Companion of all games, headsets are among the most essential accessories for those who love gaming as they are as essential as a good mouse and keyboard.
Choosing an inferior peripheral can completely hamper your gaming performance, especially when it comes to competitive first-person shooter titles where every move needs to be heard and tracked.
Can you imagine winning a CS:GO match without being able to see where the shots are coming from? That’s why we show you all the details you need to consider when buying your gaming headset.
We talk about the most important aspects, from the type of connection to the issue of sound quality and the famous 7.1.
New Corsair Virtuoso wireless headset
How to choose a good gaming headset
The first thing you need to do when looking for a headset is to determine which platforms you want to use the headset on.
The PC is without a doubt the most democratic: it accepts practically all types of connections and models on the market, even allowing the installation of specific drivers and software to customize the sound equalization.
PCs accept almost any type of connection
P2 connector headsets are very traditional and compatible with Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC controller jacks, but depend on the amplification quality of your gear.
USB-connected headsets have their own amplification systems, but you need to check their compatibility with PS4 and Xbox One. In this regard, there is no better or worse option, only the one that best suits your needs.
If you don’t have a good sound card in your PC or if you have components that generate a lot of noise (such as graphics cards and power supplies with coil whine problems), the USB solution may be more interesting, since it often works in a more isolated way, creating unwanted noise be avoided.
HyperX Cloud Flight Headset, compatible with consoles and PC (Image: HyperX)
Sound quality is (almost) everything!
The factor that can make the biggest difference when choosing a gaming headset is the sound quality. Look for models with sound drivers capable of producing distortion-free audio even at high volumes.
It is important that the audio has an appropriate degree of separation to allow differentiation between different in-game actions.
Be careful with only prioritizing the serious
At this point, a very common mistake is to favor models that overload the bass. Some of them may sound more “powerful” or even funnier because of the vibrations, but the truth is that in games balance has to prevail.
Excessive bass can muddle frequencies and end up affecting your ability to distinguish the direction of noise.
Sennheiser GSP 670 headset audio driver (Image: Sennheiser)
Software and the Myth of 7.1
Speaking of sound and positioning, one of the big selling points of many models is the presence of 7.1 surround sound systems, virtual or real, as in the case of the Razer Tiamat 7.1.
There’s software like Dolby Atmos and DTS Sound that actually seem to improve spatial awareness. Unfortunately, most 7.1 solutions on the market deliver a result far below expectations, which hurts the overall sound quality.
The Linus Tech Tips team tested multiple models and solutions and measured how well players performed with each one. See below:
As you can see, the Razer Tiamat was the only true 7.1 model, and it sucked in terms of sound accuracy. Therefore, many experts say that investing in a great pair of stereo headphones capable of delivering clear sound is better than investing in inferior 7.1 solutions.
Comparison chart showing the accuracy of players with different headset models
Comfort for long gaming sessions
The best sound in the world is useless if you can’t operate the devices comfortably. A good gaming headset should have enough adjustment options to perfectly fit the shape of your head.
Some models are equipped with rotating cups that ensure a better fit. Even if you choose a fixed model, appreciate the ability to adjust the size of the bow.
Lightweight headphones are best for preventing fatigue
Another factor is weight: a lightweight headset is ideal to avoid fatigue and muscle strain. Comfort is also due to the shape and material of the ear cushions.
They should be well padded without putting undue pressure on the ears – otherwise they can even cause headaches.
The over-the-ear format is the most common in gaming headsets. In them, the cups touch your head and don’t press on your ears. Whatever the headset, it’s always interesting to look for a physical store to personally test the gear.
Logitech G933 Wireless Artemis Spectrum Headset (Image: Logitech)
When we talk about online and competitive gaming, the quality of communication is crucial. A good headset with a microphone should be able to pick up your voice and transmit it to the rest of the crew without distortion, in high quality and in the most natural way possible.
Prefer models with flexible settings, or at least vertical. This is absolutely necessary to avoid breathing sounds. Another point to consider is the type of microphone capsule. Some models are directional, aimed directly at your mouth.
Not only do they make speech easier to understand, but they also avoid capturing other sounds like mouse clicks and keystrokes, especially if you normally play with mechanical keyboards.
Sound Insulation: Open or Closed?
Another important point that raises doubts when choosing a headset is the difference between the open and closed back models. The open backs are hollow, allowing outside noise to pass through to your ears.
They tend to be more comfortable, not only because of the lack of that feeling of isolation, but also because of their breathability, which doesn’t overheat your ears.
Another trend with open models is to present a larger soundstage due to the problem of sound dispersion, which can help with spatial positioning in a match.
Do you play in noisy environments?
Due to the sound permeability, they are not suitable for noisy environments. They also emit more noise than the closed models, which can disturb anyone nearby.
The closed models are suitable for those who want greater soundproofing. They drown out outside noise and keep your attention on the game.
Especially in competitive titles where it is necessary to listen to the opponent’s every move, they can be the indicated option. It all depends on the environment you are playing in.
Sennheiser model demonstrating the difference between closed and open design
Wired or wireless, that is the question…
Some still view wireless peripherals with some prejudice and are afraid of data transmission delays.
However, modern solutions such as those adopted by brands such as Logitech, Corsair, HyperX, Sennheiser and Razer have a literally imperceptible difference in terms of cables.
What’s very common with wireless models is the compression of the audio quality picked up by the mic, making it a bit more “edgy” compared to wired models with good mics.
However, your biggest concern should be comfort. Consider the following factors:
- Wireless headphones give the gamer complete freedom, who can move around the room without getting tangled in cables and without the risk of snagging on them at crucial moments. However, these models are more expensive and require constant refilling. Battery life is also limited and may run out during gameplay.
- Wired headphones don’t require charging, are cheaper, and simply plug into your computer. However, they do not offer the same comfort and freedom when playing. They tend to have a much longer lifespan because they don’t rely on internal batteries.
Think again about what is most important to you.
Keep build quality in mind
In terms of durability, another aspect to consider is the build quality of the headset. Many of the models, especially in the lower price ranges, come with fragile parts, flimsy temples and fittings that can break at the first drop.
Pay attention to the thickness of the cables and the material used in covering the pads that come in contact with your head. There are some types of “leather” and fabric that peel off easily, making the experience a nightmare.
You’ve probably seen one of your headphones come off… (Image: Techscrew)
Some Sony models from the PlayStation Gold range have been quite famous for having this type of problem, in addition to constant bar breaks and other types of cracking.
To make the right choice, list everything you think is most important before you start searching. Try to inform yourself with reviews from other users who have had the product for a while.
Many of the stores, like Amazon, allow reviews to be updated, which are very important sources to inform the purchase.
Finally, set the stats and have fun buying excellent gear that will surely make a difference in your performance as a gamer.