The perfect gaming headsets for 2023

More often than not, the perfect gaming headset isn’t a “gaming headset” in any respect. Though these gadgets are sometimes considered a definite area of interest throughout the wider headphone market, they’re in the end nonetheless headphones. And whereas it’s definitely not unattainable to get a gaming headset that sounds good, doing so nonetheless tends to come back at the next price than a comparable pair of wired headphones (sure, these nonetheless exist).

A superb wired headphone stays your greatest guess if you’d like probably the most detailed sound doable at a given value level and don’t want one thing particularly transportable, which is often the case whether or not you’re gaming on a console or PC. If it’s worthwhile to chat with associates, you may at all times purchase an exterior microphone, whether or not it’s a USB mic, a less expensive clip-on model or a standalone possibility just like the Antlion ModMic or V-Moda BoomPro. In lots of circumstances, these will make your voice sound clearer and fuller than those included with a gaming headset.

However we do acknowledge that many individuals simply need the comfort of an all-in-one combo, worth and aesthetics be damned. So after testing out a couple of dozen pairs over the previous a number of months, we’ve put collectively an inventory of excellent headphones for gaming and devoted gaming headsets. We suggest you think about the previous first, however all of them ought to make your play time extra pleasurable.

What to search for in good gaming headphones

The HyperX Cloud Stinger 2.
Photograph by Jeff Dunn / Engadget

Evaluating headphones is a very subjective train, so calling one pair absolutely the “greatest” is one thing of a idiot’s errand. At a sure level, whether or not you are an audiophile or not, every part turns into a matter of style. For many, a headphone with a large soundscape and powerful imaging efficiency — i.e., the power to place sounds accurately, so you may extra exactly inform the place footsteps and different recreation results are coming from — will present probably the most immersive gaming expertise, the sort that makes you’re feeling like your head is inside a given scene.

For that, you need a high-quality pair of headphones with an open-back design. That’s to say, an over-ear pair whose ear cups don’t utterly seal off the ear from air and out of doors noise. The large trade-off is that these are inherently horrible at isolating you from exterior sound and stopping others from listening to what you’re taking part in. So should you usually play video games in a loud surroundings, their advantages might be blunted. However in a quiet room, the perfect open-back pairs sounds considerably wider and extra exact than extra frequent closed-back fashions.

Extra up for debate is how a superb gaming headphone ought to sound. In order for you one thing that’ll provide help to in aggressive multiplayer video games, you may doubtless desire a headphone with a flatter sound signature, so a recreation’s combine gained’t be overly boosted in a single path and masks the smaller particulars of what’s occurring round you. A barely brighter sound, one which pushes the higher frequencies a smidge, can also work. Open-back headphones nearly by no means have enormous sub-bass, so that you hardly ever have to fret about low-end sounds muddying up the remainder of the signature. On this mild, the truth that an awesome quantity of gaming headsets are closed-back and bass-heavy appears counterintuitive.

Numerous folks love bass, although. And should you aren’t simply apprehensive about aggressive play, some further low-end can add a contact of pleasure to heavy motion scenes or a rousing soundtrack. You continue to don’t need a pair that enhances it too exhausting — which many devoted gaming headsets do — however the level is that what makes a pair “immersive” to at least one individual might sound uninteresting to a different.

Finest headphones for gaming: Beyerdynamic DT 900 Professional X

The Beyerdynamic DT 900 Pro X ought to please a large swath of individuals prepared to pay for a capital-N good set of headphones for his or her gaming periods. This pair has nice imaging efficiency and the type of spacious soundstage anticipated from an open-back design. Bass is a bit more current right here than on many open-back headphones as properly. There nonetheless isn’t a lot in the best way of deep sub-bass, as anticipated, however there’s sufficient heat to present in-game explosions a bit extra juice with out muddying up the mid-range frequencies. The mids get probably the most emphasis general, however they’re clear, and that forwardness isn’t a foul factor while you’re attempting to pay attention for enemy gamers in a aggressive FPS like Counter-Strike. The treble isn’t pushed fairly as exhausting, however it’s neither overly recessed nor harsh.

All of this implies the DT 900 Professional X sounds detailed however not boring, so it ought to play good whether or not you’re attempting to win a multiplayer recreation or taking in a extra cinematic single-player expertise. And while you’re not gaming, you get an pleasurable sound for music.

Every part’s constructed properly, too. The DT 900 Professional X will clamp down barely tougher than common if in case you have a big head, however it balances its weight properly, and its splendidly smooth velour earpads go a great distance towards preserving the pair snug over lengthy periods. It comes with two removable cables, together with a three-meter possibility that’s handy should you sit far out of your PC. The design can’t fold up, although.

Like all open-back headphones, the DT 900 Professional X leak recreation audio and let in a number of noise, so it’s not nice on the go. Clearly, should you can afford to improve to an ultra-premium pair like Sennheiser’s HD 800 S, you’ll get extra space and true-to-life element. However for a comparatively attainable $250 to $300, the DT 900 Professional X ought to fulfill.

Enclosure: Open-back
Driver: Dynamic
Frequency response: 5 – 40,000 Hz
Mic: No
Connectivity: Wired
Weight: 345g (with out cable)

One other good possibility: Sennheiser HD 560S

When you’d moderately not spend as a lot, the Sennheiser HD 560S is one other glorious open-back headphone that’s usually accessible for lower than $200. Just like the DT 900 Professional X, it has a large soundstage that’ll provide help to really feel immersed in a given recreation. Its sound is barely extra impartial on the entire, so that you gained’t really feel such as you’re lacking any a part of a combination, and it retrieves a beautiful quantity of element from the treble and mid-range frequencies. There’s much less bass energy for explosions, although. And the treble, whereas extra current, might sound piercing at instances. Imaging isn’t fairly as nuanced both, although it’s nowhere close to poor.

Design-wise, the HD 560S are a lot snug to put on for prolonged durations. They don’t clamp down too exhausting on these with large heads (like yours really), and the velour earpads hug your ears softly. The included cable is detachable, too. The plastic body doesn’t really feel as sturdy or premium because the DT 900 Professional X, nevertheless, so that you gained’t need to chuck them round haphazardly. It gained’t block a lot outdoors noise both, nor will it stop these round you from listening to what you are taking part in. However, the HD 560S is a pleasure and a fantastic worth.

Enclosure: Open-back
Driver: Dynamic
Frequency response: 6 – 38,000 Hz
Mic: No
Connectivity: Wired
Weight: 280g

Finest headphones for gaming below $50: Koss KSC75

When you can’t spend greater than $50, it’s still hard to prime the Koss KSC75. It prices $20, however judging purely on audio high quality, it’s higher than some headphones priced nearer to $100. This pair may be very clearly devoid of deep bass, so that you gained’t get that full-bodied oomph from in-game results. You additionally will not hear all of the intricate particulars you’d choose up with the pricier headphones above. Nevertheless it locates sounds precisely and its open design delivers an actual sense of width. It’s an outstanding worth for aggressive play.

The catch is that it’s constructed like a set of free airline headphones. The KSC75 has an odd clip-on design that, whereas light-weight, gained’t be a cushty match for everybody. It definitely appears prefer it prices $20, although Koss backs it with a lifetime warranty that primarily allows you to get countless replacements for $9 every. Even when the KSC75 are pushing 20 years previous, its sound stays comparatively well-balanced and notably well-suited for gaming.

Enclosure: Open-back (on-ear)
Driver: Dynamic
Frequency response: 15 – 25,000 Hz
Mic: No
Connectivity: Wired
Weight: 43g

Finest gaming headset: Astro A40 TR

When you will need to have a devoted gaming headset with a built-in mic, think about the Astro A40 TR. One other open-back pair, it has a extra spacious soundstage than standard for the class — although it is nonetheless narrower than the perfect non-gaming open-back headphones — and it usually localizes sounds accurately. This profile emphasizes the bass, which supplies explosions a clean and satisfying thump, however it doesn’t overdo it like many different headsets marketed towards gaming.

The sound right here continues to be a step behind the DT 900 Professional X or HD 560S, particularly for on-line shooters. Subsequent to these headphones, the A40’s pushed upper-bass/lower-mids and weaker treble blunt high quality particulars a bit extra and make footsteps sound much less clear. However in comparison with most gaming headsets, the A40 sounds higher balanced. It does properly to envelop you within the sounds of a busy scene.

Consolation shouldn’t be a problem, both. The A40 is on the bulkier facet, however its weight is evenly distributed, and it doesn’t clamp down overly exhausting. The fuzzy earpads are smooth and breathable, whereas the ear cups are roomy sufficient to suit bigger ears. The headset has the same old open-back shortcomings, although, because it leaks a bunch of sound and blocks nearly zero outdoors noise. The mostly-plastic design appears “gamer-y” and lacks built-in quantity controls, too. No one would name it “premium.” Nonetheless, it isn’t flimsy.

The A40’s mic, in the meantime, is simply OK. It picks up background noises whilst you chat and makes voices sound considerably muffled. It’s serviceable, however you’d purchase the A40 for its sound high quality first. The mic isn’t removable both, however you may simply flip it up and out of the best way.

The A40 has been round for a number of years now, however its value has come down from $150 to a extra cheap $130 in that point. Astro sells an elective DAC with further controls for $130, however at that value we’d strongly advise shopping for a superb “regular” headphone and exterior mic.

Enclosure: Open-back
Driver: Dynamic
Frequency response: 20 – 20,000 Hz
Mic: Sure, not removable
Connectivity: Wired
Weight: 369g (with out cable)

Finest finances gaming headset: HyperX Cloud Stinger 2

You gained’t discover a good open-back gaming headset for lower than $50, so should you’re on a decent finances and require a built-in mic, you’ll need to compromise on sound high quality. With that in thoughts, the HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 is a good purchase at its typical road value of $40. Its mic belies that low value, making voices sound comparatively clear and correct. The truth is, it’s a transparent step-up from the A40. Whereas it isn’t removable, it routinely mutes while you slide it out of the best way. This pair additionally will get the consolation half proper, because the pleather ear cups don’t clamp down exhausting and have sufficient smooth padding the place it counts.

The Cloud Stinger 2 has a V-shaped sound profile, which is to say it exaggerates the bass and treble whereas recessing the mid-range. It’s not dangerous for what it’s, and it’ll undoubtedly give motion scenes a heavy sense of influence. However the upper-bass is bumped to the purpose the place it could get tiring over time, and also you lose a few of the high quality particulars you’d hear on our suggestions above. Since it is a low-cost closed-back headset, the Cloud Stinger 2 doesn’t sound practically as huge because the pairs above, neither is it as nuanced about positioning sounds precisely. It’s lower than very best for aggressive video games consequently, although it might probably nonetheless sound “enjoyable” with many different titles.

Past that, the plastic design feels cheap-ish. Its cable isn’t detachable, and it doesn’t block a lot outdoors noise regardless of having a closed-back design. However, you must choose your battles on this value vary. The Cloud Stinger 2 is flawed, however it does sufficient properly to be a superb headset for sure budget-conscious patrons. HyperX just lately launched PlayStation- and Xbox-themed variants of the headset should you desire these stylings as properly.

Enclosure: Closed-back
Driver: Dynamic
Frequency response: 10 – 28,000 Hz
Mic: Sure, not removable
Connectivity: Wired
Weight: 275g

A fast PSA on wi-fi gaming headsets

Most individuals do not want a wi-fi gaming headset. The PS5 and Xbox Collection X/S have a headphone jack constructed into their controllers, whereas the Nintendo Change and most gaming PCs nonetheless have the port, too. The price of an OK wi-fi headset is commonly greater than a comparable wired mannequin, and for the cash the wi-fi variations often present worse audio high quality and a much less clear microphone. You additionally threat introducing points with latency. (That’s why non-gaming Bluetooth headphones are a no-go right here.)

Finest wi-fi gaming headset: Audeze Maxwell

Nonetheless, should you actually need a wi-fi headset – say, in case your gaming PC is located on the far finish of your desk – the Audeze Maxwell is the perfect we have examined. At $299 (or $329 for the Xbox mannequin), it’s definitely not low-cost, however it’s one of many few devoted gaming headsets whose audio and mic high quality maintain up subsequent to good “regular” wi-fi headphones.

The Maxwell’s planar-magnetic drivers do properly to breed smaller intricacies in a given scene. The default signature right here is sort of a extra refined model of the frequent “gaming headset” sound. Bass is clean and impactful however well-controlled. Highs are crisp however not overly sharp. Some results within the mids can sound skinny, and as it is a closed-back headset, it might probably’t present the identical immersive width and exact imaging because the open-back fashions above. (Wi-fi gaming headsets with an open-back design are just about nonexistent.) However in comparison with different wi-fi headsets, it’s unusually nice, detailed and balanced. Its clearer treble offers it the sting over the Astro A40 for music particularly, although for $200 extra we’d anticipate as a lot. When you don’t just like the default sound, Audeze’s app consists of a number of EQ presets.

Alongside these traces, the Maxwell’s removable increase mic is a standout. It does an exceptional job of muting background noise, and whereas your voice loses some air, it’ll nonetheless sound clearer and fuller right here than on most wi-fi headsets we’ve examined.

The Maxwell may be very a lot on the cumbersome facet, and its metal headband makes use of an odd suspension mechanism that successfully isn’t adjustable with out taking the headset off. The squishy padded ear cups could make your ears really feel heat, however they preserve the headset snug and isolate a good quantity of out of doors noise. (Others will hear what you’re taking part in should you crank the quantity, although.) Generally, the design feels substantial. The important controls are constructed into the left earcup, and the gadget can join over Bluetooth or a 3.5mm cable along with a USB-C wi-fi dongle. You may even pair with two gadgets directly, one over the dongle and one other over Bluetooth. The headset must be powered on with the intention to play music over a cable, nevertheless.

Audeze charges the Maxwell’s battery life at roughly 80 hours, although you may get much less should you play at excessive volumes or use options like Bluetooth or sidetone closely. That’s properly behind the longest-lasting choices in the marketplace, however it’s ok to not really feel like a hindrance.

Enclosure: Closed-back
Driver: Planar magnetic
Frequency response: 10 – 50,000 Hz
Mic: Sure, removable
Connectivity: 2.4GHz, Bluetooth 5.3 (LDAC, LE Audio, LC3, LC3plus, AAC, SBC), 3.5mm, USB-C digital audio (elective), Xbox Wi-fi (elective)
Weight: 490g

One other good wi-fi possibility: HyperX Cloud Alpha Wi-fi

When you can’t afford the Maxwell however nonetheless need to go wi-fi, think about the HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless. It’s an apparent downgrade when it comes to audio high quality and common options, however it’s usually accessible within the $150 vary, and its absurdly lengthy battery life helps paper over its flaws. HyperX says it might probably final 300 hours per cost, however we have been in a position to squeeze out a pair dozen extra at reasonable volumes. iFixit has a helpful teardown should you’re curious as to how that is doable, however it’s not a stretch to say one cost right here might final you months of play time.

The sound right here is typical of many gaming headsets: usually V-shaped, with overemphasized bass that may make recreation results sound thrilling however usually presents footsteps and smaller particulars with much less readability. As a closed-back headphone, it gained’t sound as spacious or pure because the extra open pairs above. It’s not dangerous by wi-fi gaming headset requirements, and it usually locations sounds in the fitting place; it’s simply not tuned or designed as optimally as a pair just like the Astro A40.

The headset itself is snug to put on for hours at a time, with plush padding that doesn’t really feel too tight. The fake leather-based earpads could make your ears really feel mildly heat, however usually, it’s simpler to put on than the Maxwell for prolonged durations. Every part is sturdy, and the scarf is properly versatile. The increase mic can be high quality, although that’s relative to different wi-fi headsets. It cancels out background noise properly and retains voices legible, however these voices gained’t sound as crisp or full-bodied as they might be on wired headphones with good mics. 

A phrase of warning: HyperX’s companion software program has been buggy. Whereas you need to use the corporate’s Ngenuity app to customise the headset’s EQ and activate a DTS:X encompass sound function, several users have reported that this introduces noticeable latency. When you really need these options, it’s possible you’ll need to use a third-party EQ app and the spatial audio instruments constructed into Windows and the PS5. By default, the included USB dongle provides a gradual wi-fi connection.

The opposite caveat is that the Cloud Alpha Wi-fi solely works with PCs, PlayStation consoles or a Change whereas docked. It can also’t join over a cable or Bluetooth. When you’re in search of a reliable different for Xbox, go for the Maxwell or one in all our honorable mentions under.

Enclosure: Closed-back
Driver: Dynamic
Frequency response: 15 – 21,000 Hz
Mic: Sure, removable
Connectivity: 2.4GHz
Weight: 335g

Honorable mentions

A black gaming headset, the Corsair Virtuoso Pro, rests flat down on a brown wooden table.
The Corsair Virtuoso Professional.
Photograph by Jeff Dunn / Engadget

Corsair Virtuoso Professional

The $200 Corsair Virtuoso Pro is one other one of many few devoted gaming headsets with an open-back design. Just like the Astro A40, it sounds wider and extra spacious than typical gaming headsets however feels narrower than the “regular” open-back headphone we suggest above. It has a comparatively darkish sound with elevated bass and largely underemphasized treble, although the latter is clearer right here than it’s on the A40. We most well-liked this signature over Astro’s pair with some video games: In a first-person shooter like Halo Infinite, rumbly explosions had extra influence and far-off gunshots have been a bit simpler to select. With different video games, it got here off as much less balanced: The automobile engines in a racer like Forza Motorsport hummed a bit too loud, whereas dialogue in an RPG like Baldur’s Gate 3 sounded a bit of wonkier.

The Virtuoso Professional’s mic is decidedly much less muffled than the A40’s however nonetheless sounds pretty skinny, so it’s merely respectable in comparison with the broader headset market. The design is better-built and appears extra refined, although the scarf adjustment mechanism feels low-cost and you’ll’t detach the mic with out swapping cables out solely. Its spherical, breathable ear cups and light-weight weight (0.75 kilos) make it simple to put on, and it comes with a sturdy journey case for cover. Finally, it’s a superb different to the A40 if you’d like a devoted headset with a clearer mic, however there are richer-sounding headphones accessible when you get into the $200 vary.

Logitech G Professional X 2 Lightspeed

If the Audeze Maxwell didn’t exist, the Logitech G Pro X 2 Lightspeed could be our prime wi-fi headset choose. It sounds higher than the HyperX Cloud Alpha Wi-fi, with satisfying however extra managed bass and extra correct mids, and it’s lighter on the top than Audeze’s pair. Logitech charges its battery life at 50 hours, however we discovered it to final for much longer at reasonable volumes. Nevertheless, a dip within the treble makes it sound darker and extra veiled than the Maxwell, and its microphone offers voices a much less pure tone than both of our important wi-fi picks. Plus, whereas it might probably join over a USB dongle, Bluetooth or a 3.5mm cable, it might probably’t pair to 2 gadgets directly just like the Maxwell. At its standard value of $250, it’s in one thing of a no man’s land, however it’s a superb possibility if it ever goes on sale.

Logitech's G535 wireless gaming headset rests on top of a wicker chair on a patio outdoors.
The Logitech G535.
Photograph by Jeff Dunn / Engadget

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X

Xbox homeowners who need a extra reasonably priced wi-fi headset than the Audeze Maxwell might do worse than the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X. It’s one other bass-forward pair, and its mic is akin to the one on Cloud Alpha Wi-fi. Like different Nova fashions, it provides a number of connectivity choices, together with Bluetooth and a 3.5mm cable. And whereas it is marketed for the Xbox, it might probably additionally connect with PCs and PS5s. Its 30-ish hours of battery life are properly in need of our prime picks, nevertheless, and it might probably sound uneven within the treble vary. 

HyperX Cloud Alpha

The wired HyperX Cloud Alpha is commonly on sale for $80 or much less, and at that value it’s a good center floor between the Cloud Stinger 2 and Astro A40 should you completely want a closed-back gaming headset. It’s previous, however its plush earpads and headband stay cozy, and its removable mic, whereas not excellent, continues to be higher than Astro’s pair. Its treble is underemphasized, nevertheless, and once more it sounds extra “in your head” than the A40.

Logitech G535

The Logitech G535 is an impressively mild (236g) and cozy wi-fi headset that’s usually accessible for $100 or much less. It has a extra impartial sound signature than the Cloud Alpha Wi-fi and Arctis Nova 7X: not flat, however much less beholden to large thumping bass. It might probably make mid-range particulars sound skinny, and if something it might use a bit of extra sub-bass, however it’s an agreeable listening expertise general. It might probably additionally join over Bluetooth. Nevertheless, its mic offers up some fullness in comparison with the Cloud Alpha Wi-fi (which already wasn’t excellent), and its 30 or so hours of battery life is a big drop-off from our prime suggestions. It doesn’t work with Xbox both, and it forces you to crank the quantity to achieve a listenable stage. However should you don’t need to spend a ton on a wi-fi headset, it’s the perfect of the $100-and-under fashions we have examined.

This text initially appeared on Engadget at

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