A good gaming headset delivers rich sound and an integrated microphone for trash talking opponents. These are the best gaming headphones we've tested.
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The wired Razer Blackshark V2 gaming headset offers excellent audio and microphone quality, loads of software features and options, and a light, comfortable fit.
With the Penrose, Audeze manages to deliver the excellent sound quality that planar magnetic drivers afford, while maintaining a reasonable price for a wireless gaming headset.
The JBL Quantum 800 wireless gaming headset does a bit of everything, and does it all surprisingly well.
The Logitech G Pro X wired gaming headset combines a sturdy, comfortable design with a USB sound card loaded with customizable headphone and microphone settings.
The Razer Nari Essential is a budget-friendly wireless gaming headset that will please PC gamers with its powerful audio performance.
The Astro Gaming A20 is a gaming headset that easily works with the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S/X, and PC. It boasts strong audio chops and wireless functionality at a good price, but could use additional headband padding.
The latest Astro Gaming A50 wireless gaming headset feels and sounds excellent, but it's a pricey option in an increasingly competitive field.
The HyperX Cloud II Wireless gaming headset ditches the original Cloud II's cord, while delivering the same, excellent feel and sound.
The Razer BlackShark V2 Pro takes the BlackShark V2's excellent performance and makes it wireless, for a hefty premium.
You need a good headset (or gaming headphones, if you prefer) for online gaming. Without one, you don”t have a reliable way to talk trash to your enemies, and your lexicon of expletives will stagnate. Oh, and you won”t be able to coordinate strategies with your friendly team or guild. Surprisingly, they”re even pretty good tools for your home office.
Your choices range from basic wired earpieces and boom mics you can pick up for $20 at a drug store (or are included with your game console), to expensive, simulated surround sound, e-sports-oriented, wireless over-ear headphones available at enthusiast sites. You should get the one that fits your budget and needs. You don”t need a ton of cash for a solid headset; about $50 can get you started if you don”t want to jump into high-end features and connection options.
Wired vs. Wireless Gaming Headsets
Headsets can be either wired or wireless, with wireless models generally costing more. More important is that each gaming headset supports different system, handheld, and computer connections. For the PS4 Pro, Xbox One X, most mobile devices, and some computers, you can use Bluetooth for a wireless headset (the original Xbox One lacks Bluetooth support). Other systems require a different wireless connection, often with a separate base plugged into your console or computer.
Bluetooth has made great strides in the last few years, but proprietary wireless connections generally offer better audio quality and a stronger signal. Proprietary wireless connections are typically designed for only one console, or one console and a PC; you”ll have to choose between Xbox One and PS4 for most wireless gaming headsets.
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Logitech G432 7.1 Surround Sound Gaming Headset — $49.97 (List Price $79.99) Sennheiser Game One Gaming Headset — $127.96 (List Price $179) Razer Kraken Tournament Edition THX Gaming Headset — $69.99 (List Price $99.99) Logitech G533 Wireless Gaming Headset — $95.00 (List Price $149.99)
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See How We Test Headphones
If you game on the PlayStation 4, the Nintendo Switch, newer Xbox One models, or most handheld gaming devices, you can just plug a single 3.5mm headphone jack into the controller or system and start playing. The Xbox One works in a similar way, but if you have an older Xbox One gamepad you might need Microsoft”s Xbox One Stereo Headset Adapter to use a wired headset with it. Most headsets on this list can connect to your preferred system one way or another.
If you want to use your headset with last-gen systems like the PS3 and the Xbox 360, you”ll need to see if the headset supports their own unique connections, or if adapters are available. PCs are the most flexible with gaming headsets, since they can work with USB headsets (which are generally only compatible with PCs), 3.5mm analog connections (though you might need a splitter adapter if your headset ends in just one plug), and often optical audio.
For more, see our picks for the Best Wireless Gaming Headsets.
Do You Need Surround Sound?
Most high-end gaming headsets claim to offer some form of surround sound, but this isn”t accurate. The vast majority of surround sound headsets still use stereo drivers (often a single 40mm driver for each ear) to produce sound. The surround aspect comes from Dolby and DTS processing technologies that tweak how the headsets mix sound between your ears to give an impression of 360-degree audio. It”s an artificial effect that wouldn”t provide a true surround sound image even if the headset had individual drivers for each channel; there simply isn”t enough space for the sound to resonate to produce the impression of accurate directional audio. However, it can make things more immersive and improve your ability to track the direction sounds from left to right.
Some pricey gaming headsets like the JBL Quantum One offer more immersive audio by incorporating head tracking into the mix. They still offer the same simulated surround sound as other headsets that support the feature, but they also pan and shift the audio depending on how you move your head, giving the surround effect much more realism.
Gaming Headset Console Compatibility
Because PlayStation 4 and Xbox One headset support is mutually exclusive, you can generally choose between different versions of similar models. Currently, more headsets on this list appear to support the PS4 directly than Xbox One, but many high-end headsets come in PS4 or Xbox One versions. If a headset is marketed primarily for PC, it might work with a console over USB, but it might not support all features. Of course, any headset with a 3.5mm wired connection can work with either console through the headset jack on the controller; it”s the USB compatibility that can throw off different versions. Check the packaging and product page to make sure the headset you want is compatible with the system you plan to use it with.
There are a few console-specific headsets and variations you can consider, like the Xbox One-only SteelSeries Arctis 9X, which offers strong performance. Still, you generally won”t find a “best” headset unique to a console; the top models usually have versions that work with either. That said, here are which headsets on this list work with which systems:
The Best PlayStation 4 Headsets
Astro Gaming A40 TR + MixAmp Pro TR
Astro Gaming A50
Razer Nari Essential
Sennheiser GSP 670
SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless
Turtle Beach Elite Pro 2 + SuperAmp
The Best Xbox One Headsets
Astro Gaming A40 TR + MixAmp Pro TR
Astro Gaming A50
SteelSeries Arctis 9X (Similar to Arctis Pro Wireless, without the base station)
Turtle Beach Elite Pro 2 + SuperAmp
The Best Microphone for Gaming
In terms of headset microphones, we”ve been consistently impressed by the mics Razer puts in its higher-end Kraken and Nari headsets, along with the mics on Turtle Beach and Astro Gaming”s flagship headsets. These can be pretty pricey, but if voice clarity is vital they”re worth the money.
You can also consider the Antlion Audio ModMic (pictured above). It”s a boom mic that easily attaches to your favorite pair of headphones, and can be removed when not in use thanks to a two-piece magnetic mount. You won”t get any of the gaming-specific features of dedicated gaming headsets with the ModMic (and wireless is right out), but it lets you use your beloved old cans for voice chat. Just make sure you have the right connection or adapter to use it with your preferred game platform.
If you”re really serious about streaming or other gaming commentary, you might want to forego the boom mic entirely and get a dedicated USB microphone, instead. Decent USB mics can be found for around $50 to $150, and offer far clearer, richer, more natural audio than any boom mic you can get. It”s trickier to set up properly to get good sound, though; you need to be mindful of microphone position and where you are relative to it.
If you prefer single-player games and live alone, you don”t need a headset at all. You can use speakers and enjoy the room-filling atmosphere, and shout into the inexpensive and mediocre monoaural headsets the Xbox One and PS4 come with.
But the next time you”re in a deathmatch, raid, or capture mission, make sure you”re shouting into the boom mic of a good headset. To find the right one, check out our recommendations here, then take a look at our 5 Easy Tips to Extend the Life of Your Headphones.