When it comes to video games, you can just use your regular headphones, but your normal set may not be up to the task if you need an integrated microphone. That’s where the venerable category of gaming headsets comes in: instead of buying a dedicated mic, sometimes it’s better to just pick up an off-the-shelf option that can shoulder the load without any other complicated hookups. While you could always just supplement your cans with a ModMic, extra cables are a pain.
We’ve compiled a short list of the best gaming headsets on the market today.
What you should know about gaming headsets
Not every headset is created equal. That’s right, for better or worse, some gaming headsets offer limited compatibility or are completely incompatible with certain consoles altogether. Don’t worry, we have you covered. If compatibility is of utmost importance, just scroll down to the SteelSeries Arctis gaming headset.
Another important thing to keep in mind is the reproduction of 3D space. Some headphones are better at creating a realistic perception of spatial awareness than others. As you’ll find out, open-back headphones tend to do a better job than their closed-back counterparts. Granted, Dolby 7.1 surround sound compatibility on some of the listed gaming headsets does an excellent job as well.
Our pick among the best gaming headsets is the Sennheiser Game One
Sennheiser is an audio titan, and for good reason: the company doesn’t make bad headphones. The Game One is stuffed to the gills with Senn’s top-notch hardware. Sure, the casing feels cheap, but you’ll forget all that once you start using the Game One. It’s a treat to use and is compatibly between Mac, PC, and anything with a 3.5mm input. Keep in mind, however, that the Game One is open-backed, meaning noise will get in. If you want a closed back variant, pick up the Game Zero—but the One will do a much better job of granting you with a keen sense of spatial awareness, which is conducive to successful deathmatches.
Sennheiser Game One
Regarding sound quality, the Game One on of many gaming headsets to feature a noise-cancelling microphone that promotes clarity and allows for easy mute toggling by simply raising the boom. External volume controls are also featured as well as plush, velvet ear pads that are breathable, great for when things get heated.
The Beyerdynamic Custom Game provide the best bass versatility among gaming headsets
The Custom Game are a behemoth of a gaming headsets, but they allow for gamers to customize the sound signature unlike any other headset listed. Each ear cup is outfitted with bass reflex vents, which are easily revealed or concealed with a simple sliding mechanism. Adjusting the bass reproduction also adjusts the influx of ambient noise that can permeate the headphones. In a quiet environment? Open up those bass vents and experience a boomier sound. For tournaments with plenty of chatter, just close the ports to drown everything out.
Beyerdynamic Custom GameFull Review
The cardioid boom microphone is forgiving when it comes to placement and hones in on your voice while simultaneously filtering out extraneous background noise. If customization is your thing, well, you’re in luck. The Custom Game headset includes interchangeable ear cup plates to non-verbally convey your style. If you’re not a fan of the all-black aesthetic, Beyerdynamic also has a bunch of customization options, as well as velour pads for people who wear glasses on their raids.
For the best cross-platform compatibility, pick the SteelSeries Arctis
If you’re a Nintendo Switch owner, then you’re familiar with the woes that accompany gaming headsets. Many gaming headsets, like the listed Astro A50, aren’t compatible with the Switch but the SteelSeries Arctis works with all platforms, including VR and mobile. To get it to work with the Nintendo Switch, simply connect via wire to the device and enable Bluetooth to connect to the Switch mobile chat app.
Alright, what else is there? Well, the detachable Clear Cast mic attenuates ambient noise while relaying your voice with the utmost clarity. Internally, the headset is decked out with S1 speaker drivers that are designed to deliver a detailed, balanced sound with minimal distortion, so you can easily pay attention to your virtual surroundings.
Physically, the SteelSeries Arctis gives other gaming headsets a run for their money; the Arctis is lightweight and outfitted with proprietary AirWeave ear cushions that allow for ventilation and all-day comfort. No matter the console, you can bet your bottom dollar that the SteelSeries Arctis has you covered.
Stretch that dollar for gaming headsets with the HyperX Cloud II
True, spending just under $90 for a gaming headset is still a still a significant amount of change to shell out, but the HyperX Cloud II is feature-packed. Stereo connectivity is compatible wtih PS4 and Xbox One, the latter of which requires a stereo adapter). What’s more, like other gaming headsets the Cloud II is circumaural and includes a USB audio sound card with 7.1 Virtual Surround Sound for PC and Mac. This allows for a realistic sense of spatial awareness, paramount for first-person shooter gamers.
HyperX Cloud II
The detachable noise-cancelling microphone works in tandem with the aforementioned in-line sound card DSP amplifies and transmits your voice to your teammates’ gaming headsets for optimal in-game strategic execution.Need more? The gaming headset is TeamSpeak certified, meaning that you can trust the HyperX Cloud II to relay your voice clearly and without echo.
Regarding controls, the advanced audio control box makes it easy for gamers to toggle Surround Sound 7.1 at the touch of a button. The control panel also includes independent volume controls for audio and microphone adjustment. Additionally, memory foam ear pads provide a comfortable gaming experience and HyperX provides an extra set of replaceable velour ear pads.
For a tried and true gaming headsets, play with the Astro A50
If you like to jump from console to console, this is the gold-standard among gaming headsets on the market today. While it’s probably not the best for PC gamers, the wireless Astro A50 has a lot to offer console gamers. For example, the Dolby 7.1 channel surround sound, an integrated mixamp, and tilt-to-mute controls on the mic make for a frustration-free experience while you’re fragging.
ASTRO Gaming A50 Wireless
The Astro A50 implements 5GHz wireless technology to provide low-latency performance; this means that your gaming headset will keep in sync with gameplay while eliminating potential interference from other nearby wireless devices. Additionally, the Astro gaming headset was constructed with eSports in mind. The engineers made sure that the microhpone is adjustable and settings are customizable, depednign on the environment. All that said, this gaming headset is heavy, so you may want to keep looking if you’re sensitive to clamping pressure.
Why you should trust us
Not only is this site our nine-to-five, but Adam, Chris and Lily each have multiple years of reviewing consumer audio products. We’ve kept tabs on the ever-changing world of audio, giving us the ability to parse apart the gimmicks from the gems. As frequent visitors of SoundGuys already know, Chris wears his hatred for all things Bluetooth like a lovesick teenager wears his heart on his sleeve. The Bluetooth products listed? They’re damned special. Adam, a SoundGuy for nearly three years, has heard everything from pristine highs to vacant lows. Then there’s Lily with countless hours clocked in at a radio station working in a professional studio environment and reviewing audio products on her own time prior to joining SoundGuys.
We want you to be happy with your purchase—none of our writers see a dime from partnership deals or referral purchases—and nobody here is allowed to benefit from steering you towards one product or another. While this site does make money from referrals, the individual writers are paid based on their work, regardless of whether or not people clicked that “buy” icon. They will never even know if anyone did, though the site going under might be a good hint.
How we picked
Although we’ve directly reviewed a vast array of products here at Sound Guys, we haven’t gotten around to all of them. After all, we’re only human and are inherently subjective. To counteract our unavoidable bias, we do quite a bit of research by perusing online forums, reading other reviews (PCMag, CNET, etc), conducting Twitter polls and more.
Unlike some of our more niche best lists, we’re able to draw upon the full experiences of our entire staff—including some who have moved on—for input in populating our list of candidates. This list isn’t simply what one of us likes, it’s an accurate representation of our experiences as an entire staff. This is a very crowded segment of headphones, with countless models that are really, really good. However, this is what we feel are the best when you consider the diverse needs of many listeners.
In short, this list is the running conclusions of thousands of hours of use from a growing list of contributors over many years. This is a living document, and it’s updated every time a new model knocks an existing one off their pedestal.
Did we miss your favorite headset? Let us know in the comments, and who knows? Maybe it shows up in next month’s update.
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