People tend to forget gaming isn’t just about the visuals. In today’s world of high-priced games, audio often plays just as pivotal a role in how we experience a game as video, providing us with other-worldly sound effects and allowing us to communicate with other players from around the globe. Whether you’re listening to the score to your favorite title or voice chatting amongst strangers during a heated head-to-head match, audio is there to capitalize on one of your most important senses. And you don’t have to spend a fortune on high-end stereo system to experience all gaming has to offer. Just buy yourself a decent headset. There are few better ways to immerse yourself entirely in a game.
Here are our picks for the best headsets to take your gaming experience to the next level regardless of your wallet or console. Those Gregorian chants in Halo never sounded so good.
Astro Gaming A40 (PC/Xbox 360/PS3) – $260
Astro Studios has been in the gaming market for less than a decade, but that hasn’t stopped the San Francisco-based company from capitalizing on the evolving market. As one of its flagship headsets, the Astro Gaming A40 touts some serious features and power at a high-end price that may leave you a little hesitant to pull the trigger. The wireless headset features Dolby Digital 7.1 surround sound, a removable and swappable mic, customizable speaker tags and multiplatform compatibility using the bundled MixAmp Pro. The headset sounds great (crisp highs and punchy bass) and is solidly built despite the lightweight and flexible design. Plus, the over-the-ear cushions are comfortable allowing you to endure a marathon gaming session with ease.
They may run on the pricey side, but the A40s are worth it if you have the means. Be sure to check out Astro’s how-to videos if you’re having trouble pairing the headset up with your Xbox 360 or PS3.
Tritton Warhead 7.1 (Xbox 360) – $250
The Tritton Warhead 7.1 is the top-of-the-line gaming headset for Xbox 360 owners. The wireless headset is built like a rock, yet sleek, and the comfortable faux leather noise-canceling earpads fit like a luxurious glove that doesn’t irritate you after prolonged periods of time. The headset features a variety of equalizer presets for gaming and other listening options, and all of the controls are located on the back of the headset for quick, easy access. Battery life, often the crux of wireless technology, is not an issue with Warhead seeing as the two included lithium-ion batteries can last up to 16 hours on a single charge. Although you’ll never truly achieve Dolby Digital 7.1 surround sound with the headset, the virtual re-creation sounds pretty phenomenal for both in-game action and chat. Even pairing the device with your console is a breeze thanks to the built-in Microsoft wireless chip. Just press the sync button on the headset to pair it with your console.
The Tritton Warhead 7.1 is certainly one of the best headsets out there, but for now it remains an Xbox 360 exclusive. Be sure to check out our full Tritton Warhead 7.1 review for all the specifics.
Turtle Beach Ear Force X12 (PC/Xbox 360/PS3) – $60
Turtle Beach’s Ear Force X12 represents an affordable option for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 owners alike without compromising on sound quality. Although the headset hasn’t undergone a refresh in quite some time, it still holds up to the best of the lower-end headsets on the market, providing great sound through two 50mm-diameter speakers. The virtual surround sound isn’t top-notch, but it still provides the user with a keen sense of place and solid voice intelligibility. The headset features a built-in amplifier with sound controls, a 16-foot chord, and even a microphone monitor so you can hear yourself speaking into the mic (something that is often hard to do with closed-back headphones). Digital Trends’ A/V editor, Caleb Denison, liked the headset enough to buy a pair for his son. We think maybe you should buy a pair for yourself.
Be sure to check out our comprehensive Turtle Beach Ear Force X12 review for more details.
Logitech G930 (PC) – $160
Logitech has been around the block a few times when it comes to audio and the Logitech G930 headset is one of the newest additions to the company’s G-Series lineup. Like most other gaming headsets on the market, the G930 boasts Dolby Digital 7.1 surround sound, two-way uncompressed audio streaming and lengthy battery life that can be charged in your downtime or while you play. The G930 is also equipped with three programmable “G-Keys” that let users control music, chat and voice morphing (totally necessary) without having to go elsewhere. It produces quality sound, though it lacks a bit in the bass department, and the memory foam-lined headband wards off fatigue during the most grueling of gaming binges.
The Logitech G930s are expensive compared to similarly equipped gaming headsets, but they are definitely not a bad buy if you’re a PC gamer in need of an audio upgrade.
Creative Sound Blaster Tactic 3D Omega (PC/Xbox 360/PS3) – $200
The Creative Sound Blaster Tactics 3D Omega headset is a standout amongst the rest of the Creative lineup, despite having a name no one would ever want to repeat. The wireless headset features a detachable noise-canceling flip-down mic, convenient onboard controls, and illuminated earcups housing two 50mm stereo drivers. The 3D sound works rather well — you can hear enemy footsteps behind you and gunfire at your sides — but the bass can be a bit muddy at times, something easily achieved in the lower echelon of gaming headsets. Still, the headset is incredibly comfy during heavy use, can be used while charging, and are capable of maintaining a surprisingly strong connection up to 40 feet away.
The Creative Sound Blaster Tactic 3D Omega headset (say that three times fast) is a nice option for all-purpose gaming, regardless of the high pricetag.
What headset are you using to tap into the true gaming experience? Let us know in the comments below.
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