The best gaming headset: guide – how to find the right model
The best gaming headset: No desk can be imagined without headphones or headsets these days. Whether in the office for meetings and conferences, for listening to music or for gaming. Gaming headsets have emerged as an excellent all-round solution. In our guide, we introduce you to the best gaming headsets and tell you what you need to consider when buying.
Inhaltsverzeichnis / Table of contents
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The best gaming headset: key info summarized
- There is no such thing as “The Best Gaming Headset”, – each model has different specifications that are viable for different needs.
- A gaming headset is more practical and modern than individual devices.
- It makes a difference whether you want to use a headset to make phone calls or use it for gaming. Both areas of life have different requirements for the headphones.
- In contrast to the headphones, there are clear differences and many variants in the microphone. Clearly, without delay and low-noise they should be.
- Analog connectors directly access the sound card of the end device.
- Digital ports are connected via USB and have their own sound mixing.
- The surround sound is one of the most important aspects to pay attention to when buying. Various options are available to choose from. Real surround sound in the ear cups or a virtual surround sound? Where the sound and technology quality is somewhat inferior can be guessed.
- 7.1 Dolby Surround Sound is a further development of 5.1 and priced often just a little more expensive – the extra investment of a few euros is worth it, but if you have a tight budget, 5.1 is perfectly adequate.
- Who really wants to deal with the technical aspects, also look at the impedance, or the rated value and frequency response of the models.
- Closed gaming headsets, unlike open variants, do not allow or emit noise from the outside. A more spatial, fuller sound image, on the other hand, results from open ear cups.
- The choice between ear-encompassing (over-ear) and upright earpieces (on-ear) is crucial for the right fit and comfort.
- The material is a decisive factor for wearing comfort. The higher the quality of the material, the more enjoyment during long nights of gaming.
- Gaming headsets without cables (wireless gaming headsets) offer more freedom, but here you have to accept a higher weight and pay attention to the battery
- Take a headset that also appeals to you visually. If you do not find it visually appealing, you will buy a new one anyway after a short time.
Which is the best gaming headset?
Questions like the headline above are more often read in FAQs or on review portals, as well as in forums for technology and gaming. However, there are as many answers to this question as a hedgehog has spines. Just as not all people can be lumped together, every headset has at least one advantage and one disadvantage.
Certainly, there are gaming headsets that are technically better than others or are made of a higher-quality material, but that doesn’t automatically make a corresponding model the best gaming headset.
On the Internet, you can find many best lists that seem to answer this question, though. But don’t be mistaken: Such lists usually only look at the technical aspects and judge them in terms of their general quality – which is completely okay for a first impression.
However, we want to go a bit deeper into the matter in this guide and look at where the individual strengths lie and what should be emphasized in the individual aspects, should you want to get a new gaming headset.
The best gaming headset does not have to be expensive
But one thing should be said in advance: The best gaming headset 2023 does not necessarily have to be expensive. Our current price-performance recommendation goes to the Corsair HS65 Surround (our review), which easily leaves some much more expensive devices behind in terms of sound and microphone quality.
Of course, there are even better gaming headsets out there, but the overall package is absolutely respectable for a price of € 73.88 *. The HS55, which was also able to impress in our test at the end of September 2022, is positioned even lower in price.
Gaming headset or normal headset
Not every headset is also suitable for gaming in front of the computer screen or console. We have already talked earlier about the fact that it must have certain attributes to meet the needs during gaming for gamers. This is just a general distinction for now, and later we’ll deal with the individual parts in a bit more detail. Let’s take a look at the differences between the two most important aspects of the two variants:
The microphone: There are relatively similar demands on both sides when it comes to the microphone: The voice should be transmitted realistically, without crackling or other noises. As clear and intelligible as possible, without having to put the microphone completely in the mouth.
The headphones: If headsets are used for pure telephoning or on the job, it is usually sufficient if the quality is right and no rustling or hissing can be heard. The counterpart must be clearly understood. In most cases, no great demands are made.
Gaming headsets are quite different. Here, the sound quality is one of the most important points. A clear sound reproduction is by no means sufficient here. Good speech intelligibility, spatial localization of sounds, differentiation and various settings are crucial here.
Furthermore, there is also this variant: microphone and headphones separately. This is often used by streamers, since both parts can be selected individually this way. In addition, the sound quality for recordings is often a bit better and can be adjusted directly on the PC with the appropriate program.
Professionals in particular swear by the combination of high-quality headphones and clip-on or table microphone. A popular solution for this is, for example, the Antlion Audio ModMic Uni Aufsteckbares Mikrofon mit Rauschunterdrückung und Stummschalter, kompatibel mit Mac, Windows PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One und mehr*.
Best gaming headsets: here’s what to look out for
When buying a gaming headset, there are many factors you need to keep in mind. It already starts with the connection or the question whether it should be a wireless gaming headset. Do you need a model for the PC or do you prefer playing on consoles?
Meanwhile, there are even gaming headsets with an ANC function, i.e. active noise cancellation, which effectively blocks out ambient noise in the background. Here are a few factors you should look out for when buying:
1. Analog or Digital
The type of connection is also not uninteresting when choosing a headset. Usually there is a choice between analog and digital connection. Both versions are common and each offers its own advantages.
With an analog connection, the headphones are connected directly to the audio port on the end device. For this purpose, the headset has a 3.5 millimeter jack connector. This allows it to be connected to the PC, console, smartphone or even tablet. Since the end device takes over the sound refinement, it is especially advisable to use this option if a high-quality audio solution is available. The advantage is that your gaming headset directly accesses the sound card of the device and does not need its own card.
Digital jack connector
With the digital connection, the headset is connected to the end device via a USB cable. In this case, the selected gaming headset has its own sound processing and exchanges the corresponding data with the system.
The advantage: DSP* often offers very good sound quality and different sound profiles. The latter can then be set analog, depending on what the headset is currently used for: Music, movies or while gaming. Further configuration can then also be made for different games.
*DSP stands for Digital Sound Processor. This refers to digital sound processing, which in some cases provide better sound quality than normal onboard sound chips..
2. Wireless or wired?
Apart from the many technical aspects, from the frequency response to the shape of the ear cup and the built-in speakers, the question of the cable is also essential. The idea of not having another cable dangling from the PC sounds tempting. You also don’t really want to see anything plugged into the controller – after all, that restricts the freedom of movement enormously.
This is where a wireless gaming headset can be a better choice. However, you need to keep a few aspects in mind here:
- Due to the built-in batteries and technology, wireless gaming headsets are usually heavier
- You need to keep the battery charge level in mind. If the battery is empty, the sound will drop out
- Most of the time, wireless gaming headsets are a bit more expensive than wired models
Who these factors do not bother, can enjoy a lot of freedom while gaming. In most cases, the headset is connected to the end device via Bluetooth or with the help of a USB dongle. Sometimes both are possible, for example, to enable a parallel connection of PC and smartphone.
Some headsets, such as the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless*, offer a complete transmitter station that is not only connected via USB, but also offers extensive connection options.
3. Surround sound: 5.1 or 7.1
There are different ways to talk about the sound of gaming headphones. However, to say that something sounds good or not is a bit too general. What matters most to gamers is surround sound, that is, the feeling of being in the middle of the action. If you sit in front of your PC or console and play multiplayer against other players, you sometimes have to rely on your hearing. Thus, the footsteps of the opponent hiding behind the left corner can be heard and assigned more precisely.
It’s probably not necessary to say that external speakers and hi-fi systems can never represent this as accurately as a headset that sits directly on the user’s ears.
Many gaming headsets have stereo speakers that simulate surround sound thanks to virtual room sound. Often, 3D, 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound is advertised on the packaging. Sound waves hit the auditory canal differently and help the brain perceive the situation differently.
Another variation in some gaming headsets is to build different speakers into the ear cup instead of virtual room sound with surround sound. The arrangement and angle of the individual speakers play a role here, which should also create a kind of surround sound together. Often, the quality of the speakers suffers greatly with this type of construction, since many small individual parts are installed instead of one large speaker on each side. Therefore, this technology is actually no longer used nowadays.
4. The frequency response
What a frequency is, most people know. But what is a frequency response? Basically, this term indicates a certain range in which the headset can deliver clear, high-quality and consistent sound. This range is measured in hertz.
We humans hear in a range of 20 and about 22,000 hertz. Of course, this varies depending on the person. The frequency responses of most gaming headsets are also located in this range. So, the larger this range is, the more tonal nuances a headset reproduces. The best gaming headsets also exceed the range audible to humans.
SteelSeries has launched SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless*, a gaming headset that features a Hi-Res certified audio system and ANC. It is extremely powerful and provides gamers with undistorted sound. With its up to 40,000 hertz, the Arctis Nova Pro (our review) achieves nearly double the performance of its competitors in the market.
Every gaming headset has a certain nominal impedance, which is measured in ohms. If the ohm value is low, it requires very little power to make sounds come out of the headphones. However, the quality is not particularly good in return.
The higher the impedance value, the louder with more nuances the speakers sound. This works with the usual PC features up to a certain degree – depending on the device, an additional headphone amplification might be necessary. However, this is rather rare and if then usually stands directly with in the technical details of the gaming headsets.
6. The construction and comfort
Gaming headsets are available in many colors, shapes and designs. Here you should pay attention to what appeals to you the most or ideally try out a headset at a retailer first. Most gaming headsets in 2022 are closed over-ear models.
This means they seal well against ambient noise and completely enclose your ears. However, there are also open gaming headsets, such as the EPOS H6PRO Open (our review). The advantage is that the sound has more spaciousness to unfold due to the open design. On the other hand, these let more ambient noise through and are usually not as powerful in bass reproduction, as corresponding closed headsets.
At the same time, comfort is also crucial in a gaming headset. Not only should it be comfortable. If the headset does not sit optimally, different tones will not be reproduced perfectly either and the sound quality will suffer greatly. Different adjustment options for the size, in order to adapt it to your head shape, have most headsets.
A convincing and at the same time comparatively light closed gaming headset is, for example, the beyerdynamic MMX 150 (our review). It scores with a very high wearing comfort and rich sound at an affordable price of currently € 129.00 *.
7. The ecosystem
Not unimportant for the best gaming headset, especially for PC gamers, is the ecosystem of the manufacturer. Since additional software is usually used, with the help of which you can adjust the sound and make other settings, you should also pay attention to this.
At the same time, it can be much more convenient to choose a headset from an ecosystem that you already use. Do you already have a gaming mouse from Razer? A keyboard from Logitech? Speakers from Asus? Since manufacturers usually use the same software to manage all peripherals, the ecosystem can also be a deciding factor.
To decide what is the best gaming headset for you, you should answer the following six questions:
- What platform do I primarily play on?
- Do I switch platforms sometimes?
- Do I change the place where I gamble frequently?
- What kind of games do I play the most?
- How much and for how long I actually play?
- What is particularly important to me?
Of course, these are very general questions that can be interpreted quite differently. But that’s exactly where the information value lies: if you have read up on the most important factors and are faced with the decision of which gaming headset is now right for you, reflect back on these six questions. You then just have to match the answers to them with the headsets that come into question for you after an initial selection.
The best gaming headset 2023: Our recommendations
Depending on your budget, requirements and desires, the best gaming headset for you can vary greatly. The model that takes the top spot for someone else may not necessarily be the ideal choice for you.
We’ve summarized our recommendations for the best gaming headset in 2023 for you here, in three different price ranges. This is a subjective list based on our experiences. If you can recommend another headset, we appreciate your comment.
The positive: In direct comparison with headsets of previous years, the best models 2023 have now significantly improved in terms of sound, comfort, features and microphone. Many gaming headsets, even below the 100-euro mark, are absolutely recommendable.
Best gaming headsets up to 100 euros
- SPC Gear Viro Infra – our review – price: € 54.41 *
- Sharkoon SKILLER SGH50 – our review – price: € 57.90 *
- beyerdynamic MMX 100 – our review – price: € 95.00 *
- Corsair HS65 Surround (price-performance tip) – our review – price: € 73.88 *
- Razer Kraken V3 HyperSense – our review – price: € 164.88 *
The best gaming headsets up to 200 euros
- Asus ROG Delta S Wireless – our review – price: € 206.30 *
- beyerdynamic MMX 150 – our review – price: € 129.00 *
- Austrian Audio PG16 – our review – price: € 159.00 *
- ROCCAT Syn Pro Air – our review – price: € 103.57 *
- Corsair HS80 RGB Wireless (Wireless Tip) – our review – price: € 133.00 *
- HyperX Cloud II Wireless – our review – price: € 109.00 *
Gaming headsets over 200 euros: The top 4
- Sony Inzone H9 – our review – price: € 228.00 *
- SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless (Test Winner High-End) – our test – Price: € 329.00 *
- Razer Barracuda Pro – our review – price: € 227.69 *
- EPOS H3PRO Hybrid – our review – price: € 399.88 *