This best-of is periodically updated to reflect recent availability. Last updated Sept. 17, 2013.
We could spend hours arguing the merits of a good gaming headset. They are easily one of the best accessories available for the Xbox 360, whether you’re a die-hard Halo devotee or just a casual gamer, ushering in a new era of sound quality and immersion that just wasn’t offered on consoles a decade ago. Although they may not be completely necessary, they represent the best option for those seeking to take Xbox Live chats and in-game strategy to the next level. Plus, they’re a terrific way to retain fantastic sound in those times when overly-sensitive neighbors are likely to come pounding on your door at an explosion’s notice (the nerve of them).
Here are our picks for the best Xbox 360 headsets. We didn’t say they were the cheapest available, but they’re undoubtedly some of the best and worthy of the investment. Also, check out our continually updated best headphones along with our choices for the best PS3 headsets and the overall best gaming headsets. For more in-depth reviews, take a look at our gaming headset and headphone review section.
Turtle Beach’s recent partnership with Microsoft for its upcoming console is on the horizon, but Nov. 22 isn’t here quite yet. It’s not surprising the XP Seven is the official licensed headset of the MLG Pro Circuit given its superb build quality and matching sound capabilities. The black-and-white construction is equally modest as it is practical, with soft leatherette ear cups and a rigid, leather-lined band, but it does take a few days to properly break in the headset and ease the default clamping force. The 50-mm drivers help produce clear, natural tones with incredible depth capable of honing in on all aspects of the sound landscape, while offering further customization options via the bundled, programmable digital signal processor (DSP). Bass too low? Crank it up. Treble too piercing? Turn it down. Preset switching is an absolute breeze once properly configured.
The XP Seven has it’s downfalls, such as the less-than-impressive virtual surround and lack of wireless options, but it remains one of our personal favorites for listening to a vast assortment of multimedia despite similarly-equipped offerings from Astro and Tritton. Check out our full, in-depth Turtle Beach Ear Force XP Seven review to find out why.
If you know anything about gaming headset, you know Turtle Beach is a household name and one the premiere manufactures of quality headsets across the price spectrum. The X12, with its equipped 50-mm speakers and customizable built-in amplifier, has long been heralded by tech companies and gaming publications as one of the best budget-based headsets years after its debut. The stiff plastic build is engineered to comfortably withstand normal abuse, along with the bundled 16-foot chord, and the additional microphone monitor for hearing yourself speak into the mic is a welcome addition we only wish could be included in more affordable, close-back headphones. The virtual surround sound isn’t top-notch, but it still provides the user with a keen sense of place and solid voice intelligibility, while the overall sound quality is outstanding considering the headset is actually reasonably priced for the lower-end consumer market.
We admit the X12 do not rival the aforementioned XP Seven in terms of sound, but you could almost purchase five pairs of them for the price of merely one of the higher-tiered options on our list. The in-line amp and coupled controls for adjusting game, bass and voice volume rest a bit closes to the head that we would like, but the positives far outweigh our minimal quibbles. Check out our Turtle Beach Ear Force X12 review to see for yourself.
Tritton Warhead 7.1 – $300
It appears qualms are kept to a minimal when you design a top-of-the-line gaming headset from the ground up exclusively for the Xbox 360. Tritton’s flagship offering is built like a rock, with comfortable faux leather noise-canceling earpads that fit like a luxurious glove and a battery life capable of lasting nearly 16 hours on a single charge. Although it never lives up to the Dolby Digital 7.1 surround it seeks, the virtual re-creation is superb for both in-game action and chat, while the straightforward pairing via the built-in Microsoft wireless chip more than makes up for the aforementioned drawback. Like many on our roundup, the headset also boasts an assorted myriad of equalizer presets for varied listening — all conveniently located on the back of the device for quick access — that make the already-sterling sound more pleasurable once levels have been properly adjusted for the particular sonic environment in which it’s being utilized.
Other Xbox headsets may surpass the Tritton Warhead 7.1 in one category or another, whether it be sound immersion or comfort, but it’s still arguably the most well-rounded gaming headset we’ve ever reviewed for the Xbox 360. The sound is exceptional regardless of your varied listening aesthetics, the one-button setup simplistic to a tee and the comfort admirable even during the most laborious of gaming sessions. Hesitant? Our comprehensive Tritton Warhead 7.1 review has all the deets you need to know.
Astro Gaming A40 – $250
The San Francisco-based powerhouse known as Astro Studios has been only been in the headset market for less than a decade, but it has possessed its laudable intuitiveness since day one. The Astro Gaming A40’s space-age design is lightweight and flexible, equipped with comfortable over-the-ear cushions and in-line mic controls, and comes bundled with a swappable mic and cable system among other things. The device is capable, but not overly elaborate, offering additional features like Dolby Digital 7.1 surround sound and customizable speaker tags, along with the coupled MixAmp Pro for quickly adjusting game-to-voice balancing and switching between up to four different EQ modes. The sound, the most crucial aspect in a quality gaming headset, showcases pristine nuances and exceptional balance, rightly flaunting the crisp highs and punchy base with every exhilarating reverberation.
The A40’s EQ settings don’t always deliver as intended, nor is it completely wireless, but its customizable levels and immersive surround sound help provide ample incentive to at least warrant a proper look. The balance and power is unparalleled, likely why it dons the high price tag, and it retains an element of attractiveness despite its somewhat bulky build. For a closer look at other Astro offerings, check out our Astro A50 review.
Turtle Beach Ear Force XP510 — $290
The Turtle Beach Ear Force XP510 is concrete — well plastic anyway — evidence the line designating gaming headsets from our everyday listening peripherals is becoming increasingly blurred with every new model to hit the already-expansive market. The XP510 is tenacious in all the right aspects, built of solid-black plastic and accented with metallic-green lines that run along the inside of the headband and encircle the shell-shaped ear cups. The fabric-encased, 50-mm drivers produce naturally-smooth low end and distinctly-crisp highs, while delivering realistic surround sound and nine discrete EQ presets available when connected via the built-in Wi-Fi transmitter. The equipped padding makes for a comfortably-snug fit despite the headset’s weight, and the 10 additional onboard controls and coupled input options open up a bevy of opportunity when it comes time for on-the-fly, preprogrammed adjustments and simple tasks.
The XP510 is certainly not the runt of the litter given its high price point and robust feature set. It’s just as capable when you’re engulfed in the latest tactile shooter as it is while casually listening to your favorite album, and though it’s sensitive auto shutoff and meager call quality leave much to be desired, its phenomenal sound accuracy place it among the best-sounding headsets to date. Need we say more? Well then, take a gander at our Turtle Beach Ear Force XP510 review.
Razer Carcharias — $70
Just because a gaming headset is bulky and cheap, doesn’t mean it can’t be shine with a lightweight build and comfortable aesthetics. Razer has done more than just dabble in the pro-gaming industry, crafting a host of stellar computer mice and keyboards in the process, and the Razer Carcharias is a prime example the company’s foray is paying off. The sleek, all-black headset sports a foam lined headband and earcups, along with a unidirectional capable of bending a full 270 degrees, and touts a lengthy cable measuring that measures just shy of 10 feet. Like many headsets on our list, the Kraken Pro boasts in-line controls for adjusting volume and muting audio, but it doesn’t attempt to create the robust virtual surround sound like the XP Seven or Tritton Warhead. However, the simple plug-and-play setup and resulting audio via the two 40-mm stereo drivers more than make up for the absent features, delivering excellent bass response and matching chat quality. The high-end admittedly does sound a bit muted and the mic lets in a fair amount of outside noise, but not enough you should be swayed if gaming is your primary purpose for the headset.
It’s not the hearty feature set that makes the Razer Carcharias a standout, but the general lack thereof. The sound is exceptional given the price, and the exterior design remains comfortable during extended gaming sessions where others fall short. If the Turtle Beach Ear Force X12 isn’t appealing, then Kraken’s budget offering may be the next best thing.
What did you think of our selection of the best Xbox 360 headsets? Do you have another suggestion absent from our list? Let us know in the comments below.