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The best cheap gaming headsets
The gaming headset occupies a somewhat odd position in the audio market. Sure, there are all sorts of great products out there, and many come at completely reasonable prices, but price often isn’t a reliable indicator of quality. Plenty of $150-plus headsets advertise best-in-class features and sharp audio but end up a bass-boosted mess. Sometimes all you want is something straightforward and simple without all the fancy bells and whistles. Luckily, there are plenty of affordable headphones that cover the basics perfectly well. Just because a gaming headset is cheap doesn’t always mean it’s low quality. We’ve rounded up the best options that won’t break the bank.
- This best list was updated on August 15th, 2023, to include the HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 in our top selection, add the ROCCAT Elo 7.1 to our notable mentions, and answer more frequently asked questions.
- If you've already got a great pair of headphones but you lack a microphone, it might be worth picking up a standalone gaming mic. If you're playing on a PC, however, you'll want to pick up a USB microphone.
- If you are willing to spend a bit more on extra features, take a look at our lists for the best gaming headsets with good microphones, the best gaming headsets for PC, the best wireless gaming headsets, and the best gaming earbuds.
If you want the best audio in a cheap gaming headset, grab the JBL Quantum 50
JBL’s Quantum line of gaming headsets really covers a wide swath of prices and use cases, but if any one product among them is the most compelling, it’s the JBL Quantum 50. These wired gaming earbuds don’t come with bells and whistles. There’s no virtual surround sound or even an incredible microphone. Instead, you get a comfortable, sturdily built pair of earbuds that sound excellent and work everywhere for $30 USD.
The JBL Quantum 50 features a two-part ear tip design, to fit securely in the shape of your ear. It’s got a braided tangle-free cord, and in-line controls for volume and microphone muting, as well as a multifunction button. Its microphone doesn’t sound incredible, but very few in-line earbud mics do—again, this is a $30 USD option. The Quantum 50 sounds better than options twice or three times the price, and it never needs recharging.
JBL Quantum 50 microphone demo (ideal conditions):
The Razer Kraken X has features to spare
The Razer Kraken X brings a lot of value to the table, with 3.5mm connectivity and 7.1 surround sound, all for around $50. This option really walks the line between “good value” and downright cheap.
The headset has a lightweight design, with a headband made of durable thermoplastic. The headphones’ memory foam pads feature slight gaps to alleviate pressure if you wear glasses. Its attached microphone is flexible and offers clear audio. All in all, this is a comfortable headset, and the volume and mic controls on the left headphone add even more convenience. The 7.1 surround sound only works with Windows 10, but you won’t find a better gaming headset for $49.99. If you want to save a little cash, the Razer Kaken X Lite is available for $10 less, offering a slightly lighter build with no onboard controls.
If you’re willing to shell out some extra cash, take a look at the Razer BlackShark V2 X. For around $20 more than the Kraken X, it features great isolation, 7.1 surround sound, and one of the most neutral-sounding sound profiles we’ve ever tested in a gaming headset. At under $100, the Razer BlackShark V2 has all the same features as the X-variant, in addition to THX Spatial Audio for better in-game spatial awareness, compared to traditional virtual surround sound.
The HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 is a well-rounded headset for gaming
The HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 is a budget-oriented gaming headset that doesn’t compromise much on performance. Designed with the everyday gamer in mind, it offers a commendable sound profile characterized by a pronounced bass and some high-end deviations, making it suitable for a variety of music genres and games. The pleather material on the headband and ear cups ensures comfort during extended gaming sessions, while the ear cups’ ninety-degree swivel feature adds a touch of convenience.
One of its standout features is its wide compatibility. The traditional 3.5mm headphone jack connector ensures it works seamlessly with a plethora of devices, from gaming consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series S/X to everyday gadgets like phones and PCs. This versatility extends to its microphone, which, despite being non-detachable, offers a frequency response that rises to around 4kHz, ensuring clear voice capture, especially for online gaming chats.
The boom mic on the Cloud Stinger 2 covers the voice well, with a frequency response that rises to around 4kHz, before a sharp drop off around 7kHz. The rising response provides good speech intelligibility. It’s important to note that unlike on some nicer headsets, the microphone does not detach or hide out of the way when not in use; it can only be flipped up if the user doesn’t need it.
HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 microphone demo (Ideal conditions):
HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 microphone demo (Office conditions):
How does the microphone sound to you?
Alternatively, you can save yourself $10 by getting the HyperX Cloud Stinger Core instead. The earcups don’t swivel and the isolation isn’t as good, but you go get a great microphone and sound quality.
The best budget wired headset is the Turtle Beach Recon 70
Turtle Beach makes gaming headsets for all kinds of price ranges and needs, but if any of the company’s products fill the entry-level console niche, it’s the Recon 70. For under $40, you get a straightforward wired audio experience, with decent sound, a very accurate microphone, and on-ear controls.
There’s not a whole lot more to say, really—You plug it in, and it works. The microphone flips up to mute, and there’s an audio volume dial on the side of the left ear cup. If you’re playing on Xbox One, this headset also supports Windows Sonic surround sound, which is pretty neat.
Sure, this isn’t the HiFi audio solution for discerning music lovers and competitive gamers, but if you’re in the market for something in this price range, you know what to expect. For such a low price, this is a damn good headset.
When you want cheap, but not that cheap, consider the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless
Cheap can mean a lot of things, and while $100 is still plenty to spend, it’s downright reasonable compared to a lot of options on the market. The HyperX Cloud Alpha occupied this spot on the list for a long time, and it may do so again one day, but right now, it’s pretty hard to get one for a decent price, given the state of international shipping and shopping. If you can’t find one for a reasonable price, consider the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless. Like the Cloud Alpha, the Arctis 1 Wireless is only $40 more than the next most expensive entry on this list, and offers comparable audio quality to headphones twice or even three times its price.
This is the first wireless gaming headset to connect using a USB-C dongle (there’s an adapter for devices with regular USB ports), which means it can connect to a PC, smartphone, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch—even when it’s undocked.
Sure, the Arctis 1 Wireless doesn’t offer the breadth of features found in the premium space, but in the no-frills budget arena, it hardly seems like a no-frills experience. It offers rock-solid audio output, and stellar battery life, and it works on almost every platform wirelessly—even an undocked Switch.
The attached microphone is a little wonky, with underemphasized bass that can make deeper voices sound a little tinny. However, it handles voice chat without issue. Like other SteelSeries Arctis headsets, the Arctis 1 Wireless is Discord certified, so it works very well with the service. It won’t be podcast-ready any time soon, but voice chat is no problem.
SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless: microphone demo
The headset doesn’t feel quite as sturdy as something like the Cloud Alpha, but it’s plenty comfortable. The headband is made of plastic but clamps down tightly. The ear pads feature cushions in the SteelSeries’ Airweave fabric which is really comfortable and manages heat very well. Basically, the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless is as close to a premium wireless experience as you can get for under $100.
The best cheap gaming headsets: Notable mentions
- HyperX Cloud Alpha ($69 at Amazon): It’s getting a little long in the tooth, but the Cloud Alpha is still one of the best-wired gaming headsets on the market. It sounds great and feels great, and it’s under $100 USD.
- ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air ($84 at Amazon): The ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air is a pretty average gaming headset with a good spread of features. Bringing wireless audio to $99 is notable, but if that’s not a feature you’re set on, there are better options.
- ROCCAT Elo X Stereo ($39 at Amazon): There’s nothing too special going on here, except for that $34 USD promotional pricing. If you want a cheap gaming headset with a pretty good mic, the Elo X Stereo is a fine use of your money.
- SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 ($55 at Amazon): If you’re a fan of the style of the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless, then you might also be interested in the updated, wired version of that same headset. It has the same level of comfort with a slightly updated design and same good build quality.
- Puro Sound Labs PuroGamer ($79 at Amazon): It’s a couple years old, but there’s still no better gaming headset for kids on market. It’s cheap, sounds good, and won’t ruin your child’s hearing—what’s not to love?
- Turtle Beach Recon 200 Gen 2 ($219 at Amazon): For just $59 USD, you get a solid wired gaming headset with a good microphone and comfortable fit that accommodates most head sizes, small and large. Things get a little wonky with this headset because the bass response is either too quiet or too loud without much in between.
- Turtle Beach Stealth 600 Gen 2 ($100 at Amazon): It doesn’t work on as many platforms as the Arctis 1, but this $99 USD wireless gaming headset is a real contender for people moving between PC and either PlayStation or Xbox consoles. It’s got a great microphone, great battery life, and decent sound, plus it’s comfortable.
- Roccat Syn Buds Core ($34 at Amazon): These gaming earbuds don’t sound quite so good as the JBL Quantum 50, but if you see them when on the hunt for a decent cheap audio solution, know they’re reliable. No extra features and a pretty mediocre microphone, but $25 USD is $25 USD.
What do you need in a cheap gaming headset?
Gaming headsets on the cheaper end of the spectrum tend to have more limited feature sets. It’s hard to find something that really covers every base for under $60—this is also true of more typical headphones, there are just also a few other things to consider for gaming. There are plenty of great options, but you’re going to need to get a little specific.
What kind of games do you play? If you’re really into multiplayer games like Fortnite or Call of Duty, finding something with surround sound and a microphone is probably a good idea. That’ll be easier if you’re looking for a PC peripheral, as features like surround sound often don’t make the leap to the console, even if the rest of the headset works.
Remember, you don't need to break the bank to have a good time.
Pay attention to whether a gaming headset is designed for a platform or merely compatible with it. Plenty of gaming headsets use 3.5mm connections and therefore work with most devices. That doesn’t mean they all work perfectly on those devices. Usually, your best bet is to look for something tailored to the platform you use. Odds are, you’ll have a better time with a gaming headset made specifically for the console you own rather than one made for PC that also works on the PlayStation 4.
It’s also important to pay attention to the physical design of the headset. Does it look like a pair of headphones with a mic attached, or does it look like an LED-riddled UFO? The headsets that add a lot of odd angles and edgy designs often do so using cheap plastic—especially at lower prices. Ones with straightforward metal frames are usually more durable.
I’ve always found that simpler designs often indicate higher quality—there’s less to distract from how a headset will sound. Ultimately, it’s probably better to keep the flashing lights and gaudy futuristic-looking tech in your games rather than on your head.
Why you should trust SoundGuys
The gaming headset space, much like many other parts of the audio industry, is rife with exaggerated language and gimmicky features that often don’t add much of anything to your experience. It’s easy to get caught up in the flashy lights and promises of immersive audio and bass so intense it’ll rupture your eardrums (in a good way, somehow), but most of that stuff flat-out doesn’t matter. That’s why we review gaming headsets and why we have lists like this. After testing and reviewing dozens of options, we know what kind of audio features are important for different kinds of games and, maybe more importantly: which ones aren’t.
Frequently asked questions about cheap gaming headsets
Between the two headsets, the Razer BlackShark V2 is arguably a better choice. It boasts great sound quality, best-in-class isolation performance, THX Spatial Audio, and a very comfortable design. However, it costs twice as much as the Kraken X. If you’re willing to stretch your budget to just under $100 USD, the BlackShark V2 (or the cheaper BlackShark V2 X) is definitely worth considering. Otherwise, the Kraken X is still a great value for under $50 USD.
Well, the answer is a bit of a mixed bag. For roughly $20 more than the Recon 70, the Turtle Beach Recon 200 features a better build quality and more accurate frequency response. However, its inclusion of a bass boost and amplified audio means that users will have to charge the headset, which can be inconvenient for some. That’s why we believe that the Recon 70 is a much better value for money since you’re getting good sound for $40 without having to deal with the hassle of recharging your headset.
The Razer Kraken X is the best budget geadset for gaming that supports 7.1 surround sound. Alternatively, the ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air is another great option that includes wireless audio for less than $100.
The best cheap headset for playing C0D: Warzone would have to be the HyperX Cloud Stinger 2. It works with almost any console and has a great microphone for online chats and communication.