Having a great set of gaming headphones can revolutionise your gaming experience. Not does high quality sound quality make you feel like you’re part of the action, 7.1 surround sound can fully immerse you and make you feel like you’re really in the game.
Surround sound can also help improve your scores, as you’ll be able to hear enemies sneak up behind you.
Without the best gaming headset, you’re depriving yourself of full-on immersion from every angle – after all, who says you need VR for 360-degree fun? Pick the right pair of headphones outfitted with a clear quality mic and you’ll immediately notice a difference in the way you experience games.
Whether you need a USB or 3.5mm headset, a surround sound or stereo pair, or simply one to communicate with friends online, we’ve picked out the very best PC gaming headsets for your needs.
Though we haven’t had the chance to fully review every headset on this list, rest assured that each has been tested comprehensively prior to its consideration.
We called the original Astro A50 a “game-changing, experience-enhancing headset”, and thankfully its wireless successor follows the “ain’t broke, don’t fix” rule. Astro’s latest headset does what it says on the tin and adds wireless connectivity to an already stellar package. Though not the cheapest headset on the block, the Astro A50 Wireless has transferred amp controls from its predecessor’s cable right into the headcups themselves, giving you the ability to balance in-game audio and voice chat on-the-fly.
Add to that the A50’s solid aluminum construction, effective noise-cancelling microphone, booming bass and impressive mid-range sounds, and you have one headset that’s ready to rock on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. It’s also suitable for using with the HTC Vive and other VR headsets thanks to the accommodating shape of the headband. We’ve found that few headsets can rival the A50’s comfort’s plush ear cups, which are large enough to give you a realistic sense of sound coming from all directions.
All of that is, of course, secondary to the Siberia 840’s sound qualities which are nothing less than sublime. Activating Dolby 7.1 surround sound is like dropping you into the game. Enemies’ footsteps can be picked out across a room including behind you, leading to some heart-in-mouth moments in shooters like DOOM.
Who cares about style when it comes to gaming headsets? Certainly not Asus. Neglecting all the unwritten rules of fashion, the ROG Centurion 7.1 is a spectacle to behold, both for its garish looks and unruly knack for omitting crystal clear sound waves. It may be a living hellscape to set up, requiring that a pair of USB cables be connected to an amplifier at all times, but that’s not to say it doesn’t offer plenty of room for expansion.
In fact, the Asus ROG Centurion 7.1 not only bolsters full-fledged surround sound passthrough for an external set of speakers, but the onboard amp controls grant you complete control over the audio profiles and channel volumes being outputted. You can even take advantage of Asus’s own Sonic Studio software package, which gives you even more dominance over the headset’s functions. There’s a steep learning curve, but for those who don’t mind, this headset is a mighty surround sound offering.
Stepping out of the soundscape for a moment, the V-MODA Crossfade Wireless feature comfortable memory foam ear cups that don’t irritate the ears even after hours of use, and you’ll get around 12 hours out of its battery life when connected via Bluetooth. This headset’s rugged build quality, funky travel case and optional USB connectivity add up to make it one of the best headsets on the market.
With VR headsets like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift making their way into PC gamers’ rooms, specially-designed audio headsets for virtual reality were bound to follow. The Turtle Beach 350 Stealth VR is one of the most flexible out there, featuring a generous amount of adjustability thanks to its sturdy headband which can fit over the top of VR headsets worn on even the biggest heads. Sure enough, the 350 Stealth is designed for practicality rather than sharp looks. Its black-and-white color scheme isn’t the most exciting design out there, but an abundance of features makes up for that. There’s mic monitoring, which allows you to hear your own voice inside the headset, bass boost for booming lows, a detachable noise-cancelling headphone mic, and a groove in the ear cups that lets you tuck the audio cable out of the way. While it’s perfectly suitable for owners of PC-based VR headsets, it’s quite literally a great fit for PSVR gamers too.
Unlike some of its competitors, SteelSeries stresses subtlety in its headset designs. The Arctis continues this trend by flaunting sound quality and comfort over gaudy appearances.
When you pop an Arctis on your head, the goal is for your audience to see a professional environment rather than, say, a Dorito stain on your chair. The customizable lighting, however, gives you plenty of wiggle room, though, if the monochrome look isn’t your thing.
The SteelSeries Arctis comes in three distinct flavors: Arctis 3, Arctis 5 and Arctis 7, each one more expensive than the last. The Arctis 3 is pretty analog protocol while the 5 ships with an external digital-to-analog converter (DAC) and the Arctis 7 is wireless with 2.4GHz connectivity. Each model comes with digital audio control built-in, with an app available for those looking to take this one step further.
The only drawback, then, is a less-than-attractive suspension headband.
Though delivered through software, the ManO’War’s 7.1 channel virtual surround sound does a fine job of ramping up immersion in-game. Doom’s Imps are no longer somewhere around you – they’re breathing down your neck. The ManO’War’s range can reach up to 14 meters using the supplied USB extender, and its battery life is capable of stretching to just as many hours.
As a more affordable alternative, Razer has launched the ManO’War 7.1 Wired Gaming Headset. It comes with a USB digital-to-analog convertor (CAV) that provides superb surround sound and the same eye-catching design as the wireless edition (only without the RGB lighting).
Arguably one of the most affordable gaming headsets available today, the HyperX Cloud Stinger is designed to give players eSports quality audio at a bargain. While there isn’t much to write home about with the red on black plastic design of the headset, the stereo sound is superb. It also feels comfortable to wear for extended play sessions thanks to a set of memory foam earcups. Although this isn’t the ultimate gaming headset, it’s a great starting point if you’re trying to game on a budget.
More affordable than Sennheiser’s flagship PC 373D while still packing an audible punch, the GSP 350 carries over that headset’s stellar 7.1 Dolby Surround Sound and closed ear-cup design. It’s equally a suitable for marathon gaming sessions thanks to its huge comfortable ear cups, with the right cup once again featuring a volume dial. The headset uses a closed-back design with an adjustable split headband, rather than the PC 373D’s more solid and thicker continuous band. The GSP 350’s noise-cancelling microphone is equally as good and once again mutes when lifted up while blocking out breathing sounds, much to the relief of your in-game team-mates. If you like the look of Sennheiser’s flagship gaming headset but can’t quite stomach its price tag, this one is a little lighter and slightly less solid, but still superior to many of its rivals.
Despite its affordable nature, the Cloud Revolver is ready to rock. Its 53mm drivers have been tweaked to blast out punchy mid-range tones and pounding bass that’s best described as in-your-face. Subtle they ain’t. There’s no surround sound support or RGB lighting to be found here, and you’ll have to reach for the Cloud Revolver’s braided cable to get to its in-line volume and mic controls. If those factors don’t bother you then this value-focused headset comes highly recommended.
Asus claims that it provides lower latency than Bluetooth, and while it’s difficult to verify that, bullets whizzing past our head in-game synched up pretty well thanks to virtual 7.1 surround sound being blasted into our ears from all directions. Asus’ Sonic Studio software provides an easy method of tweaking sound settings, and we found cranking up the (already sufficient) bass in the app’s equalizer particularly satisfying for both gaming and listening to music.
If you’re particularly hardcore, you might want to shell out for the Tactical Audio Controller. At $199 (around £149) it’s not cheap, but it grants an intuitive and fun of adjusting settings such as the game/chat mix, your own microphone level, in-game sounds, and there’s also a mute button to cut game sound out completely. It also lets you chop and change between four surround modes (Game, Music, Movie and off), which is a lot easier than fiddling around with controls on the headset itself.
There are an increasing number of PC gaming headsets impressing at the lower end of the price spectrum, including the new Cougar Immersa. Decked in the company’s trademark orange-and-black color scheme, this gaming headset is big, bright and bold. Its massive earcups envelop the ears and are comfortable when worn over long periods. The Immersa’s mid-range and bass tones are punchy and bright, though treble is a little lacking. The retractable microphone is convenient, and online gamers had no trouble hearing what we were saying in Counter Strike: GO. HyperX Cloud Stinger aside, there are few gaming headsets in this price bracket that have impressed us like the Immersa.