Fancy to Frugal, These are the Best Gaming Headsets You Can Buy | IGN

Graphics are a big deal for gaming, but while everything might look great on your 4K TV or gaming monitor, having subpar audio with that gorgeous picture sucks. That’s why every gamer should have one of the best gaming headsets for sound quality that’ll blow their minds. Plus, Your teammates will praise you for actually having a halfway decent microphone too.

Like gaming mice and gaming keyboards, there is an innumerable amount of options to choose from. How could we possibly have chosen the best ones? By reviewing and conducting hands-on (or is it ears-on?) testing of pretty much every gaming headset available—that’s how. We’ve tried everything from sub-$50 budget gaming headsets to $400 kits and everything in between. Our testing involved countless hours gaming, listened to all kinds of music, examining microphone quality, and even worn them outside to see if they caught any odd stares.

We’ve tested practically every gaming headset in every price category, from low-end to baller status, to render a verdict on which one is the absolute best. Beyond that we’ll help you find the right game headset for you if you prefer something wireless, made specifically for the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, offers surround sound, is cheap as heck, or ticks the box on your particular need. Whether you’re looking to save some money or you want the very best, these are the best gaming headsets you can buy.

TL;DR – These are our picks for the Best Gaming Headsets:

1. HyperX Cloud Orbit S

Best Gaming Headset

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For a long time, the Audeze Mobius (read our review) was our favorite gaming headset, but it’s finally been dethroned by the HyperX Cloud Orbit S (read our review) since it can do almost everything we loved about the Mobius but for a lower price. This headset is still pretty pricey at $329, but its sound quality is unparalleled.

Unlike all the other headset on this list, it uses planar magnetic drivers that bring audiophile-quality audio to the gaming masses. What’s more, Waves NX adds another dimension of directional sound by introducing head tracking into the equation. For example, if you hear something off to the left you can turn your head slightly in that direction for clearer sound.

On top of all that the HyperX Cloud Orbit S features top-notch materials and a premium design, and it’s comfortable, and can be used for a lot more than gaming. Thanks to an included 3.5mm audio cable as well as USB-A and USB-C cords, you can pretty much plug this headset into any platform and enjoy the rich audio only planar drivers can deliver.

Just be aware than the head-tracking features will only work on the computer and your experience may vary depending on which PC game you play—for example, the HyperX Cloud Orbit S will make Battlefield V sound amazing but it won’t do much for Phoenix Point. If money is no object, and you want the best headset for gaming, look no further.

2. SteelSeries Arctis 1

Best Budget Gaming Headset

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The Arctis 1 might be on the bottom rung of SteelSeries headset family but you get the same 40mm drivers as found on the company’s highest-end offering. That means you get the same expansive sound stage from SteelSeries’ $160 gaming headset in a pair of cans that only costs $40. That said, it’ll take extensive equalizer balancing to get the same exact sound profile as the Arctis 1 is bass heavy out of the box.

Another thing you’ll love about the SteelSeries Arctis 1 is how breathable the earcups are. Combined with the cushy headband, and this is a gaming headset you can wear for hours. Since it uses a simple 3.5mm jack, you can use it on every platform from the PC to the Nintendo Switch. Also if you prefer something wireless, this gaming headset comes in such a version for $99.

3. SteelSeries Arctis 7 (2019 Edition)

The Best Wireless Headset

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The SteelSeries Arctis 7 (read our review) is the complete package; a well-made, super-comfy wireless headset with 7.1 surround sound that lets you attach a 3.5mm cable so you can use it with other devices as well. You don’t get the surround sound unless you’re using a gaming PC, but we all know it’s the superior gaming platform anyway. **sniff** It fits snugly on your head with a unique “ski goggle” band, and you can even buy replacements bands with different colors and patterns to customize things a bit. There’s no lighting on this headset, which is a shame but that also helps extend it’s battery life a little bit longer to 24 hours.

The microphone is excellent and slides into the ear cup when not in use. The icing on the cake is excellent software that lets you customize the sound and even assign profiles to games. All in all, the SteelSeries Arctis 7 has every feature we could ask for in a gaming headset, and it comes wrapped in an understated package that’s both sophisticated and comfortable for all-day use. When it comes to wireless gaming headsets, at this reasonable price it really doesn’t get any better than this. With the 2019 Edition, SteelSeries further perfected its wireless gaming headset with a thicker ear pads, stiffer on-ear controls, increased bass, and a simplified cable system if you ever decide to go wired.

4. Corsair HS70

Best Budget Wireless Gaming Headset

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Gaming headsets that are both cheap and wireless are only just starting to hit the market and you can thank the Corsair HS70 (read our review) for being one of the first. For roughly $70, you get a fantastic 7.1 surround sound headset that offers great spatial awareness. Being able to hear your enemies move around you can give you huge edge in multiplayer games like Call of Duty; Modern Warfare and Rainbow Six Siege.

The Corsair HS70 is also a unique gaming headset among this list thanks to its subdued styling and the stylish braid-pattern on the headband stitching. By all appearances, this wireless gaming headset looks more like over-ear headphones from Sennheiser or Audio-Technica than a headset for gamers. Both the headband and ear cups are heavily padded with memory foam, so this headset will sit softly on your head for great, form-fitting comfort.

5. Corsair HS35

Best Ultra Affordable Gaming Headset

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We’ve all been enjoying some pretty great $50 gaming headsets for a while now, but Corsair has lowered the price floor even further to $35. With the Corsair HS35 (read our review) being so, so cheap, you might expect audio from this gaming headset to be of potato quality, but it’s more than serviceable for users on a budget.

Rather this Stereo headset delivers a fantastic sound stage, which makes it perfect for hearing enemies move around you. That said, the heavy bass and poor overall aural balance of the Corsair HS35 makes it a poor choice for listening to anything but game audio. Still, that’s what it was made for and it has a great, Discord-certified microphone for talking to your online teammates.

6. Astro A40 TR + MixAmp TR

Best Wired Gaming Headset

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Astro is one of the biggest and oldest names when it comes to gaming headsets and you’ve probably more than likely seen your favorite Esports stars wearing them at competitions. The Astro A40 TR (read our review) is one of the few gaming headsets comfortable enough to wear all day. This headset’s design might not have changed for the last few years, but it still has fantastically breathable ear cups and a perfectly balanced headband, which neither pinches on your ears or weighs down on the top of your head.

Although you could plug the Astro A40 TR directly into any device, you’ll want to jack in through the MixAmp Pro TR. See the MixAmp Pro TR is the real heart of this gaming headset that unlocks Dolby Audio 7.1 and the ability to change your equalizer settings. Astro’s new mixing console has also been redesigned to be a little easier to use this time around with two separate volume and chat mix wheels. We’ve featured the PS4 version of the Astro A40 TR above, but there’s also an Xbox One variant as well

7. SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC

Best Audiophile-Quality Gaming Headset

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If you just want the best gaming headset and you don’t have $400 to spend, get the $250 SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC (Read our Review). This gaming headset is pretty unique in that it includes a small USB “GameDAC” that sits on your desk and offloads the sound processing from your host system to a chip inside it.

The small control center features an OLED display and lets you tweak everything about the headset with simple, intuitive controls. It’s a slick way to handle making adjustments and it’s about the closest thing to having a professional-grade mixing console attached to a gaming headset. The audio output you can get out of these cans is truly stellar and it only gets better when you’ve tuned it to perfection. On top of that you have a super-premium design that’s exceedingly comfortable, customizable, and just feels perfect. The fit and finish here are top-notch, and it even has RGB lighting (which you can turn off).

8. Logitech G935

Best Surround Sound Gaming Headset

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The Logitech G935 (read our review) is a flagship wireless gaming headset festooned with more RGB lighting than it knows what to do with, but the real reason I like it so much is its immersive surround sound quality. Whether you like Dolby Atmos’ inclusion of “height” channels or the enhanced bass rendering and audio clarity of DTS Headphone:X 2.0, the Logitech G935 can deliver on both versions of surround sound.

This gaming headset makes it easier to hear where sounds are coming from around you, which could mean life or death in competitive shooters. If you’ve been amazed by the sound design of Battlefield V or Apex Legends, the Logitech G935 will take your gaming audio to the next level.

9. Razer Nari Ultimate

Best Haptic Gaming Headset

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If you ever wanted an extra kick from your audio, the Razer Nari Ultimate (read our review) might just be for you. This gaming headset throws in haptic feedback that literally kicks you in the ears whenever there are bassy, low-end sounds—such as a punch or kick, gunshot, or explosion. The Nari will also use vibrations to punctuate some surprisingly subtle sound effects like shooting a web line in Spiderman, but music-based and rhythm games are the best things to experience with this headset. While getting kicked in the ears might sound like it would get old pretty fast, the extra pop of this gaming headset is thoroughly entertaining everytime.

In terms of pure audio quality, the Razer Nari Ultimate is also one of the only gaming headsets to support THX Spatial Audio, which is supposed to give us beyond 7.1 surround sound. Spatial awareness is amazing on this headset as you feel and hear bullets whizzing by you. Although THX Spatial Audio only works with gaming PCs, you can still get great directional audio with generic surround sound on the PS4.

10. Turtle Beach Stealth 600

Best Xbox One Gaming Headset

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Turtle Beach is one of the few brands that are allowed to use Microsoft’s proprietary wireless technology for its gaming headsets. This is why the Turtle Beach 600 can connect to the Xbox One without a USB transmitter or anything just like an Xbox One controller. There’s also a PS4 version that utilizes a 2.4GHz wireless USB dongle, which also works with PCs. And if you don’t care for wireless connectivity at all, the Turtle Beach Recon 300 (read our review) is essentially the wired version of this gaming headset.

Aside from that nicety, the Turtle Beach 600 is just a comfortable, great-sounding, and affordable gaming headset. This gaming headset works great from intense, action-packed bouts in Halo to freaking you out with foreboding soundscapes in horror games like Amnesia. Bass reproduction also sounds tight and punchy too with a good amount of rumble.

11. LucidSound LS41

Best PS4 Gaming Headset

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The LucidSound LS41 (read our review) is one of the few gaming headsets designed primarily for the PS4, giving you completely wireless audio and voice chat functionality. Beyond that, it’s just a great sounding 7.1 surround sound gaming headset that lets you hear whole game worlds swirling around you.

The overall sound frequency balance of the LucidSound LS41 is also very good. Low-end bass is present without blowing out the mids, which in themselves make a forward presence. The only thing that seems to be a tad distorted are the highs. Users can also flip on a Boosted Surround mode that adds a bit more rumble to the low end.

12. Logitech G Pro X

Best Streaming Headset

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When it comes to streaming, having a good mic can be more important than your quality game audio. However, if you don’t want to go through the trouble of finding the best microphone for streaming, the Logitech G Pro X (read our review) is a great all-in-one solution with a microphone designed for broadcasting and booming surround sound to boot.

The Logitech G Pro X incorporates some of Blue legendary microphone technology to capture clear, natural and isolated recorded voice. Additionally, you can use the Blue VO!CE software to auto-tune your voice with presets making it a great option as a microphone for streaming and podcasting. As just a plain gaming headset, the Logitech G Pro X is no slouch either. It generates huge, concussive audio, but doesn’t sacrifice higher frequency sounds to achieve this.

What to look for in a Gaming Headset

When you’re shopping for a gaming headset there are a few key specs you should look out for.

The first is the size of the drivers, which follows the rule of bigger is better. Drivers are the internal mechanism inside headsets and headphones (or really any speaker) that ultimately create the soundwaves you hear by vibrating back and forth in response to an electrical current.

The larger the driver, the more air they can move to not only to make louder sounds, but it also allows them to produce a wider, more nuanced range of frequencies—which happens to take us to our next specification.

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Frequency response is another important spec, and it’s the range of frequencies the headset can reproduce. On the low-end, most gaming headsets hit a minimum of 20Hz and a maximum of 20,000Hz. As you go from the bottom of the range to the top, sounds go from a low thud to a warm, steady hum and finally a piercing screech.

While on the hunt for a gaming headset, you’ll likely find more than a few promising 5.1 or 7.1 channel surround sound, which are both designed to give users a more immersive audio experience. 5.1 surround places speakers directly in front of you, front right, front left, back right, back left and adds a subwoofer to relay bass. 7.1 surround gives you the same setup as 5.1 surrounds, but it adds two more speakers to your immediate right and left.

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Dolby Atmos and DTS Headphone:X (2.0) are two specially branded types of surround sound you’ll also likely encounter. They both essentially do the same thing of adding positional audio for effects for objects like say a plane flying over or a bomb falling from the sky above you.

Now while surround sound on a headset is cool, it’s not exactly the same as having a real multi-speaker surround sound system. In fact, almost 99% of gaming headsets employ virtual surround sound—which is to say they’re faking it with mathematical algorithms. There are very few gaming headsets like the Razer Tiamat that actually come with the individual drivers necessary to create a real surround sound environment.

But just because the surround sound you hear on a gaming headset is fake, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy it or doubt its ability to create an immersive environment.

The fact that surround sound can be virtualized also means you can get it on any gaming headset even if it only has two channels. On Windows 10 you can download the Windows Sonic for Headphones app and get 3D spatial audio from even the most basic set of stereo headphones.

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Kevin Lee is IGN’s Hardware and Roundups Editor. Follow him on Twitter @baggingspam
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