The best gaming headsets in 2020

After testing over 40 headsets over 60 hours, we believe the HyperX Cloud Alpha is the most comfortable and best gaming headsets for most users, with one caveat in mic quality, at least. Clear sound, but nasal.

HyperX Cloud Alpha

The best gaming headsets

Most of our testers found the HyperX Cloud Alpha more comfortable than its competition for extended use. Its removable microphone is practical for chatting with colleagues, even if the sound is a little muffled. Its aluminum design inspires confidence despite its featherweight, and the materials appear to be of higher quality than other helmets in this price bracket. Our test model is in immaculate condition, having been used by several people in different offices for over a year. The removable cable incorporates controls to adjust the volume and mute the microphone, and you don’t have to go through software to get a good sound.

HyperX Cloud Alpha

Sennheiser GSP 300

A higher-quality microphone although less comfortable

If you’re looking for a better mic, go for the Sennheiser GSP 300. It offers clear rendering for vocals, and its sound quality is as recommendable for games like that of the Cloud Alpha. Our big-headed testers, however, found the GSP 300 less comfortable. Also, its plastic design makes it look lower than the Alpha. Unlike our first choice, the Sennheiser cable is not detachable, nor its microphone. It’s not dramatic, but it does mean the GSP 300 is harder to fix if something goes wrong.

Corsair HS50

The cheapest quality helmets

The Corsair HS50 is the headset that offers the best sound and the best build quality for this price. It’s not as adjustable or as comfortable as our top pick, its construction feels less rugged; and the sound is less detailed than the Cloud Alpha, but since it’s half the price; it’s not what we expected. From him. Most of our testers found the HS50 comfortable for short periods but complained about having warm ears after about an hour.

Sennheiser Game One

Open headphones with phenomenal sound

If you have a full-sized head and are looking for superior comfort for extended wear, a more engaging audio experience, and a great mic, choose the Sennheiser Game One. Unlike most gaming headsets, this headset has an open design, which means the ear cups have vents. While this design makes the sound of the Game One more open and spacious; it also lets the sound escape, meaning that those around you (and those present during voice chats) can hear what you are listening to. It also makes the helmet lighter and more comfortable to wear over a long period; although our testers with large heads found it uncomfortable.

Sennheiser

HyperX Cloud Flight

The best wireless headphones

You don’t necessarily need to have a wireless headset to play on a PC (you pay a lot more just for the luxury of keeping your headphones on even when you take a bathroom break); if you want someone, buy the HyperX Cloud Flight. It’s comfortable; sounds almost as good as the Cloud Alpha, a better mic, and a battery that delivers up to 30 hours of battery life – the longest of any wireless model we tested. It is a little “cheap” compared to the Cloud Alpha and its controls are not intuitive; but the comfort and performance more than make up for it. Another downside to wireless is that even with long battery life; you will have to charge the Flight now and then, which can be annoying if you forget it.

Who are gaming headsets for?

If you play multiplayer games often and are looking for the easiest way to communicate with your teammates; consider a gaming headset. With a built-in mic that often includes a noise cancellation feature, the headset is useful for games like over watch; Fortinet, or Destiny 2.

If you don’t play multiplayer games with voice chat, buy a good classic headset instead. For a lower price, you’ll get a product that sounds better and looks nicer, and doesn’t look weird when you use it for anything other than gaming.

If you already have a headset that you love, you can add a mic using a Modric. The Modric adapts to any helmet thanks to a sticker attached to a magnet (which allows you to remove the microphone when you are not using it). In our testing, the Modmic sounded better than any microphone built into gaming headsets. However, we found the Modmic setup only useful when leaving the headset connected to a computer all day. Double cables are too complicated to untangle if you move around a lot. Modric also manufactures a wireless microphone that plugs in with a magnet. It offers clearer sound than any other wireless headset we’ve tested, and its sound quality is almost as good as the wired version. However, since the wireless version costs over $ 100; we think most users should stick with the wired model for now.

If you don’t play multiplayer games with voice chat, buy a good classic headset instead.

If you play online games or are looking for a headset that can also serve you in your one-off meetings, for listening to podcasts; or for professional recordings, the gaming headset is not the best choice. Most gaming headset mics are good enough for gaming, as they dampen background noise from other keyboards or roommates; but they don’t offer pro quality. If this is important to you, you will benefit from greater clarity and better voice fidelity with a USB microphone (guide in English) paired with a good headset.

How we selected best gaming headsets

There are hundreds of gaming headsets on the market, and it’s hard to pinpoint them based on their features. During our research and our tests, we, therefore, studied the following criteria:

  • Comfort: You should be able to wear a best gaming headsets for hours without getting your ears too hot; and it shouldn’t have a pinching effect if you wear glasses. A good helmet shouldn’t be too tight or too heavy that it weighs you down after an hour. The model chosen should be adjustable to fit a wide range of heads and comfortable for different sizes of ears. If a helmet becomes uncomfortable after less than an hour of use, bring it back and try a different model.
  • Sound Quality of best gaming headsets: Gaming headsets rarely deliver sound as detailed as conventional headsets at a similar price point; but they must remain clear and precise, without one frequency range covering another. The most common problem with gaming headsets? The excessive bass level. With too much bass, we can give explosions a nice sound rendering but drown out other important sounds like dialogue.
  • Microphone: Most of the microphones in headphones provide noise reduction designed to suppress background noise. They often do a good job of attenuating low-pitched sounds like that of computer fans, but struggle with highs, like the microwave ringing. None of the models we tested succeeded in suppressing the noise of a nearby conversation or loud air conditioning. As noise cancellation tends to muffle vocals, we focused more on clarity than on the quality of the built-in mic. The microphones come in different formats: some detach, swivel, retract or bend. We did not get a unanimous preference from our testers and therefore did not favor one type of microphone over another.
  • Price: Most users will be happy with a wired headset costing between $ 60 and $ 120. When you drop below 60 euros, you lose clarity in the headset and microphone, and the build quality decreases considerably. By putting more than 150 euros, we get a more precise audio reproduction, but this is not essential for most users. Expect to shell out $ 150 to $ 200 for excellent sounding wireless headphones.
  • Quality of manufacture: The headband of a gaming headset should not squeak when you put it on or when you move around; and the headset should not be damaged when you carry it in your bag.
  • Design: the majority of gaming headsets are “circumoral”; meaning that they cover the entire ear and passively block background noise by creating insulation around the ear. “On-ear” headsets are placed on the ear, but this style is not very common on gaming headsets because the sound escapes too much. There are also a few in-ear models out there, but we found them to sound awful and uncomfortable.
  • Open or closed headset: Most gaming headsets are “closed”. This means that they feature insulation on the back of the ear cup to prevent sound from coming out. This blocks background noise while preventing sound from escaping. Since they do not have a system to ventilate the heat, closed helmets tend to heat the ears. “Open” helmets are fitted with ventilated ear cups. This improves the temperature around the ears and provides a more natural and open sound. Since this ventilation also lets sound in and out, open-ended headphones are best suited for gaming in a quiet location.

Volume controls: Most gaming headsets have volume and mic controls on the earbuds or cable. We noted if these were easy to use, especially the mic mute feature.

We also took into account a few less important factors of best gaming headsets:

  • Connection Type: Gaming headsets can connect to a computer with one USB cable, one 3.5mm combo cable; or two 3.5mm connectors. In our testing, neither type of connection stood out in terms of sound quality, but 3.5mm connections are more dependent on the quality of your computer’s audio hardware than USB headsets; which have their onboard digital converters. to analog. If you plan to use the headset with other devices, like a game console or phone; a 3.5mm connector is a must.
  • Surround Sound: Some gaming headsets offer “7.1 surrounds” sound; but most offer “virtual surround” which simulates surround sound through stereo speakers using hardware and software tricks. We found that the quality of virtual surround sound depended more on the game than on the headphones. Some game developers, like Dice, the company that created Battlefield; spend a lot of time working on virtual surround and their games can give a worked sound in these headphones. However, most developers cannot spend as much time on this aspect. When the virtual surround is bad, it looks like the sound is coming from a small speaker across the room. Any headset can enjoy virtual surround sound with paid software like Razer Surround; Dolby Atoms, or the free Windows Sonic for Headphones. If a headset that is already of good quality offers virtual surround sound; so much the better, but otherwise there is no need to pay more for this functionality.
  • Software: Some companies provide software to customize equalizer settings or audio profiles. This software should remain optional: all good headphones produce excellent sound without the need for a driver or additional download.

Most users will prefer the price and ease of use of wired headsets. Wireless models seem more convenient, but leaving them charged can be tricky, and if you have a lot of other wireless devices; you might notice audio cutouts due to interference. Wired headsets often sound clearer than wireless ones, and wireless technology can cause lag; which will be problematic in fast-paced gaming.

How we tested best gaming headsets

I started by wearing each of the 40 helmets for at least 30 minutes to eliminate any that had poor build quality or comfort issues; paying special attention to helmets that weren’t comfortable with glasses. When I was unsure of a helmet, I slammed it over the heads of my colleagues, to their delight.

For all the headsets that passed the comfort and build quality test, I then rated the audio quality, playing different games on our favorite gaming laptop, the Asus Scar II. The sound and mic quality may especially depend on your PC motherboard or sound card; but I did not use an external DAC or amplifier except when it came with the headset as most users do not have external audio hardware for their gaming laptops. I have tested headsets with several games like Hell blade: Sauna’s Sacrifice; to get an idea of ​​the sound spectrum of each headset; Doom to see how helmets handled frantic action games; over watch to test microphone performance on multiplayer action games; and Civilization VI to see if the headset could handle the details of songs played by an orchestra.

During this phase, I paid particular attention to comfort and wore helmets throughout the working day. I then gave the best models to our testers, who have different head sizes and hair lengths; so they can assess the comfort of each helmet. I tested the mics by recording my voice in Audacity while typing on a mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX Blue switches to see if the mic was picking up a lot of background noise or not. I then played those recordings to someone asking them to rate the audio quality.

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