The best gaming headset in 2021
For many, a game is best when the players can fully engross themselves in the atmosphere and environment of the virtual world. Unfortunately, that can be difficult when listening to a game’s audio through computer or television speakers, and multi-channel audio setups can be expensive.
Gaming headsets allow you to fully experience a game’s virtual soundscape without having to break the bank on a sound system. Before you buy, consider if you prefer a wired or wireless connection, what type of gaming platform you’ll be using or if noise cancellation technology is a priority. If you plan on doing long gaming sessions, you might want a headset built for comfort like the LucidSound LS35X Wireless Surround Sound Gaming Headset with memory foam ear cushions.
What to know before you buy a gaming headset
All gaming headsets feature headphones to monitor audio and a microphone to communicate with teammates or opponents. But not all headsets work with every gaming system or are a good fit for every gaming environment.
Though there are models that can connect with multiple gaming systems, some gaming headsets function with a specific platform. Also, certain headsets work with a gaming platform via the use of a third-party adapter. Before buying, ensure your headset is compatible with your preferred gaming platform.
Wired vs. wireless
Gaming headsets connect to the audio source using a physical wire or connect wirelessly. The most cost-effective options are wired headsets. However, they are also the most inconvenient as they physically tether you to your audio source. Not only can the wire be a tripping hazard, but it can also become tangled or knotted, possibly damaging the device or diminishing audio quality.
Wireless gaming headsets are pricier than their wired counterparts but can be more convenient, allowing for more mobility and easier storage. However, unlike wired headsets, wireless options can lag, desyncing the audio with the visuals on the screen.
There are multiple ways a gaming headset can connect to an audio source, such as a standard 3.5-millimeter audio cable, USB or Bluetooth. Though each can provide quality audio, the 3.5-millimeter cable is an analog connection, which won’t sound as good as the digital connection available with a USB. Wireless connection options provide digital audio and greater mobility but can experience lag. Some gaming headsets have multiple connection options and provide versatility that other headsets do not.
What to look for in a quality gaming headset
Unlike most earbuds or casual headphones, a solid gaming headset will still be comfortable when worn for multiple consecutive hours. Models made with extra padding, memory foam or leather can reduce the strain felt by the ears and the top of the head and provide the user with greater comfort.
Some gaming headsets have noise cancellation technology. Noise-canceling headphones neutralize incoming frequencies outside the headset, so the user hears only what is coming from the audio source. Gaming headsets with noise cancellation technology can help keep gamers immersed in the virtual setting of the game and decrease outside distractions.
Most modern games support multi-channel audio, allowing gamers with a surround sound system to immerse themselves in their games with sound coming from all directions. However, some gaming headsets can create virtual surround sound environments using only the speakers inside the headphones. This allows users to experience surround sound effects without having to invest in a larger sound system. As an added benefit, gaming headphones with surround sound capability can also work while watching movies or television shows with multi-channel audio.
Some high-end gaming headsets also support Dolby Atmos surround sound, adding extra sound layers to the virtual sound environment.
How much does a gaming headset cost?
The price of a gaming headset can vary greatly depending on which options and features are included. Typically, expect to pay between $20-$300.
Gaming headset FAQ
Can I use a gaming headset to listen to music?
A. Yes. All gaming headsets are also headphones and can be used to listen to music or podcasts as long as they can connect to the audio source. If you plan to use your gaming headset for gaming and music, consider purchasing a headset that allows you to adjust the equalization settings and make your listening experience more enjoyable.
Can I use a pair of earbuds as a gaming headset?
A. Yes. Earbuds with line-in microphones, usually for making calls, can be used as a gaming headset. However, the quality of the audio will likely be far worse. Also, earbuds tend to bleed sound and the audio can disturb those around you.
Should I buy a case for my gaming headset?
A. Maybe. Most gaming headsets are fairly durable, and if you plan on keeping the headset near your gaming setup, it should be safe without a case. However, if you plan to travel with your gaming headset or have small children in the home, a protective case will help ensure your headset survives any bumps or falls.
What’s the best gaming headset to buy?
Top gaming headset
What you need to know: A very comfortable headset great for long sessions on Xbox or PC.
What you’ll love: They’re lightweight with built-in volume controls and memory foam ear cushions for extra comfort, and they have wireless connectivity with 15 hours of battery life and virtual surround sound.
What you should consider: Only compatible with Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Windows and mobile platforms.
Where to buy: Amazon
Top gaming headset for the money
What you need to know: This is a comfortable headset for Playstation or Xbox gamers.
What you’ll love: They’re durable yet comfortable, have wireless connectivity with 15 hours of battery life and are compatible with Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X/S.
What you should consider: Not compatible with Mac computers.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This is an ideal option for gamers who play on multiple gaming platforms.
What you’ll love: They’re sturdy and comfortable with wired and Bluetooth connectivity options, have 20 hours of battery life and is compatible with most gaming platforms.
What you should consider: Some users did not find the tight fit comfortable.
Where to buy: Amazon
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Gerrad Frei writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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