A pair of headphones with a red wavy line in the middle.

How to choose a Gaming Headset

My first experience with true gaming sound came when I got Dead Island in 2011. I pre-ordered the pack that came with the Turtle Beach X12 gaming headset and it changed how I played. I used to get by on using ordinary earphones and the speakers on the TV. But this headset changed everything. The clarity of audio meant that I could hear every little zombie creeping up on me and had a huge advantage in multiplayer games. The bass boost was amazing and the quality of the audio and microphone were fantastic. Gaming headsets can help you hear things others might not, including enemy footsteps, altering your gaming performance. A good gaming headset does not come cheap so if you can't afford it, stick with what you have until you can get something great. There are some good cheap headsets out there however so we will look at them later. Let's first check out what you need to look for in a gaming headset.

Ergonomics - a Gaming Headsets best friend

If you're gaming for a long time you want a headset that will be comfortable for the whole time.

Gamers wear their headsets for long periods of time so they have to be as comfy as possible. If they're too heavy, the user will start getting headaches or neck pain. Ear cups or pads aren't comfy? Gamers will be constantly adjusting and saving up for their next pair of headphones asap. You need to look for a lightweight pair of headphones that have a good cup or pad for your ear. Many gamers will prefer a cup over their ear to help cancel out outside noise so there is a wide variety of ear cup sizes out there for you to try. A lot of gaming headsets now go for a long oval design to try and fit every size of ear out there. Checking the fit and feel is the most important step so get down to your local JB Hi Fi if you can or check the user ratings on the headset you're getting.

Should I be all about that Bass?

Music nowadays is all about the build up to a crazy bass drop. Gaming headsets have also moved towards more bass for the user as well as other audio perks. Bass boosting is nothing new but helps the gamers feel more immersed in any scenario. Having a loud thud in your ear as a bullet is shot or a foot hits the ground helps you know the environment better. Some gaming headsets now come with active noise cancelling as well. Sennheiser, some of the best in the audio business, have the PC350 SE headset for your noise cancelling, gaming headset needs.  Maybe you want a headset that can do it all, PC gaming, console gaming, EQ settings, modifications, and more. Astro A40 TR and Mixamp is the package for all those needs. This gaming headset is just phenomenal and compatible with PC, Mac and your choice of PS4 or Xbox One compatibility. Perfect for chat in multiplayer games on the PlayStation Network or over Xbox Live.

Wireless Gaming Headset technology

The Astro A50 wireless gaming headset looks sleek, has great audio quality, and all without the hassle of cables.

In the previous gaming PC articles I have been all about choosing wired technology over wireless. Latency issues with wireless keyboards and mouses are just so high so it's better to stay connected for the precision. With headsets, however, wireless technology has come a long way and is extremely viable. Cord management can be a big problem so having wireless functionality on your headset can really help. Although wireless technology does make these headsets a couple pennies more, you can still find some great deals. The Corsair VOID wireless gaming headset can be found around the $100-$150 mark and has some great features coupled with good quality sound. If you want the best wireless gaming headset out though, everyone recommends the SteelSeries Siberia 800. Sound quality, range, comfort, and performance are tied with the best but what puts it above is it's battery management. The headset comes with two batteries, one to power the gaming headset and one to have on charge and change to once the other runs out of juice. It's the little things that really matter.

Gaming Speaker systems

There's one big reason people prefer to get a headset for their gaming setup over a speaker system. Team chat, a staple for any MMO fan. While it's great to have good speakers for a party, your gaming buddies won't want to hear themselves repeated through your huge speakers. However, if you only really play single player games or want to use the system more for social events at your house, then here's what I've found for you. If you want to really splash out and get the best than the Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 speaker set is for you. The sub is small but very powerful and the speakers look sleek while outputting amazing sound. With volume and sub control on the speaker itself as well as compatibility with TV's, consoles, and other audio devices through it's audio jack, this little set has all your needs in one place. If you're after a much cheaper set, Logitech has your back with the Z313 2.1ch speaker set. Definitely not the greatest sound or amount of control but really darn good at that price.

Cheap Gaming Headsets

Closeup shot of Logitech G430 gaming headset.
The Logitech G430 gaming headset is one I personally recommend and it comes at a great price.

If you really don't have at least $50 spare for a headset then I recommend that you wait. You can get some headsets at a cheap price but chances are they will have terrible audio and physical quality. We will be looking at a bit higher quality but a lower price range with everything under $100. Let's start with something I recently picked up and has been wonderful so far, the Logitech G430 gaming headset. The around ear cups are super comfy and the headset is very light weight. The microphone is easy to maneuver and the audio quality is great considering the price range. You are getting some great sound for a starter headset. Rated 5 stars on PartPicker, the Cooler Master STORM PULSE-R gaming headset comes in at a great price. It comes with a lot of cool features as well including mic lighting to show whether you're muted or not. Another great gaming headset to enjoy on a budget.

Insane Headsets

My favourite part is too always look at what ridiculous stuff I could get if many wasn't an obstacle. The world of headphones has plenty of outrageous products out there to help or enhance your experience. Maybe you have a friend over and want to play games together. But the neighbours just had a baby so you can't be loud. Time to crack out your matching Wearhaus Arc bluetooth headphones. These headsets allow you to send sound to multiple units at one time from one source, meaning you can all listen to the same game with separate headsets. VR has allowed us to feel more immersed than ever in video games. However they still don't give us the feeling of being in a game. The KOR FX can get you more immersed with their use of vibrations. Strap this bad boy on to your chest and feel the thundering bass sounds of your machine gun as you mow down your enemies. Check out what Lew from Unbox Therapy though of this piece below.

Which gaming headset should I get?

Hopefully I've helped you better understand what to look for when buying your next gaming headset. There is a whole lot of technical details we could go in to but it's a lot to understand. As always, the best option is to try everything before you buy. This rings more true with headphones as the wrong set can put strain on your head, one of the most important parts of the body. Just get out there and try on whatever you can to find the perfect fit and sound for you.