Nothing immerses you in a game like a good headset. However, you must consider your connectivity preference, such as wireless or wired, as some headsets are compatible in specific ways with different consoles. There is plenty of quality sound, padding comfort, and battery-saving features to provide the best interactive experience.
Headsets are expensive ventures, but this list can help you see which one is worth the price, no matter where or how you play.
The best gaming headsets at a glance
- The best gaming headset: SteelSeries Arctis Pro
- The best premium wired headset: HyperX Cloud Revolver S
- The best premium wireless headset: Astro Gaming A50
- The best wireless surround sound headset: Logitech G533
- The best budget option for any platform: Turtle Beach Recon 200
Why should you buy this: It’s the best-in-class gaming headset by virtually every factor.
Who’s it for: Those who demand performance, deep customization, versatility, and understated design.
Why we picked the Steelseries Arctis Pro:
Where do we start with Steelseries‘ magnum opus, the Arctis Pro? The highly flexible, crystal-clear mic that rivals even some professional-grade audio equipment? How about the sleek, professional design that mimics stylish audiophile headphones? Or maybe it’s the headset’s plug-and-play peripherals that push hi-res sound and enable users to fine-tune EQ settings and surround sound at a much more granular scale than the competition — all without the need for extra software or downloads.
Take your pick.
While the optional hi-res components (either the GameDAC with the wired version or the 2.4G Bluetooth receiver box) are only compatible with PC and PS4, the Arctis Pro is compatible with virtually every console right out of the box, either through wireless USB or 3.5mm wired connection. All players, regardless of platform, can take advantage of the headset’s excellent stereo mix and super-clear microphone — not to mention the fact that its mature design is customizable to fit your taste.
While it’s hard to top the Arctis Pro, even Steelseries’ more affordable Arctis models, including the Arctis 3, 5, and 7, are impressive alternatives, identical to the Pro in terms of comfort and only a modest step down in performance and features (the Arctis 7 was our previous top pick, in fact). There are wired and wireless versions of each of these headsets, and while they require the Steelseries Engine 3 software to use the surround sound and EQ features (meaning these features are PC-only), they still sound great even without these extras. So, should the Arctis Pro reside outside your budget, any of these Arctis models could compete for the top spot on our list.
Read our full Arctis Pro review
Why should you buy this: The excellent-sounding Cloud Revolver S is the most versatile and easy-to-use headset we’ve tested.
Who’s it for: Anyone and everyone, provided a wired connection works with your setup.
Why we picked the Cloud Revolver S:
The Cloud Revolver S from HyperX is one of the most versatile headsets we’ve tested. It comes packed with three separate connection types — 3.5mm, dual 3.5mm, and wired USB — which, in aggregate, enable the headset to be connected to just about anything. This isn’t entirely unique to the Cloud Revolver S, but the headset takes things a step further by eliminating the need for any extra software or driver downloads, making it a truly plug-and-play peripheral. This integrated nature is especially important with the USB connection, which features a built-in sound card and a control dongle for features like Dolby 7.1 virtual surround sound and EQ settings.
The most important feature, however, is the brilliant sound performance. The basic, out-of-the-box stereo mix, which is the baseline regardless of connection type or console, is excellent, with a snug balance and punchy bass that enhances gameplay and music. The surround sound and EQ features — specifically the bass boost — only serve to further enhance the experience. The cherry on top is that the headset is extremely comfortable, with a sturdy design, plush padding, and an auto-fitting headband. Sounds like a winner to us.
Read our full Cloud Revolver S review
Why should you buy this: It’s the Swiss Army Knife of wireless headsets.
Product Card: You get what you pay for with Astro’s high-class gaming headset.
Who’s it for: Gamers who want a wireless headset stuffed with features (and don’t mind paying extra for them).
Why we picked the Astro Gaming A50:
Astro’s A50 is the wireless update of the company’s previous flagship, the Astro A40, and sports all the same hallmarks as its last-gen brethren — but we’re not complaining. If you can justify the dent to your savings account, the Astro A50 will grant you 5.8GHz wireless technology and virtual 7.1 surround sound within a solid, over-the-ear design. The headset’s unidirectional mic helps isolate your voice from ambient noise and features an intuitive quick-mute feature. A selection of distinct EQ modes and cross-platform support further boost its appeal.
The A50 does just about everything you’d want from a high-quality gaming headset, including extras like hassle-free wireless connection, long battery life bolstered by an auto-shutdown feature that prevents wasting battery.
Those extra features are great, but they’re only part of the story. The real star here is the audio performance, and the A50 is one of the best (obviously), making games more engrossing and entertaining. The A50 is worth serious consideration by all audiophile gamers … provided you’re willing and able to shell out the cash.
Read our full Astro Gaming A50 review
Why should you buy this: It’s got the best surround sound of any headset we’ve tested yet.
Who’s it for: Those who need pinpoint soundstage location and precision.
Why we picked the Logitech G533:
Logitech’s latest headset, the Logitech G533, brings several impressive features to a solid, attractive design, most notably the DTS 7.1 surround built into the speaker. This wireless headset comes standard with some simple-to-use software that can control the equalizer settings and enable the surround sound. It just so happens to have the best surround sound staging we’ve used in a headset, bar none. Whether you’re playing a first-person or third-person perspective game, sounds emit within the headphones from the proper location, making navigating these virtual worlds easier. The headset also performs well with 2D games. Regardless of what kind of games you play, however, the G553 sounds excellent thanks to its 40mm Pro-G drivers (we did notice some minor wireless hum when nothing was being played through the headphones but that was absent during gameplay).
The mic is equally good. We found voice capture with the mic to be clear, and we dig the minimalist design of the boom mic, which can be easily flipped up when not in use, or extended and bent for finding the optimal distance. As is often the case with Logitech gear, the headset has several neat idiosyncrasies, like a textured pad on the USB receiver for extra grip and internal “beeps” to inform you of volume changes, low battery levels, or mic enabling. It’s also, thankfully, devoid of any gaudy lights or “cool” decals, opting instead for a simpler and therefore more attractive aesthetic than most other headsets out there. While not necessarily groundbreaking, these are nice touches nonetheless.
One decision we’re admittedly a bit less enthusiastic about is the fabric used on the earcup padding, which we found scratchy and stiff during initial use. Then again, the padding is removable and washer safe, which isn’t something we can say about most of the other headsets on this list.
Read our full Logitech G5333 review
Why should you buy this: The Turtle Beach Recon 200 is compatible with everything from the PS4 to the Switch, has excellent audio options, and built-in microphone monitoring.
Who’s it for: The budget-minded gamer.
Why we picked the Turtle Beach Recon 200:
Turtle Beach has been making a name for itself over the last several years, and it’s no surprise when you look at what the company can deliver at such affordable prices. The Recon 200 wired headset comes with a 3.5mm jack so that it can be used with everything from the Xbox One to the PlayStation 4 and even your phone. The always-active Bass Boost feature gives you a more powerful experience during intense gaming moments, and 12 hours of battery life means you can take advantage of these features during your longest gaming marathon sessions without having to plug it in to recharge.
To go from the Xbox One to PlayStation 4, all you need to do is flip a switch on the headset, and the Recon 200 makes a great chatting headset, as well. The omnidirectional microphone has variable monitoring so you can hear what you sound like as you’re talking, and flipping it into its vertical position will automatically mute the microphone. With a metal-reinforced headband and foam-cushioned ear cups, the headset is built to last, too, and its wide compatibility means that it can be your sole headset if you dislike switching back and forth between several when you use different systems. The only downside to this construction is that it can cause some discomfort on top of your head, but it can be adjusted to mitigate this.
How we test
Like we do for all the products we test, we put gaming headsets through the wringer. We judge them based upon their audio performance, mic performance, wearability, battery life, and wireless connectivity. We play games featuring various sound experiences to ensure the headsets will sound great during frenetic action, as well as quieter moments. We also listen to non-gaming audio and videos, including a selection of music from various genres at differing bit rates to discern whether the headsets perform well outside of a gaming context.
For mic testing, we record clips of ourselves speaking in quiet and loud environments, both with any noise canceling or enhancements toggled on and off. We use the headsets over multiple days, wearing them while gaming, watching videos, or listening to music to test the veracity of battery life claims, as well as appraise their long-term wearability and comfort.
This list features both wired and wireless headsets in multiple varieties, which begs the question: Which design style is best? The answer quite simply comes down to your setup. The following is a handy guide to decide which headset will be best for you.
The first major consideration is what gaming platform(s) you’ll be using with the headset, as the supported connection will differ from console to console. Modern headsets will connect via one (or more) of the following ways: Single 3.5mm, dual 3.5mm (one for headphone audio and one for the mic), wired USB, wireless USB, or Bluetooth. Here’s a quick breakdown of which connection type is supported by each of the modern gaming platforms:
*While most USB headsets can be used on PS4, many are specifically made for PC and will require drivers or extra software to enable features like surround sound, EQ settings, and even mic support in some instances. Because of this, some USB headsets will have limited functionality on PS4. For those wanting a USB headset on PS4, seek out headsets that list PS4 compatibility explicitly, such as the Cloud Revolver S.
**Only certain wireless USB models are supported by Xbox One, such as the Turtle Beach Elite 800X. Be sure to confirm compatibility before purchasing. For 3.5mm headsets, newer Xbox One controllers have a headphone jack, while older versions may require Microsoft’s official 3.5mm headset adapter.
***Voice chat on the Nintendo Switch is handled through your smartphone’s mic via Nintendo’s smartphone app. The system’s 3.5mm jack, Bluetooth, and USB adapter connections only support audio out. Bluetooth also requires an external adapter.
Wired vs. wireless
Both wired and wireless headsets have their pros and cons, and there are specific uses that could make one or the other the right fit for your setup.
While wireless headsets are obviously more flexible when it comes to your connection to the source device, a major constraint for USB or Bluetooth wireless headsets is compatibility, as the table above shows. You’ll only be able to use USB wireless models with PS4, PC, and, in some select cases, Xbox One or Nintendo Switch. Bluetooth headsets are compatible with PC, PS4, PS Vita, mobile devices, and, conditionally, the Nintendo Switch.
Wireless headsets are best for large living room setups where you’re on one side and your console or PC is on the other.
That said, you’re going to get a lot more distance and freedom from a wireless headset, which makes them best for large living room setups where you’re going to be sitting on one side of the room and your console or PC is at the other. Keep an eye out for battery life rating, as well. Most headsets can survive for at least a few straight hours of play, but there’s nothing worse than having to stop in the middle of an intense match to plug in your headset’s charging cable once the batteries are tapped.
Wired headsets, on the other hand, have more reliable sound quality and are more likely to have features like virtual surround sound (though this feature is pretty common on newer and more expensive wireless options). While constrained by wires, they’re free of the fetters of battery life.
They obviously work best for those who are going to be sitting right next to their PC or console, though many devices, including the Nintendo Switch system — as well as the controllers for Xbox One, PS4, and Wii U — all feature 3.5mm jacks, making distance less of an issue since these devices will be in your hands. Keep in mind the length of the connection cable if you’re connecting via 3.5mm to a PC, TV/monitor, or a sound system. In some cases, extensions or swapping for a new cable might be necessary to get the distance your setup requires.
Headphones and free-standing mic
The all-in-one nature of a gaming headset is a convenience, but a convenience that comes with trade-offs. Audio quality will be impressive on the highest-end headsets — as will the mic performance — but these are generally not made with extreme audiophiles or audio recording professionals in mind.
YouTubers, Twitch streamers, podcasters, and anyone else who requires the best possible audio quality may want to skip a headset altogether. Instead, we recommend pairing top-tier headphones with a free-standing mic (and, if you’re really after the best quality, a USB mixer). A setup like this is going to be exclusive to those using a PC — or at the very least those who do their editing and voice capture there — and is going to be a lot more expensive.
- The best PS4 headsets for 2020
- The best Xbox One headsets for 2020
- The best Nintendo Switch accessories for 2020
- Nintendo Switch vs. PS4
- Nintendo Switch review: The must-have console