Finding or sometimes choosing the best model of gaming headsets is never a mere walk in the park. For those just getting into gaming, it could even seem complicated and confusing. From the outside packaging, most headsets appear handy, efficient, and highly effective. But you should not be judging any ‘book’ by its cover.
As a serious gamer, you need a headset you can rely on for effective sound production. You need a model which produces top-notch well equalized sound and comes with lots of convenient user features. Ever since the launch of the very first gaming headset models, lots of subsequent models have come onto the market all with which have their own unique bells and whistles (e.g. wireless, detachable mics, etc.). All headsets aspire to bring us comfort and great clear-cut sound without the hassles, so that we can just focus on gaming.
If you already have your ‘best’ gaming headset, what criteria did you use when choosing it? Did a knowledgeable friend or reputable website recommend one to you? I’m sure most of you had your own criteria when you looked for a good headset. I know for me, it was over ear comfort, wired, and with decent sound reviews. When it comes to selecting the best gaming headset models there are some vital factors to look out for that could help guide you to the right one. Below are the top factors we could think of that you should keep an eye out for while shopping for your new headset.
1. Platform Considerations
The very first factor to consider when buying a headset is the platform you’ll be playing on. In other words, what console or PC system will be buying this headset for. Among the most common platforms are Xbox One, Mac, PC, and PlayStation 4. Compatibility is always key. The platform defines which type of headset model you will be using, and not all headsets work for all consoles. Look for the connector types, does it support USB or is just an audio 3.5 mm connector? Most USB headsets will work for consoles, but many of the 3.5 mm connectors won’t work for them. Pretty much everything works for PC (because they’re awesome).
2. Sound Quality
This is one of the top features to consider. High-quality sound is a ‘must-have’ feature for the best headset. Competitive gaming always feels more enjoyable when you perceive the gunshots, footsteps, and any other action’s sounds. It should produce 7.1 virtual surround sound, which no typical speaker sets would offer.
Most local shops will allow you to test out their models to confirm sound quality (e.g. Walmart has headsets on display for trialing), and it’s pretty fulfilling knowing what you’re buying is actually worth it. Online purchases however limit you to other customer’s reviews (though they can be helpful), you will also be able to review more detailed product specs and comparisons online.
How much comfort a gaming headset offers is really dependent on how long you plan on keeping it on your head (8 hours or so, am I right?). Those that provide well-equalized sounds and come with soft “over the ear”, yet holding ear cups tend to offer more comfort than others. If you’re like me and sometimes play for hours on end, the last thing you want is a super uncomfortable headset on your head as a distraction.
A rule of thumb for the best gaming headsets, if it’s intrusive or your ears hurt, then you got a bad pair. Best case scenario they should fit good on your head and be lightweight. The last thing you want is an heavy anvil resting on your head for 4, 6, or more hours of gaming. Size matters, sound quality matters, but so does your comfort.
If the games you like to play are mostly multiplayer, team based, or you’ve bought in this Battle Royal craze then you probably need to be able to communicate with your fellow teammates, that will require a headset with a solid microphone. Most gaming models today have decent mics, not the best, but they’ll get the job done in a sticky situation. The key is to look for a mice with noise cancellation technology, this will make so your friends will only hear you and not your cat, Mr. Fiddlesticks, trying to get your attention.
Most good headsets will come with software, or be designed in a way, that let’s you turn the mic and its features on and off. Some work by simply raising the mic’s boom arm to a vertical position, and it automatically switches off. You can do this when you don’t need chat or if it was getting in the way of some single player mayhem. A good mic may also come in handy for things other than gaming, if you do long distant Skype calls or want to start a podcast about a guy and his cat, a mic will help you do all that.
Besides the sleek and ergonometric design your ideal gaming headset should have, it still needs to be highly durable. When buying anything of importance, you want to know that you’re making a good investment and it will last the test of time. High-quality headset models tend to be built with more robust materials such as steel and aluminum, high-quality plastic for its structure and leather for its covering, especially the ear cups.
Headsets made with quality make materials tend to last much longer and stand up to beatings. While buying, make sure to look for reviews that mention durability, what are the headsets made out of, did they break shortly after purchase or did they last for long periods? I know from personal experience, the poorly built audio boxes tend to get stepped on, the leather straps over the cranium snap, and sometimes the mic breaks off. In the long run buying a headset with high durability today will save you the cost of buying another one in the short term.
6. Open or Closed?
Open headsets refers your ability to still hear sounds around you, this might be beneficial if you’re not playing anything too competitive or if you want to listen other sounds while playing (i.e. music of a Netflix show).
Closed headsets, on the other hand, are better for more competitive games (think Fortnite or PUBG), and will you better concentrate on the action at hand. Closed headsets have the best noise cancellation features, and do an amazing job blocking out surrounding sounds to keep you in the zone.
7. Wired or Wireless?
Depending on your gaming room set up, you can decide on whether to go for a wired or a wireless headset. A wired headset will mean that you will have to work with a variety of wires and ports to make a connection. The problem with this is that cables can get damaged, AUDIO BOXES can get stepped on, and you have generally more clutter in your room, with wires crisscrossing all over the place. Remember, wired headphones cables will only be so long and this may limit where you can sit while playing.
Wireless headsets, on the other hand, are quite efficient. You can use them anywhere you want, with no need to worry about extra cutter, or cable length. Wireless-only headsets will need a network connection, and you will need to charge them at least once a day. Look for models with cradles, this makes it super easy to plop the headset on it when you’re done with it. Some complain of sound quality loss over a wireless connection, pay attention to reviews to see if this is an often mentioned issue. All in all, most headsets have a great battery life, sound amazing, and are reliable for the long haul.
It is only with a high performing headset model that you will be able to fully enjoy gaming. A variety of headset models and brands exist, and your choice depends on some of the factors we mentioned, like which platform you’re using, the sound quality, what you find comfortable, best microphone, good durability, is the headset open or closed, or is it wired or wireless? While all these factors should play a role in the buying process of a great gaming headset, in reality it all comes down to personal preference. Which headset makes you feel good, which one helps you get your game-on, and which one doesn’t intrude on gaming experience? Consider the factors we’ve talked about before you buy, be prudent, do some research (e.g. read reviews, watch YouTube analysis videos), and maybe just maybe you’ll fine the best gaming headset for you.
What is your favorite headset so far? Which headset brands or models do you recommend from gaming sessions? Let us know in the comment section below.