The best gaming headsets
Whether you’re playing on PC, PS4, Xbox One, or Switch, you’ll want a great gaming headset to get the best audio quality for gameplay or chatting online.
By Christopher Minasians | 13 mins ago
You may think of gaming headsets as the sort of purchase limited to the hardcorest of the hardcore gamers, but there are actually plenty of people who could benefit from a decent set. Whether you want to play online and trash talk your competition, get great audio from your Switch while you play on the go, or just plug in to save your family or partner from listening to the sounds of gunfire while you game, a decent gaming headset is worth the investment – though it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Still, it’s not always a straightforward decision, and you’ll have to bear a few factors in mind.
First, there’s the console you want to use it for. The Switch and 3DS only support wired headphones, so that rules out Bluetooth if your main aim is playing on a Nintendo console. The PS4 will work with either, and the Xbox One depends entirely on which controller model you have – the most recent support Bluetooth, older models are wired-only, and the oldest even require an adapter.
If you’re a PC gamer, your PC may or may not have Bluetooth support – though you can always grab a Wi-Fi headset, or pick up a Bluetooth dongle for your computer. Wired sets also tend to boast better response times and audio quality, and you also need to think about whether you want an in-line or boom microphone, whether you need them to be lightweight and portable or not, and how much muting and audio mixing functionality you need built in. That’s not even getting into aesthetics – while gaming headsets have traditionally been pretty garish, more and more companies are designing understated sets that you’d be equally happy to take on the go as your default audio gear – though check out our guide to the best headphones if you want to keep your gaming and music separate.
In our reviews below, we break each headset down by audio quality, features, design, and price, to offer buying advice no matter your budget or requirements. Before you buy, make sure to check out our best headphone deals to grab the cheapest price.
Best gaming headsets 2017 UK
Astro A50 wireless
Astro’s A50 may look fairly pricey with a price of ?250, but with the impressive design, quality of the audio and comfortable fit, we’re not too shocked. The Astro A50 is wireless, featuring a 5GHz transmitter that provides low-latency audio playback with no compromise on sound quality, with an average battery life of around 15 hours.
The headset features 7.1 Dolby surround sound so you’re always aware of your immediate surroundings, and can give you the edge in gameplay. The headphones pick up every last detail, from fragments of glass smashing to the sand crunching underneath footsteps, making them great for use in VR too. The headphones also feature MixAmp technology, and when combined with Astro Command Center for PC and Mac, allows users to tweak audio settings for different games and scenarios.
While previous iterations of the Astro A-line have featured physical mixers, the A50 has a switch on the rear of the cup that allows you to switch between three presets on-the-fly. While some headphone manufacturers allow limited customisation, Astro has gone one step further and allows you to swap out various components of the headset, from the earcups to the headband – although not the microphone, like the A40TR. Users interested in customising the headset can buy additional accessories from the Astro website, allowing users to personalise the function of the headset depending on what they want.
You can swap out the default ear cushions for noise-cancelling leather cushions, for example. We can also vouch for the headphones in terms of comfort, as we used them for extended periods of time (up to 5/6 hours on some occasions) and didn’t feel at all uncomfortable or sweaty, a prevalent issue for gamers. This is due to the soft material used in the earcups and headband that feels extremely soft to the touch.
The only issue is that the headset isn’t universal – you have to buy one version for PS4/PS3/PC/Mac and another for Xbox One/PC/Mac, and these can’t be swapped out after purchase.
SteelSeries Siberia 840
The SteelSeries Siberia 840 is the upgrade to the Siberia 800 and is a strong contender to be one of the best wireless headsets we’ve come across. This comes from its sound quality, recording ability, comfort, intuitive battery system and multi-platform compatibility. The only down side?
It’s an expensive headset to purchase. The Siberia 800 comes with a small transmitter box, various cables for connecting to PC, Mac, Xbox One and PS4, and an additional battery so that you don’t run out of juice mid-game. As long as you put one battery on charge inside the transmitter while the other one is in use, the battery life is (in theory) infinite – the only down time is the 30-45 seconds it takes to swap the batteries.
For the non-believers, each battery will get around 20 hours per charge – equally impressive. That’s not all the transmitter can do either, as you can access various settings, from enabling Dolby audio to mixing game and audio chat to adding new sources, directly from the transmitter – no PC or Mac software required. One change from the Siberia 800?
The inclusion of Bluetooth connectivity, meaning that along with your computers and consoles, the Siberia 840 can connect to your smartphone. This opens up opportunities like taking calls and streaming music while gaming, or chatting via VoIP clients on your smartphone. The Siberia 840 also boasts SteelSeries Engine 3 support, allowing for advanced customisation of audio playback for the audio pros out there.
The headset is comfortable to wear thanks to memory foam earcups and with its retractable microphone, makes it ideal for all types of scenarios, from watching movies to live-streaming gameplay to thousands of fans on Twitch. Its biggest feature is its multi-platform ability, where you can use it on both your desktop and games console. The headset’s sound quality is also very impressive, with audiophile reproduction through all its frequencies.
The lows are extended into the sub-bass regions, the mid-bass has a controlled and healthy slam and the mids, despite being slightly recessed are accurate. The highs provide a great sparkle at the top end and the soundstage makes you feel as if the headset is an open back headphone. Finally, the recording capabilities are very good, with its mic not picking up background sound and focusing on your voice.
Razer Man O’War
At over half the price of the Astro A50, how does Razer’s wireless Man O’War gaming headset compare?
While the Man O’War features 2.4GHz technology rather than 5GHz for wireless transmission, the 2.4GHz band provides a more reliable signal without compromising on response time. It also features 7.1 virtual surround sound via the Razer Surround engine and 50mm Neodymium magnet drivers that provide impressive audio playback, which can be further tweaked via the Razer Synapse app for PC and Mac. The first time you plug in the headphones, you’ll be taken through a virtual 7.1 surround sound setup that’ll tweak the audio output of the headphones based on your personal taste.
It doesn’t feature a base station like other wireless headsets, so how does it connect to your PC? It’s rather intuitive, actually. The USB receiver is built directly into the headset, and can be ejected with a push and be inserted into any PC, Mac or PS4 with plug’n’play support.
Although it can only be charged via a USB cable, the battery life is fairly impressive – it lasts around 14 hours per charge, or around seven days with an average of two hours of playback per day. In terms of look, the Man O’War looks like your standard wireless gaming headset with huge, soft earcups for use over periods of extended use. There is one unique feature though – not one but two volume dials, one on each ear.
This is because the headphones feature two inputs; voice and game. If set up correctly, you can mix game audio and chat audio on the fly, adjusting the volume level on the left for chat, and right for game. It also features a retractable microphone with a unidirectional boom that allows it to be positioned however you desire, along with an algorithm that provides clearer voice reproduction.
There’s also a mute LED indicator on the end of the microphone so you don’t accidentally say something you shouldn’t while live streaming or Skyping! Oh, and in typical Razer fashion, there’s Chroma support allowing gamers to change the colour of the Razer logo on the headset or sync it up with other Chroma-supported peripherals. Essentially, the Razer Man O’War is an impressive and rather intuitive wireless gaming headset that could easily take on gaming headsets double the price.
Turtle Beach Elite Pro
The Turtle Beach Elite Pro is yet another headset targeting the competitive crowd, but whether you’re taking part in tournaments or just whiling away the night gaming at home, it’s one of the best audio options we’ve come across.
For starters, it’s really, really comfortable. That’s in large part down to the ‘Aerofit’ cushions, which are a combination of spandex fabric and gel-infused foam. There are also leather sidewalls, which not only help keep other noise out, but also let you enjoy the aesthetic of leather earpads without descending into a hot, sweaty mess after eight hours of League of Legends.
Beneath those cushions, the Elite Pro is packing 50mm speakers that offer crisp, clear audio (a must for online play), with some really impressive bass response – we couldn’t really ask for much more. The microphone is removable, and offers great audio quality and never seemed to pick up too much background noise during our testing. If you’re willing to spend a little (well, a lot) extra, the Elite Pro really comes into its own when paired with Turtle Beach’s Tactical Audio Controller.
This is essentially a mini mixer for your headset, allowing you to adjust volume, game/chat audio balance, mic monitoring levels, and more. It acts as an external USB sound card for your PC, offering 7.1 Surround Sound in case your rig doesn’t already have a sound card, and you can even daisy-chain a few of the TACs together using ethernet cables for lag-free chat, making it a solid choice for any aspiring eSports teams. The TAC is also a great investment if you play on console, allowing you to pull high quality audio from an optical out, and get the sort of full suite of audio controls that the consoles themselves just don’t offer.
The only real downsides to the Elite Pro are the fact that it’s wired only – great for performance, not so much for convenience – and the aesthetic: chunky, functional, and orange. Still, those are relatively minor niggles in a headset that’s pretty much top tier when it comes to quality and comfort.
Antlion ModMic 4.0
The Antlion ModMic 4.0 isn’t a headset, in fact it’s only a microphone, but its ability to turn any headphone into a full-blown headset is simply too hard to ignore. Unlike other microphones (mainly USB mics), which might pick up a lot of background noise, the ModMic 4.0 will provide you with fantastic recording capabilities – making it one of the best recording devices in our buying guide.
The benefit of the ModMic’s versatility, means you can turn any headphone you have laying around your house into a headset, by simply attaching it to your headphone. This also means, you don’t have to be limited in your purchasing decision by a headset and instead can go for an audiophile headphone and transfer that into a headset. You might have noticed our modded Denon AH-D2000 with the ModMic in our introduction!
If you’re not looking to spend much and currently have a decent set of headphones around the house, then the ModMic 4.0 is your best bet. Bear in mind, you might need a soundcard for the ModMic, in order to avoid recording static noise issues – a cheap and cheerful USB soundcard will suffice for this.
Plantronics RIG 500E
The Plantronics RIG 500E has an interchangeable driver design, where you are provided with both closed and open-back drivers. With an ESL (Electronic Sports League) logo slapped on the box, the RIG 500E is aimed at gamers.
The headset is one of the very few in the market which has an interchangeable design, where the headband, microphone, drivers and even cables can be changed. Within the package you’ll find two sets of drivers which are terminated by a 3.5mm jack, a headband, a four-pole 3.5mm extension cable (so that you can use the headset with a mobile device), a USB soundcard that also has Dolby technology built-in that has a 3.5mm jack termination to connect to your drivers, and a microphone that has a mute functionality built-in by flipping it upwards when plugged in. The modular design allows you to customise the sound to your preference.
The closed-back drivers provide more bass impact and better isolation, whereas the open-back drivers reproduce a more airy sound and have a mid and high-range emphasis – ideal for those listening to footsteps in games. Both set of drivers have an impressive sound quality reproduction and are great for both gaming and music listening; better still the headset has 24-bit audio capabilities, allowing you to playback high quality audio files. The headset is comfortable with its lightweight design and adjustable headband strap, fitting all head sizes and be used for long gaming sessions.
The recording quality stands out from the rest of the headsets in the market, with the microphone quality having a clear, non-boomy sound. The integrated USB soundcard greatly aids the headset, as it bypasses your computer’s on-board soundcard. The headset also has Dolby 7.1 technology (through a physical button on the USB soundcard), but we were left unimpressed by the inclusion and used the headset with the feature disabled.
SteelSeries Arctis 3
SteelSeries is offering 7.1 surround sound on a budget with the Arctis 3, although all not as it seems.
Priced at ?89.99, the headset provides virtual 7.1 surround sound via the SteelSeries Engine 3 app available for PC and Mac. While this is great for PC gamers, those hoping to experience 7.1 surround sound on Xbox One/PS4/VR are limited to stereo capabilities. However, the virtual 7.1 it provides for PC users is impressive, especially for the price.
The quality of audio provided is superb, and we found it delivered a fairly balanced soundscape. This is also reflected in the bidirectional microphone, which provides decent background noise cancellation. The headset features AirWeave Air Cushions that’s inspired by athletic clothing, and helps to keep your ears cool, dry and comfortable over periods of long use.
We found the headset to be extremely lightweight and comfortable thanks to the customisable Ski Goggle band distributing weight evenly. In fact, we’d go as far as to say that it’s one of the most comfortable headsets we’ve ever used. Despite not featuring noise cancelling capabilities, we found that the cushions have the unexpected bonus of aiding noise cancellation.
The most impressive feature of the Arctis 3 headset, though? It can be used as a standard pair of headphones, thanks to the interchangeable jack provided. Simply detach the PC jack and attach a standard 3.5mm jack to be used with smartphones and tablets on the go.
Not bad for an ?89.99 headset. If you don’t mind spending a bit more, we can also recommend the upgrade to the ?159.99 Arctis 7 – this is essentially the exact same headset, but it boasts a ChatMix dial to quickly adjust the relative volumes of your game and chat audio, and offers lag-free wireless connection. We found no noticeable drop in audio quality over wireless, and it worked at a solid range with no lag or interference – so if you’re fed up of wires, it could be well worth the upgrade.
Fnatic Duel Modular Headset
- RRP: ?179.99, US£189.99
Fnatic may be best known for its variety of eSports teams, but under its Fnatic Gear label it’s also been busy building up a small selection of branded gaming peripherals, and the Duel is its first headset.
If you’re think that it looks familiar, that’s because this is in fact a version of Danish company Aiaiai’s TMA-2 modular headphones, modded with some (subtle) Fnatic branding. As with other modular headsets, you can swap out the headband, speakers, ear cushions, and microphone to suit your preference, but the Duel comes with a few options from the get-go. You don’t get any choice on the headband or speakers, but you get on-ear cushions and an in-line mic for a portable travel set-up, and over-ears with a boom mic for gaming sessions (or you can mix and match as you prefer).
Swapping components is quick and easy, and you also get a drawstring pouch to carry it all around with you. Everything’s made out of matt black plastic (other than the PU leather cushions) with just a couple of bright yellow-orange flourishes. It makes this among the most attractive, understated gaming headsets we’ve seen yet, with nary a jagged edge or unnecessary lighting effect – you genuinely could wear these on your commute without even a hint of embarrassment.
Sound quality is also great. The included 40mm speaker units (Aiaiai’s S02s) have a lovely balanced sound profile, with clear mids – none of the bass-heavy focus of many gaming cans – meaning they’re ideal for music, games, films, or whatever else you have in mind. There are a few disappointments though.
The included on-ear cushions are so thin that even with the headset’s light weight, we quickly found them uncomfortable, and used the over-ears even while travelling – slightly defeating the point of the modular design. While the boom mic offered fantastic audio quality, it was a bit too flexible – we struggled to get it to stay in place, and had to keep adjusting its position. There are also no audio controls beyond an in-line mic mute.
Given those complaints, the ?180 price feels slightly steep – but to be fair, the same components from Aiaiai would add up to a lot more. There are also more Fnatic branded modules coming out in the future, along with full compatibility with the existing TMA-2 modules (including the crowdfunded Bluetooth headband).
Logitech G933 Artemis Spectrum
The Logitech G933 Artemis Spectrum, is a fantastic wireless headset for both PC and console gamers. The G933 might not have all the bells and whistles of the SteelSeries Siberia 800, but it offers a good wireless solution for gamers.
Its sound quality is very good for its price – where it punches above its weight for a headset. The lows extend well into the sub-bass region, the mid-bass has a good slam (although we would have liked to hear a little more control), while the mids are forward-sounding albeit being a little recessed due to the mid-bass slam. The highs extend well and provide a nice sparkle at the top end.
Its soundstage is one of its key attributes, with a wide and deep soundstage, the headset is ideal for gaming. The recording quality is also very impressive, with a good non-muffled recording quality that provides the full sound frequency spectrum, the G933 can be used for competitive games to Twitch broadcasts! The headset has a good design, where it retracts into the headset’s mic and then folds up into the headset’s driver.
The headset’s design is comfortable and passively blocks out external noise – it’s ear pads can be removed and washed if needs be. The headband is adjustable and the cups rotate, meaning you can be comfortable while wearing it for long gaming sessions. A feature we love about this headset, which is one we haven’t seen in any others – is the fully programmable G keys found on the headset’s frame.
Through Logitech’s software, you can customise these buttons to perform simple tasks or open up programs on your computer! There is a scroll wheel, for volume control and a non-programmable mic-mute button. On either cup you have a magnetic cover, which can be removed to reveal a battery on one side and a wireless USB dongle compartment on the other!
The USB dongle is used to connect the headset to your PC – unfortunately, you won’t be able to use the headset wired – but can use it in wireless mode, while it is being charged through the bundled micro-USB to USB cable. The battery can be removed, but it’s made so that you can replace it, rather than use a third-party charger. However, if you plan on playing on a console, or just want to listen to music, without using any battery – you can do so by plugging in the bundled 3.5mm cable.
The G933 also has full RGB lighting that can be customised through the Logitech Gaming software. Through the bundled software, you can also enable DTS 7.1 surround and also change the EQ.
Creative Sound BlasterX H5
The creative Sound BlasterX H5 is one of the most comfortable headsets we’ve come across and coupled with its fantastic sound quality traits, provides a great all-round headset. The headset comes with detachable cables and mic, making it great to be used on both your desktop computer and as a standalone headphone which works on a smartphone.
The two cables included have a 3.5mm jack termination, meaning you’ll be limited by your soundcard driving and having good recording traits. The headset has a fantastic sound quality output, with it having great sub-bass rumble, mid-bass impact and fantastic mids and highs. Taken out of context and compared to audiophile headphones, the H5 stands its own, without a microphone.
The headset’s soundstage is also impressive, with it being a great choice for gamers that need good positioning. Unfortunately, its recording abilities are sub-par, with the recording being a little subdued and muffled. Again, your soundcard could make a difference, but through our various tests, found the H5 to fall a little short.
If you’re serious about audio, and occasionally talk (but don’t make audio documentaries), the H5 is a fantastic value for money purchase.
HyperX Cloud Stinger
The HyperX Cloud Stinger is a cheap and cheerful headset that punches well above its weight. However, the headset is somewhat limited in compatibility – see our note at the end. The headset has a full plastic construction with a red HyperX logo on either side.
It has a non-removable cable that is terminated by a straight 3.5mm jack, which means it can be connected to mobiles and consoles. For its use on the PC, there is an extension cable that is terminated by two 3.5mm line-in and mic jacks. On the right-hand side driver, there is a volume slider – this controls the headphone’s overall volume.
On the left, there is a non retractable microphone, which can be quickly muted by being positioned upwards. The mic is therefore muted when flipped upwards. The headset is comfortable, with its plastic construction making it lightweight and good padding both around the ears and at the top of the headband – allowing you to game for hours.
The Stinger’s recording quality is very good for a headset in its price range – however remember you’ll be limited to your soundcard (as it uses a 3.5mm jack). Its sound quality is what really surprised us – it’s fantastic for its price! The lows extend well into the sub-bass regions, providing a good rumble.
The mid-bass has a good slam, albeit being a bit bloated and uncontrolled. The mids are recessed and V-shaped, but are equally accurate and aren’t too far pushed back. The highs extend well and provide a decent sparkle, although are rolled off at the top-end.
Finally its soundstage is good, although we would have liked to hear a better depth and width of sound. If you’re looking for a budget headset, the HyperX Stinger is one of the best out there. Note: When we tested the headset on our Z77 motherboard (even with a USB soundcard), we found the headset to not register any mic input.
This has also been reported on other older-generation Intel chipsets – it has to do with the 3.5mm poles found on both the headset and older generation motherboards. We informed HyperX about the issue and they are now aware of it. if you have problems with your Stinger headset registering any mic input, contact HyperX and they will solve the issue by sending you a USB soundcard (bypassing the poles) or offer you an alternative.
Logitech G231 Prodigy
The Logitech G231 Prodigy is an affordable headset that offers great sound quality for its price and better still fantastic recording abilities. Starting by its sound quality, the headset has a V-shaped recessed frequency that results in a good (uncontrolled) mid-bass slam, pushed back mids and sparkly highs that are rolled off at the top end.
The sub-bass is existent but like the high-end frequencies is cut-off. The G231’s soundstage is impressive, and this comes from its big 40mm drivers – like the G933, it has a wide and deep soundstage that comes in handy for gaming. The recording quality is what sets the G231 apart from the rest in its price category.
It has an accurate, but slightly v-shaped recording quality. The sound isn’t muffled, unlike most in this price category and the mic can be retracted into the headset when not in use. The headset is connected through a 3.5mm jack – we’re disappointed that there is no gold-plated jacks – but on the plus side, you get a control pod, that gives you the ability to mute your mic, and adjust the headset’s volume.
It should be noted that the cable is alarmingly thin – so make sure not to tug it! The headset is comfortable, and has removable pads that can be washed – the headset has a grey/orange colour scheme, that will appeal to some, but others might feel it looks a little cheap. The headband is adjustable, and the drivers rotate in order to provide a comfortable fit.
Sumvision is a brand that many might not have heard about, mainly because it’s not sold (from our knowledge) in stores, or is it endorsed by any celebrity.
However, this isn’t to say that the company don’t know how to make affordable gadgets, such as the Sumvision Akuma, which given its price provides unbelievable value for money. If you’re on a tight budget, and we’re speaking the price of three Big Mac meals, the Akuma might just be your ticket to headset heaven. The headset has a detachable 3.5mm mic, red illumination and even a control pod, which enables you to mute your mic and adjust the headset’s volume.
The headset is connected to your PC via a USB connection. Its sound quality is average, with it having a good mid-bass presence, recessed mids and rolled off sparkly highs. Its biggest downfall is its soundstage, which is rather closed.
The headset’s recording capabilities are impressive and given that you can unplug the microphone, it becomes a little more versatile. We should mention that it’s not the most comfortable headset out there, mainly due to its plastic construction and clamp force, but it is better than other headsets at this price point.
Creative Sound Blaster Evo Wireless
The Creative Sound Blaster Evo Wireless is not the best sounding headset, nor is it the best suited for PC gaming recording, due to its microphone picking up background sounds. However, its multi-platform and versatile design makes it a good recommendation for those looking for a headset that does a little bit of everything.
The headset is wireless, meaning it uses Bluetooth (and NFC) to connect to a device, but can also be connected through an auxiliary 3.5mm interconnect and Micro-USB to USB cable to your computer. The headset is fully portable with a foldable design and lightweight construction, making it comfortable to wear for long listening sessions and even run around with. The Evo Wireless’ sound quality isn’t the best, with it having a rather V-shaped sound frequency, with the mid-bass being accentuated and the mids pushed back.
On the plus side its soundstage is fantastic, making it a great choice for gamers.
Its recording abilities are impressive, but given it’s a headset that’s also design for mobile use, the microphone picks up a lot of external sounds (such as you typing away on your mechanical keyboard!).
Given the headset’s price point, multi-function ability and functionalities, it’s a good recommendation for those wanting a little bit of everything.
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- ^ best headphones (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ best headphone deals (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ Tactical Audio Controller (amzn.to)
- ^ cheap and cheerful USB soundcard (amzn.to)
- ^ Arctis 7 (amzn.to)
- ^ TMA-2 modules (aiaiai.dk)
- ^ crowdfunded Bluetooth headband (www.indiegogo.com)