Whether you are a PC gamer or prefer to play using a console, it’s generally polite to not disturb everyone around you with the wonderful noises that your games make. A gaming headset will solve the problem and provide you with a microphone too. You can also expect to get excellent sound quality and, if you go for a wired headset, an excellent long cord too. Naturally, you will want to know how else you will benefit from investing in a gaming headset, apart from keeping those around you happy. Using a gaming headset will give you a suitably immersive experience so that you will feel that you are a part of the action, rather than just a bystander. So, with excellent sound staging, realistic surround sound and lots of rumbles, then your experience will be second to none.
Best for Xbox One
Steelseries Arctis 9X
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Best for PS4
Sennheiser Game One
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Best for PC
HyperX Cloud Orbit S
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Steelseries Arctis 9X
Best for Xbox One Gamers
The Arctis 9X has wireless capability for the Xbox One.
The 40mm drivers provided are not as big as in other similar products.
The sound quality is excellent.
The price might deter some would-be purchasers.
There is excellent battery life.
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The Steelseries Arctis 9X is an over-ear, closed-back type of headset. It has been specifically engineered to perform wirelessly with the Xbox One, which, of course, does not support Bluetooth, instead of using its RF (radio frequency) Xbox Wireless instead. I must emphasize that the connection is brilliant. The Arctis 9X, naturally, also supports Bluetooth so that you can use it across the whole wireless gaming sector.
As comfort is of prime importance to many gamers, the Arctis 9X boasts a very comfortable across the headband that holds the cups in place without any distraction. Weighing just over 1lb, the wearer is unlikely to feel burdened. The mic is clear, retracts when not in use, and provides a decent level of noise-canceling. The 3D spatial sound quality is excellent, with clarity and richness.
Sennheiser Game One
Best for PS4 Gamers
Excellent build quality, so the headset is likely to last even in the harshest conditions.
The sound quality does leave something to be desired.
Suits the Playstation 4 particularly well.
Game One has a level of comfort that sets it above its competitors.
It has an excellent sound stage, but it remains a good bet for music.
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The Sennheiser Game One is a well-designed open-back headset, created with comfort in mind. It has large ear cups with foam padding, making them probably the most comfortable of all the gaming headsets on the market. You can wear them for long periods without any discomfort.
The build quality is excellent, and as they have been made from sturdy plastic, they are both durable and light in weight. The open-back design does mean that the noise isolation aspect is not very good, so not suitable for use in a busy, noisy environment.
As well as being particularly suitable for use with Playstation 4, Game One is compatible with PC and Mac platforms. With an Xbox adapter, they can be used with Xbox One, but if you have the new Xbox One controller, then you won’t need anything else. The microphone is of high-quality and produces a precise, clear sound and does not pick up very much background noise.
The stereo sound is decent, given that there is no surround sound. The open-back design means that the sound stage is considerably better than with many other gaming headphones, which could be important if an enemy is creeping up on you.
Steelseries Arctis 1 Wireless
Best wireless headset for Nintendo Switch
The Arctis 1 is sturdy and built to a high quality.
The padding on the headband is thin, and the earcups lack that little bit of luxury that would make this a very comfortable fit.
It is attractive and is made to appeal to the gamer on the go.
These headphones lack some flexibility, and this may be an issue for some people with larger heads.
The sound quality is outstanding, especially so for a wireless headset.
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The Arctis 1 is a headset that has the superior build quality, which is crucial if you are going to be carrying it around. As you will probably be wearing this headset in public – on a train or bus – then its stylish design is an attractive feature. Supplied with the headset is a USB-C dongle to plug into your console and enables the wireless coverage. That connection is not perfect but is good enough for most purposes. The coverage is about 25 feet, which will satisfy most gamers.
Referring again to the build quality, the Arctis 1 has an adjustable steel core with a padded headband and foam earcups. The padding is a little bit disappointing, as it is on the thin side. Similarly, the foam earcups are not exceptionally luxurious. On the comfort rating, the Arctis1 is excellent and is a great headset to wear. Battery life is a decent 20 hours, and like all wireless headsets, you will need to remember to charge it up. There is, however, a wire supplied so that you can plug the headset directly into your console if you lose battery power at an awkward time. The microphone is good, and also is detachable.
Turtle Beach Recon 70
Best wired gaming headset for the Nintendo Switch
The Recon 70 has a great design that is both sturdy and attractive.
The low price does mean there is less padding, and the comfort does suffer as a result.
There is a good microphone that would not shame a more expensive model.
The price means you are getting great value for money.
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The Recon 70 is a budget headset with all the features you will need for a top gaming experience. It has a comfortable headband, 40mm drivers that give a good sound for gaming with good bass levels, and there is an excellent microphone too, which can be flipped out of the way when not needed.
The Recon 70 is, however, specifically intended as a gaming headset, so it doesn’t perform well when watching movies or TV. The heavy bass drivers do suit a lot of different music types. If you use them for a long gaming session, they may get a bit uncomfortable as the padding is on the basic side.
They are, however, a good sturdy set of headphones. As well as performing well and being reliable, you can buy them for a low price.
HyperX Cloud Orbit S
Best Wired Gaming Headset for PC
The Orbit S has an excellent battery life, which is an essential factor when gaming.
There is no Bluetooth connectivity, so less versatile than some other headsets.
The Wave Nx 3D head tracking is a brilliant feature, although not universally loved.
When using Orbit S, you will have to do quite a lot of cord and mode switching.
The design makes it an attractive option for the style aware gamer.
It is an expensive choice. All the features that are included push up the price, and you should only buy this if you want that full range.
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The HyperX Cloud Orbit S is a wired headset that comes close to being the gamers’ dream piece of tech. It has fantastic audio, top-notch comfort, and a superb design combined with the high build quality.
There is 7.1 virtual surround sound combined with Waves Nx 3D audio that tracks your head movement and changes the sound to account for the tilting or turning you do as you play, which adds up to some superior positional audio not found elsewhere.
The headset also boasts thick cushioning on the ear cushions. These are also deep with plenty of space for large ears and provide impressive noise isolation.
The headset just plugs straight into your PC, and you are ready for the off. It is possible to download some software to alter the settings of the Wave Nx 3D, but this is not essential to enjoy the feature. The manual controls allow you to switch it on and off, too.
The Orbit S does not have Bluetooth connectivity, so it can only be plugged into your PC via a USB cable. There is also a detachable microphone.
SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless
Best Wireless Gaming Headset for PC
The Arctic Pro is a well-designed, durable headset.
There no way to manually adjust the microphone volume.
It is comfortable to wear, which is an essential consideration for any gamer.
The Arctic Pro has indifferent noise isolation.
For a wireless headset, it has a good battery life, providing two batteries.
Some people with larger heads may find the fit a bit tight. The elastic strap doesn’t give that much.
There is both Bluetooth and a USB transmitter incorporated in the headset.
You can use the Arctic Pro either wired or wirelessly.
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You might need to look at a wireless option for your PC Gaming set-up, so here is a good, reliable, well-designed headset. The SteelSeries Arctic Pro comes with a range of connectivity options, including Bluetooth, which allows for their use beyond just gaming.
The audio reproduction is impressively accurate, which is brilliant for gamers, but means that these headphones can be used for a variety of other purposes. There is a retractable microphone. These headphones come with two 15-hour batteries, so changing over mid-game is not such a problem. You just have to remember to keep them charged. In common with most gaming headsets, the Arctic Pro is not very portable. They are a bit on the bulky side anyway but do not fold, so are not that easy to carry around. Bulkiness is not a big problem for most gamers who will be using them in one place.
There is no noise-canceling tech installed, so it relies on passive noise isolation through its well-padded over-ear cups. As a result, the noise isolation capability is not that good for a headset in this price range.
BEST GAMING HEADSETS FOR KIDS, TWEENS, AND TEENS
The market for gaming headphones is a crowded place, and this is also true for those headphones aimed at kids, tweens, and teenagers. There is quite a bit of crossover between the age groups and between regular headphones and those intended for gaming. Youngsters can be hard to please, so maybe the recommendations here will help you choose wisely.
It is a strange thing that most headsets, whether for gaming or not, that manufacturers aim at the adult market, tend to be in black or another dark color. A slightly masculine look and you have to search carefully to find any in other colors. Kids headsets, on the other hand, come in bright colors, often pastel, with things like cats ears to make them fun, and that is a much more feminine look.
Griffin Kazoo MyPhones
Best gaming headset for kids
These are stylish animal-themes headphones that kids will love.
A child might lose interest in the designs quite quickly and want to move on to a different type of kids’ headphone.
There is a volume-limiting technology to keep the volume down.
The over-ear design means a comfortable experience for the child.
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The Kazoo MyPhones from Griffin come in fun animal designs. They are over-ear style headphones in a frog design, and a penguin and newly added are a monkey and SpongeBob SquarePants. The extra touch that makes these headphones unique for kiddies is where the jack is shaped like a fish for the penguin design and like a tadpole for the frog design.
They come with the usual volume limiter, set at 85dB, and they also have a robust build quality, which is essential where small children are concerned. Another critical factor in children’s headphones is the level of comfort. Kids are quick to complain if something doesn’t fit or hurts. The Kazoo MyPhones headset has generous padding on the ear cups, and are easily expandable. They will comfortably fit a child aged three up to a child aged 12. It is debatable whether an older child would want to wear headphones designed for younger children, but some might be happy to do so.
The padding does an excellent job of preventing noise leakage. This means the children hear what they want to hear, and you don’t.
LilGadgets Untangled Pro Premium Bluetooth Headphones
Best Gaming Headset for Tweens
The Untangled Pro Premium has a better audio performance than most headsets aimed at this age group.
The audio cable allows higher volume levels than when in Bluetooth mode.
There is a cable provided that allows passive listening.
The volume ceiling is higher, at 93dB than some parents will find acceptable.
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These are Bluetooth enabled headphones, so you will be able to pair them up with your TV without much trouble. Pairing with gaming consoles such as PS4 is a more involved operation, but not impossible, and only needs to be done once.
The headphones do have functional connectivity with any other Bluetooth enabled device, and can be used with a PC for gaming. The battery life is a decent 12 hours, and the range is about 30 feet. The sound quality is good, and the volume limiter stops at 93 dB.
One excellent feature is the provision of a SharePort, which lets siblings share the headset’s Bluetooth connection. This allows them to watch movies, for example, when traveling or on flights.
Kingston HyperX Cloud Stinger
Best Gaming Headset for Teens
The build quality is impressive for a lower-priced headset.
The HyperX Cloud Stinger does not have any extra features.
The design is stylish and lightweight, which is also a consideration for a young teenager.
Sometimes the headset will get warm during extended use.
It has a clear sound quality with good detail.
It is not possible to detach the microphone or the audio cable.
The microphone can be adjusted.
The cord on the headset is a bit on the short side, although a Y-adapter extension can make it longer.
The HyperX Cloud Stinger is a very comfortable headset to wear.
Its low price makes it excellent value for money.
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The HyperX Cloud Stinger is a wired headset in a basic design that still looks cool. It has over-ear cups that are well-padded for comfort, and that rotate to get the right fit. The mic has the noise-canceling capability, so keeping any background noise down really low. This headset is an excellent choice for any self-respecting teen who wants to feel that they are using a stylish, yet top-performing piece of kit.
The sound quality is good, and it does work on all platforms. It is a robust headset that does not boast extra features, but this would probably not matter too much for a young teenager just getting into the gaming world.
The price makes this an affordable headset if budget is a consideration.
Beyerdynamic Custom Game
BEST GAMING HEADSET FOR COMPETITION
Probably the best gaming headset for competition use that there is.
There is not much to say against this brilliant headset, except that it is quite heavy
The Custom Game features easy to use sound sliders.
The only other downside is the price. It is more of an investment rather than a purchase.
The soundstage is just awe-inspiring.
Both the cable and Y-extension are detachable.
The Custom Game has been designed and built with durability in mind.
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The Beyerdynamic Custom Game is a solid, reliable, unflashy piece of tech that will take your gaming experience to another level. It does not have surround sound or Bluetooth, so it is a wired headset. However, the quality of the sound that it does have is fantastic, being crisp, clear, and full of detail. The Beyerdynamic Custom Game is a high-end headset that will last and last. Sturdily built, almost all the elements can be removed and replaced. The padding is replaceable, as are the ear cup plates. It is easy to clean and easy to maintain.
As it is a wired headset, it will connect with any device, has easy to use controls, which include sound sliders to adjust the bass. The microphone is a flexible cardioid one and is one of the best in the business. The soundstage is fantastic and cannot be faulted in any way.
WIRED OR WIRELESS
First, let’s narrow the choices down a bit and divide the field into two – wired headsets and wireless headsets.
Wired gaming headsets
Just as the name suggests, wired headsets connect to the platform you are using through a wire or cable. The achieve the connection using either a jack, USB connector, or a connector specific to the console you are using.
- The audio quality will be better than a wired headset can provide, but not significantly so. You’ll only notice the difference when you listen to high-quality music files, for which you probably won’t use the headset.
- When compared to wireless headsets, wired ones are much cheaper. They do not need to contain all the tech that goes into wireless headsets.
- When comparing wired with wireless, wired mean you do not need to have to worry about batteries losing power at a critical moment in a game.
- Having a wire means you have limited mobility. The length of the cable dictates your freedom of movement. Some gaming headsets have quite long wires, but many do not.
- Wires can easily get damaged, and you will need to exercise some care to prevent them from suffering in this way. One common problem seems to be that they get tangled in the casters of your gaming chair.
Wireless gaming headsets
The clue, here, is in the name. Wireless gaming headsets do not have any wires. The audio signal is transmitted to and received from the platform you are using via Bluetooth technology.
- There is no wire. Having no wire lets you move about unhindered, and some gamers like to do just that. Other games like to sit in their gaming chair for a while, then will move to a sofa, and then maybe stand up for a time. Having no wire makes all this possible.
- Wireless headphones can synchronize with multiple devices at the same time. Should you be playing on a console and need to respond to something on your PC, this is possible if you have wireless headphones.
- Bluetooth wireless headphones give you about 30 feet or so of connectivity, which allows you to head for another room and still be part of the game.
- There are no wires to get damaged.
- If you are a bit clumsy, then not having any trailing wires means you have removed a significant trip hazard from your life.
- One of the biggest problems encountered by users of wireless gaming headphones is the loss of battery power. It is very easy to forget to check the batteries charge before starting a game. Victory is in your grasp, and the battery dies. Frustrating or what?
- Latency issues are a worry for many gamers contemplating a wireless headset. Manufacturers have made enormous efforts to reduce latency to a negligible level, but some players have reported spikes in some models of a headset. Again, a sudden spike at the wrong time and that victory have gone. As the tech gets better, though, this problem will probably disappear.
- One of the pros of wireless headsets is its ability to sync with other devices. Synchronizing with other devices can also be a con. When synchronized with a cellphone, for example, an incoming text message might well cause you to find yourself disconnected from your game.
- Wireless gaming headsets so tend to be more expensive, and it depends on whether you are keen to pay more for the advantages that wireless will give. Wireless technology is improving all the time, and more and more new products appearing on the market. The law of supply and demand means that more products will lead to greater competition and lower prices then follow.
TYPES OF HEADPHONES
There are quite a few different types of headphones, all of which are available as wired or wireless versions. Which one you choose will depend on some critical factors, and these will be discussed later in the article. Some headphones will fall into more than one category. For example, an over-ear headphone that also is the closed-back type or a gaming headphone that is also in the in-ear category.
Closed-back headphones are ideal for those who want to block outside noise and have an uninterrupted listening experience. If you are listening to music, nothing from outside will spoil your enjoyment, nor can anyone nearby hear what you are listening to. This type of headphone is excellent for classical music enthusiasts who want to savor every nuance of the music. Headphones of this type are in use in recording studios so that a singer can hear the backing track while laying down their vocals, but nothing from the backing track will leak out and be picked up by the microphone. This type of headphone does tend to be chunkier than regular headphones.
- Usually, a closed-back headphone is better at noise isolation.
- The positional accuracy of the sound that is being produced – which is called soundstage – is not as good with a closed-back headphone.
- You will have little awareness of what is going on around you, which will slow your reaction in the event of a threat.
Open-back headphones give a different quality of sound, being more open. This type of headphone tends to be preferred by those working in a studio mixing and mastering.
The leakage from the headphones will mean that anyone close by will hear noise coming from them. For some people, this is not an issue. As these open-back headphones are a less tight fit, they will be a little bit more comfortable to wear.
- Awareness of what is happening in your vicinity is better with open-back headphones.
- The soundstage is much better with this type of headphone, which is an essential advantage for gamers.
- Open-back headphones are not so good at isolating noise.
- Everyone around you will hear some of the music you are playing or some of the sounds coming from the game you are playing.
This type of headphone is the most popular with gamers. The headband of the headphone goes across the top of your head. The cups then enclose your ears to provide minimum noise leakage – both from outside and from within the headphones. Higher-end models are usually comfortable and do not scrunch your ears up in the way that on-ear versions can. As there is more material in the construction of this type, they can be a bit heavier. This extra weight can lead to tiredness setting in when used for an extended period – such as gaming or in the recording studio. Over-ear headphones are, however, the most common type among those marketed for gaming.
Generally speaking, over-ear headphones are not at all portable. However, some versions can be folded and so made more portable. Typically, they are not suitable for sports use, as there are better models available. They are, however, ideal for eSport use.
- Very comfortable to wear as they usually come with large, padded earcups.
- The sound quality is usually perfect, although that can depend on the model.
- Over-ear headphones have superior passive noise isolation, which will make for a better listening experience.
- Most recent introductions to the headphone marketplace use lighter materials, so gamers won’t find them too heavy.
- The large size of over-ear headphones makes them the least portable of all the styles available.
- Not at all suitable for wearing while working out as they are heavy and consequently less stable.
These do exactly what the name suggests. They have a band that goes over your head, and the cups then sit on your ears rather than enclosing them. There was a time, not so long ago, when walking along wearing a large pair of headphones would have been embarrassing. Not any longer, though, as wearing headphones of this type has been popularised by some high-profile music artists. They very much a fashion accessory and accordingly can be found in a variety of design styles and colors.
There is some leakage of sound from this type of headset, but generally, the quality of music is good and closer to a natural sound. Gamers might find this enhances their immersive experience.
- On-ear headphones are the most portable of the bigger regular headphones.
- Choose the right model, and you will get excellent sound quality.
- Better for runners and athletes who don’t want to wear in-ear headphones. There is less risk of irritation, and they are a stable style of headphones. Irritation caused by headsets is not so significant a consideration for gaming, though.
- On-ear headphones are not as comfortable to wear as their over-ear cousins. They put pressure on your earlobes, and this can hurt after a while.
- They do leak more sound in and out. You may be able to hear more, but others can also hear your music.
In-ear headphones sit in your ear canal, and so are that little bit closer to your eardrums. Technological developments now mean that the sound quality of these small headphones can compete well with the on-ear and over-ear headphones described above. They work a bit like closed-back headphones, as the way they fit into your ear prevents sound from outside entering.
In-ear headphones have grown in popularity over recent years, as they have the advantage of being portable. They don’t take up much space, so it’s possible to have some with you when walking, running, working out at the gym, or just chilling. Keeping the volume to a reasonable level will prevent any damage to your eardrums, although, as with any headphones, stay alert when you are out and about.
- In-ear headphones give excellent passive noise isolation, which offers exceptional privacy and often better sound quality.
- The smaller design allows greater portability.
- In-ear headphones can sound just as good as larger, more expensive headphones.
- Being waterproof and sweatproof makes them an excellent choice for athletes.
- Some people don’t like the feeling of having them right inside their ears as they can irritate.
- Their construction and size make them quite fragile, and they can be easily damaged if you don’t take proper care of them.
Earbuds rest on the outer ear, not in the ear canal. The business end tends to be larger than in-ear headphones, but there is leakage, both from outside and within. Other people will hear that you are listening to music. For some, earbuds are preferable to in-ear headphones as they don’t feel as invasive. Some people don’t like the feeling of a headphone inside their ear. Earbuds are not fixed in the ear, so there is a risk of them falling out. Having this happen can be a problem if you have your hands fully occupied with your game controller.
Classic earbuds are the style of headphones with which most people are familiar. They are cheap, convenient, and often are given away by airlines for use with in-flight movies. Wireless earbuds are becoming much more common, and often have a cable just joining the two buds together. They connect through Bluetooth, and some manufacturers have overcome the problem of battery life by linking the two buds with a neckband that contains both the battery and the Bluetooth transmitter. Sometimes the neckband is made of a type of flexible material, and sometimes it is a hard plastic case.
Some professional gamers will wear earbuds underneath their over-ear headphones to block the noise around them. It also prevents them from hearing the commentary or any cues that might come from the crowd. You receive the game sound through the earbuds, and the over-ear headphones just broadcast a white noise. This way, the player only hears the sounds coming from the game and reduces the risk of cheating by cutting out any audience voices.
- Classic earbuds are portable.
- Earbuds are cheaper to buy as their manufacturing costs are usually lower.
- Some people find them more comfortable to wear when compared with in-ear versions.
- They are often sweat-proof and water-resistant, and so are suitable for runners and other outdoor athletes.
- Their passive noise isolation is not that effective compared to in-ear versions, although all-round awareness is better.
- Generally speaking, they don’t come in high-end specifications.
- The sound quality can be a bit disappointing, lacking bass and some detail.
Noise-canceling vs Noise-isolating
Casual gamers won’t get too upset by a small amount of external noise seeping into their game. Still, serious gamers and professional competitive gamers will certainly not want this type of noise pollution.
Those gamers can rest assured that noise-canceling headphones do just what they claim. They cancel external noise, so giving you uninterrupted listening experience. Some models do this by merely enclosing your ears entirely with over-ear cups. Others use sophisticated tech in the headphones, along with a tiny microphone, to monitor the external sound, calculate its frequency, and then create another frequency that cancels it out. All this technology requires power. That means that the headphones will have to incorporate a battery, which adds to the weight of the unit. It also can push up the price. Some of the models at the lower end of the price range might have slightly impaired sound quality.
The noise-canceling headphone is particularly useful when flying, as not only will it block out the sounds from other passengers, but it will also cancel out the noise of the airplane’s engines. You can find noise-canceling technology in all types of headphones, so a suitable model can be found to fit in with your lifestyle. Most headphones marketed for gaming incorporate noise-canceling technology.
Passive noise isolation does not require any expensive tech. You can easily achieve this through build quality, with better padding and much more practical design. The noise is kept out by not giving it anyway of getting in. As there is no tech involved, the quality of the sound is not affected.
- Frequent flyers will find a noise-canceling set of headphones a must to keep external noise during a flight to a minimum.
- They will also be useful if you work in a noisy environment and want to listen to music rather than just wear standard ear defenders.
- There is quite a bit of additional tech in noise-canceling headphones, and this means that they will weigh more.
- Often, the price of these headphones is higher than for those without this technology.
The next factor you can consider is which platform you intend to use to play your games. All the available platforms have their fans, and they also have significant advantages and disadvantages. Gaming headphones, whether wired or wireless, can be used with all the gaming platforms, so it will be necessary to make educated choices.
Let’s have a look at each platform in turn, and see what particular requirements they all have.
The Xbox One does not support Bluetooth technology, and so it won’t connect wirelessly to most gaming headsets. The Xbox One instead uses radio frequency (RF) to connect wirelessly with other devices. All Xbox consoles have an Xbox Wireless module fitted in them, but it does means that only peripherals that are specially engineered to be compatible will work. You might, therefore, prefer to use a wired headset.
Typically, a gamer using a PlayStation 4 will have it linked to a TV. In this situation, then a wired headset is probably the best bet. If you are determined to use a wireless headset for whatever reason, then remember that the PlayStation 4 only supports very few Bluetooth devices. So, it is a good idea to check on the packaging to see if Sony approves the one that you are keen to buy for use with PS4. If it is, then connecting it to your console is a simple matter. However, if it is not, there may be an alternative way of doing the job.
One possible way is by using an audio cable with a built-in microphone. Another is to use a USB adapter plugged into the PS4 USB slot. Finally, you could use a dongle combined with a wireless microphone. The wireless receiver is plugged into the PS4 controller while you connect the dongle into the console’s USB slot. In each of these cases, you will need to go to the Settings screen and follow the instructions to connect your headset.
The Nintendo Switch allows you to game wherever you are. Of course, if you are out and about, maybe on the bus or subway, you won’t want to be disturbing everyone with your sound. The answer to that particular problem is to get a gaming headset. Getting a wired headset, though, creates another set of challenges. That cable that links you to the console just gets in the way. It will easily get snagged on peoples’ bags, on seats, or other obstructions. Then, if you are carrying it in your pocket, it gets tangled so easily. The solution is to use a wireless headset, but this begets yet another problem – the Nintendo Switch does not support Bluetooth technology. Fortunately, there is a way of getting around this particular issue. You will need a Bluetooth transmitter/receiver that has an audio-in jack. Using an AUX cable, link the console with the transmitter/receiver, pair the two, and you should be ready to go. Be warned, though, that some headsets won’t connect to your Nintendo Switch using this method.
The basic kit for gaming is the desktop PC. For productive, enjoyable, and immersive gaming, a gamer will need a powerful PC with a top-of-the-range graphics card. A large monitor (or increasingly two monitors) is essential, as is a gamer’s keyboard, gamer’s mouse, and a gamer’s headset.
Add to that a specially designed gaming chair, and the set-up is just about complete. The gamer’s headset can be wired or wireless. For a wireless headset, PCs do support Bluetooth technology, so pairing one to the set-up is not a problem. However, that stubborn issue of lag will lead some gamers to choose a wired headset.
CONSIDERATIONS BEFORE BUYING A GAMING HEADSET
Gamers are renowned for sitting in their gaming chairs, playing for hours on end. Usually, they will have chosen that chair to be the most comfortable they can get. The same applies to the headset. It is crucial that gaming headphones are comfortable and will remain so throughout each gaming session.
While the shape of the overall design of the headset will impact on comfort, the shape of the ear cups and the padding on them will be of paramount importance.
Usually, gaming headsets do not get used so much for listening to music. Real music buffs who are also gamers, will get themselves separate headphones for listening to music. However, sound quality is essential in different ways for gamers. Gaming is an immersive experience, and the player needs to feel that they are part of the game, rather than on the sidelines. A good sound stage is essential, although there is some debate about surround sound. Most wireless gaming headsets will offer 5.1 or 7.1 virtual surround sound. You can toggle these features off or on. Some gamers do not like virtual surround sound, as the quality of the sound suffers. Audible clues to a character’s position can also be adversely affected. Many gamers just toggle the surround sound off while they are playing. The sound must be clear and well-defined, and the player must be able to hear everything that is going on while they are playing the game.
Sturdiness and durability are important factors to consider when choosing your gaming headphones. Gaming headphones are more likely to get a tough life than those headphones used purely for listening to music. Seek out a set designed with these factors in mind. Some flimsier, all plastic models can break just through being taken off your head a little bit quicker.
Try to choose a pair that has an all-metal or mostly metal frame, which should last longer.
Linked to the quality of the sound is the size of the drivers, which sit in each ear cup and generate the actual sound. Many headsets have 40mm drivers, while others have 50mm or larger ones. The larger the driver, the better the sound quality, and the wider will be the sound stage.
Latency, which is sometimes called lag, is that tiny moment between a movement or sound you are making, and it happens on the screen. You can sometimes see reduced latency with TVs. Have you ever watched TV with a wireless headphone and then realized that the sound and the actor’s lips are out of sync? High latency is the cause of that lack of synchronization. The aim is to have the lowest level of latency as possible, and some manufacturers have worked very hard to cure this problem.
Some headsets have better latency levels than others, so it is worth checking this out before buying.
Latency is not a problem with a wired headset. Some gamers may notice the difference is they switch to a wireless headset.
Almost all over-ear and some on-ear headsets have noise-cancellation built-in. The tech is producing the sound that cancels out other sounds. Believe it or not, this is possible. The noise-cancellation tech aims to remove extraneous noise, so there is nothing to interfere with the immersive experience that gamers desire. Some headsets are better at achieving this than others.
One of the essential features of a gaming headset is the provision of a microphone. As gaming is sometimes a two-way activity, a good quality, crystal clear microphone is critical. It’s so good to know that when you trash talk your opponents, they can hear every word you say!
It also helps if you can fold it away when not in use to that is does not obstruct the player’s movements.
FEATURES FOUND ON GAMING HEADSETS
The quality of the microphone that you have on your headset is very important. A unidirectional microphone only picks up sound from the front and ignores any sound from the sides or beyond. In gaming, this is important, as while your ears are isolated from outside noise, your microphone isn’t.
Most gaming headsets incorporate surround sound, giving the gamer a 360-degree soundscape. This feature means that if noise occurs behind you, then you will hear from that direction. When you need every competitive advantage that you can get, then surround sound is the essential one.
Some gaming headsets only provide stereo sound, which may well be satisfactory in some types of games. It will also be a cheaper purchase, so if you just play single player games, and are on a budget, go for this option.
Gamers like to be right at the sharp end of any developments that can make their gaming experience better and their image superior. The LED lighting is not an essential feature of a gaming headset, but boy, can it look cool!
HEADSETS FOR COMPETITIVE GAMING
eSports can usually be defined as live video gaming competitions. Competitive gaming is growing rapidly as a pastime, particularly in the USA. The definition covers everything from single players in on-line competition with other individual players, right through multi-player competitions to stadium staged tournaments with all the razz-a-ma-tazz of a major sporting event. Such is the popularity of eSports that top-level professional players can earn spectacular amounts of money, championships titles, and sponsorship.
Most commonly, though, the typical eSport player will initially participate in multiplayer games with friends and then move on to compete in online tournaments. Groups of friends can enter these as teams, yet never leave the comfort of their gaming chair. When not playing themselves, gamers can follow their favorite professional players on YouTube Gaming or one of the other online video channels, and some are even available to watch on TV.
At the high school age, eSports is a huge growth area. Gaming has been recognized as a legitimate sport by various organizations, and schools are organizing teams with training sessions, coaches, and leagues.
One of the great things about eSport is that gender is entirely irrelevant. The only requirements are excellent gaming skills and fast reactions, and the hardware necessary to get involved. Some eSports are based on the consoles that have I have already discussed – Xbox One and PS4. The bulk of the eSport community use PCs, and specific gaming ones at that. The PC needs to be powerful, with a large monitor, an appropriate headset, not to mention gaming keyboards, mice, and other bits and pieces. A superfast, reliable internet connection is also a must.
Participating in competitive gaming, especially in school teams and leagues, means that training is essential. The very best players train for several hours a day. Training for long periods has an impact on the type and quality of the headphones needed. In the high-pressure world of competitive gaming, lag won’t be tolerated. The majority of competitive gamers prefer wired headsets, but as the wireless versions become better, so their use will become more commonplace.
GAMING HEADPHONES FOR KIDS
Kids love computer games. Full of action, color, sound, the games appeal to their senses as well as to their competitive nature. However, like almost everything fun, there are dangers to be considered when allowing children to play these games. Using headphones is good practice when a kid is playing a computer game. It will help them to concentrate on the task in hand without outside interruptions, and it prevents the noise from the game seeping out into the world around them and making life a misery for parents and siblings. Therefore kids learn that while they can be selfish and get immersed in a game, they also have to think about other people. Some kids complain that they don’t like wearing headphones, but they also learn that they have to take into consideration the feelings of others.
There are several factors to be taken into account when choosing a kids’ headphone set. Firstly, the selected set must have a volume limiter inbuilt. At present, the recommended volume level for kids’ headsets is 85dB. Most kids’ headsets have a limiter set at this volume within them. However, the 85dB recommendation is aimed at industrial workers, rather than kids. This level is still too high. 70dB would be a more sensible volume for children, although it is probably too quiet for most of them.
There are a few basic rules to adhere to when buying any headphones for children. Firstly, do not buy an in-ear style of headphones or earbuds. Excellent for adults but not for kids whose ears have not fully developed. These styles bring the sound too close to the developing working of the inner ear.
Also, be mindful when using wired headphones. There have been cases of unsupervised children being strangled by headphone wires.
So, when making your choice, look for headphones with a volume limiter; that is a comfortable fit and also adjustable for smaller heads. There should be as little noise leakage as possible, and the headset should look and feel fun!
GAMING HEADSETS FOR TEENAGERS
It might seem a bit pointless talking about gaming headsets for teenagers. Can’t they just use the same ones that adults use? Well, yes, they can. However, teenagers do have slightly different requirements. Young teenagers and tweens (those leaving childhood and entering the teen years) still have their ears growing and developing. They are also growing physically, a process that doesn’t slow until age 17. They are also emotionally immature, which can make them stubborn and sometimes challenging. The problems of bringing up teenagers do not impact directly on their headphones, but if you get the right pair first time, that’s a lot of hassle avoided.
Tweens might still be willing to accept a volume limiter in their headphones, although older teenagers probably won’t. They have to be trusted to keep the volume down. What teenagers want is what every gamer wants from their headset: excellent sound quality, comfort; a microphone; style, and durability.
GAMING HEADSET FAQ’s
The use of any technology can be a cause for concern regarding risk to health. There have been so many scare stories circulating that many people do not know what they should believe. I have answered some of the more common questions here.
1. Do gaming headsets emit any radiation?
Wired gaming headsets emit no radiation at all. Wireless ones emit a very low level of radiation, which does not pose any risk.
2. So using a wireless gaming headset is not dangerous?
No. Using a wireless gaming headset is not dangerous. The amount of radiation emitted by one is so tiny that it won’t cause any damage. There is more natural radiation around you in the atmosphere than these wireless devices produce.
3. Are gaming headsets bad for a person’s ears?
It is essential to protect your ears from damage by keeping the volume of your headset at a reasonable level. 93dB is considered to be a safe level. Extended exposure to loud noise will cause damage to your eardrum, with a consequent loss of hearing. Not only will headphones produce a loud noise, but they also bring that noise nearer to your eardrum than would typically be the case.
4. Are there side effects to using gaming headphones?
At the risk of being alarmist, there are harmful side effects to the use of any headphones, not just those used for gaming. Loud noise over a long period can cause a long list of problems centered on your ears. Tinnitus, Hyperacusis, Ear Infections, Loss of Hearing, and Ear Ache are just a few of the ear-based issues that might occur.
5. Do gaming headphones increase earwax?
When the ear has to cope with an increased level of noise over some time, it will produce some extra earwax as a way of blocking out the sound and so protect itself from harm. Over-ear gaming headphones themselves won’t increase earwax. In-ear types might cause the ear to be irritated, and thus creating an earwax build-up. In-ear headphones might then push that plug of earwax further into the ear canal, causing pressure on the eardrum.
6. For how long each day should I use gaming headphones?
Audiologists recommend using headphones for no more than 90 minutes each day, which, of course, is hardly time for a skirmish, let alone a full-scale battle. The important thing is to keep the volume down to a comfortable level. If the people around you can hear the sounds from your game leaking from your headset, then you have the volume too high.
The market for gaming headsets is vast. Within it are sections that are also very crowded, and more are being added all the time. When you are ready to make a purchase, there will be several important decisions to make. Hopefully, this article will enable you to make those decisions better informed.