Best Gaming Headsets to Bring Virtual Worlds to Life

gaming

Having the right headset can make for incredibly immersive gaming. Surrounding your ears with in-game sound helps you hear every detail from the direction of enemy footsteps to the ambient noises of a virtual city. Plus, in online multiplayer games, a decent microphone can suppress background noises for clear communication in the most crucial moments. But with most performance gaming headsets coming in at around $200, it can be tempting to instead put that significant chunk of money toward a 4K display, new games, or more storage. If you’re in search of the best possible experience, a good pair of headphones are worth the cost. And with proper sound unveiling new layers of detail in your games, music, and movies, characters and environments spring to life around you.

The Differences Between Gaming Headsets

Most headphones for gaming have neodymium drivers—which convert electrical signal into sound transferred through a coil—providing clear quality and great bass. Though some do use other types, such as a planar transducer, which uses a flat wire membrane (instead of a coil) to make audio sound more realistic.

Frequency response represents the range of base, middle, and treble sounds, with the lower number representing the base and higher representing treble. The larger the range, the more precise the sound will be. The most common range is 20 hertz to 20,000 Hz, and anything broader than that will increase the diversity of sound—i.e. higher highs and lower lows—that you’ll hear. Note that simply having an impressive frequency response doesn’t alone equal incredible sound. The seal of the headphones (determining the amount of outside noise they can block) also has an impact, as does the difference between surround sound and 3D (or virtual) sound—although features like these are typically up to personal preference. For instance, 3D sound will provide a more immersive experience particularly for first-person-shooting games, allowing you to hear sounds from the direction they come from in an environment.Besides the issue of sound quality, other factors such as comfort, convenience, and connectivity also influence your gameplay. The most obvious decision you probably have to make is between wired and Bluetooth models. While wireless connectivity will give you more mobility, it’s still hard to beat the sound quality of a wired headset. For wired options, 3.5mm is the most common port, but some may have optical, Type-C, or Type-A ports, making them compatible with newer phones and laptops.

How We Selected and Tested

To narrow down our testing pool of gaming headsets, we use our knowledge of the tech, talk with designers and engineers, and consult other professional reviews, as well as tens of thousands of consumer ratings. Once we have our selections called in, we test each pair of headphones over a month at their default sound profile. While we played the gamut of genres from RPGs to racing games to first-person-shooters for a general handle of baseline sound, we chose Mafia III: Definitive Edition as our benchmark title. This entry in the series features cinematic cutscenes, is full of explosive action, and (most importantly) features a lively open world bustling with noise. No matter where you go in the Louisiana-inspired city of New Bordeaux, you’ll find background conversations, dynamic audio sources like famous 60s songs playing from passing cars and indoor radios, and various atmospheric nature sounds.

Key Specification

Drivers
 Connectivity
Frequency response
Mic

50mm neodymium
USB-A RF dongle
20-20,000 Hz
Electret condenser microphone

Review

Logitech’s G Pro X Wireless gaming headset is the last headset we tested in the pool but proved to be the best in terms of overall performance. Straight out of the box, its sound profile was well-balanced, bringing out every minuscule detail like the faint buzz from an overhead light bulb or the multi-directional scattering of gravel on roads we drove over. The boom microphone is one of the best sounding we used and is the only option on the list to include a foam windscreen to eliminate pops.

Positive
Negative

Key Specification

Drivers
 Connectivity
Frequency response
Mic

50mm neodymium
USB-A RF dongle 10-20,000Hz 
Electret condenser microphone

Review:

As one of the best wireless headphones of all time first and a gaming headset second, the QuietComfort 35 II provided the best sound out of our pool. This generation adds a boom mic and volume wheel for improved sound input and control while playing. At $300, they’re expensive, and the lack of an RF dongle for lag-free wireless audio kept them from earning the top spot. With that said, the QC35 II are one of only two headsets on our list to support Bluetooth—only with the boom mic removed, however. Once you do take it off, these make for comfortable high-performance headphones with ANC, which can justify the price as a 2-in-1 investment.

We found the matte black body with rose gold embellishments to be pretty stylish, offering some glitz without going overboard. Throw the QC 35 II over your ears and you’ll find the plush leatherette cups run deep for a nice comfortable seal. On the right cup sit the power button and volume controls, which are surprisingly easy to reach thanks to the emphasized and clicky buttons that stand out for your thumb. On the left side, you’ll find the noise-cancellation button to cycle through levels. To activate the noise cancellation, you turn the headset on with the right side power switch.

We were disappointed that we had to plug the headset into a controller on consoles since Bluetooth is disabled when the boom mic is attached. The experience on PS5 is fine, but on two different Xbox Series X controllers, we found some light crackling coming from the left cup. In Mafia, the ensemble of strings washed over us, while the distant musings of virtual pedestrians were much more audible. In multiplayer games, the excellent imaging made it easy to track down the position of sounds in a space, giving us the drop on opponents.

 
Positive
Negative

Key Specification

Drivers
 Connectivity
Frequency response
Mic

Planar transducer
3.5mm, USB Type A, USB Type C86 dB
10-50,000 Hz
detachable noise cancellation mic

Review:

The Cloud Orbit is incredibly comfortable and supports multiple connections, making it compatible with a variety of devices. The unique 3D sound tracking allows you to feel more immersed, especially in first-person games, since you’ll hear sounds relative to the direction your character is facing. “I wanted a good headset for gaming on my laptop while I’m on the go, and this headset blew me away,” wrote a reviewer. “It sounds like you can actually tell right where things are in games. I’ve also noticed sounds I didn’t notice when using other headsets or headphones.” The downside is that with all this innovative technology comes some confusing software, which gave some reviewers trouble when setting the Cloud Orbit up. Oh, and it will normally put you back about $300.

Positive
Negative

Key Specification

Drivers
 Connectivity
Frequency response
Mic

40mm neodymium
3.5mm 
10-40,000 Hz
retractable noise-canceling

Review:

The Cloud Orbit is incredibly comfortable and supports multiple connections, making it compatible with a variety of devices. The unique 3D sound tracking allows you to feel more immersed, especially in first-person games

Positive
Negative

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Positive