There are all kinds of gaming headsets right now, which makes finding the best gaming headset to keep you comfortable while gaming can be tough. Each pair of headphones boasts all kinds of key features, but which ones actually matter. Are there downsides to buying wireless? How universal is compatibility among headsets? How important are sound quality and surround sound audio? Can I tell from images whether a headset will be a comfortable fit? Should I get memory foam or something with fabric? What are planar magnetic drivers, and should I care? Are LED lights cool?
The most important thing to keep in mind when looking for the best gaming headset isn’t necessarily high-end audio latency–that is, the delay between the action happening on screen and the time it takes for the audio associated with that action to reach your ears. Naturally, when playing video games, especially action games that require quick reactions, you want the lowest possible latency. Depending on what your situation, you might also be looking for a good microphone to go along with good audio and low latency.
Bluetooth wireless headphones are generally good enough but will, in most cases, usually suffer from some latency, but unless you’re looking for a truly professional gaming headset, that might not matter. Wireless gaming headsets, like the ones we’ve featured, will usually have their own proprietary dongle that uses a short-range wireless signal, which minimises the latency greatly. If you’re a massive stickler for best absolute best possible audio quality and latency however, you might want to stick to a purely wired solution.
We’re in a fortunate situation where we have the opportunity to try out a diverse range of different gaming headsets from various manufacturers. In this roundup, we’re highlighting some of our absolute favourites and giving you an idea of why they stand out from the rest. Aside from audio quality, we took comfort and build quality into consideration since those aspects are just as important. Our picks also exhibited traits or value propositions that really elevated them above the dozens of gaming headsets we considered.
If you’re looking for other accessories to round out your gaming setup, make sure to check out our picks for the best gaming mice, best gaming keyboards, and, if you’re a Nintendo fan, the best Nintendo Switch accessories you can buy right now.
Quick look: Best Gaming Headsets
Best Gaming Headset – Budget Wireless
PlayStation Gold wireless headset
- Very lightweight, minimal, and comfortable
- Competent audio quality
- Wired 3.5mm jack option is handy
- Works on PC and Switch too
- Not exceptionally durable, somewhat on the flimsy side
- PS4 sound profiles are very limited
If you’re looking for an affordable wireless stereo gaming headset, then the Sony Interactive Entertainment-branded Gold Wireless Headset is a very easy option to recommend. Its audio quality is competent and perfectly acceptable for all but the pickiest audio enthusiasts. The fact that it includes virtual 7.1 surround sound is a great inclusion at this price point, too.
This pair of headphones is incredibly lightweight, and wearing it on your head for long periods of time is far from an issue–attributes which make it great to use in conjunction with PlayStation VR. However, that comes at the cost of the build quality feeling a little on the flimsy side–I’m always afraid of breaking the hinge that connects the earcups to the band when adjusting them, and the control buttons feel brittle.
PlayStation also boasts the ability to equip game-specific sound profiles designed by the developers of said games, using the dedicated Headset App for PS4. However, these options are incredibly limited–only 12 are available at the time of writing. Three of them are MLB: The Show games.
These flaws don’t stop the Gold Headset from being a great value proposition, and there are other little perks too–using it as a surround sound gaming headset (through a virtual surround sound mode) on PC and Nintendo Switch (docked) works without extra setup or drivers as well, and it also features a 3.5mm audio jack to let you use the headset in wired form (cables included). This positive balance of cost and feature set means that I’m usually sizing-up other headsets in comparison to what the Gold Headset offers–using it as a gold standard, if you will.
- Price: $100 USD // $130 AUD
- Works On: PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch (Docked)
Best Gaming Headset – Build And Battery Life
Sennheiser GSP 370 wireless gaming headset
- Great, hard-wearing build quality and design
- Exceptional audio quality and dynamic range
- Unprecedented 100-hour battery life
- The volume dial is incredibly satisfying to use
- Comprehensive software
- Lacks some small common conveniences
Sennheiser has a storied reputation in the audiophile space, so it’s unsurprising that the company’s entries into the gaming headset space, including the GSP 370, feature top-tier audio quality with great clarity and punchy low frequencies. But on first impressions, it’s surprising to see what the mid-range GSP 370 wireless gaming headphones lack compared to models from gaming-focused brands. There are few physical buttons, meaning no chat volume control, no sound mode toggles–just a power switch and a volume wheel. There isn’t even any kind of tone or aural indication that you’ve correctly switched the headset on (you need to check the coloured LED).
However, the GSP 370 is an exceptionally-built piece of hardware. Its adjustable hard-plastic shell feels incredibly durable and cleverly weighted to put zero pressure on the headband when resting on a surface. The foam pads and headband padding help keep it feeling snug and comfortable for long durations. Special mention needs to be given to the large volume knob on the side of the right earcup, which is exceptionally satisfying to use–it has a light amount of resistance and ratchets with soft clicks as you turn it, which is incredibly pleasing. The overall design is wonderfully minimal–almost industrial or brutal–looking and feeling like something a Mechwarrior pilot would be wearing.
Its battery life is also downright astounding. Sennheiser boasts 100 hours, which is believable considering it was more than two weeks before I had to plug them in for a charge. And while the lack of physical buttons means you’re required to use Sennheiser’s Gaming Suite software to adjust things like surround settings (which can be annoying if you need to Alt-Tab out of a PC game) it also gives you easy access to a bunch of comprehensive options like equalisation sliders, presets, sound tests, microphone enhancements, and firmware updates.
- Price: $200 USD // $300 AUD
- Works On: PC, PS4, Switch (Docked)
Best Gaming Headset – Lightweight Mid-Range
Plantronics RIG 700 HX/HS/HD
- A very airy and lightweight build that still feels durable
- Impressively large wireless range
- The USB dongle is cumbersome
Plantronics, weirdly enough, began as a company making headsets for pilots and astronauts in the 1960s. Their current RIG gaming headsets have been a favourite of mine over the last few years because of their lightweight builds–they sport incredibly flexible plastic headbands which you can bend and twist to your heart’s content (they’re also modular and customisable, if you’re into that), as well as very breathable cloth earcups that keep your ears cool at the cost of some sound leakage.
It’s not without its quirks, however. The Plantronics wireless range uses a USB dongle that is quite large in size (about 6x6cm box, with a cord just shy of 1m)–especially compared with the thumbstick-sized receivers of competing brands. The receiver also has a weirdly long USB cord attached, but on the upside, the HS (PS4) and HD (PC) models support optical audio from your device and the RIG 700 exhibits an impressive wireless range of about 10 meters. It also features a detachable microphone design, which is great if you rarely use voice chat, but if not, it means that the mute function is relegated to a dedicated button, which is more of an effort than the common “flip mic up to mute” design.
It boasts a 12-hour battery life, which seemed more or less accurate during our tests, and the important thing is that you can feasibly wear a pair of these for 12 hours straight if you had to and be very comfortable. You could probably even go to the kitchen or use the bathroom without losing signal, too, and that’s actually pretty great.
- Price: $130 USD // $200 AUD
- Works On: Xbox + PC (HX), PS4 Only (HS), PC Only (HD)
Best Gaming Headset: High-End Wireless
- Incredible surround-sound audio quality enhances experiences
- Comfortable fit makes long sessions easy
- 30-hour battery life; charges securely via USB-C
- Low-latency 2.4 GHz wireless connection
- Microphone quality leaves a lot to be desired
Virtual surround sound isn’t always the best way to enjoy your favourite games, especially since so many effectively utilize in-game directional audio through stereo headphones. Of course, it’s hard to deny the immersion that true surround sound offers. Creative’s Super X-Fi technology attempts to bridge the gap between headphones and a surround sound system. In simple terms, Super X-Fi makes it sound like you’re listening to speakers outside of the headset and does so successfully without sacrificing the quality of your audio, which tends to be a problem with virtual surround sound. This effect makes the SXFI Theater an impressive headset when you’re listening to music or watching movies, but I found it particularly enhanced every game I played.
The Hiss’s droning chants in Control, explosions just missing me as I storm an objective in Battlefield 1, and even someone sneaking up on me as I snipe enemies in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare are all more pronounced and sound like they’re coming from speakers situated around me. This has made gameplay sessions a lot more exciting, but it’s also given me an edge in first-person shooters. Not only is it easier to pinpoint which direction a noise is coming from, but the audio quality is excellent. Hearing someone to your left is enough to tell you the direction in which a sound is travelling, but being able to clearly hear that your enemy is walking on wood with some slight reverb tells you that they’re running through the container to your left. This has proven endlessly useful, especially in modes like battle royale or Modern Warfare’s Gunfight, where getting the upper hand on an enemy before they flank you is of utmost importance.
The audio quality is incredible, but the downside of the SXFI Theater is its microphone. Your teammates are able to hear you perfectly fine, but your voice will sound compressed. Even considering how much better the audio quality is, this is a little disappointing, as headphones at half the price of the SXFI Theater–such as the HyperX Cloud II–feature a better-sounding microphone. Of course, this isn’t something you’ll ever notice if your friends don’t mention it to you or you try to use it for streaming and recording your sessions, so the importance the microphone quality plays depends on how you’re going to use it.
The SXFI Theater is a fantastic gaming headset, despite its microphone woes. The Super X-Fi surround-sound technology is the stand-out feature and has made the Theater my go-to headset for all of my gaming sessions. If you’re looking for an awesome audio experience to accompany your gameplay, then the SXFI Theater will not disappoint.
- Price: $200 USD
- Works On: PS4, PC, Mac, and Nintendo Switch (Docked)
Best Gaming Headset: High-End Wireless (Console)
ASTRO Gaming A50 Wireless + Base Station
- Extremely comfortable and flexible build
- Easy drop-in charging dock
- Includes 2-year license for Dolby Atmos Surround Sound
- Robust EQ settings in Astro Command Center on PC
- Minimal accessories/cable at this price range
- Limited volume range leaves a little to be desired
Astro has a reputation for making some of the most comfortable gaming headsets around, and the A50s are no exception. The latest version of this flashy wireless, surround sound headset is very well-padded, both around the ear cups and underneath the head strap, making for a plush fit that’s borderline luxurious. Considering that this is coming from an editor with an unusually large dome, trust me: the A50s are one of the most comfortable gaming headsets I’ve worn, and though the padding plays a large part in that, so too does the flexible rubberized plastic used for the headband.
In addition to feeling good in action, the A50s also have an unusually slick charging method: a simple drop-in charging dock. Though you can charge the headset directly using a Micro-USB cable, the dock is way more convenient and it has a display on the front to indicate how far along your charge is. Once it’s fully charged, expect roughly 15 hours of use. The dock also shows you which of the three EQ settings you’re currently using, and whether or not the virtual surround sound mode is active. The standard EQ options are fairly basic, but if you connect the dock’s USB cable to your PC–where the headset itself is also supported–you can use the Astro Command Center to tinker with the EQ profiles to your heart’s desire. While the A50s sound very good out of the box, a little time spent in the Command Center is necessary to get the most out of these cans.
Any gaming headset that costs $300 will come under great scrutiny. For all of its high-end materials, the considered design of the headset, and the impressive (and useful) charging dock, the A50s feel like a premium product–but there’s still some room for improvement. The volume level gets reasonably high, but if you value cranking the volume beyond the point of reason, you’ll be left wanting with the A50s. In terms of pack-ins, the included cables (one Micro-USB and one optical cable) are adequate, but with optical passthrough, auxiliary analog input (3.5mm stereo) and an additional USB port for charging, it would have been great to see a few more cables thrown in to ensure you’re ready to roll, no matter your setup. That said, the A50s are still an impressive set that will almost assuredly be an upgrade for your console (and PC) gaming experience. Just make sure you pick the right one, as there are individual models for the PS4 and Xbox headsets. All around, this is a near pair of headphones perfect for wireless gaming.
- Price: $300 USD // $500 AUD
- Works on: PS4 and PC, or Xbox One and PC
Best Gaming Headset – Earbuds
Razer Hammerhead True Wireless
|The Good||The Bad|
|+ Low-latency gaming mode works as advertised||– Battery life falls short of current standards|
|+ Surprisingly strong bass response|
|+ Robust gesture controls|
|+ Case charges via USB-C|
- Low-latency gaming mode works as advertised
- Surprisingly strong bass response
- Robust gesture controls
- Case charges via USB-C
- Battery life falls short of current standards
Razer’s Hammerhead True Wireless earbuds are compact and well-priced against Apple’s comparable Air Pods ($159.00), and thanks to some pre-emptive work by Razer, they are also better suited for gaming. To combat the small-but-noticable lag that tends to plague Bluetooth headphones, Razer has introduced a game-specific mode for the Hammerheads that actually does a great job of eliminating the issue, making them well-worth considering if you’re interested in something truly portable.
Gaming mode is activated via an iOS or Android app that also serves to configure the Hammerheads’ gesture-control inputs. The Razer logo on the exterior has a touch sensor that supports numerous tap and gesture commands.
While they can’t compare to more robust headsets, the Hammerheads sound very good for their form factor, with strong bass response being the standout quality. The buds’ batteries last close to three hours of use on a single charge, and the included case provides four full recharges on a single charge of its own.
It’s also great to see both an exterior charging light and a USB-C connection on the case. These features help round out an already great product that feels like its outperforming its price tag. If you value flexibility and are looking for something compact, odds are you’ll be happy with Razer’s first stab at wireless gaming earbuds.
- Price: $100 USD // $140 AUD
- Works on: PC, PS4, Mobile
Best Gaming Headset: All-Round, Wired
HyperX Cloud Alpha S
- Solid, flexible build with its aluminum frame
- Great comfort with plush earpads and headband
- Top-notch stereo sound quality
- Good feature-set: detachable mic, on-hand bass adjustment, audio mixer
- Virtual 7.1 surround still isn’t worth using in most cases
HyperX has a whole roster of PC-based peripherals; it even has a line of SSDs and storage drives. However, its surround sound gaming headsets, in particular, stand out. While HyperX offers choice in multiple price tiers and different feature sets, the flagship wired model, the Cloud Alpha S, is the best in its class. The Cloud Alpha S is an updated version of the original Cloud Alpha that adds a number of quality-of-life features for audio customization and virtual 7.1 surround sound, making it a better experience overall.
While those added features sure are nice, the basics are what make the Cloud Alpha S worth its asking price. Its firm, solid build makes it so that the headset never feels like it’ll come apart, regardless of how you’re handling it, which can be attributed to the strong aluminum frame. This makes it easy to flex when putting them on or taking them off. The stitched upholstery looks neat, and the cushioning underneath provides comfort atop your head. And when it comes to comfort, the plushy leather-like memory foam pads provide much-needed comfort for those long PC gaming sessions (the earcups also provide a secure fit on your head, which helps with sound isolation). It’s a got noise cancelling mic, too, which means the sound of your voice will come in nice and clear, even if you happen to have your first-person shooter of choice blaring on your speakers as well as your headset (shame on you!).
Of course, we wouldn’t recommend this as one of the best gaming headsets if it didn’t sound good. Both games and music come through clear with mids, highs and bass never sounding muddled. Even at high volumes, any distortion was largely unnoticeable. The bass adjustment slider is a nice option to have on hand as well as a chat/game audio mixer. Since this is a wired headset, you can use it on any device that has a 3.5mm audio port, though you will need to use the packaged USB DAC if you want to get 7.1 and audio mixing features on PC. Virtual 7.1 surround still isn’t all that great, as it sounds a bit artificial, and the same holds true here. One thing to note for those who really want to tweak their EQ levels: there currently isn’t any software to mix audio.
With so many wireless options on the market, recommending a wired headset can be tough, but HyperX’s Cloud Alpha Sticks almost every box when it comes to things you’d expect from one. And since it uses a standard 3.5mm jack, it has pretty widespread compatibility, too.
- Price: $130 USD // $229 AUD
- Works on: PC (USB and 3.5mm), any device with a 3.5mm jack