While there isn’t any single best gaming headset for everyone, there are definitely standouts in every category.
Time was there were two types of gaming: the kind where your buddy was right there on the couch next to you (and a prime target for smack talk or just a plain old smack), and the kind you did quietly on your computer by yourself. When Wolfenstein 3D and Doom rolled around, you better believe your fingers had to be quick, because typing was the only way to let the other players know just how badly they were sucking it up. Now, of course, those days are long gone, and you’re the one sucking it up if you don’t have the best gaming headset at your command.
So, what makes for a great gaming headset? Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to that question. Since everyone games a little differently, the best gaming headset for one person might not measure up for someone else. There’s a whole laundry list of features that you should probably be on the lookout for, but don’t worry: we’ve done the hard part for you.
Check out our interactive gaming headset comparison chart below to help narrow down the field a little.
Top 5 Gaming Headset Reviews
Although our comparison chart hopefully provided you with a good cross section of the best gaming headsets to suit your needs, we’d like to take a moment to dig in a little deeper with five of our favorites. These headsets obviously aren’t for everyone, but we’re trying to provide a little something for every price range and gaming situation. If you’re ready to go all out in the name of gaming, then you can’t go wrong with a high end Beyerdynamic or Sennheiser, and a solid, mid-range Turtle Beach will satisfy just about anyone else. However, anyone working on a budget owes it to themself to check out our ultra-cheap headset reviews.
Beyerdynamic has been around since 1924, and the company is well known for producing professional-grade headsets for pilots in addition to some of the highest quality consumer-grade audio gear on the market. The Beyerdynamic 715565 gaming headset is no exception, and it’s perfect for just about any gaming environment. Although this headset isn’t a professional-grade model, all of the internal audio components are cockpit-tested under real flight conditions.
Sound processing is handled by an onboard sound card, and this headset also includes both USB and analog connections, so you can use it in a variety of different gaming situations.
If you like hitting LAN parties, then you won’t go wrong with the 715565. Not only does this headset include advanced noise-cancelling functionality, it also comes with a handy carrying case that will keep your investment from getting damaged on the way to or from events.
- Closed over-ear headphones, ideal for professional recording and monitoring
- Perfect for studio and stage recordings thanks to their pure, high-resolution sound
- The soft, circumaural and replaceable velour ear pads ensure high wearing comfort
- Hard-wearing, durable and robust workmanship Made in Germany. Innovative bass reflex system …
Sennheiser PC 350 Special Edition
Sennheiser has been engineering high quality sound gear for almost 70 years, and their PC 350 Special Edition is another excellent choice for anyone with deep pockets. In fact, this is one of the few headsets in any price range with a solid 5.0 star rating on Amazon, which just goes to show how satisfied its owners are.
With its comfortable, velour ear cups, and boom mic that automatically mutes when you swing it up, the Sennheiser PC 350 is a truly premium headset. The microphone also includes noise-cancelling technology, so it’s ideal for loud environments like LAN parties. And since the PC 350 is also a “fold flat” headset, it’s all that much easier to bring along with you.
For connectors, the PC 350 uses two 3.5mm TRS plugs, which means it’s compatible with just about anything. You can plug it straight into most PCs and Macs, and you can also use it with an Xbox, PS3, or even a Wii U with the right adapters. Although it doesn’t come with those adapters, they aren’t hard to find.
- Sennheiser's "Eargonomic Acoustic Refinement" technology delivers ultimate sonic accuracy and clarity by channeling signals directly into your ears.
- Closed back, circumaural earcups provide isolation from environmental sounds so you can focus on the game.
- Full size, ear cups fitted with ultra-comfortable velour ear pads are ideal for long gaming sessions …
Turtle Beach Ear Force PX51
Although Turtle Beach hasn’t been around for quite as long as some of the other premium headset manufacturers, most of the company’s 35 year history has been devoted to the engineering and manufacture of video game audio equipment. The Ear Force line has consistently won top marks from consumer electronics reviewers, and the PX51 is no exception.
The Ear Force PX51 is a premium headset that combines wireless with crystal clear Dolby surround sound. It’s compatible with just about any Bluetooth device, so you can use it to game on your PC or PS3, and then later on you can pair it to your phone to make a call. You can also plug it into your Xbox, television, or just about anything else with the right cables.
Since the PX51 is wireless, it runs on batteries. From a full charge, you can get about 15 hours of use, so it’s up to the task of just about everything but the most epic of gaming sessions.
One issue with the PX51 is the power button, which is somewhat loose on some units. This can cause some annoying noise issues if you move your head around a lot when you’re gaming, since the button can rattle in its housing.
- Dual-Band Wi-Fi Wireless - Interference-free wireless means clearer chat and game audio
- Music & Gaming Together - Take advantage of Bluetooth and stream your favorite tunes while you play or take phone calls and never have to leave the game
- Dual-Stage Audio Processing - For more powerful and customizable presets and accurate Dolby Surround Sound …
Ear Force X12
Turtle Beach’s Ear Force line has something for just about every price range, and the X12 is a great choice for the sub-$50 market segment. It features an in-line volume control and amplifier that’s powered by USB, so you can get some pretty solid sound out of it despite the lack of onboard sound processing that you see in more expensive units. The in-line control also offers variable bass boost, so you can adjust it to your liking.
The microphone on the X12 is a little sensitive, and it doesn’t have the noise-cancelling technology found in higher end models, so it isn’t great for noisy environments. You’ll have to shell out a lot more for those features, though.
This headset is specifically designed for use with the Xbox, but it’s also compatible with PC and Mac without any additional adapters.
- Amplified Audio: Enhances game sounds for a more immersive experience
- In line Amplifier: Quick access to Turtle Beach gaming audio controls
- Variable Bass Boost: Adds depth and realism to the Xbox 360 game audio
- Microphone Monitor: Allows you to hear your own voice in the headset to avoid shouting
- USB Powered: No batteries required …
The Teknmotion Yapster isn’t even in the same class as the other top gaming headsets on this list, but it doesn’t pretend to be. This is a budget-priced headset through and through, but you might be surprised at the relative quality of the sound that it produces. It’s not going to fool any audiophile into ditching his Beyerdynamic headset, but it’s head and shoulders above the other gear in its price bracket.
There are a couple options available from Teknmotion, and the cheapest one clocks in at under twenty dollars. That’s less than you’d pay for a chintzy OEM Xbox headset that will probably break in a week, so it’s easy for anyone working on a tight budget to see the value. And for about ten dollars more, you can get the Yapster Blaster, which comes with a USB-powered, bass-boosting amplifier that’s great for using with a game console. It’s not as elegant a solution as Turtle Beach’s X12, and nobody is going to confuse it with a mixamp, but you’d be hard pressed to beat it for the money.
The Teknmotion headsets use dual 3.5mm audio plugs, so they’re ideal for use with PCs. You can also use the headset with your Xbox, PS3, or Wii U, but you’ll need additional adapters.
- 7.1 Surround sound
- Led Illuminated elements
- Hinged, retractable mic
- Inline volume control with mic mute
- Comfortable, padded ear pads, and padded headband
The Ultimate Gaming Headset Comparison Guide
Our interactive comparison chart lists some of the best gaming headsets you’ll find for the money, and it’s sortable according to the following seven criteria:
- Style (i.e. in ear, over ear, etc)
- Microphone type
- Connector type
- Channels (stereo, mono)
- Cable length (or wireless type)
- Rating (Based on Amazon.com star ratings)
Price (also based on Amazon.com prices, which are subject to change):
- $ = under $20
- $$ = $20 – $50
- $$$ = $50 – $100
- $$$$ = over $100
What Makes a Gaming Headset Great?
While there are a lot of factors that can go into making a great gaming headset, it all comes down to two things: can you hear what’s going on, and can everyone else hear (and understand) you. If you have those two bases covered, at a bare minimum, then you’re doing just fine. And on that end of the spectrum, you have a bunch of great, budget-priced headsets that get the job done without costing you an arm and a leg.
If you want to go beyond just okay, then you need to look at features like noise cancellation, virtual Dolby surround sound, and onboard sound processing. If you have two or three hundred dollars to drop in order to get the best gaming headset that money can buy, then there’s some truly awesome gear out there that just about any audiophile would be pleased with. But is any of that really necessary?
In the vast middle ground between budget-priced units and gear that would have any audiophile drooling, you’ll find gaming headsets that have a couple advanced features, like a noise cancelling mic, or better frequency response. If you have a reasonable budget to spend on your gaming hobby, but you can’t afford to go all out, then this is the crop of headsets that you’ll want to focus on. You’ll have to zero in on a handful of features that are really meaningful to you, but in the end you’ll end up with a headset that you should be happy with for years to come.
If you checked out our comparison matrix above, you’ll see some of the features that you might be able to use to narrow down your choices. You can also check back later for our full, sortable list of gaming headsets and additional resources.
Finding the Right Headset for Your Game
If you game on more than one platform, then you’re probably painfully aware of the lack of headset interchangeability. You can use just about any headset with a PC, but your options narrow down considerably when you take consoles into consideration. The Xbox 360 uses a 2.5mm TRS connection for voice chat, and the Wii U uses a 3.5mm TRRS connector. The Xbox also supports wireless, although it’s a proprietary format. You can get wireless headsets that work with both Bluetooth devices and your Xbox, but you can’t just buy any old Bluetooth headset and expect it to work. On the other hand, the PS3 works with both USB and Bluetooth headsets.
The good news is that is is possible to find a headset that will work with all of your games, but you’re probably going to need a few adapters to get the job done. If you go with a headset that has two 3.5mm TRS plugs (one for the headphones and the other for the mic), then you won’t have any trouble getting your hands on the right adapters. You’ll need a 3.5mm TRRS Y cable for your Wii U, a 2.5mm TRS adapter for your Xbox, and a USB adapter for your PS3. If you want the game audio to come through your headset in addition to voice chat, you’ll also need some additional cables and adapters for your PS3 and Xbox.
Get in the Game
Voice chat in video games has only really started to pick up steam in the last ten years, but it’s only going to become more ubiquitous and indispensable. If your team can’t hear you, or you can’t hear them, then you’re at a huge disadvantage, whether you’re playing an FPS, MMO, MOBA, or anything else. So what’s your best gaming headset look like? We hope that our resources help you find the ideal headset for your game, but if you find something we missed, make sure to let us know!