Have you walked into a retail store lately and looked at the gaming headset section? It can be downright intimidating. So many boxes housing a huge variety of models from a significant number of different brands. Do you go for wired or wireless headphones? Which version will work with Xbox, and which ones will work with PS4 or other platforms? Do you want something that feels sturdy or lightweight? How particular are you about sound quality or surround sound? Should I get headphones that use Bluetooth?
The most important thing to keep in mind when looking for the best gaming headset is latency, that is, the delay between 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.
Bluetooth wireless headphones are generally good enough, but will, in most cases, usually suffer from some latency. 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.
Quick look: Best Gaming Headsets
Best Gaming Headset – Budget Wireless
PlayStation Gold Wireless Headset
|The Good||The Bad|
|+ Very lightweight, minimal, and comfortable||– Not exceptionally durable, somewhat on the flimsy side|
|+ Competent audio quality||– PS4 sound profiles are very limited|
|+ Wired 3.5mm jack option is handy|
|+ Works on PC and Switch too|
If you’re looking for an affordable wireless 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.
The headset itself 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–The headset and its virtual surround sound mode work on PC and Nintendo Switch (docked) 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
|The Good||The Bad|
|+ Great, hard-wearing build quality and design||– Lacks some small common conveniences|
|+ Exceptional audio quality and dynamic range|
|+ Unprecedented 100-hour battery life|
|+ The volume dial is incredibly satisfying to use|
|+ Comprehensive software|
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 lacks 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 earcup 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
|The Good||The Bad|
|+ A very airy and lightweight build that still feels durable||– The USB dongle is cumbersome|
|+ Impressively large wireless range|
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 (PC)
|The Good||The Bad|
|+ Exceptional audio quality||– Exposed wires make me nervous|
|+ Very strong and lightweight build||– PC Only|
|+ Comes with spare earpads|
Japanese company Audio-Technica is very well regarded in the audiophile world (and in my heart), being responsible for the deservedly prolific MX50 studio headphones, as well as the clip-on earphones worn by the protagonist of Persona 3. The ATH-G1WL is their only wireless option in their gaming headset range, and it’s an incredibly niche product–it’s at a high-end price point, and it’s only compatible with PC, though it also come in a more affordable wired version (the ATH-G1, RRP $169 USD) which is naturally more universal.
If you happen to fit that niche, however, the G1WL is an incredible option. The sound quality you get from them is excellent with amazing clarity and incredible dynamic range, especially for a wireless audio device. The build is tangibly strong and lightweight–a mostly metal construction helps greatly with that, as does the breathable cloth earpads (a set of replacements are also graciously included). We found its advertised 15-hour battery life to be pretty accurate, which is relatively good.
There are some minor quirks to weigh up though, which is annoying for a high-end product. I’m always paranoid that I’ll catch and pull on the exposed wires, for example, and the tiny volume dial, which you also push in to toggle surround sound, is a little finicky. But there are some niceties to counter those out–the microphone is very svelte and one of the best we tested (though the detachable nature will either please or annoy you) and the ability to monitor your own microphone input is a surprisingly handy feature, too.
Its inability to be used with another device is its biggest letdown, especially at its price point. But if you’re all-in on PC gaming, and you have the means to go all-in on the G1WL, then the extraordinary audio quality and lightweight nature will definitely impress.
- Price: $249 USD // $399 AUD
- Works On: PC only
Best Gaming Headset: High-End Wireless (Console)
ASTRO Gaming A50 Wireless + Base Station
|The Good||The Bad|
|+ Extremely comfortable and flexible build||– Minimal accessories/cable at this price range|
|+ Easy drop-in charging dock||– Limited volume range leaves a little to be desired|
|+ Includes 2-year license for Dolby Atmos Surround Sound|
|+ Robust EQ settings in Astro Command Center on PC|
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 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 PS4 and Xbox One.
- 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|
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
|The Good||The Bad|
|+ Solid, flexible build with its aluminium frame||– Virtual 7.1 surround still isn’t worth using in most cases|
|+ Great comfort with plush earpads and headband|
|+ Top-notch stereo sound quality|
|+ Good feature-set: detachable mic, on-hand bass adjustment, audio mixer|
HyperX has a whole roster of PC-based peripherals; it even has a line of SSDs and storage drives. However, its 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.
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 earpads take care of you for those long sessions (the earcups also provide a secure fit on your head, which helps with sound isolation).
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.
- Price: $130 USD // $229 AUD
- Works on: PC (USB and 3.5mm), any device with a 3.5mm jack