheaper Sennheiser One. If you are looking for a gaming headset with a sleeker design and you have the budget to boot, the Audio-Technica ATH-ADG1X might be what you are looking for.
- »3D Wing Support system removed the need for headband
- »Premium comfort
- »Well-balanced Sound Signature
- »Realistic soundscaping with the open-back design
- »Top notch mic quality
- »Poor audio control box
- »Headset might slide down for smaller head
- »Mic is not detachable to be used as full-time headphone
And there you have it; quite possibly the most extensive list of top-notch gaming headsets that are currently out in the market. Every company in the market may be touting the surround sound as the best immersive experience, however, as seen above, you don’t always need that when you have fantastic sound engineering and an actual understanding of the consumer’s needs.
The market is saturated with hundreds of gaming headsets, but keep in mind, there can never be a perfect one as we all have different priorities. That’s why we hope that this list can help you make an informed choice to find the best fit for you. Be it for the budget conscious, the audiophiles, or the customisation junkie, we’ve tried to include a little bit of something for everyone.
Bonus Section: Upgrade your gaming headset
If you want to upgrade to a better mic, you can look for third party mic such as the ModMic 5. It is a modular noise-cancellation mic that delivers clean and crisp audio. This mic will work with any headset that supports detachable mic.
If you have an absolute favourite which we’ve missed out on, feel free to let us know in the comments below and we will review them accordingly.
Until then, let’s game on.