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. You could always just supplement your cans with a HyperX Quadcast or a Beyerdynamic Fox, but extra cables are a pain. That’s where gaming headsets come in: instead of buying a dedicated mic, sometimes it’s better to just pick up an off-the-shelf option to shoulder the load without any other complicated hookups.
We’ve compiled a short list of the best gaming headsets on the market today.
Editor’s note: This list was updated on September 2, 2021 to include the JBL Quantum 50 and new information in our What you Should Know section, as well as notable mentions entries for the Razer BlackShark V2 Pro, Razer Barracuda X, SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless, Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless XT, and Bose QuietComfort 35 II Gaming Headset.
What you should know about gaming headsets
Not every headset is created equal. 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, you may want to stick to wired 3.5mm options, or wireless gaming headsets that use USB-C dongles.
Aesthetic considerations are also worth making. If you’re interested in a headset that you can use in front of other people on a video call, or out and about, something a little more low-key is probably a good idea. Oddly enough, a handful of Razer‘s most recent headsets may fit that bill.
Features are still an important consideration, but these days they’ve moved to the backburner a bit. Gaming platforms (including Windows) all have their own onboard solutions for things like spatial audio, so there’s not a whole to buying headset because it comes with that feature preloaded. For instance, as long as you can plug a headset into your PlayStation 5, it will work with the 3D audio feature. For features like EQ customization, you’re still going to need something that uses a companion app, though.
Our pick for best gaming headset is the Audeze Mobius
Audeze makes some of the best headphones in the world, so it makes sense that when the company decides to bring its planar magnetic technology to the gaming space, the results are pretty special.
The Audeze Mobius is just about the best overall gaming headset you can get. It’s got top-notch sound, with 100mm planar magnetic drivers that accurately reproduce audio across the frequency spectrum, without over emphasizing bass.
Audeze MobiusFull Review
With memory foam pads, and super-flexible band, these headphones are a joy to use. They have no issue blocking out most at-home sounds you’d run into, and the memory phone molds to your head over time. Plus the headset supports just about every connection method possible, with a 3.5mm cord, USB compatibility, and Bluetooth 5.
Additionally, Audeze also teamed up with Waves Nx to bring 3D audio to the Mobius. In addition to the 7.1 virtual surround sound the game supports, you can turn on 3D audio to simulate a speaker environment in your headphones. Tap the button to set the anchor point, and it will always sound like things are coming from that direction, regardless of how you turn your head. This isn’t a huge thing for games, but it makes music and movies feel distinct in a really cool way.
The Corsair Virtuoso Wireless SE has one of the best microphones in a gaming headset
Corsair is no stranger to the gaming headset market, and its really outdone itself with its most expensive headset to date: the Virtuoso Wireless SE. At first glance, the headset looks more like a piece of studio gear, rather than an accessory for gamers. However, its premium design carries a treasure trove of powerful internals that somewhat justify its high price tag.
Corsair Virtuoso Wireless SEFull Review
Of course, the highlight feature of the Virtuoso Wireless SE is its microphone. While it’s not exactly “broadcast quality” as Corsair claims, it’s definitely impressive and offers a relatively neutral frequency response. Low-end roll-off or high-frequency over-emphasis is typically one of the weakest aspects of any gaming headset.
Regardless of your pitch, your voice is sure to come through clearly through this microphone—whether you’re talking over the phone or in a Zoom call. If you don’t believe us, listen for yourself:
This wireless gaming headset sports a primarily metal build, soft leatherette ear pads, and a selection of metal-accented accessories including a USB-C to USB-A cable, 3.5mm aux cable, and a USB wireless dongle. The Virtuoso Wireless SE has a 20-hour battery life that will last through even the most intense all-nighter gaming sessions, with or without a wire.
For the best cross-platform compatibility, pick the SteelSeries Arctis 7p
Gaming headsets use all sorts of connection methods, from USB dongles and cords, to Bluetooth and even to RF transmitters. The SteelSeries Arctis 7P follows the Arctis 1 Wireless in bringing a USB-C dongle into the mix. This gaming headset is marketed towards PlayStation 5 users, as the console now supports this connection method, but it’s also fully compatible with the Nintendo Switch.
SteelSeries Arctis 7PFull Review
This wireless gaming headset uses is compatible with the consoles listed above, as well as mobile devices with USB-C port, and platforms like PC and PlayStation 4 with its included USB-A adapter. The Xbox One still doesn’t support audio via USB, but don’t worry: The headset also comes with a 3.5mm cord so you can go wired and still use it.
On top of that swath of connection options, the SteelSeries Arctis 7P brings the same super-comfortable design as the Arctis 9, Arctis 7, and Arctis Pro. It’s also got great audio, a decent mic, and greatly improved battery life over the original Arctis 7, clocking in at just over 27 hours on a single charge.
Stretch that dollar for gaming headsets with the HyperX Cloud Alpha
Sure, $100 is still plenty to spend, but the HyperX Cloud Alpha gaming headset offers comparable audio quality to headphones twice or even three times the price.
HyperX Cloud AlphaFull Review
This is a no-frills device for gamers who want something simple that gets the job done with aplomb.
Sure, it doesn’t offer the breadth of features many gaming headsets have. However, in this price range, rock solid performance is really what you should be aiming for. Surround sound can be nice to have, but it’s hardly going to make you better at a game. Some games like Overwatch will even add it in for you.
The attached microphone is a little wonky, with underemphasized bass that can make deeper voices sound a little tinny. However, it handles everything without issue. If you’re looking for something use for podcasts or recording, this probably isn’t ideal. If you’re just using Discord, this’ll do just fine.
The headset was clearly designed with comfort and durability in mind. With a solid metal frame, thick plastic headphones, and deep leatherette pads make for a headset that feels fantastic. The inline controls add an extra degree of convenience, too.
Very few gaming earbuds sound as good as the JBL Quantum 50
The JBL Quantum line has been a little hit or miss since its inception, however the JBL Quantum 50 is an easy product to whole-heartedly recommend. On top of being one of the cheapest gaming audio products on the market, these earbuds also sound great and feel great.
JBL Quantum 50
The Quantum 50 doesn’t offer a lot in the way of features, but ultimately, it’s really just a pair of 3.5mm wired earbuds, so that shouldn’t be surprising. There’s in-line controls for volume, mic muting, and playback, but that’s about it. However, being a 3.5mm device means it’s compatible with just about everything—gaming platforms haven’t ditched the headphone jack like the smartphone industry, after all.
Even without extra features, these earbuds nail most of the fundamentals. They sound great, and provide solid passive isolation. The microphone is pretty so-so, but at barely $30 USD, that’s to be expected.
Related: Best cheap gaming headsets 2019
If you want a super cheap over-ear option, check out the Razer Kraken X
The Razer Kraken X brings a lot of value to the table. Sure, it doesn’t sound nearly as good as the HyperX Cloud Alpha, but it brings 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 a 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, 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 over-ear gaming headset for $49.99
- Drop x Sennheiser PC37X: If you’re looking for something like HyperX Cloud Alpha for PC gaming, but you prefer something with an open back, the Sennheiser PC37X is definitely worth a look. It sounds good (though not quite as good as the HyperX Cloud Alpha), its mic is decent, and its got velour earpads—great for long gaming sessions.
- HyperX Cloud Orbit S: This is a great option for the person who wants something as good as Audeze Mobius, but doesn’t necessarily need every feature under the sun. The Cloud Orbit S is based on the Mobius, with the same 100mm planar magnetic drivers and 3D audio features, but it jettisons the Bluetooth support. Plus it’s $70 cheaper.
- Fnatic React: Its audio output isn’t quite as accurate as the HyperX Cloud Alpha (though it comes pretty close), but if you want a reasonably priced stereo gaming headset and having a very good microphone is a priority, the Fnatic React might be just the ticket. This is a comfortable, straightforward headset, and it won’t break the bank.
- Logitech G Pro X: This headset has one of the best microphones around, backed up by powerful mic controls via Logitech’s Blue Vo!ce application. It also provides good sound quality and a comfortable design that will appeal to PC gamers.
- Razer Blackshark V2: Razer’s revamp of the BlackShark line was one of the best gaming headsets of 2020, though it’s microphone leaves a little to be desired. It’s super comfortable, it sounds great, with fantastic isolation and a lightweight-enough build for long gaming sessions, though it does feel a little flimsy. There’s also a wireless version with an improved microphone, though it’s considerably more expensive.
- Turtle Beach Recon 500: Turtle Beach has put out some of the most reliable cheap gaming headset on the market for years, and the company’s newest 3.5mm offering strikes a great balance between price and premium build. There aren’t any notable bells and whistles, but given pretty much every platform offers its own built-in virtual surround sound, you don’t need much to have a good time.
- Razer Barracuda X: Much like the SteelSeries Arctis 7P, this wireless gaming headset uses a USB-C dongle to connect to a wide range of gaming platforms. It sounds great, and its lightweight build is really comfortable, but you may find the microphone very quiet.
- Bose QuietComfort 35 II Gaming Headset: If you subscribe to belief that the best gaming headset you can buy is just the best pair of headphones you can get, this may be the product for you. It’s the Bose QC 35 II—already a classic pair of noise cancelling headphones—with a wired microphone attachment for gaming. However, it’s very expensive, and there’s no way to just buy the attachment if you’ve already got the same pair of headphones.
- Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless XT: This has all the same strengths as the Corsair Virtuoso Wireless SE on our list, only it now adds Bluetooth and aptX HD support. If you want something for a little wider usage than the typical gaming headset, this could be a great option, but it’s considerably more expensive than the SE and the battery life is a little lackluster.
- Razer BlackShark V2 Pro: Everything good we have to say about the BlackShark V2 is true about this one, but it’s now wireless and comes with an improved microphone. Big price jump, though.
- SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless: The SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless brings simultaneous Bluetooth and 2.4GHz wireless connections to the already great Arctis framework. It’s a little on the pricey side, but it’s otherwise a very solid all-rounder.
Why you should trust SoundGuys
Not only is this site our nine-to-five, but each of us 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. Sam in particular is our resident gaming guru—so the models listed here have gone through not only our testing gantlet, but hours of practical use.
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Frequently Asked Questions
If you're looking to produce a gaming voiceover, or just really want your voice to come out crystal clear when talking to your teammates, you might want to consider one of our best gaming microphones, or even one of our best podcasting mics. An external mic will almost always give you a better sound simply because they're designed to produce high quality audio and reproduce a natural frequency response. Depending on the type of microphone you buy, you may need to purchase additional equipment in order to power it. If you just need the mic to do the job for administering communication between you and your teammates and don't want to spend too much, a headset with a mic will do the trick. Additionally, because a headset mic is often physically closer to your mouth than an external mic, it can be better for cancelling out keyboard clicking sounds.