More often than not, the very best gaming headset isn’t a “gaming headset” in any respect. Though these gadgets are sometimes considered a definite area of interest throughout the wider headphone market, they’re finally nonetheless headphones. And whereas it’s actually not not possible to get a gaming headset that sounds good, doing so nonetheless tends to come back at a better price than a comparable pair of wired headphones (sure, these nonetheless exist).
An excellent wired headphone stays your greatest guess in order for you essentially the most detailed sound doable at a given worth level and don’t want one thing particularly transportable, which is often the case whether or not you’re gaming on a console or PC. If you’ll want to chat with associates, you may all the time purchase an exterior microphone, whether or not it’s a USB mic, a less expensive clip-on mic or a standalone headset mic just like the Antlion ModMic or V-Moda BoomPro. In lots of instances, these will make your voice sound clearer and fuller than those included with a gaming headset.
However we do acknowledge that many individuals simply need the comfort of an all-in-one combo, worth and aesthetics be damned. So after testing out just a few dozen pairs over the previous a number of months, we’ve put collectively an inventory of fine headphones for gaming and devoted gaming headsets. We suggest you contemplate the previous first, however all of them ought to make your play time extra fulfilling.
What to search for in good gaming headphones
Evaluating headphones is a very subjective train, so calling one pair absolutely the “greatest” is one thing of a idiot’s errand. At a sure level, every thing turns into a matter of style. For many, a headphone with a large soundstage and robust imaging efficiency – i.e., the flexibility to place sounds appropriately, so you may extra exactly inform the place footsteps and different sport results are coming from – will present essentially the most immersive expertise, the type that makes you are feeling like your head is inside a given scene.
For that, you need a headphone with an open-back design. That’s to say, an over-ear pair whose earcups don’t fully seal off the ear from air and outdoors noise. The large trade-off is that these are inherently horrible at isolating you from exterior sound and stopping others from listening to what you’re enjoying. So when you typically play video games in a loud surroundings, their advantages will probably be blunted. However in a quiet room, the very best open-back pairs sounds considerably wider and extra exact than extra widespread closed-back fashions.
Extra up for debate is how an excellent gaming headphone ought to sound. In order for you one thing that’ll enable you in aggressive multiplayer video games, you may possible want a headphone with a flatter sound signature, so a sport’s combine received’t be overly boosted in a single course and masks the smaller particulars of what’s occurring round you. A barely brighter sound, one which pushes the higher frequencies a smidge, might also work. Open-back headphones virtually by no means have large sub-bass, so that you not often have to fret about low-end sounds muddying up the remainder of the signature. On this gentle, the truth that an awesome quantity of gaming headsets are closed-back and bass-heavy appears counterintuitive.
Plenty of folks love bass, although. And when you aren’t simply frightened about aggressive play, some further low-end can add a contact of pleasure to heavy motion scenes or a rousing soundtrack. You continue to don’t need a pair that reinforces it too laborious – which many devoted gaming headsets do – however the level is that what makes a pair “immersive” to at least one particular person could sound boring to a different.
Greatest headphones for gaming: Beyerdynamic DT 900 Professional X
The Beyerdynamic DT 900 Pro X ought to please a large swath of individuals keen to pay for a capital-N good set of headphones for gaming. This pair has nice imaging efficiency and the sort of spacious soundstage anticipated from an open-back design. Bass is a bit more current right here than on many open-back headphones as effectively. There nonetheless isn’t a lot in the best way of deep sub-bass, as anticipated, however there’s sufficient heat to offer in-game explosions a bit extra juice with out muddying up the mid-range frequencies. The mids get essentially the most emphasis general, however they’re clear and that forwardness isn’t a foul factor if you’re attempting to hear for enemy gamers in a aggressive FPS like Counter-Strike. The treble isn’t pushed fairly as laborious, however it’s neither overly recessed nor harsh.
All of this implies the DT 900 Professional X sounds detailed however not boring, so it ought to play good whether or not you’re attempting to win a multiplayer sport or taking in a extra cinematic single-player expertise. And if you’re not gaming, you get an fulfilling sound for music.
All the things’s constructed effectively, too. It’ll clamp down barely more durable than common in case you have a big head, however it balances its weight effectively, and its splendidly smooth velour earpads go a great distance towards maintaining the pair comfy over lengthy classes. It comes with two removable cables, together with a three-meter choice that’s handy when you sit far out of your PC. This design can’t fold up, although.
Like all open-back headphones, the DT 900 Professional X leak and let in plenty of noise, so it’s not nice on the go. Clearly, when you can afford an ultra-premium pair like Sennheiser’s HD 800 S, you’ll get extra space and true-to-life element. However for a comparatively attainable $250 to $300, the DT 900 Professional X ought to fulfill.
Greatest headphones for gaming below $200: Sennheiser HD 560S
In the event you’d quite not spend as a lot, the Sennheiser HD 560S is one other glorious open-back headphone that’s usually obtainable for round $150. Just like the DT 900 Professional X, it has a large soundstage that’ll enable you really feel immersed in a given sport. Its sound is barely extra impartial on the entire, so that you received’t really feel such as you’re lacking any a part of a combination, and it retrieves a stunning quantity of element from the treble and mid-range frequencies. There’s much less bass energy for explosions, although, and the treble, whereas extra current, could sound piercing at instances. Imaging isn’t fairly as nuanced both, although it’s nowhere close to poor.
Design-wise, the HD 560S are loads comfy to put on for prolonged intervals. They don’t clamp down too laborious on these with massive heads (like yours actually), and the velour earpads hug your ears softly. The included cable is detachable, too. The plastic body doesn’t really feel as sturdy or premium because the DT 900 Professional X, nevertheless, so that you received’t wish to chuck them round haphazardly. It received’t block a lot exterior noise both, nor will it forestall these round you from listening to what you are enjoying. Nonetheless, the HD 560S is a pleasure and an ideal worth.
Greatest headphones for gaming below $50: Koss KSC75
In the event you can’t spend greater than $50, it’s still hard to high the Koss KSC75. It prices $20, however judging purely on audio high quality, it’s higher than some headphones priced nearer to $100. This pair could be very clearly devoid of deep bass, so that you received’t get that full-bodied oomph from in-game results. You additionally will not hear all of the intricate particulars you’d decide up with the pricier headphones above. But it surely locates sounds precisely and its open design offers it an actual sense of width. It’s an outstanding worth for aggressive play.
The catch is that it’s constructed like a set of free airline headphones. The KSC75 has an odd clip-on design that, whereas light-weight, received’t be comfy for everybody. It actually appears to be like prefer it prices $20, although Koss backs it with a lifetime warranty that primarily permits you to get infinite replacements for $9 every. Even when the KSC75 are pushing 20 years previous, its sound stays comparatively well-balanced and notably well-suited for gaming.
Greatest gaming headset: Astro A40 TR
In the event you will need to have a devoted gaming headset with a built-in mic, contemplate the Astro A40 TR. One other open-back pair, it has a extra spacious soundstage than standard for the class – although it is not on par with higher non-gaming headphones – and it usually localizes sounds appropriately. This profile emphasizes the bass, giving explosions a clean and satisfying thump, however it doesn’t overdo it like many different headsets marketed towards gaming.
The sound right here remains to be a step behind the DT 900 Professional X or HD 560S, particularly for on-line shooters, because the pushed upper-bass and lower-mids can blunt finer particulars a bit extra. Footsteps often received’t sound as clear. However in comparison with most gaming headsets, the A40’s profile is best balanced, and it does effectively to envelop you within the sounds of a busy scene.
Consolation shouldn’t be a difficulty, both. The A40 is on the bulkier aspect, however its weight is evenly distributed and doesn’t clamp down overly laborious. The fuzzy earpads are smooth and breathable, whereas the earcups are roomy sufficient to suit bigger ears. The headset has the same old open-back shortcomings, although: It leaks a bunch of sound and blocks virtually zero exterior noise. The design appears to be like “gamer-y,” too, and there’s no built-in quantity management. The entire thing is generally fabricated from plastic, although it doesn’t come off as flimsy.
The A40’s mic, in the meantime, is simply OK. It picks up background noises when you chat, and voices sound considerably muffled. It’s serviceable however you’d purchase the A40 for its sound high quality first. The mic isn’t removable both, however you may simply flip it up and out of the best way.
The A40 has been round for 4 years now, however its worth has come down from $150 to a extra cheap $130 in that point. Astro sells an non-obligatory DAC with further controls for $130, however at that worth we’d strongly advise shopping for an excellent “regular” headphone and exterior mic.
Greatest price range gaming headset: HyperX Cloud Stinger 2
You received’t discover a good open-back gaming headset below $50, so when you’re on a good price range and require a built-in mic, you’ll need to compromise on sound high quality. With that in thoughts, the HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 is an honest purchase at its typical road worth of $40. Its mic belies that low worth, making voices sound comparatively clear and correct. In truth, it’s a transparent step-up from the Astro A40. It’s not removable however it’s versatile and robotically mutes if you slide it out of the best way. This pair additionally will get the consolation half proper, because the pleather earcups don’t clamp down laborious and have sufficient smooth padding the place it counts.
The Cloud Stinger 2 has a V-shaped sound profile, which is to say it exaggerates the bass and treble whereas recessing the mid-range. It’s not dangerous for what it’s, and it’ll positively give motion scenes a heavy sense of affect. However the upper-bass is pushed to the purpose the place it might get tiring over time, and also you lose a number of the superb particulars you’d hear on a extra natural-sounding headphone. Since this can be a low-cost closed-back headset, the Cloud Stinger 2 additionally doesn’t sound almost as broad because the pairs above, neither is it as nuanced about positioning sounds precisely. It’s lower than superb for aggressive video games because of this, although it could possibly nonetheless sound “enjoyable” with many different titles.
Past that, the plastic design feels cheap-ish, it doesn’t block a lot exterior noise regardless of being closed-back and its cable isn’t detachable. Nonetheless, it’s important to decide your battles on this worth vary. The Cloud Stinger 2 is flawed, however it does sufficient effectively to make sense for a sure sort of particular person.
A fast PSA on wi-fi gaming headsets
Most individuals don’t want a wi-fi gaming headset. PS5 and Xbox Collection X/S consoles have a headphone jack constructed into their controllers, and it is nonetheless available on the Swap and most gaming PCs. The price of an OK wi-fi headset is often larger than the price of a comparable wired mannequin, and for the cash you typically worsen audio high quality and a much less clear microphone on the wi-fi variations. You additionally danger introducing points with latency. The latter is why non-gaming Bluetooth headphones are a no-go right here.
Greatest wi-fi gaming headset: HyperX Cloud Alpha Wi-fi
In the event you actually need a wi-fi headset – say, in case your gaming PC is located on the far finish of your desk – you must search for a pair that makes the “wi-fi” a part of the equation rather less obvious. The HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless does this because of its absurdly lengthy battery life. HyperX charges it at 300 hours, however we had been in a position to squeeze out a pair dozen extra at reasonable volumes. iFixit did a helpful teardown when you’re curious as to how that is doable, however it’s not a stretch to say one cost right here might final you months of play time.
The sound right here is typical of many gaming headsets: barely V-shaped, with overemphasized bass that may make sport results sound thrilling however typically presents footsteps and finer particulars with much less readability. As a closed-back headphone, it additionally received’t sound as spacious or pure because the extra open pairs above. (Wi-fi gaming headsets with an open-back design are nearly nonexistent.) It’s not dangerous by wi-fi gaming headset requirements, and it usually locations sounds in the correct place; it’s simply not tuned or designed as optimally as a pair just like the Astro A40.
The headset itself is comfy to put on for hours at a time, with plush padding that doesn’t really feel too tight, although the fake leather-based materials on the earpads could make your ears really feel mildly heat. All the things is sturdy, and the scarf is properly versatile. The growth mic can also be superb, although that’s relative to different wi-fi headsets. It cancels out background noise effectively and retains voices legible, however they received’t sound as crisp or full-bodied as they might be on wired headphones with good mics. It is higher than the A40, although.
A phrase of warning: Don’t trouble with HyperX’s companion software program. Whereas you should use the corporate’s Ngenuity app to customise the headset’s EQ and activate a DTS:X encompass sound characteristic, several users have reported that this introduces noticeable latency, and HyperX doesn’t look to be fixing it. In the event you really need these options, use a third-party EQ app and the spatial audio instruments constructed into Windows and the PS5. By default, the included USB dongle affords a gentle wi-fi connection.
The opposite caveat is that the Cloud Alpha Wi-fi solely works with PCs and PlayStation consoles, or a Swap whereas docked. It can also’t join over a cable or Bluetooth. In the event you’re searching for a reliable various for Xbox, we observe just a few suggestions under.
Greatest premium wi-fi gaming headset: Audeze Maxwell
The Audeze Maxwell isn’t a tremendous worth at $299 (or $329 for the Xbox mannequin), however when you’ve received money to burn, it’s a wi-fi headset with genuinely spectacular audio and mic high quality. Its planar-magnetic drivers do effectively reproducing smaller intricacies in a given scene, and its default signature is sort of a extra refined model of the widespread “gaming headset” sound. Bass is clean and impactful however not bloated, whereas highs are crisp however not overly sharp. Some results within the mids can sound skinny, and as this can be a closed-back headset, it could possibly’t present the identical immersive width and exact imaging because the open-back fashions above. Paradoxically, it might be higher for music than video games. Nonetheless, for a wi-fi headset, it’s unusually nice and detailed. Audeze’s app contains a number of EQ presets as effectively.
Equally, the Maxwell’s removable growth mic is a standout. It does an outstanding job of muting background noise, and whereas voices lose some air, they nonetheless sound clearer and fuller than on most wi-fi headsets we’ve examined.
The Maxwell is on the cumbersome aspect, and its headband makes use of an odd suspension mechanism that successfully isn’t adjustable with out taking the headset off. The squishy padded ear cups will possible make your ears really feel heat, however they maintain the headset comfy and isolate a good quantity of out of doors noise. The design additionally feels substantial, with the scarf constituted of metal. The important controls are constructed into the left earcup, and the gadget can join over Bluetooth or a 3.5mm cable along with a USB-C wi-fi dongle. You’ll be able to even pair with two gadgets directly, one over the dongle and one other over Bluetooth. The headset must be powered on as a way to play music over a cable, nevertheless.
Audeze charges the Maxwell’s battery life at roughly 80 hours, although you may get lower than that when you play at excessive volumes or use options like Bluetooth or sidetone closely. Whereas this will’t contact the Cloud Alpha Wi-fi, it’s nonetheless significantly better than most wi-fi headsets.
Different notable gaming headsets
SteelSeries Arctis Nova Professional
The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro is overpriced at $250, and it could possibly make larger frequencies sound harsh, however its bass and mids are good, it’s tremendous comfy and its retractable mic is noticeably clearer than the Astro A40’s. Its included DAC can also be helpful, letting you alter the headset’s EQ and sport/chat combine. However whereas the closed-back design is mildly higher at blocking exterior noise, it received’t present the identical sense of width because the A40.
SteelSeries Arctis Nova Professional Wi-fi
SteelSeries additionally sells a wireless version of the Nova Professional, which generally retails between $300 and $350. The Audeze Maxwell will sound higher to most, however that is possible its closest competitor and it has helpful bonus options like the flexibility to hook up with a number of gaming gadgets concurrently (with the Xbox mannequin) and hot-swap battery packs.
SteelSeries Arctis Nova Professional 7X
In the event you want a wi-fi various to the Cloud Alpha Wi-fi for Xbox, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X ought to work. It’s one other bass-forward pair, and its mic is similar to the one on Cloud Alpha Wi-fi. Like the opposite Nova fashions, it affords a number of connectivity choices, together with Bluetooth and a 3.5mm cable. And whereas it is marketed for the Xbox, it could possibly additionally hook up with PCs and PS5s. Its 30 or so hours of battery life are effectively in need of the Cloud Alpha Wi-fi, although, and its sound signature could make the treble sound considerably wonky.
HyperX Cloud Alpha
The wired HyperX Cloud Alpha is usually on sale for $80 or much less, and at that worth it’s an honest center floor between the Cloud Stinger 2 and Astro A40 when you completely want a closed-back gaming headset. It’s previous, however its plush earpads and headband stay cozy, and its removable mic, whereas not very good, remains to be higher than Astro’s pair. Its treble is underemphasized, nevertheless, and once more it sounds extra “in your head” than the A40.
The Logitech G535 is an impressively gentle (236g) and comfortable wi-fi headset that’s typically obtainable for $100. It has a extra impartial sound signature than the Cloud Alpha Wi-fi and Arctis Nova 7X: not flat, however much less beholden to massive, thumping bass. It may well make mid-range particulars sound skinny, and if something it might use a bit extra sub-bass, however it’s an agreeable hear general. It may well additionally join over Bluetooth. Nevertheless, its mic offers up some fullness in comparison with the Cloud Alpha Wi-fi (which already wasn’t very good), and its 30-ish hours of battery life are a large drop-off. Plus, it doesn’t work with Xbox, and it surprisingly forces you to crank the quantity to achieve a listenable stage. However when you don’t wish to spend a ton on a wi-fi headset, it’s the very best of the $100-and-under choices we examined.