People perceive information with the help of 5 senses: vision, hearing, taste, smell and touch. Neither the gaming industry nor hardware manufacturers have provided us with the opportunity to taste and smell yet. And it’s great! I doubt I would enjoy finding myself on a Naples Medieval market with an assassin. We’ve discussed screens earlier and today we’ll finally move on to sound.
Gaming on mute is like being deaf in real life. And why would you even play like this? And in horror games or Hitman, for example, your survival depends on appropriate perception and attentiveness.
But even if you took care of everything beforehand and acquired an expensive high-quality sound system, you’ll still have to buy a headset. First of all, your parents, wife, children and others don’t always want to plunge into your atmosphere. Second of all, I’m positive that even if you mind your language while communicating via Team Speak, Skype, Raid calls, Ventrillo, etc. during an online game, your team mates don’t.
Thus, as you have probably understood, today’s review is devoted to high quality headsets. We’ll consider main indicators and characteristics, review ten modern products which dominate the market and drink some beer.
HOW TO IDENTIFY A GOOD GAMING HEADSET?
Don’t pay attention to technical characteristics when making a choice. First, pick a suitable design and make sure it fits your head comfortably, then open the package and examine the figures there. Make sure you follow this order, but mind that these steps are equally important and both of these aspects should satisfy you. Let’s move ahead.
Design - It’s not about being cool, but it’s about having the right frame. When the points of support are set up correctly, the headphones fit you properly. They won’t hang like dead weight and break your neck after an hour of wearing them. Even when you try them on, multiply the discomfort caused by each roughness or tightness by 100. That’s how you would feel after pulling an all-nighter. No discomfort? Okay, let’s move on then.
Quality of assembly - You should gently (and carefully!) feel the material. You may even press slightly the critical spots. Check the quality of fastening to each ear. There should be no squeaking, gaps, wobbling etc.
Type of ear cups - The earcups could either be open-back or closed-back (or sealed). Open-back earcups transmit a better and surrounding sound. The positioning is also very clear, which is important for shooters as the source of shooting becomes obvious. The disadvantage is the lack of complete isolation from the outer world. The interlocutor may even hear himself speaking. The closed-back type provides perfect isolation from the outer world, but some condensation of the sound and excessive bass are found.
Type of earpads - Again, we’ve got two types of those: the earphones can be either circumaural or supra-aural. The former encompasses your ears completely and cuts you off from reality. The latter presses against your ear and leaves a gap for communicating with the outer world. The choice is up to you. I would personally pick the circumaural ones because of complete immersion and since the supra-aural ones are only sealed on the crown of your head and put more pressure on the head.
Type of connection – They could be wired or wireless. Here I am absolutely against the wireless ones. They take too long as the signal needs to be formed, coded, sent, received, decoded and output. The battery may be low at the wrong moment. And you are in front of your computer anyway, so what is their purpose? The standard wireless headsets don’t function at a distance of over 10 meters or through a wall.
DECT-headsets guarantee a high quality connection at the distance of up to 30-70 meters. Leave this privilege to fast food restaurants staff. This is overly expensive and pointless. However, when choosing a wired model, pay attention to the quality of the sound insulation of the cable. There should be at least fabric or firm rubber. You’ll thank me the next time you ride over the cable with your PC chair.
Microphone - I’ll be brief here. You should have a microphone. It’s more convenient and comfortable. Pick the one that has a squelch option. That means that the interlocutor will only hear you, and not your keyboard or your cat. In general though, all gaming headsets have that option.
3 KEY SOUND CHARACTERISTICS OF A GAMING HEADSET
Frequency response - The sounds have different frequencies: very high and very low ones. The range specified on the package defines the quality of the sound. The frequencies out of the stated range are not perceived by the headset. I recommend the range of 20-20000 Hz. It would be even better if you find the range of 16 – 20000 Hz. Don’t consider the indicators lower than this minimum or higher than this maximum. The human ear does not perceive the frequencies outside the range of 16- 20000 Hz.
Sensitivity - This means volume – a term which loses its relevance when you buy some serious gaming devices. Those usually have a good enough range of possible loudness. But if you still do have to make a decision, then the more the better. The approximate range is 90-120 Db.
Resistance - The higher the figure, the better is the quality of sound (but the loudness will decrease). This is enough for you if we don’t want to remember thoroughly high school Physics. This is enough for you to pick the product on your own.
REVIEW OF THE BEST GAMING HEADSETS
Let’s move on to the test subjects. I was able to use many of the items in real life or at least while communicating online with their owners – some are serious players. Let’s have a roll call and merely look over the best headsets rather than ranking them.
GW SADES SA902 7.1 Channel USB Surround Stereo PC Gaming Headset Headphones with Mic Revolution Volume Control Noise Canceling LED Light (Black/Red)
This is today’s market leader, #1 Best Seller in PC Game Headsets on Amazon.com.
The first factor that catches the eye is the price. The crisis, attempts to save the money, the active production of new models also kill the desire of an average gamer to invest a large sum of money in a headset. The price of ~$26.99 for this model is actually dumped and is quoted with a clear counting on large batch sales, rather than individual ones.
The second one is wear resistance. Of course, everything can be broken. But unless you set such a goal and if you use the headset as required, they will last for a long time. There are no factors of early breakage of the inside, and the exterior is quite robust and durable.
The third factor is convenience and comfort. The headset fits the head well. Earlier launched models were comfortable and you wouldn’t want to take them off. HyperX, which will also be covered today, is much lighter. This headset is not the best to wear, but it surely is most comfortable and pleasant to do so.
The design is acceptable, but not for everybody. I like classic colors and illumination in a slightly different manifestation. This is the matter of subjective taste.
In general, I support the opinion of a large fan and user army of this model as the market has long been waiting for a cool sound system in this price segment.
Price: ~$26.99 Check the current price
HyperX Cloud Gaming Headset - Black (KHX-H3CL/WR)
This is one of the best popular options. It is considered such due to the manufacturer’s heavy investment. It was promoted on each reputable online portal and the online store for the whole year. I’m not a fan of aggressive marketing and consider it repulsive, but the item truly deserves to be listed as one of the top models. It isn’t the best one, but it’s good in its own way. You can see it for yourself if you read over 2800 customer reviews on Amazon.com.
The main competitive edge which is highlighted in the PR campaign is that the headset is ultra-light. You realize that it is true once you get hold of them. You can’t feel it on your head, especially after wearing Razer Kraken, for example. Adapters to all kinds of devices are supplied as well. You’ll be able to connect anything.
The microphone is rather large than that of the competitors, hence the clear sound and no noise pickup. Several pro teams used the device in the previous gaming season. We don’t know whether they’ve been beckoned by an excellent financial incentive or by having an opportunity to actually use. The only thing we know for sure that a definitely mediocre device can ruin your game and spoil the experience. Pro gamers also keep that in mind.
Price: ~$67.96 Check the current price
Logitech G230 Stereo Gaming Headset
This is one of the most worthy models in the lower price segment (~$39.99) Competitive pricing makes some amendments: the microphone is imperfect, no perks available. The sound is nevertheless awesome, and the quality is guaranteed by a well-known manufacturer. There’s a comfortable foam pad under the arch. The headset fits the head comfortably, but rather tightly and when you take them off after 3-4 hours of game play, it feels like something is missing and you want to put them back on, they become a part of your head.
Price: ~$39.99 Check the current price
Logitech Wireless Gaming Headset G930 with 7.1 Surround Sound
Our editing team was surprised to learn that this headset is still the leader of the 7.1 segment. The key to success was the maximum output at given costs. In addition, I would name this headset the most versatile. This can be simply explained. They are wireless, which is a slight disadvantage for high-quality sound, but for gaming freedom is certainly a great benefit, as confirmed by over 7,200 customer reviews on Amazon.com! Roller volume switch is easier to configure and find. The left side has 3 programmable buttons to which you can bind a wide range of activities. With the right approach you can also set up a series of three successive strokes, which will turn on the appropriate equalizer, volume level and even do the housework.
The headset is compatible with all the main Windows and PS4 platforms. This is indeed the best option if your budget is restricted.
Price: ~$79.99 Check the current price
ROCCAT KAVE XTD 5.1 Digital Premium 5.1 Surround Gaming Headset USB Remote and Sound Card, Black
ROCCAT KAVE XTD 5.1 remains at the top of our list since last year because it is cool. First of all, no matter what the marketers say, real 5.1 is in deficit nowadays. This headset has it. The speakers are indeed separate and are located in seemingly hefty cells for the ears. The embouchures are overhead, the ear is completely covered, and it neither heats up nor sweats.
The arch has an elastic pad over it. It is made of special foam rubber, rather than the regular one. This foam rubber is and resilient. The diameter will be enough for a large head, but the headset won’t slip off a small one either. Of course, there is a multi-channel sound card. A long cable and an indicator microphone switch allow for the freedom of movement around the room. The exterior is made of black matte plastic with blue inserts. This is a very, very decent model for a relatively cut-rate price of ~$79.99.
Price: ~$79.99 Check the current price
Sades AW50 USB Stereo Gaming Headset USB Over Ear Headphones with Mic, Bass Vibration, Noise-Reduction, Volume Control for PC Computer Laptop (White)
This is the budget (costs only ~$25.99) option for today if we speak about quality gaming headsets, of course. To begin, let’s first explain why we have included AW50 in our rating. It has excellent gaming sound. The engineers have designed the device in such a way to make the gamers feel as comfortable as possible. You’ll be able to enjoy music wearing it. The headset is designed for Slipknot, Linkin Park or other hardcore and alternative bands’ fans rather than for listening to classic or pop music. That means, that the dynamics of the game will be perfectly felt through the bass and quality speakers, and higher notes… well, they are just there.
What is the reason for such a low price? The answer is the materials. The headset is made of regular plastic, the ear pads are made of eco-leather which is a fancy name for leatherette. The materials are average; your ears will feel comfortable for 2-3 hours of game play, but not longer than that.
Go ahead and invest into this device if you don’t want to overpay and if you’re not planning to use this gadget for the next 5 years or so.
Price: ~$25.99 Check the current price
Sentey GS-4730 Virtual 7.1 USB DAC Gaming Headset Arches with Vibration Intelligent Gaming Headphone with In-line Control, Black
This is a big headset for tough guys available for ~$39.99. We only recommend using this headset with your own drivers as the ones provided in the basic supply don’t even allow using 50% of the device’s possibilities. As for the perks of the exterior, a microphone, which, according to the manufacturer’s ad bulletins “can rotate to any position”, is worth mentioning. In reality the microphone can rotate 170-180º, which is, of course, still a lot. There is active noise control available, so you don’t have to fear that your family will embarrass you in front of your team mates.
The interior of the earpieces and the head arch plastic is filled with foam. While using the headset, the earpieces will become individually tailored as the foam has tactile memory and will adjust to the shape of your skull.
The headset is straightforward to connect to any operational system. As for the sound, the surround sound is excellent. Of course, it is far from being even a pale replica of 7.1. However, you will undoubtedly be able to plunge yourself into the gaming process.
Price: ~$39.99 Check the current price