Without the right level of sound, your immersion into any game is going to be lackluster at best. The right gaming headsets are essential for being able to hear every nuance of sound in the game. Many gamers struggle with finding the right gear, especially when it comes to gaming headsets. With this guide, you will learn everything there is to know about gaming headsets and what you should look for when making a purchase.
Research Is Important and Sometimes Overwhelming
Research is crucial when making any purchase, but it can also be a bit overwhelming. Although finding out what your friends use might be helpful, there is no shortcut for taking time to research.
A little research online is going to reveal tons of choices, making the decision process seem more difficult than it must be. This guide will break down the choices you have in a way that is easier to understand.
Wireless or Wired Gaming Headset?
One of the first choices to consider is wired or wireless. This is typically one of the most arduous choices when it comes to purchasing a gaming headset because both have their pros and cons.
- Better sound quality
- Typically, less expensive
- Does not need charging
- No freedom of movement
- Freedom of movement
- More comfortable without wires
- Must be charged
PC gamers are likely to find a wired gaming headset is going to be able to offer them the highest level of performance. Because they are seated at a desk, there should be no problem with the wired connection. With the wired connection, the headset never needs charging, so you will not have to stop in the middle of gaming fun to plug in the headset to charge.
Most console players prefer wireless gaming headsets. Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo all make their consoles with Bluetooth compatibility. This type of gaming headset allows you to enjoy up to eight hours of gameplay before needing to charge the headset. A wireless headset also allows for a greater level of freedom because you can walk away to grab a drink from the fridge and remain in communication with your gaming friends.
In most cases, gamers will find they are going to pay a little more for wireless technology. One is not better than the other when they are compared side-to-side, but the type you choose will depend on what type of gaming you prefer.
Surround Gaming Headphone Sound: Is It Necessary or Hype?
Chances are, you have surround sound in your television speakers. Surround sound offers a more immersive gaming experience because you hear the sounds at different points and in different ears, just as you would in a real-life scenario.
One of the biggest complaints gamers have regarding headsets is the detached feeling they get because the sound seems more one-dimensional when it is coming from the headset. With advanced technology, there are now gaming headsets that offer surround sound options.
How Does It Work?
Surround sound headphones function in much the same way as surround sound speakers. Each headphone cup holds several different speakers that are hidden behind the padding. Almost all modern surround sound speakers offer either 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound.
This technology allows sound to enter the ear at varying degrees so it sounds more natural. With surround sound headphones, you can detect almost precisely what direction the sound is coming from. This is especially appreciated by first-person shooter enthusiasts who need to know where their enemy is at all times.
Without getting too into depth on the explanation, surround sound headphones contain pre-amps and mix-amps that can translate normal stereo signals being sent by the gaming console or PC and turn them into surround sound. Using algorithms, the headphones can split the signals so that it appears the sound is coming from many areas, instead of a single source.
What You Should Know About Mics
There are a few different components of gaming headphones and the mic is certainly an important part. Most gamers choose gaming headsets because they want to be able to communicate with other players during the game. Unfortunately, not all headset gaming mics are created equal.
The mic needs to offer the highest level of clear voice chat. If other players cannot understand what you are saying, the boom mic is going to be a total waste of time. The boom mic should not be obtrusive or annoying against your face. It should also be able to pick up your voice without allowing other gamers to hear every noise in the room, including a dog barking outside your window.
If a boom mic is not going to be used every time you game, it may be wise to consider purchasing a clip-on mic so that it can be removed when not in use. A clip-on mic can be clipped to your shirt and is often considered less intrusive. Some gaming headphones offer detachable boom mics. If you choose a headset that does not offer a detachable boom mic, at least make sure the mic arm is bendable and can be moved out of the way when not in use.
Comfort Is So Essential
One of the last things people think about when purchasing a headset is comfort. Many people consider the sound quality and every other detail before even thinking about how the headphones will feel on their head.
Most every headset is going to feel comfortable when you first put them on. It is only around the fourth or fifth hour of gameplay that they can become painfully uncomfortable. If your earlobes have taken a beating from headphones, then you know how important comfort truly is.
Check to ensure the ear cups are heavily padded. If the ear cups feel under-padded, you are likely going to start feeling pain in a short amount of time. The padding should feel ultra-dense. Also, check to make sure there is adequate padding on the headband because this part will rest across the top of your head and could cause pain. Never purchase a gaming headset without being able to touch it for yourself. Trying it on is even better.
The material covering the headphones is also an important consideration for comfort. While leather certainly is durable and looks nice, it may cause too much moisture against your earlobe. Choose a gaming headset that offers a soft material against your ears for the best results.
The fit of a gaming headset is ultra-important for comfort. If the headset is compressed too tightly against your ears and head, it is going to cause headaches and ear pain that will make gaming too uncomfortable. Choose a headset that adequately fits your head without needing to be overly stretched.
The Seal Is Crucial On Your Game Headphones
You might be asking yourself what a seal has to do with gaming headsets, but it is important. The seal the headphone ear cups make with your ears is crucial for your sound experience. Have you ever worn a pair of headphones and could still hear your family talking loudly in the other room? When this happens, it is not possible to be fully immersed in the game.
A good gaming headset is going to fully cup your ears and seal out all other noises in the room and even outside. You do not want to hear the neighbor’s dog barking when trying to get a headshot on Call of Duty.
Some gaming headsets do not cup the ears well right away, but once they get broken in, the seal becomes stronger. If the padding is simply too big or too small, this will not create a tight seal to drown out other sounds outside of the game.
It would also be wise to choose a gaming headset that offers noise cancellation. Noise cancellation ensures your audio output is crystal clear and not bogged down with other sounds that do not matter while gaming.
Check the Quality of the Materials
The quality of the materials is an important consideration, no matter the budget. While it would be nice to believe expensive pairs of headphones are going to be constructed to last, this is not always the case.
Unfortunately, most gaming headsets are made of plastic and cheap plastic at that. While some types of rigid plastic will provide plenty of durability, it is best to choose a headset that has a metal wire frame. This means the headset is less likely to break.
The headband is the area that takes on the most abuse. If this area is made of cheap plastic, it will crack right down the middle in a short amount of time. If the headset has a metal wire frame, it will bend without breaking and is likely to remain in good shape for a long time.
How Does It Look?
If you have ever checked out gaming headphones, you know some of them look as if the wearer is an airline pilot. While looks should not be the only consideration, they do matter. If you are a streamer, wearing the right gaming headphones is going to be even more important because you are playing in front of a live audience.
The style of the headphones you choose is an important consideration. If you plan to wear your headset around others or on camera, think about the style and choose carefully. There are so many colors, shapes, sizes, and design options available. In the end, choose a style and color that matches your own unique style, even if you get a few snickers from roommates, friends, or family.
What Is Your Budget?
While price alone should never be used to decide on a purchase, there is something to be said of you get what you pay for. Most people will find they are able to get a quality gaming headset for around $100 or less.
Unless you are looking for a truly high-end experience, it is unlikely you will need to pay more than $200. Just because you pay more does not necessarily mean the headset will offer better sound or even comfort.
If you have a budget of under $100, it may be best to consider wired headphones because they are going to be less expensive and give quality sound for all types of gaming. If you are concerned about feeling the need to sit too close to the television, there are extension wires that can be purchased for many wired gaming headsets. These extensions can reach ten feet or longer.
Recap of Must-Haves
Now that you know a little more about gaming headsets and what to look for, it is time to recap the essentials. There are some things that are a must when purchasing a gaming headset. If you are shopping for your next gaming headphones, make sure to remember the following before deciding.
- High-quality sound is essential for gaming headphones. If the sound is lacking, you will not enjoy the experience.
- Comfort is also crucial. No matter how good a pair of gaming headphones may sound, they will not be worn if the comfort is not there.
- Quality materials are always more important than how the headphones look when being worn. Choose a headset that is made of quality materials that are going to be able to stand up to abuse without breaking down in a short period of time.
- Style is important for most gamers, but you should not choose a pair simply because they look better than another. If you can find a pair of gaming headphones that offer all the above, the style will simply be the icing on the cake.
With this guide, you now know more about what to look for in a gaming headset. The best headsets offer all the above at an affordable price. Yes, you may have to pay a little more for the best headset, especially if you want to go wireless. Try on different brands and models and read reviews to ensure the set you are planning on purchasing offers all of the most important components above.