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Friday, April 19, 2024

12 Best Gaming Headsets (2023)

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When it comes to maximizing audio, our choice for the best gaming headset is the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless. We focus on improving our gaming experience with visuals with a better gaming TV or a beefier graphics card, but the way your games sound is just as important. Jump to detailed looks at the best gaming headsets, or check out our list below:

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

Few things can ruin an experience as deeply as bad audio. An overly compressed video might still be watchable if the audio is clear, but watching a clear video with audio that's clipping or out of sync is far worse. Worse yet a bad audio experience can hurt your ears with sounds of a sudden explosion or enemies that you can't hear until it's too late.

A quality gaming headset can help ensure these audio issues won't be a concern of yours. The best wired and wireless headsets deliver crisp and clear audio. Some feature custom equalizers and surround sound so you can really tune your audio experience for an edge in gaming. We've rounded up the best gaming headsets from budget to premium and wired to wireless, so you can find the best option – and click here to find them in the UK. Alternatively, if you're in Oz, see here to skip to the best gaming headsets in Australia.

The Best Gaming Headsets

SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless

Best Gaming Headset

Arctis Nova Pro WirelessSteelSeriesArctis Nova Pro Wireless

It’s hard not to fall in love with the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless. You still get all the great features of the previous SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless with some new technology including active noise cancellation and improved audio all around. Using a hybrid noise-canceling system with four mics, you can drown out the neighbor's dog yapping or the low hum of an air conditioner. Though the ANC isn't as good as some of the best noise-canceling headphones, it keeps you focused on the game rather than the distractions around you. There’s also some fantastic spatial audio onboard, so it's easy to hear enemies lurking in the bushes or helicopters flying overhead. And you can make some next-level customizations to the EQ setting and game chat mix with Sonar and the SteelSeries GG app – good luck going back to your ordinary headphones for anything but listening to podcasts or the news.

With SteelSeries latest, we see the biggest design shift since the start of the Arctis lineup. The Arctis Nova Pro Wireless now totes telescoping arms on it's adjustable headband so it better accommodates larger head sizes. The earcups are also slimmer and sleeker, giving off less of a gaming headset vibe and more of wireless headphones look. And one of our favorite features remains intact with a few upgrades, the hot-swappable rechargeable battery system. This means that when the battery runs low during a heated moment in a game, you just quickly change it out, barely missing a second of the action.

Razer Barracuda X

Best Budget Gaming Headset

Razer Barracuda XRazer Barracuda X

The Razer Barracuda X makes affordability feel premium. Coming in at just $100, it's easily worth your money as the cheapest gaming headset on this list. For one thing, it supports a broad range of devices. Better still, it supports a bunch of those devices with a 2.4GHz wireless connection using a USB-C dongle. That’ll gives you get low-latency, wireless audio from a PC, Nintendo Switch, many Android devices, and PS5 or PS4. For everything else, there’s also a backup 3.5mm connection.

The Razer Barracuda X has a lightweight build at just 250g and keeps things discreet with an all-black design, a low-profile headband, and even a removable boom mic. The earcups also have a breathable, FlowKnit material. Razer tops things off with support for virtual 7.1-channel surround sound on PC. You’d think there might be a few cut corners or missing features at this price point, but Razer didn’t even settle for a lackluster battery life, as these headphones can run for over 50 hours.

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7

Best Wireless Gaming Headset

Arctis Nova 7SteelSeriesArctis Nova 7

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7 is the gaming headset to get when you don’t want to be tethered to a wire. It may not offer as much as its bigger brother, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless, but it comes at a far more affordable $180 price with plenty of useful features. As far as connectivity goes, there’s Bluetooth 5.0 and a 2.4GHz wireless dongle for a virtually lag-free experience. It doesn’t stop there, though, as you can simultaneously listen to your game's action on the PS5 or a gaming PC via that dongle while also playing music or chatting over discord with another device through Bluetooth. Trust us, once you try it, you’ll never look back.

Looking past the wireless connectivity, the Arctis Nova offers a durable and comfortable design with a height-adjustable headband for a universal fit and breathable AirWeave ear cushions. Housed inside the earcups are 40mm drivers to deliver a strong sound. And though this headset sounds great straight out of the box, SteelSeries Sonar software takes it to the next level with EQ adjustments and 360-degree spatial audio, which puts you right at the center of the action. There are some other convenient extras as well, such as improved 38-hour battery life, a noise-canceling mic, and on headset controls for ChatMix, volume, Bluetooth pairing, and more. All this makes for a wireless gaming headset that earns its place at the front of the pack.

PDP Airlite Pro

Best Budget Wireless Gaming Headset

Airlite ProPDPAirlite Pro

You don’t need to throw down a ton of dough to get a wireless headset that can keep up with all the action in your favorite games, as you can snag the PDP Airlite Pro for around $80. It seamlessly connects to your PS4, PS5, or PC via a low-latency wireless dongle—or grab the Xbox version to play on that console. You’ll be good to game for 16 hours without needing to juice up, which isn’t the best we’ve seen, but thankfully, charging is facilitated by a USB-C cable to make life easier.

After you’ve connected, the PDP Airlite Pro is ready to deliver an immersive experience with 50mm drivers that pump out crisp highs and booming bass even though it does lack any type of 3D audio. Beyond its impressive sound, this headset is also durable yet comfortable, toting a lightweight form factor with ample adjustability and well-cushioned memory foam ear cups. There are even on-ear controls for volume and a noise-canceling flip-to-mute mic to keep a clear line of communication between you and your teammates.

Audeze LCD GX

Best High-End Gaming Headset

Audeze LCD GXAudeze LCD GX

If you like to game and also happen to be an audiophile, you’ll get some serious joy from the Audeze LCD GX . This takes Audeze’s knack for open-back, planar magnetic headphones and retrofits it with a boom microphone to give you a headset that can handle your game and chat audio together, something you’ll rarely find from a high-end, audiophile pair of cans — which is why it's the best high-end gaming headset.

The Audeze LCD GX uses super large 106mm planar magnetic drivers for incredibly rich audio with a wide open soundstage thanks to the open-back design of the headphones. With an impedance of just 20 ohms, all it needs is the power of a headphone jack you’ll find on a wide variety of devices from phone and laptops to computers and consoles, though sound levels can vary depending on the actual power of the source. The headphones includes TRRS or dual TRS adapter jacks for wide compatibility with devices. You can also leave the microphone off and go with a quarter-inch plug if you're connecting these cans to high-end DACs when you’re not gaming and just want to enjoy some tunes.

Corsair HS65 Surround

Best Wired Gaming Headset

HS65 SurroundCorsairHS65 Surround

Rather than focusing on wireless technology that can get costly, Corsair puts the money where it matters in the HS65 Surround; audio experience. For under $80, this plug-and-play wired headset offers a neutral sound with superb directional audio, making it easier to place enemies lurking in your games. It doesn’t stop there, as when you connect via the USB adapter, you can enjoy 7.1 channel surround sound for a wide and realistic soundscape.

Understandably, the Corsair HS65 Surround isn’t full of frills, starting with the simple build featuring soft memory foam earcups alongside a plastic and aluminum headband. However, some may find the headset rests a little too snugly on their head. You also get minimal on-ear controls with only a volume dial and flip-to-mute feature on the non-detachable mic. But don’t worry, audio adjustments can still be made using iCue software.

Audeze Maxwell

Best Audiophile-Quality Gaming Headset

If you’re a gamer who is serious about their headset’s audio prowess, the Audeze Maxwell is hard to beat. 90mm planar magnetic drivers deliver a stunning audio performance. And when connected via USB-C, either with a wire or wireless dongle, you can enjoy high-res sound up to 24-bit/96kHz. While Bluetooth 5.3 lets you connect to multiple devices, along with supporting the LDAC codec and the low latency LC3plus and LC3 codecs.

All that connectivity should come in handy, as you can use the Audeze Maxwell with your PS5, Nintendo Switch, PC, and phone—and you can grab the Xbox version with Dolby Atmos support for $30 more. Since you can use these with all your devices, you’re probably wondering how the battery life is, and a wild 80 hours while listening wirelessly at 80 decibels makes it one of the longest-lasting headsets we’ve seen. Comfort does come into play during those marathon gaming sessions, and though the Maxwell is a hefty 490g, the suspension band and contoured earpads should help keep your head happy.

JBL Quantum One

Best Surround Sound Gaming Headset

JBL Quantum OneJBL Quantum One

Why settle for just one type of surround sound? The JBL Quantum One may be pricey, but it has a lot to offer in the sound department, including JBL's QuantumSPHERE 360 technology as well as DTS Headphone X: v2.0 surround sound. The latter is a high-quality digital surround sound that can make your game worlds and movies feel that much more engrossing. QuantumSPHERE 360 is a bit more involved, and actually takes into account the position of your head, so you can turn your head in the real life and all the sounds around you will shift to maintain their relative position.

It's not just nifty surround sound, but also precise, as the Hi-Res certified 50mm drivers offer excellent sound and a 20Hz-40kHz frequency response range. The JBL Quantum One also offer great flexibility, with options for both a USB and a 3.5mm connection available (though the latter will limit its capabilities). The JBL Quantum One even includes active noise cancelling to help you focus on only the sounds you want to hear. And, to top things off, there's customizable RGB lighting on each ear cup.

SteelSeries Arctis Prime

Best Esports Gaming Headset

Arctis PrimeSteelSeriesArctis Prime

When you’re competing, you need every advantage you can get, and audio clarity is one piece of the puzzle. The SteelSeries Arctis Prime is built to give you clear audio both going in and coming out. Your teammates in esports will hear you loud and clear thanks to the ClearCast microphone, which has consistently delivered on SteelSeries headsets.

On the other end, the SteelSeries Arctis Prime may only cost $99, but they’re coming with the more premium speaker drivers from the Arctis Pro side of the family. These drivers deliver an extended frequency response range and hi-fi clarity to ensure you don’t miss anything in game. The Arctis Prime is built with comfort and durability in mind like the other premium Arctis headsets, but it also aims to help block out external distractions by using a leather-like ear cushion instead of the AirWeave cushions on other Arctis headsets, which are more breathable but also let in more outside sound.

Turtle Beach Stealth 700 Gen 2 MAX

Best Xbox Series X/S Gaming Headset

Stealth 700 Gen 2 MAXTurtle BeachStealth 700 Gen 2 MAX

For a feature-rich, quality-designed headset ready to game on the Xbox X/S, you'll want the Turtle Beach Stealth 700 Gen 2 MAX. This headset is an amped-up version of the Stealth 700 Gen 2. It’s got 2.4GHz wireless for a pain-free connection to your Xbox Series X/S, and with the flip of a switch, it connects to other gaming consoles like the PS5 or Nintendo Switch. So, you’re in for some uninterrupted, lag-free gameplay. There’s also Bluetooth for easy connection to other devices. Since this headset is wireless, battery life is always a concern, but with 40 hours of listening time, you should be covered for long-haul gaming sessions and then some. A quick charge feature even lets you get 8 hours of juice with just 15 minutes of charging.

You’ll find once these cans are paired with your console, you’re in for a pleasant listening experience. The Turtle Beach Stealth 700 Gen 2 MAX is comfortable, lightweight, and durable thanks to an improved design. The 50mm Nanoclear speakers relay even the most subtle nuances in your games, including picking up on the quiet footsteps of your enemies. There is Windows Sonic, Dolby Atmos, DTS Headphone: X, and Superhuman Hearing support baked in, so you’re in for an insanely immersive sound performance. Plus, the microphone, though it picks up some background noise, sounds clear for strategizing with your teammates.

See more of the best Xbox gaming headsets we recommend.

Sony Pulse 3D

Best PS5 Gaming Headset

Pulse 3D Wireless HeadsetSonyPulse 3D Wireless Headset

If you're lucky enough to have picked up a PS5, you'll want to ensure you can make the most out of the capabilities of the Tempest 3D audio engine, and the Sony Pulse 3D is the headset to do it. It's designed to connect seamlessly with your console for latency-free, high-quality audio pumped out of 40mm drivers. Since the headphones were designed with Tempest 3D audio in mind, you can be sure you're getting the intended surround sound experience in your PS5 games.

The Pulse 3D goes beyond just PS5 Gaming. It also works with PS4, PC, and Mac wirelessly. Plus, with a USB-C or 3.5mm audio cable, it can also support a broad range of other devices. The fact that Sony sells this option for just $100 makes it a strong offer.

See more of the best PS5 gaming headsets we recommend.

Logitech G Pro X

Best Streaming Headset

Logitech G Pro XLogitech G Pro X

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 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.

Where to Get the Best Gaming Headset in the UK

You definitely need a quality gaming headset if you're looking to take your favourite hobby even remotely seriously. Thankfully, every headset we've picked out on this list is also available across the pond in the UK, so take your pick.

Cloud Orbit SHyperXCloud Orbit S Best Gaming Headset£245.74Arctis Nova Pro WirelessSteel SeriesArctis Nova Pro Wireless £139.36Razer Barracuda XRazer Barracuda X £129.99HS35Corsair HS35 Best Ultra Affordable Gaming Headset£49.51HS70 ProCorsairHS70 Pro Best Budget Wireless Gaming Headset£109.99ROG Delta RGB Gaming HeadsetASUSROG Delta RGB Gaming Headset Best Wired Gaming Headset£74.99Arctis Nova 7Steel SeriesArctis Nova 7 £329.00Arctis PrimeSteel SeriesArctis Prime £85.18Pulse 3D Wireless HeadsetSony Pulse 3D Wireless Headset Best PS5 Gaming Headset£84.99Stealth 700 Gen 2 MAXTurtle BeachStealth 700 Gen 2 MAX £109.99Logitech G Pro XLogitech G Pro X £84.99

Best PS5 2023 Gaming Headsets in Australia

Collected below for your convenience are Down Under prices that are (in a few cases) down under recommended retail. Better yet, they can all be acquired locally, so you don't have to pay through the nose on the Aussie consumer's most hated enemy—international shipping charges.

SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro WirelessBest Gaming HeadsetSteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless A$614.00Razer Barracuda XBest Budget Gaming HeadsetRazer Barracuda X A$118.00SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7Best Wireless Gaming HeadsetSteelSeries Arctis Nova 7 A$290.00PDP Airlite ProBest Budget Wireless Gaming HeadsetPDP Airlite Pro A$33.46Asus ROG Delta SBest Wired Gaming HeadsetAsus ROG Delta S A$304.00JBL Quantum OneBest Surround Sound Gaming HeadsetJBL Quantum One A$248.00Turtle Beach Stealth 700 Gen 2 MAXBest Xbox Series X/S Gaming HeadsetTurtle Beach Stealth 700 Gen 2 MAX A$281.00Sony Pulse 3DBest PS5 Gaming HeadsetSony Pulse 3D A$139.00Logitech G Pro XBest Streaming HeadsetLogitech G Pro X A$257.00

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.

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.

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.

Gaming Headsets vs. Headphones

The line between gaming headsets and headphones has blurred significantly in recent years. There are still distinct differences between the peripherals that make one better for gaming and the other ideal for listening to audio. We discuss those below.

Connectivity: The best wireless gaming headsets offer a 2.4GHz dongle that’ll slot into your PC or gaming console, delivering a latency-free connection to ensure you never miss audio cues in a game. Beyond the dongle, you’ll also often get Bluetooth to listen on other devices, and many offer a wired lag-free connection, too. As for wireless headphones, you’re usually just limited to Bluetooth, and there’s always a bit of latency that comes with it, which could make or break you in a gaming setting. However, some higher-end headphones do offer a wired connection to devices, making lag less of an issue, but you’ll be tethered to the device.

Audio: Headphones, for the most part, deliver a neutral, well-balanced sound, so a high-end pair of headphones is what most audiophiles will grab for listening to music or movies. Gaming headsets often offer a punchy, brighter listening experience, but with cheaper headsets, this can lead to a muddy sound, which isn’t as much of a problem on budget headphones. Where gaming headsets take the cake is spatial audio support, often having some form of it baked in, making it easier to place enemies in a game based on sound cues for an edge over the competition.

Microphones: Many gaming headsets come with boom mics that help keep a clear line of communication between you and your teammates, thanks to an arm placed just below your mouth. This extension is often removable or can at least fold out of the way when not in use. Headphones typically use beamforming mics, which hide the microphones away in the earcups and use processing technology to pick up your voice over the sounds in your environment. Gaming headsets have a leg up in this category, but neither compare to a standalone microphone.

Design: If you want audio controls on your earcups, gaming headsets are the way to go. You’ll often find buttons for mute, game-chat mix, audio presets, and a volume dial on higher-end sets for easy adjustments in the heat of the action. However, they are often bulky and give off major gamer vibes, especially with a boom mic attached, making them less practical for use outside the battle station. Headphones, on the other hand, look sleeker and have more simplified controls. A premium pair of headphones will also last longer than most gaming headsets, as headsets are usually less expensive with more features that can fail over time.

Are Headsets Good for Streaming?

Gaming headsets are a viable option for streaming. You just need to be sure you’ve got one with a quality microphone. Many gaming headsets come with boom mics, which place a microphone just below your mouth, making it easier to pick up your voice for a clear line of communication while keeping your hands free. There’s also often technology that ensures only your voice is picked up and not distracting sounds in your environment. You can even play around with mic sound settings on many headsets using companion apps to get the best sound for your broadcast.

However, the sound quality of a headset’s built-in mic will still pale in comparison to stand-alone streaming microphones with their wide frequency response, high sample rate, bit-depth, and extensive software. But these microphones do require a more involved setup, including finding the proper placement for the best sound during a stream. You may even need to purchase a separate boom arm to hold the mic in an ideal position. Gaming headsets are a much easier-to-use plug-and-stream option that requires a slight sacrifice to audio quality.


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

Danielle Abraham is a freelance writer and unpaid music historian.

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