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What to look for in a gaming headset?

Gaming Headsets Buying Guide

Gaming headsets are a crucial requirement for gaming. Having access to clear audio is one of the key requirements for gaming, especially if you are playing with a team. But purchasing the best gaming headset for yourself can be a little difficult given the fact that there are just so many to choose from. 

If you’re going to be spending your money on a gaming headset, then you should know what to look for in a gaming headset. In this article, we have tried to include all the factors that make a gaming headset good.

What Are Gaming Headsets?

Gaming headsets are specific kinds of headphones meant for gaming purposes. They are usually equipped with a built-in microphone and offer a high-quality sound to improve your gaming experience.

Difference between gaming headsets and headphones

It is important to note that gaming headsets and headphones are two separate things. 

Traditionally speaking headphones are can be used to listen to music and for gaming as well. They don’t usually come with a built-in microphone but still possess amazing features such as immersive sound and an accurate sound stage. While these features are excellent for gaming, qualities such as surround sound might not be as good in regular headphones. Noise-cancelling headphones might come very close to gaming headsets but you will still need to invest in a separate microphone for communication.

On the other hand, gaming headsets come with an in-built microphone that is detachable or retractable. These headsets usually feature surround sound which makes your gaming experience a lot more immersive. Furthermore, the headsets are designed for people who game for hours on end, with soft cushioning, adjustable headbands, lightweight designs and more.     

Are Gaming Headsets Worth it?

This brings us back to the main argument of whether you can have a good gaming experience with regular headphones. Regular headphones are meant to provide you with a great listening experience giving you the option to fine-tune them to adjust to your preferences. Gaming headsets on the other hand are not designed to focus on these fine-tuning elements. They have features that deliver all the sounds you might miss out on in the game when using regular headphones. Enemy footsteps or other smaller sound effects in a game can be clearly picked up by a gaming headset resulting in a smooth gaming experience. 

So, at the end of the day gaming headsets are not just the ideal choice for multiplayer games where you need to communicate with teammates but for single-player games as well. Gaming headsets are a must-have especially if you like to play games that require you to pay attention to every little detail. So, gaming headsets do make a difference to your overall gaming experience.

Earbuds for Gaming

These are great for people who struggle with bulky headsets. One of the main reasons people opt for gaming earbuds is because of their discreet design. More importantly, they are portable, lightweight and can be connected to most devices unless specified. However, compared to gaming headsets the sound quality will be lacking in earbuds. Also, they may not be very comfortable if you have to wear them for a couple of hours. 

So, if you’re looking for something that you can use while gaming and at work as well, these are perfect for you. We would always recommend going for earbuds that come with a noise-cancelling feature to match up the immersive audio experience of a gaming headset. 

Is a Wired or Wireless Headset Better for Gaming?

This is a common question for anyone looking to buy a gaming headset. Apart from earbuds, wired or wireless headsets are the two main categories you would come across. Here are a few pros and cons of wired and wireless headsets:-

Wired Wireless
Pros


They are not as expensive as wireless headsets. 

No reliance on batteries.

Easy to set up.

Sound quality is excellent as the audio signal gets delivered directly to the device without interference.

Compatible with a large variety of devices.
No wires mean more mobility. You are free to move around.

If you’re okay with purchasing a high-end gaming set, then you can expect to get good sound quality. For a better range try to go for a WiFi-compatible headset instead of Bluetooth.
Cons


Movement restriction can be a problem for gamers who tend to move around a lot.

Over a period of time with constant use, the cable of the headset can get damaged.



To get the best out of a wireless headset you will need to invest in the latest models which can be very expensive compared to the wired alternatives.

Wireless headsets that connect through Bluetooth will not have the greatest sound quality or range. Bluetooth connection can be unstable and an audio delay is almost always present.
The battery will need to be recharged every time before a gaming session. So, you can say goodbye to any last-minute gaming plans.

With constant use, the batteries within any wireless model would start dying down forcing you to charge it too frequently.

What to Look for in a Gaming Headset

Comfort and Design

When it comes to gaming headsets, you need to find something that feels comfortable. Whether you are a professional gamer or play games as a hobby, you will be wearing your gaming headset for at least a couple of hours. Stay away from cheap plastics and go for headsets whose frames are made from metal or wire. You can go for high-quality hard plastic headsets but they won’t be as durable as metal or wire. 

The material used in the arc structure of the headset makes a lot of difference. We always recommend going for ones that have some cushion on the arc covered with pleather or leather. The cushion is usually made up of soft foam that relieves the pressure on your head when wearing the headsets for long periods of time. For the ear cups as well, you should opt for a well-cushioned one that is covered with leather or pleather. Additionally, always go for headsets that are adjustable. Along with that, keep an eye out for the overall weight of the device. Since you will be wearing the headset for long periods, you will need to invest in something lightweight.

Isolation

This is not to be mistaken with the noise-cancelling feature. Every gaming headset is expected to offer some level of sound isolation in order for you to have an immersive gaming experience. Isolation is possible when the earcup of the headset is able to cover your entire ear and keep most external sounds at bay. 

Closed-back, over-ear headsets are considered the best if you are looking for a gaming headset with good isolation. Good isolation also means that you can listen to every sound in a game at lower volumes as well. Moreover, good isolation paired with noise-cancelling is an excellent combination that every gamer needs.

Surround sound

For the perfect gaming experience, surround sound is another very important factor that you need to consider. You will come across three different surround sound systems when buying a gaming headset- Virtual Surround, Stereo and 3D Sound. 

  • Virtual Surround: this surround system creates an environment where you feel like the sound is coming from multiple sources instead of just the left and right speakers.
  • Stereo: This is your classic sound system that comes through the two speakers on your left and right ear.
  • 3D Sound: also known as “spatial audio”, this manipulates the audio to seem as realistic as possible. This means that it matches the audio’s direction to where it’s supposed to come from visually.

Many professional gamers tend to prefer 3D sound as compared to virtual surround because it gives you more accurate audio. Virtual surround essentially tricks your brain into thinking that the sound is coming from multiple directions. 3D sound uses technologies such as Dolby Atmos to process the sound from the game and sends it to specially placed speakers in your gaming headset.

Microphone Quality

Gaming headsets come with an attached microphone, so the first thing you need to know is whether you want a unidirectional or omnidirectional microphone. Omnidirectional microphones pick up sound from all directions allowing you a little more freedom of movement. Unidirectional microphones need to be carefully positioned right in front of your mouth to pick up on your voice. Noise-cancelling is an important consideration for microphone quality and unidirectional microphones usually tend to have better noise-cancelling qualities. Omnidirectional microphones tend to pick up on environmental sounds that hinder communication.

The choice is entirely based on your preference. If you want a microphone that allows you to move around while communicating with your teammates, you can opt for the omnidirectional mic. If you want super-clear communication and don’t want any external disturbances to hinder your communication in the slightest then a unidirectional microphone would be your best choice. Keep in mind that these mics are not going to give you studio-quality sound. If you want very high-quality sound in order to communicate with your audience as a professional gamer, you should probably invest in a separate mic.

Compatibility

The most common gaming platforms are Playstation, Nintendo, Xbox, Windows PC and Mac. Most wired gaming headsets come with a 3.5mm universal jack which can easily be connected to all the abovementioned gaming platforms. However, you should always check if the headset is compatible with your device before you purchase one. This is especially important for wireless headsets. Some wireless gaming headsets might not be compatible with Mac, Xbox and so on. On the whole, most gaming headsets would connect with a Nintendo Switch, Xbox, PlayStation, Mac and Windows PC as well!

Gaming headsets can be used to take phone calls or video calls such as Zoom since most of them can be connected to your phone, laptop or PC easily. 

What Gaming Headsets To Buy For Specific Games?

For those who play strategy or world-building games such as The Sims 4, Minecraft and Civilisation, wireless and wired headsets with Stereo surround can work well. These games do not require extreme attention to audio details.

But for games where you need to listen to every detail such as Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds and Apex Legends, you need high-quality gaming headsets with excellent surround sound. Most professional gamers tend to use wired gaming headsets for battle royale games due to the accuracy of sound and the built-in noise-cancelling microphone.

At the end of the day, you need to choose a gaming headset that best suits your gaming needs, comfort and your budget. 

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