If you thought looks were everything, you must have heard it wrong. Until you’ve experienced a great gaming headset, you won’t understand the ceiling for immersive gameplay, and there's no turning back once you've found the one. Whether you’re a gaming audiophile with money to burn, or a gamer who’s already burnt all their money on a god-tier graphics card, we’ve got you (and your ears) covered, with our list of the best gaming headsets of this year. For more background information on gaming headsets, see our comparison table and buying advice below the picks. And to complete your system, check out our list of the Best Computer Speakers.
Battery Life: 24 Hours
What We Like: The Arctis 7 is comfortable, sounds terrific, and has a clever approach to wireless.
What We Don’t: The headset does not perform well with music.
Any headset can go wireless, but very few do it like the SteelSeries Arctis 7 does. Instead of traditional Bluetooth, the Arctis 7 comes with a small USB dongle that connects directly to your PC or console. This connection offers a lag-free Wi-Fi connection that operates outside of your home network. That’s genuinely clever, and it’s one of several impressive features here. The sound quality and microphone are superb, and the headset can deliver 7.1 surround audio if called upon to do so—although if that’s primarily what you’re interested in, the HyperX Cloud II is a slightly better option for this, and less expensive too. The Arctis 7 also looks tremendous. When so many headsets try to dazzle you with flashing lights and swooping angles, the Arctis 7 is understated and clean.
We did find that music on the Arctis 7 felt a bit less lively than gaming audio. That’s in contrast to the Corsair HS50 Pro, which crushes both music and gaming sound. The Arctis 7’s Wi-Fi connection also means that you can’t take this wireless headset on the road, as it has no Bluetooth, and won’t be able to connect to your phone. But the Arctis 7 performs so well in so many other areas that we honestly believe there’s no better wireless headset available right now.
See the SteelSeries Arctis 7
Best Budget Gaming Headset Under $50
Battery Life: N/A
What We Like: The G9000 offers exceptional sound for a budget headset, and it’s comfortable too.
What We Don’t: The mic doesn’t perform very well, and the headset can get quite hot.
We did not expect the Bengoo G9000 to be this good. Bengoo don’t exactly inspire confidence as a brand—they proudly market themselves with the motto “We’re Gaming Expert.” But the G9000 is a revelation: an affordable headset that delivers exceptional sound quality for the price, and with a surprising amount of punch. The headset is comfortable to wear for long periods, with a lightweight, durable frame. It also works with every console and PC via a basic 3.5 mm connection. All in all, if you don’t want to spend the earth on a gaming headset but still want quality, the G9000 should be your first choice.
There are some downsides to the G9000. The microphone isn’t especially good, delivering muffled voice pickup. There’s also a problem with heat. The headset is comfortable, but the materials used to make them definitely aren’t premium. That means the G9000 gets hot, so if you find yourself prone to sweating, things could become unpleasantly sticky. If this is a problem, we recommend the Razer Kraken X. It’s slightly more expensive, at $50, but just a touch more comfortable to wear for long periods.
See the Bengoo G9000
Best High-End Gaming Headset
Battery Life: N/A
What We Like: The GAME ONE delivers genuinely incredible sound quality that needs to be heard to be believed.
What We Don't: Sound can leak out from around the headset.
There’s a visible difference between the Sennheiser GAME ONE and every other headset on this list. You’ll find that difference on the outside of the ear cups in the form of vents that allow air to interact with the drivers inside. This open-back design delivers sound that is airy, clear, and clean. Even pricier models like the $330 SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless don’t sound as good. The GAME ONE also delivers the kind of features that you’d expect for the high price, including a fantastic noise-canceling microphone. This is a high-end headset you won’t want to take off.
However, there is a problem with that open-back design. Everybody around you can hear what you are listening to, and their impressions of the sound quality may not be as positive as yours. This makes the GAME ONE a difficult headset to recommend if you game in the same room as others. In that case, you may want to try something like the $200 HyperX Cloud MIX. It isn’t quite as premium, but does use a closed-back design that isolates sound. Also worth noting: the GAME ONE is a wired headset that uses a simple 3.5 mm connection, so it doesn’t have the ease of wireless headsets like the aforementioned Arctis Pro Wireless. It clearly prioritises sound over convenience, so be aware of that before you buy.
See the Sennheiser GAME ONE
Best 7.1 Gaming Headset
Battery Life: N/A
What We Like: The Cloud II has some of the best and most convincing surround sound we’ve ever heard
What We Don't: We do wish there was software to customize the audio.
Do you know how hard it is to do convincing surround sound in a headset? You’re essentially trying to simulate seven full surround speakers and a subwoofer in a single package. Trust us when we say that no other headset does it better than the HyperX Cloud II. The realism and depth of the 7.1 surround sound is remarkable, easily beating out more expensive models like the $150 Razer Nari Wireless 7.1. We also appreciate just how comfortable the Cloud II is, with squashy ear pads that feel great even after several hours. Very few headsets will immerse you in a game like this one. It even beats high-end headsets like the Sennheiser GAME ONE for surround realism.
Like many headsets in this price range, the HyperX Cloud II isn’t wireless, so be prepared to be tethered to your system. And if we had one additional criticism: we would have liked to have seen some software to allow us to customise the sound. 7.1 audio can be a very personal thing, and the one-size-fits-all approach here probably wasn’t the best option. But if we were buying a headset for surround sound, we’d buy the Cloud II.
See the HyperX Cloud II 7.1
Best Gaming Headset for XBox
Battery Life: 20 Hours
What We Like: Premium sound matched with premium design.
What We Don't: The Arctis 9X can be a little uncomfortable over long periods.
When it comes to audio, the XBox One can be… let’s go with peculiar. It doesn’t work with all Bluetooth headphones–only those that use the proprietary Microsoft Wireless software. That’s a very small number of models, and the SteelSeries Arctis 9X is the best of the bunch. Like the Arctis 7, our top-ranked wireless model, the Arctis 9X is a sleek headset with stunning sound quality. We also appreciate the excellent ClearCast microphone, which uses bidirectional noise-canceling. It competes well with the mic on the superior Sennheiser GAME ONE.
However, if you enjoy marathon gaming sessions, you need to be aware that the Arctis 9X has some comfort issues. The clamping pressure—the force the headset exerts on your ears and skull—can be a little tight. Over a few hours, it can start to become painful. One other thing to note: in addition to connecting to your XBox (via the included USB dongle), the Arctis 9X is also compatible with PC and can connect to smartphones via traditional Bluetooth. But if you have a PlayStation, you may want to look at the Razer Kraken Tournament Edition, discussed below, which is a better option.
See the SteelSeries Arctis 9X
Best Gaming Headset for PS4
Battery Life: N/A
What We Like: The Kraken is specifically tuned for PS4 audio, and the cooling gel ear cups are a sweet touch.
What We Don't: The THX mode is only available on PC.
Unlike the XBox, the PS4 lets you use just about any headset. But it really pays to have one that is designed specifically for the console’s quirks, which is where the Razer Kraken Tournament Edition comes in. It’s been tweaked for some of the PS4’s most popular games, including Apex Legends. The clear, detailed surround sound audio makes it a cinch to pinpoint enemy locations. We are also, quite frankly, in love with the cooling gel ear cups, which make a mockery out of headsets like the Bengoo G9000. Wearing the Kraken for long periods in comfort is simply not a problem.
What is a problem is how some features, like the sound-boosting THX mode, are only available on PC—an oddity for a headset that performs so well on PS4. It makes the Kraken more versatile, and it’s still far and away the best option for PlayStation, but it’s a shame to see some features locked away. It’s also a fairly bulky headset, and at 11.2 ounces, it may be a little too heavy over long periods, despite the cooling gel cups. If you want something a little lighter, we recommend the identically-priced HyperX Cloud II, another headset that works very well on PS4.
See the Razer Kraken Tournament Edition
Best of the Rest
Battery Life: N/A
What We Like: The sound and comfort are solid, and we appreciate the detachable mic.
What We Don't: There’s no surround sound, and the headset isn’t great with music.
The bar for budget gaming headsets is surprisingly high—despite the low prices, there is some serious competition. The Corsair HS50 Pro is one of the frontrunners. While it doesn’t look particularly special, thanks to its workmanlike design, it packs in surprisingly decent sound. It’s also comfortable to wear for long periods—compare that with the Bengoo G9000, our top budget pick. While the G9000 is a better overall headset, with better audio quality, there’s no doubt that the HS50 Pro is more comfortable. It’s also useful to have a detachable microphone stalk, which means the headset can be used away from your PC.
However, you may want to be careful doing that. The audio demands of games and music are different, and, unfortunately, the HS50 Pro doesn’t perform very well for music. It’s one of the few things that has in common with the $150 SteelSeries Arctis 7, our top-ranked wireless headset. You also shouldn’t expect any advanced features—there’s no surround sound functionality here. All in all, though, we think the HS50 Pro is a worthy alternative to our top budget pick.
See the Corsair HS50 Pro
Battery Life: N/A
What We Like: It gets all the basics right and has some useful features like an in-line volume control.
What We Don't: There are some durability issues.
Gaming headset quality drops off sharply under the $40 mark. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few models worth considering around that price point, and one of those models is the VersionTECH G2000. Despite the headset being barebones in terms of features, the sound quality gets the job done. You could spend a little more and get the Bengoo G9000, which has slightly better sound quality, but we think the VersionTECH G2000 has merits of its own. One of these is a surprisingly simple addition that you won’t find on other headsets: in-line controls on the cable. That means it’s very easy to adjust the volume on the fly. With other headsets, you’ll have to do this on your PC itself, using your mouse. It’s even trickier on a console.
But there’s no getting away from the fact that the VersionTECH G2000 is big–much bigger than many other headsets here. In addition, with its cheap plastic design, you might want to be careful not to drop it. It’s also not the best option if you rely on your microphone. The mic here only pivots up and down, not side to side, so getting it close to your mouth can be tricky. However, despite these issues, we think that the VersionTECH G2000 is a good option for those on a budget. The solid sound and controls make it a winner.
See the VersionTECH G2000
Battery Life: 30 Hours
What We Like: This headset is hugely comfortable, and has a massive battery life.
What We Don't: The isolation on this headset is terrible.
If you demand the absolute longest battery life from your headset, if you’re inside the bubble on Fortnite and you just cannot stop what you’re doing to plug yourself in, then you need the HyperX Cloud Flight. It has a gigantic 30 hours of battery life, easily beating the nearest competitor: the $150 SteelSeries Arctis 7, which boasts 24 hours. It also helps that the HyperX Cloud Flight is one of the most comfortable headsets around, making it ideal to wear for long periods. However, if you wear glasses, there are more accommodating options available, like the Corsair Void RGB Elite Wireless (below).
One of the downsides to the HyperX Cloud Flight is its isolation. It’s not very good at blocking out the outside world, meaning that quiet environments are best. It’s worth noting that there is a newer version of this headset, the HyperX Cloud Flight S. That one costs $160, but the only significant change is the addition of wireless charging, for which you will need a charging pad (sold separately by HyperX for $59, natch). We don’t think it’s worth the money, and would recommend you stick with the original Cloud Flight.
See the HyperX Cloud Flight
Battery Life: 30 Hours
What We Like: Outstanding sound quality matched with a comfortable design.
What We Don’t: Muddy sound quality from the microphone
Astro makes its way onto our list on the back of versatility and amazing sound quality. We were pumped to hear how immersive the A50s' audio quality was. The ability to switch between "studio" (which produces a better EQ for movies and music) and "pro" mode (which makes things like in-game footsteps far more distinguishable) gave this model a real edge. Though this model is made from plastic, the A50s have a great build quality that feels far from cheap. We prefer the Sennheiser GAME ONE headset overall, but this is a worthy competitor.
This headset even comes with a new dock/wireless transmitter, which doubles as a wireless charger. We felt like the battery held up well through our testing, and we were comfortable throughout. We also liked that these were easy to use with our PS4. We'd have Astro's higher on our list had the mic been more on-par with the rest of the A50's features, but we found the mic sounded over-compressed, and we definitely preferred the Arctis 7’s mic. That said, we'd still recommend these to anyone who cares less about how they sound and more about what they hear.
See the Astro A50 Wireless
Battery Life: 20 Hours
What We Like: The THX Spatial Audio feature is incredible.
What We Don’t: The default sound is very much not.
The Razer Nari Wireless 7.1 has one serious weapon in the gaming headset war. It’s called THX Spatial Audio, a specially developed 7.1 surround sound feature that sounds incredible. It offers some of the best and most realistic surround audio available. If realism is important to you, and you need to know the exact location of every enemy and teammate in your game, then the Razer Nari Wireless 7.1 is the headset to go for. It helps that the headset is comfortable, despite a surprisingly heavy build, and the mic is excellent.
But while the THX Spatial Audio is excellent, it has to be turned on manually—and it’s only available on PC, not on consoles. That’s a problem, because the default sound of the Nari isn’t very good at all. It’s far too heavy on the bass, and can be hard on the ears over long gaming sessions. That makes the less-expensive HyperX Cloud II a far better option for surround sound. While it may not quite have the audio precision of the THX Spatial Audio, it’s also a far better headset overall.
See the Razer Nari Wireless 7.1
Battery Life: N/A
What We Like: A lightweight frame and surprisingly good surround sound make this headset a winner.
What We Don’t: Lower build quality and erratic highs and mids.
The Razer Kraken X are incredibly light and comfortable, making them easy to wear for even the longest gaming episodes. The all-plastic build is robust enough for the price, and while the Kraken X’s body didn’t match up to our top budget pick, the Bengoo G9000, it’s still well built. What makes this headset so appealing for its price is the 7.1 surround sound inclusion. This is a stand-out feature in a budget headset that’s not typically found in competing models. You need Windows 10 to run the surround sound, making it a no-go for Apple users or console owners, but it’s a pretty exciting feature for the price.
The included microphone isn’t something to call home about, but it’s decent enough and easy to position, giving it a leg-up on some other models we’ve tested. Overall, we have to say that the Kraken X lacks supreme build quality, but they’re great value if you’re looking for a starter headset with included features. If you want virtual surround sound at the lowest price, look no further.
See the Razer Kraken X
Battery Life: 15 Hours
What We Like: This is a surprisingly elegant headset, with great sound and a solid mic.
What We Don't: The earpads can be slightly scratchy and uncomfortable.
We adore the design of the Logitech G533 headset. Just look at it. It’s more like a pair of high-end audiophile headphones than a gaming headset, with elegant lines and clean design. It’s a stripped-down version of Logitech’s G933 model, and despite being a little large, it’s comfortable to wear. The sound is impressive, balanced, and nuanced. We absolutely loved the microphone—it has a low-profile and sounds great, using the micro-pop filter to clear up your voice. The surround sound is also a hit, and using Logitech's incredible software, you can really nail down the perfect configuration.
We do wish the materials used on the ear cups were a bit higher quality. We felt a modicum of discomfort when testing our model. Out of the box, they felt a bit stiff and scratchy, and over long periods they can become a real irritant. That’s a shame, given how well the headset performs in other areas. For a more comfortable option at a similar price, try the SteelSeries Arctis 7. That headset doesn’t look quite as good, but it’s much better overall—we’ve ranked it at the very top of our list for a reason.
See the Logitech G533
Battery Life: 10 Hours
What We Like: Excellent audio detail, solid design, comfortable to wear for long periods.
What We Don't: Cumbersome to fully set up, expensive.
The Arctis Pro Wireless are SteelSeries' premium gaming headset, and they have a price to match. It may be worth it for the sound alone: the Arctis Pro's soundstage sounds natural, balanced, and clear, without overcooking any elements. The virtual surround sound is executed well and can increase immersion without sacrificing any form of competitive edge. These cans are remarkably light considering what's packed into them, and still manage to feel high-quality and rugged. The Pro Wireless model also comes with two swappable batteries—take that, Arctis 7—and a transmitter base station to charge one while you play, so you never experience downtime. Apart from charging the batteries, the base station also allows you to tinker with preset and custom EQs before even touching software. It also gives you a slew of other EQ options.
The Arctis Pro's retractable mic is great - just don't forget to add the wind filter - and we liked how it was executed in the design. The on-ear controls for muting, volume, and pairing were all intuitive and welcome. The only complaint we had regarding the Arctis Pro was the cumbersome desktop setup. Pairing to mobile was a breeze, but once the base and desktop were involved, things got a bit trickier. Initially, it was a bit of a pain to set everything up, but once it was finished, we were impressed. All in all, we loved the Steelseries Arctis Pro Wireless. Disclaimer: for those who just want a simple audio experience with minimal setup or tinkering, go for the wired version of this model. It will save you some of your sanity and cash. But, for those looking for a premium wireless experience, you are going to love the Arctis Pro Wireless.
See the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless
Battery Life: 20 Hours
What We Like: Great battery life, supremely comfortable.
What We Don't: Soundstage on the lighter side.
From the company that brought you our best overall pick, comes the Cloud MIX! The Cloud MIX is HyperX's latest wireless foray into gaming audio. These sleek, light, and robust cans are the latest and one of the greatest additions to our roundup, and we were lucky enough to get a pair before they hit shelves. Slapping these with the "Cloud" brand makes a lot of sense because this headset is an airy fit that delivers lasting comfort. Speaking of airy, setting up the Bluetooth connection was a breeze, and the added 3.5mm split audio and microphone connection make this model even more versatile. The battery pushes around 20 hours of continuous use and charged quickly. Another thing HyperX nailed on this design is the styling. These cans are crafted with gimmick-less taste. There's no harsh branding or gaudy LED lights—we're looking at you, Razer. Now, let's get to the sound: the surround sound is impressive, and shines with balanced mids and highs. The lows are a bit less robust than we usually like, but still allowed for a great in-game experience.
The boom microphone is great and easier to position than even the SteelSeries Arctis Pro, and is fully detachable for your IRL grocery store raids, making way for the built-in mic to shine. There's not much to say in the way of negatives on this purchase, except we wish the richness of the audio fit more closely to the price. Regardless, these are a crazy-good addition to the HyperX arsenal, and are a great pickup for anyone looking for a sleek and versatile set of cans for at home or on the go.
See the HyperX Cloud MIX
Battery Life: 16 Hours
What We Like: One of the best microphones ever, and the headset is supremely comfy for glasses-wearers.
What We Don't: There are real issues with fit on this headset.
If you are playing a competitive team game, like League of Legends, the ability to be heard is super important. If that’s you, then choose the Corsair Void RGB Elite Wireless, because its microphone is among the best available. It’s exceptionally clean and clear, even in noisy environments. We also think that the Void RGB is one of the best headsets for those who wear glasses. The squashy cups have a lot of give, meaning they won’t press the glasses into your head. That’s in contrast to other more expensive headsets like the $140 HyperX Cloud Flight which is better overall, but not nearly as comfortable.
Unfortunately, the soft cups are also the Void RGB’s biggest weakness. The fit is just too loose, with imprecise clamping pressure. Given how heavy the headset is—14.1 ounces, one of the heaviest on the list – that’s not a good thing. It also suffers from muddy surround sound, beaten in this area by much cheaper headsets like the $50 Razer Kraken X. Ultimately, the Corsair Void RGB Elite Wireless has some genuine plus points, but its flaws mean you will need to think carefully before buying.
See the Corsair Void RGB Elite Wireless
Battery Life: N/A
What We Like: Fantastic comfort, brilliant software, great value.
What We Don’t: Conflicting design, Windows 10 issue.
The Sound BlasterX H7 Tournament Edition is Creative's flagship gaming headset, and although the high contrast colorway might steer some off course, what's going on below deck will leave competitors with a sinking feeling. With its upgraded 50mm full-spectrum drivers, the Sound BlasterX H7 sounds amazing. It might not handle mids and highs quite as well as the Sennheiser GAME ONEs, but delivering what it does at a portion of the price makes that an easy compromise to live with. We found the microphone was decent and, in testing, was just shy of the quality of the Arctis 7s. They are, however, exceptionally heavy at 1.5lbs, which may cause issues over long periods
Looks-wise, the black, brushed metal cups really compliment the gun metal arms. However, we wish Creative had reduced the aggressive styling of their X logo, which when coupled with the unnecessary lights, gives the headset a chintzy appearance that doesn't suit its performance. That said, the headset is adequately comfy, lightweight, and importantly durable. The BlasterX software impressed us and while we didn't love all the included presets, the ability to completely customize the EQ settings was included. What more could we really ask for? The Creative Sound BlasterX H7 Tournament Edition is a great mid-range headset, that didn't quite pass our aesthetic test, but holds up well overall.
See the Creative Sound BlasterX H7 Tournament Edition
Battery Life: 16 Hours
What We Like: Solid sound quality and decent comfort for the price.
What We Don't: Amazingly heavy, and it only works on PC and Mac.
We value budget headsets that punch above their weight. The Jeecoo USB Pro is one of them. It’s a worthy alternative to other inexpensive options like the Bengoo G9000 and VersionTECH G2000. The sound quality of the USB Pro is solid, particularly in the bass. You’ll feel every explosion and bullet impact. It’s also surprisingly comfortable, with large, squashy ear cups that made us think of the far more expensive Sennheiser GAME ONE. While that headset is superior in just about every way, the Jeeco USB Pro matches it for comfort. This is despite the fact that it’s one of the heaviest headsets here. At 1.1 pounds, it’s even heavier than beasts like the SteelSeries Arctis 9X.
The big downside here is the fact that the Jeecoo USB Pro only works on PC and Mac–it simply will not work with consoles like PS4 and XBox. That’s because of its included USB soundcard, which you need to operate the headset. While this isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker, it means that models like the Bengoo G9000 are a better choice overall, especially if you game on console. In addition, while it does work on Mac, the USB Pro’s soundcard has customization options that require Windows 10 to function.
See the Jeecoo USB Pro
And For When You Win the Lottery
Battery Life: 10 Hours
What We Like: Amazing sound, design, build quality, and features.
What We Don't: Overly complicated controls.
The AUDEZE Mobius are truly a next-level set of cans. With their planar magnetic drivers—normally only found in high-end headphones—the Mobius produces a smooth, breezy and wide sound. With a mic that surpasses the Arctis Pro, and a solid, quality build that laughs at Logitech's inferior G933s, it's hard to not give this the top spot. If all this praise is making your head spin, don't worry; the Mobius also packs advanced head-tracking technology that keeps sound cues in their natural position—even when you move your head. This feature is amazing for those craving immersive gameplay, letting you track in-game elements as you look around the screen. Talk about getting a leg up in your next Fortnite build battle. Aesthetically, these headphones knock it out of the park with a perfect balance of gamer-centric design and quality construction.
Ranking high in our comfort tests, the overall fit is decent and the clamping is gentle, making the earcups feel like pillows—even after hours of prolonged use. The headset is also super versatile with USB, Bluetooth, and analog connections that make these great for PC, PS4, Xbox, and the Nintendo Switch. The only real downside to these cans—apart from the high price tag—is the controls. To cut it short, they weren't all we wanted from a premium headset. They seemed overcomplicated and while the AUDEZE HQ software was great for creating a sound profile and customizing the 3D head-tracking experience, it didn't completely solve this minor annoyance. However, this is the king of gaming headsets, and if you have the money, you won't regret spending it on such a great set of cans...Read our in-depth review here
See the AUDEZE Mobius
|Gaming Headset||Price||Wireless||Battery Life||Connection||Weight|
|SteelSeries Arctis 7||$150||Yes||24 Hours||USB/3.5mm||12.8oz|
|Sennheiser GAME ONE||$250||No||N/A||3.5mm||10.5oz|
|HyperX Cloud II||$100||No||N/A||USB/3.5mm||9.8oz|
|SteelSeries Arctis 9X||$120||Yes||20 Hours||USB||1.2lbs|
|Razer Kraken Tourn. Edition||$100||No||N/A||3.5mm||11.2oz|
|Corsair HS50 Pro||$50||No||N/A||3.5mm||11.5oz|
|HyperX Cloud Flight||$140||Yes||30 Hours||USB||11.1oz|
|Astro A50 Wireless||$300||Yes||20 Hours||USB/Optical||15.2oz|
|Razer Nari Wireless 7.1||$150||Yes||20 Hours||USB/3.5mm||15.2oz|
|Razer Kraken X||$50||No||N/A||3.5mm||8.8oz|
|Logitech G533||$150||Yes||15 Hours||USB||12.35oz|
|SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless||$330||Yes||12 Hours||USB||12.8oz|
|HyperX Cloud MIX||$200||Yes||20 Hours||3.5mm||9.7oz|
|Corsair Void RGB EW||$100||Yes||16 Hours||USB||14.1oz|
|Creative Sound BlasterX H7||$100||No||N/A||USB/3.5mm||1.5lbs|
|Jeecoo USB Pro||$48||Yes||16 Hours||USB||1.1lbs|
|AUDEZE Mobius||$399||Yes||10 Hours||USB/3.5mm||12.35oz|
- Sound Quality
- Battery Life
- Headsets for Gamers with Glasses
- Stereo vs. Surround Sound
- 7.1 Gaming Headsets
- Open-Back vs. Closed-Back Gaming Headsets
- Wired vs. Wireless Gaming Headsets
- Gaming Headsets for PS4 and XBox
- Isolation vs. Noise Cancellation
- What Headsets do Pro Gamers Use?
When you’re buying a gaming headset, it’s not just enough to find one that sounds good. Gaming headsets are not like regular headphones. Regular headphones have to deal with a single, static audio source–think music, or podcasts. Gaming headsets, however, not only have to deal with sound that is happening in a simulated 3D space, but they also have to do it while receiving audio from one of many source devices, all of them very different. A game like Fortnite on PC will sound very different from something like Apex Legends on PS4. Gaming headsets have to account for that, and it can make choosing one based on sound quality quite tricky.
The key here is to buy a gaming headset that sounds right for you. Think about the kind of games you play, and the audio they have. For example, if you play an online first person shooter, like one of the myriad Call of Duty games, then it’s important to know where individual sounds are coming from. You can’t headshot your opponent if you can’t hear him. In that case, you want a headset that offers full surround sound, like our top 7.1 pick, the excellent HyperX Cloud II ($100). However, if you’re on PC rather than on console, it may be worth considering a headset with additional customization options, like the Razer Kraken Tournament Edition (also $100). We’ve discussed the sound quality of the individual headsets on our list in their individual entries, so take some time to figure out which headset will work the best for you.
Having a good microphone isn’t necessarily about your experience. It’s about the experience of those playing with you. This is especially important if teamwork is crucial to victory–after all, you can’t coordinate with your teammates if they can’t hear you, or if your audio is distorted. Darth Vader sounds excellent in Star Wars, less so in team games.
The majority of gaming headset mics are unidirectional, meaning they only accept sound from a single direction, usually in the front. This is mostly a good thing, as your friends on the other end don't want to hear your partner asking why you didn't replace the garbage bags. But unidirectional isn't necessarily the best way to convey your voice. A good bi-directional mic which picks up noise from the front and back, like that on the $330 SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless, can be a better option. This mic type has a tight front and back pattern that rejects noise from the sides and anything further than eight inches away. This creates something called the proximity effect, a natural frequency-boost across the low-end, resulting in richness and clarity. The proximity effect might be a negative thing for music recording, but it’s great at boosting your mic volume during a game.
By the way, any gaming headset that says its mic is noise-canceling usually means it’s bi-directional. True noise-canceling microphones, or active noise-canceling microphones, are referring to technology that requires additional power, circuitry, processing, and considerably higher price tags than anything in our list. You won’t find any true noise-canceling microphones here. Truthfully, you won’t need them.
On the face of it, the differences in weight between various gaming headsets doesn’t seem that important. After all, we’re talking ounces here, right? It’s true that when you’re holding a headset in your hands, a few ounces heavier may not make a difference. But the thing is, you’re not holding the headset in your hands. You’re wearing it on your head. And you’re doing so for hours at a time, all while in a static body position, eyes fixed on a screen. You’re in a competitive situation that frequently encourages you to lean forward, putting pressure on the neck and shoulders. After a while, those ounces begin to make a real difference. Trust us on this: it is always better to buy a lighter headset over one that is heavier.
However, extra weight is often a reflection of additional features or advanced internals. As an example, let’s take two headsets on our list: the top-ranked wireless SteelSeries Arctis 7, which costs $150, and our top budget model, the $40 Bengoo G9000. There’s no question that the SteelSeries is the better headset, but it’s also heavy, at 12.8 ounces–a reflection not only of the quality materials used in its construction, but also the added wireless features. The Bengoo headset may not sound as good, and is very much a budget option in terms of construction and features, but it’s also lighter, at 9.6 ounces. It will put less pressure on your head and neck over time, and be more comfortable to wear. As with all things gaming headset, you need to decide how important weight is to you, and whether you’re prepared to add additional ounces to get better features and construction.
If you’re the kind of gamer who removes your headset often–say, in a burst of relief in victory or in the agony of defeat–then you’ll want a headset that is durable. That constant putting on and taking off of the headset results in a lot of bending and flexion, putting strain on the headband and the hinges. If that’s you, then it’s probably worth spending a little bit more on a headset noted for its durability, like the $140 HyperX Cloud Flight. A mix of metal and plastic is far preferable to a pure plastic design, and, in this case, there’s a genuine correlation between price and durability. The more you spend, the more likely it is that the headset will be able to put up with some punishment.
By the way, it would be a mistake to assume that heavier headsets are necessarily more durable. One of the more affordable headsets on our list, the $48 Jeecoo USB Pro, has real issues with durability. But it’s also one of the heaviest headsets here, at 1.1 pounds. Durability has to do with construction quality as well as materials.
Wireless gaming headsets live and die by their battery life. A better battery means less time between charges, which is one more thing you don’t have to worry about. Generally speaking, you should try to buy a headset with as much battery life as possible, although of course this depends on how much money you have to spend. For reference, the headset on our list with the longest battery life is the $140 HyperX Cloud Flight, which clocks in at a massive 30 hours.
However, you should never expect to get the exact length of time listed by the manufacturer. That’s because battery use depends on so many different things. It can change based on the volume you listen at, the number of features being used at any one time, whether or not your mic is on, or any number of situations. Regardless, you should expect your headset to deliver a battery time at around what the manufacturer states, even if it isn’t entirely accurate. You should also be aware that certain features—like external lights—tend to drain battery a lot faster than straightforward use. If you want to save your battery, consider turning those off. Almost all headsets, and certainly the ones on our list, charge via a simple USB connection.
If you wear glasses, then you’ll be aware of the indignities that come with wearing any headset or headphones. You either accept the pain and discomfort, jamming the frames in between your head and the cups, or you awkwardly prop them on top of the cups themselves. In other words, it’s a choice between agony and looking really stupid. If you’re after a gaming headset and you wear glasses, then it’s super important to find a pair that is comfortable enough to wear with glasses in the correct position.
Large, squashy ear cups are your friends here–preferably ear pads covered in forgiving fabric. Our top choice for glasses-wearing gamers is the $100 Corsair Void RGB Elite Wireless, which has wonderfully capacious ear pads that will happily give way to glasses frames. This is one area where we’d recommend trying before you buy, if possible–even with our recommendations, you’ll never know for sure if a headset is going to be comfortable over long periods until you try it.
These two terms refer to the types of sound you get in gaming headsets. They are markedly different, and it’s worth knowing what those differences are. Stereo sound is sound that comes from two channels—left and right. Any music you listen to will be two-channel, and if you listen on a headset, one channel will come from the right ear cup, and the other from the left. Traditional headphones use this setup. Surround sound, on the other hand, is a little trickier. In a traditional speaker setup, it refers to a system with multiple speakers, each of which handles a particular element of the sound to create a realistic, 3D soundstage. In a headset, it refers to the ability to mimic this while only using two speakers (the ones in the left and right cups). More on how this works below.
Another factor that's important when understanding surround sound is size. Not only the size of the actual drivers delivering the sound, but the space within the headset's physical ear cup. This size is what allows sound to disperse proportionately to create the intended sound. This is where you need to be careful, because some headsets do it much better than others. Often, this is dictated by price, but not always. As an example, our top surround sound headset, the HyperX Cloud II, is a relatively affordable $100.
We’ve already talked about surround sound. But in order to understand how it works, and how to pick a good surround headset, we need to talk about the term 7.1. You’ll see it a lot in the world of gaming headsets, and it’s worth breaking down what it means – and more specifically, what it means for you.
7.1 is a term drawn from the world of home theater speakers. It refers to a surround sound system, with seven speakers and a subwoofer, used to create a realistic audio space for a movie. Now, very obviously, you can’t cram seven speakers into a headset, so in this context, 7.1 refers to software that only replicates the experience of true surround sound. This is why most headsets use the term virtual surround sound. All the surround sound headphones on our list are using virtual surround sound technology, typically enabled by Dolby Virtual 7.1 or DTS Headphone:X surround sound. You’ll sometimes see headsets advertised with 5.1 sound, but this is far less common.
The key thing to understand is that not all 7.1 sound is equal. Companies use various technological tricks to increase the realism and sense of space, as you might find in the $150 Razer Nari Wireless 7.1. With this headset, Razer partnered with the audio company THX to implement a special type of surround sound known as THX Spatial Audio. While the Nari Wireless isn’t the best headset on our list, due to various issues, there’s no denying that THX Spatial Audio is incredible. If you’re interested in 7.1, it’s worth reading our descriptions of the headset choices in the list above to get a sense of which ones do it better than others.
Take a look at the outside of your headset’s ear cups. If they are solid, they are considered closed-back. If they have vents, or are otherwise open to the air, they are open-back. Closed-back headphones restrict external noise entering and internal noise leaving your headset. The main benefit of this for gamers is increased immersion, as you're unlikely to hear any external noises which could distract you from your game. Another benefit for any late-night gamers is that closed-back cans can help keep sound contained, so you won't disturb anyone in your house at 4am when you declare war on an enemy clan. It’s worth noting that due to the lack of airflow in and out of the headset, closed-back headsets can get sweaty, which is never comfortable. More importantly, because noise is trapped inside the headset, it can sometimes create unnatural-sounding audio. The best closed-back headset on our list is the $100 SteelSeries Arctis 7—nothing unnatural there!
With open-back headsets, the sound will be significantly better. The driver–the part of the headset that makes sound–is allowed to interact with the air, which will change the audio quality for the better. However, there are downsides. You'll be able to hear most external noises and, if you have the volume cranked too loud, anyone in the house will hear whatever it is you're listening to as well. They can also be expensive: one excellent open-back model is the Sennheiser GAME ONE, but it costs a staggering $250.
On the face of it, the differences between wired and wireless gaming headsets are obvious. Wired headsets require you to be tethered to your computer or console, whereas wireless headsets allow you to move freely. In reality, however, there are several advantages and disadvantages to each.
Wired headsets generally tend to sound better, as they can send far more audio data over their physical connections. More data equals more detail, which equals better sound. You also never have to worry about recharging them. On the downside, you always have a cable to worry about, and it can get in the way. Wireless headsets, however, are unquestionably more convenient. But you will need to charge them from time to time, as they run off an internal battery, and sometimes they don’t sound quite as good as wired headsets, although this isn’t always the case. You also have to worry about lag—the time difference between what is happening on screen and what you hear in your ears. This simply isn’t a problem with wired models.
Unlike traditional headphones, wireless gaming headsets don’t always use regular Bluetooth to connect to the source device. Gaming devices–particularly consoles–often have restrictions on the type of connection they will allow, which we will discuss in more detail below. If you are considering a wireless headset, it may be best to bypass Bluetooth entirely. Our top-ranked wireless model, the SteelSeries Arctis 7, costs $100 and relies on a private Wi-Fi connection. While it doesn’t work in all circumstances, it’s a much more efficient way of doing things.
Connecting a wired gaming headset to a source is simple. You plug it in–really, that’s it. You either connect it via USB or 3.5mm, and will almost always be recognised immediately as an output option for your sound. But things get more complicated when it comes to wireless gaming headsets, and they get a lot more complicated when you’re trying to connect a headset to a console, like an XBox or PS4.
Let’s start with XBox, since it’s by far the most complicated. XBox simply does not work with most traditional Bluetooth headsets—you have to go wired, or use an expensive, awkward dongle. Instead, Microsoft uses something called XBox Wireless—special wireless software that it licenses out to certain companies. Those companies develop headsets specifically for XBox. On the list above, we’ve highlighted the headset that we think is the best pick for your XBox, the $200 SteelSeries Arctis 9X. It’s specifically designed to connect directly to your Xbox with minimal fuss.
PS4 on the other hand is much more egalitarian. It will allow most gaming headsets to connect either wirelessly or by a cable. There's a much wider range of headsets that work on PS4 than on XBox. Crucially, however, your traditional wireless headphones—those designed for music, or taking calls–probably won’t work with PS4. You need a specific gaming headset to do so, like our pick for the Best PS4 Headset, the $100 Razer Kraken Tournament Edition.
By the way, if you own a Nintendo Switch and want to use wireless headphones: good luck to you. You’ll have to buy a separate wireless dongle, and even then, you’ll have to go through a complicated setup process. Trust us on this: if you have a Switch, go wired.
Both of these terms refer to the ability to block out noise from the outside world, which can be valuable if you plan on playing in a noisy environment, like a family living room. Isolation refers to how effective a pair of headphones is at sealing your ears away–in other words, how closely the cups meld to the side of your head. A pair of headphones with good isolation will be able to block out any ambient sounds the moment you put them on.
Noise-canceling headphones, on the other hand, use digital technology to remove sound. Microphones on the exterior of the headphones pickup incoming sounds, then use a process called phase cancelation to eliminate it, meaning none of it reaches your ears. While this is very common technology in the world of traditional headphones, you almost never find it on gaming headsets. Why? Because quality noise-canceling is expensive, and implementing it would make gaming headsets far more pricey than they are. Most manufacturers have elected not to include it.
Where you will find noise-canceling tech is in the microphones. There are plenty of headsets that use the technology to isolate the sound of your voice when you’re speaking, to aid communication with your teammates. The $100 Corsair Void RGB Elite Wireless Is a good example of this.
Just as casual basketball players want to wear the new Kyries or Brons, gamers want to use the headsets that professional players and streamers use. While we can’t always speak to the reasons as to why pros pick certain headsets—a lot of this is personal choice, you understand—we can take a look at the gear some of the biggest names use.
Let’s start with the streamer PewDiePie, one of the most popular YouTubers on the planet. Although his headset use has changed over time, he is currently using a Sennheiser GAME ZERO headset, the older version of our top high-end pick. He has also used a Razer Kraken Neon Pro headset in the past. We think there are better options available, but there’s no denying the visual appeal.
There are several streamers and gamers who actually opt for more traditional headphones without mics. Ninja, for example, uses a pair of Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro, while TFue uses the Sennheiser HD 800 S. Both of these are classic German high-end headphones renowned for their audio quality, although of course they don’t have the additional features that you find in traditional gaming headsets. They also commonly lack microphones.
Professional gamer Puppey uses a Corsair Void Pro RGB, a pricier version of the one already on our list. It’s a good choice—Puppey wears glasses, and the Void Pro series is renowned for its comfort, with ear cups that are quite comfortable adjusting around glasses frames. Ultimately, professional gamers will have different needs to most of us, and although there are many high profile players and streamers that don’t share the choices on our list, we think you’ll be more than satisfied with the models we’ve chosen.