The very best gaming headsets for 2023

More often than not, one of the best gaming headset isn’t a “gaming headset” in any respect. Though these gadgets are sometimes regarded as a definite area of interest inside the wider headphone market, they’re in the end nonetheless headphones. And whereas it’s definitely not unattainable to get a gaming headset that sounds good, doing so nonetheless tends to come back at the next price than a comparable pair of wired headphones (sure, these nonetheless exist).

A superb wired headphone stays your finest wager if you need probably the most detailed sound attainable at a given worth level and don’t want one thing particularly transportable, which is often the case whether or not you’re gaming on a console or PC. If you might want to chat with pals, you possibly can all the time purchase an exterior microphone, whether or not it’s a USB mic, a less expensive clip-on mic or a standalone headset mic just like the Antlion ModMic or V-Moda BoomPro. In lots of instances, these will make your voice sound clearer and fuller than those included with a gaming headset.

However we do acknowledge that many individuals simply need the comfort of an all-in-one combo, worth and aesthetics be damned. So after testing out just a few dozen pairs over the previous a number of months, we’ve put collectively an inventory of fine headphones for gaming and devoted gaming headsets. We advocate you contemplate the previous first, however all of them ought to make your play time extra fulfilling.

What to search for in good gaming headphones

A black gaming headset with a built-in boom microphone, the HyperX Cloud Stinger 2, rests on a white table in an outdoors setting.
Photograph by Jeff Dunn / Engadget

Evaluating headphones is a very subjective train, so calling one pair absolutely the “finest” is one thing of a idiot’s errand. At a sure level, every part turns into a matter of style. For many, a headphone with a large soundstage and powerful imaging efficiency – i.e., the power to place sounds appropriately, so you possibly can extra exactly inform the place footsteps and different sport results are coming from – will present probably the most immersive gaming expertise, the type that makes you’re feeling like your head is inside a given scene.

For that, you desire a high-quality headphone with an open-back design. That’s to say, an over-ear pair whose earcups don’t utterly seal off the ear from air and out of doors noise. The large trade-off is that these are inherently horrible at isolating you from exterior sound and stopping others from listening to what you’re enjoying. So should you typically play video games in a loud atmosphere, their advantages can be blunted. However in a quiet room, one of the best open-back pairs sounds considerably wider and extra exact than extra widespread closed-back fashions.

Extra up for debate is how a great gaming headphone ought to sound. If you’d like one thing that’ll show you how to in aggressive multiplayer video games, you may probably choose a headphone with a flatter sound signature, so a sport’s combine gained’t be overly boosted in a single course and masks the smaller particulars of what’s taking place round you. A barely brighter sound, one which pushes the higher frequencies a smidge, might also work. Open-back headphones virtually by no means have enormous sub-bass, so that you not often have to fret about low-end sounds muddying up the remainder of the signature. On this gentle, the truth that an awesome quantity of gaming headsets are closed-back and bass-heavy appears counterintuitive.

Plenty of folks love bass, although. And should you aren’t simply nervous about aggressive play, some additional low-end can add a contact of pleasure to heavy motion scenes or a rousing soundtrack. You continue to don’t desire a pair that enhances it too arduous – which many devoted gaming headsets do – however the level is that what makes a pair “immersive” to 1 individual could sound uninteresting to a different.

Finest headphones for gaming: Beyerdynamic DT 900 Professional X

The Beyerdynamic DT 900 Pro X ought to please a large swath of individuals keen to pay for a capital-N good set of headphones for his or her gaming periods. This pair has nice imaging efficiency and the type of spacious soundstage anticipated from an open-back design. Bass is a bit more current right here than on many open-back headphones as effectively. There nonetheless isn’t a lot in the way in which of deep sub-bass, as anticipated, however there’s sufficient heat to offer in-game explosions a bit extra juice with out muddying up the mid-range frequencies. The mids get probably the most emphasis general, however they’re clear and that forwardness isn’t a nasty factor while you’re making an attempt to hear for enemy gamers in a aggressive FPS like Counter-Strike. The treble isn’t pushed fairly as arduous, however it’s neither overly recessed nor harsh.

All of this implies the DT 900 Professional X sounds detailed however not boring, so it ought to play good whether or not you’re making an attempt to win a multiplayer sport or taking in a extra cinematic single-player expertise. And while you’re not gaming, you get an fulfilling sound for music.

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All the pieces’s constructed effectively, too. It’ll clamp down barely tougher than common in case you have a big head, however it balances its weight effectively, and its splendidly smooth velour earpads go a good distance towards retaining the pair comfy over lengthy periods. It comes with two removable cables, together with a three-meter possibility that’s handy should you sit far out of your PC. This design can’t fold up, although.

Like all open-back headphones, the DT 900 Professional X leak sport audio and let in plenty of noise, so it’s not nice on the go. Clearly, should you can afford an ultra-premium pair like Sennheiser’s HD 800 S, you’ll get extra space and true-to-life element. However for a comparatively attainable $250 to $300, the DT 900 Professional X ought to fulfill.

Finest headphones for gaming beneath $200: Sennheiser HD 560S

Should you’d quite not spend as a lot, the Sennheiser HD 560S is one other wonderful open-back headphone that’s usually obtainable for round $150. Just like the DT 900 Professional X, it has a large soundstage that’ll show you how to really feel immersed in a given sport. Its sound is barely extra impartial on the entire, so that you gained’t really feel such as you’re lacking any a part of a combination, and it retrieves a beautiful quantity of element from the treble and mid-range frequencies. There’s much less bass energy for explosions, although, and the treble, whereas extra current, could sound piercing at instances. Imaging isn’t fairly as nuanced both, although it’s nowhere close to poor.

Design-wise, the HD 560S are loads comfy to put on for prolonged intervals. They don’t clamp down too arduous on these with large heads (like yours really), and the velour earpads hug your ears softly. The included cable is detachable, too. The plastic body doesn’t really feel as sturdy or premium because the DT 900 Professional X, nevertheless, so that you gained’t need to chuck them round haphazardly. It gained’t block a lot exterior noise both, nor will it stop these round you from listening to what you are enjoying. Nonetheless, the HD 560S is a pleasure and an incredible worth.

Finest headphones for gaming beneath $50: Koss KSC75

Should you can’t spend greater than $50, it’s nonetheless arduous to prime the Koss KSC75. It prices $20, however judging purely on audio high quality, it’s higher than some headphones priced nearer to $100. This pair may be very clearly devoid of deep bass, so that you gained’t get that full-bodied oomph from in-game results. You additionally will not hear all of the intricate particulars you’d choose up with the pricier headphones above. However it locates sounds precisely and its open design offers it an actual sense of width. It’s an outstanding worth for aggressive play.

The catch is that it’s constructed like a set of free airline headphones. The KSC75 has an odd clip-on design that, whereas light-weight, gained’t be a cushty match for everybody. It definitely appears prefer it prices $20, although Koss backs it with a lifetime warranty that primarily enables you to get limitless replacements for $9 every. Even when the KSC75 are pushing 20 years previous, its sound stays comparatively well-balanced and significantly well-suited for gaming.

Finest gaming headset: Astro A40 TR

Should you will need to have a devoted gaming headset with a built-in mic, contemplate the Astro A40 TR. One other open-back pair, it has a extra spacious soundstage than typical for the class – although it isn’t on par with higher non-gaming headphones – and it usually localizes sounds appropriately. This profile emphasizes the bass, giving explosions a clean and satisfying thump, however it doesn’t overdo it like many different headsets marketed towards gaming.

The sound right here remains to be a step behind the DT 900 Professional X or HD 560S, particularly for on-line shooters, because the pushed upper-bass and lower-mids can blunt finer particulars a bit extra. Footsteps often gained’t sound as clear. However in comparison with most gaming headsets, the A40’s profile is best balanced, and it does effectively to envelop you within the sounds of a busy scene.

Consolation shouldn’t be a difficulty, both. The A40 is on the bulkier facet, however its weight is evenly distributed and doesn’t clamp down overly arduous. The fuzzy earpads are smooth and breathable, whereas the earcups are roomy sufficient to suit bigger ears. The headset has the standard open-back shortcomings, although: It leaks a bunch of sound and blocks virtually zero exterior noise. The design appears “gamer-y,” too, and there’s no built-in quantity management. The entire thing is generally product of plastic, although it doesn’t come off as flimsy.

The A40’s mic, in the meantime, is simply OK. It picks up background noises when you chat, and voices sound considerably muffled. It’s serviceable however you’d purchase the A40 for its sound high quality first. The mic isn’t removable both, however you possibly can simply flip it up and out of the way in which.

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The A40 has been round for 4 years now, however its worth has come down from $150 to a extra affordable $130 in that point. Astro sells an non-obligatory DAC with additional controls for $130, however at that worth we’d strongly advise shopping for a great “regular” headphone and exterior mic.

Finest funds gaming headset: HyperX Cloud Stinger 2

You gained’t discover a good open-back gaming headset beneath $50, so should you’re on a decent funds and require a built-in mic, you’ll need to compromise on sound high quality. With that in thoughts, the HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 is an honest purchase at its typical road worth of $40. Its mic belies that low worth, making voices sound comparatively clear and correct. Actually, it’s a transparent step-up from the Astro A40. It’s not removable however it’s versatile and routinely mutes while you slide it out of the way in which. This pair additionally will get the consolation half proper, because the pleather earcups don’t clamp down arduous and have sufficient smooth padding the place it counts.

The Cloud Stinger 2 has a V-shaped sound profile, which is to say it exaggerates the bass and treble whereas recessing the mid-range. It’s not dangerous for what it’s, and it’ll positively give motion scenes a heavy sense of influence. However the upper-bass is pushed to the purpose the place it could get tiring over time, and also you lose a few of the superb particulars you’d hear on a extra natural-sounding headphone. Since this can be a low-cost closed-back headset, the Cloud Stinger 2 additionally doesn’t sound almost as extensive because the pairs above, neither is it as nuanced about positioning sounds precisely. It’s lower than splendid for aggressive video games in consequence, although it might probably nonetheless sound “enjoyable” with many different titles.

Past that, the build-quality and plastic design feels cheap-ish, it doesn’t block a lot exterior noise regardless of being closed-back and its cable isn’t detachable. Nonetheless, you need to choose your battles on this worth vary. The Cloud Stinger 2 is flawed, however it does sufficient effectively sufficient to be a great headset for a sure kind of individual.

A fast PSA on wi-fi gaming headsets

Most individuals don’t want a wi-fi gaming headset. PS5 and Xbox Sequence X/S consoles have a headphone jack constructed into their controllers, and it is nonetheless available on the Nintendo Swap and most gaming PCs. The price of an OK wi-fi mannequin is often greater than the price of a comparable wired gaming headset, and for the cash you typically worsen audio high quality and a much less clear microphone on the wi-fi variations. You additionally threat introducing points with latency. The latter is why non-gaming Bluetooth headphones are a no-go right here.

Finest wi-fi gaming headset: HyperX Cloud Alpha Wi-fi

Should you actually desire a wi-fi headset – say, in case your gaming PC is located on the far finish of your desk – it’s best to search for a pair that makes the “wi-fi” a part of the equation rather less obvious. The HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless does this because of its absurdly lengthy battery life. HyperX charges it at 300 hours, however we have been capable of squeeze out a pair dozen extra at average volumes. iFixit did a helpful teardown should you’re curious as to how that is attainable, however it’s not a stretch to say one cost right here may final you months of play time.

The sound right here is typical of many gaming headsets: barely V-shaped, with overemphasized bass that may make sport results sound thrilling however typically presents footsteps and finer particulars with much less readability. As a closed-back headphone, it additionally gained’t sound as spacious or pure because the extra open pairs above. (Wi-fi gaming headsets with an open-back design are nearly nonexistent.) It’s not dangerous by wi-fi gaming headset requirements, and it usually locations sounds in the correct place; it’s simply not tuned or designed as optimally as a pair just like the Astro A40.

The headset itself is comfy to put on for hours at a time, with plush padding that doesn’t really feel too tight, although the fake leather-based materials on the earpads could make your ears really feel mildly heat. All the pieces is sturdy, and the scarf is properly versatile. The growth mic can also be superb, although that’s relative to different wi-fi headsets. It cancels out background noise effectively and retains voices legible, however they gained’t sound as crisp or full-bodied as they could possibly be on wired headphones with good mics. It is higher than the A40, although.

A phrase of warning: Don’t trouble with HyperX’s companion software program. Whereas you need to use the corporate’s Ngenuity app to customise the headset’s EQ and activate a DTS:X encompass sound function, several users have reported that this introduces noticeable latency, and HyperX doesn’t look to be fixing it. Should you actually need these options, use a third-party EQ app and the spatial audio instruments constructed into Windows and the PS5. By default, the included USB dongle gives a gentle wi-fi connection.

The opposite caveat is that the Cloud Alpha Wi-fi solely works with PCs and PlayStation consoles, or a Swap whereas docked. It can also’t join over a cable or Bluetooth. Should you’re on the lookout for a reliable different for Xbox, we notice just a few suggestions under.

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Finest premium wi-fi gaming headset: Audeze Maxwell

The Audeze Maxwell isn’t an incredible worth at $299 (or $329 for the Xbox mannequin), however should you’ve acquired money to burn, it’s a wi-fi headset with genuinely spectacular sound and mic high quality. Its planar-magnetic drivers do effectively reproducing smaller intricacies in a given scene, and its default signature is sort of a extra refined model of the widespread “gaming headset” sound. Bass is clean and impactful however not bloated, whereas highs are crisp however not overly sharp. Some results within the mids can sound skinny, and as this can be a closed-back headset, it might probably’t present the identical immersive width and exact imaging because the open-back fashions above. Sarcastically, it could be higher for music than video games. Nonetheless, for a wi-fi headset, it’s unusually nice and detailed. Audeze’s app contains a number of EQ presets as effectively.

Equally, the Maxwell’s removable growth mic is a standout. It does an outstanding job of muting background noise, and whereas voices lose some air, they nonetheless sound clearer and fuller than on most wi-fi headsets we’ve examined.

The Maxwell is on the cumbersome facet, and its headband makes use of an odd suspension mechanism that successfully isn’t adjustable with out taking the headset off. The squishy padded ear cups will probably make your ears really feel heat, however they preserve the headset comfy and isolate a good quantity of out of doors noise. The high-end design additionally feels substantial, with the scarf constructed from metal. The important controls are constructed into the left earcup, and the system can join over Bluetooth or a 3.5mm cable along with a USB-C wi-fi dongle. You’ll be able to even pair with two gadgets directly, one over the dongle and one other over Bluetooth. The headset must be powered on to be able to play music over a cable, nevertheless.

Audeze charges the Maxwell’s battery life at roughly 80 hours, although you may get lower than that should you play at excessive volumes or use options like Bluetooth or sidetone closely. Whereas this could’t contact the Cloud Alpha Wi-fi, it’s nonetheless a lot better than most wi-fi headsets.

Different notable gaming headsets

Logitech's G535 wireless gaming headset rests on top of a wicker chair on a patio outdoors.
Photograph by Jeff Dunn / Engadget

SteelSeries Arctis Nova Professional

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro is overpriced at $250, and it might probably make greater frequencies sound harsh, however its bass and mids are good, it’s tremendous comfy and its retractable mic is noticeably clearer than the Astro A40’s. Its included DAC can also be helpful, letting you modify the headset’s EQ and sport/chat combine. However whereas the closed-back design is mildly higher at blocking exterior noise, it gained’t present the identical sense of width because the A40.

SteelSeries Arctis Nova Professional Wi-fi

SteelSeries additionally sells a wireless version of the Nova Professional, which usually retails between $300 and $350. The Audeze Maxwell will sound higher to most, however that is probably its closest competitor and it has helpful bonus options like the power to connect with a number of gaming gadgets concurrently (with the Xbox mannequin) and hot-swap battery packs.

SteelSeries Arctis Nova Professional 7X

Should you want a wi-fi different to the Cloud Alpha Wi-fi for Xbox, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X ought to work. It’s one other bass-forward pair, and its mic is corresponding to the one on Cloud Alpha Wi-fi. Like the opposite Nova fashions, it gives a number of connectivity choices, together with Bluetooth and a 3.5mm cable. And whereas it is marketed for the Xbox, it might probably additionally hook up with PCs and PS5s. Its 30 or so hours of battery life are effectively in need of the Cloud Alpha Wi-fi, although, and its sound signature could make the treble sound considerably wonky.

HyperX Cloud Alpha

The wired HyperX Cloud Alpha is commonly on sale for $80 or much less, and at that worth it’s an honest center floor between the Cloud Stinger 2 and Astro A40 should you completely want a closed-back gaming headset. It’s previous, however its plush earpads and headband stay comfortable, and its removable mic, whereas not excellent, remains to be higher than Astro’s pair. Its treble is underemphasized, nevertheless, and once more it sounds extra “in your head” than the A40.

Logitech G535

The Logitech G535 is an impressively gentle (236g) and cozy wi-fi headset that’s typically obtainable for $100. It has a extra impartial sound signature than the Cloud Alpha Wi-fi and Arctis Nova 7X: not flat, however much less beholden to large, thumping bass. It will possibly make mid-range particulars sound skinny, and if something it may use just a little extra sub-bass, however it’s an agreeable listening expertise general. It will possibly additionally join over Bluetooth. Nonetheless, its mic offers up some fullness in comparison with the Cloud Alpha Wi-fi (which already wasn’t excellent), and its 30-ish hours of battery life are a large drop-off. Plus, it doesn’t work with Xbox, and it surprisingly forces you to crank the amount to achieve a listenable stage. However should you don’t need to spend a ton on a wi-fi headset, it’s one of the best of the $100-and-under choices we examined.

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