Having the right headset can make for incredibly immersive gaming. Surrounding your ears with in-game sound helps you hear every detail from the direction of enemy footsteps to the ambient noises of a virtual city. Plus, in online multiplayer games, a decent microphone can suppress background noises for clear communication in the most crucial moments. But with most performance gaming headsets coming in at around $200, it can be tempting to instead put that significant chunk of money toward a 4K display, new games, or more storage. If you’re in search of the best possible experience, a good pair of headphones are worth the cost. And with proper sound unveiling new layers of detail in your games, music, and movies, characters and environments spring to life around you.
Check out quick info below of the top five gaming headsets from our testing, then scroll deeper for more helpful buying info and full reviews of these models plus other high-ranking options.
The Differences Between Gaming Headsets
Most headphones for gaming have neodymium drivers—which convert electrical signal into sound transferred through a coil—providing clear quality and great bass. Though some do use other types, such as a planar transducer, which uses a flat wire membrane (instead of a coil) to make audio sound more realistic.
Frequency response represents the range of base, middle, and treble sounds, with the lower number representing the base and higher representing treble. The larger the range, the more precise the sound will be. The most common range is 20 hertz to 20,000 Hz, and anything broader than that will increase the diversity of sound—i.e. higher highs and lower lows—that you’ll hear. Note that simply having an impressive frequency response doesn’t alone equal incredible sound. The seal of the headphones (determining the amount of outside noise they can block) also has an impact, as does the difference between surround sound and 3D (or virtual) sound—although features like these are typically up to personal preference. For instance, 3D sound will provide a more immersive experience particularly for first-person-shooting games, allowing you to hear sounds from the direction they come from in an environment.
Besides the issue of sound quality, other factors such as comfort, convenience, and connectivity also influence your gameplay. The most obvious decision you probably have to make is between wired and Bluetooth models. While wireless connectivity will give you more mobility, it’s still hard to beat the sound quality of a wired headset. For wired options, 3.5mm is the most common port, but some may have optical, Type-C, or Type-A ports, making them compatible with newer phones and laptops.
How We Selected and Tested
To narrow down our testing pool of gaming headsets, we use our knowledge of the tech, talk with designers and engineers, and consult other professional reviews, as well as tens of thousands of consumer ratings. Once we have our selections called in, we test each pair of headphones over a month at their default sound profile. While we played the gamut of genres from RPGs to racing games to first-person-shooters for a general handle of baseline sound, we chose Mafia III: Definitive Edition as our benchmark title. This entry in the series features cinematic cutscenes, is full of explosive action, and (most importantly) features a lively open world bustling with noise. No matter where you go in the Louisiana-inspired city of New Bordeaux, you’ll find background conversations, dynamic audio sources like famous 60s songs playing from passing cars and indoor radios, and various atmospheric nature sounds.
You can find any headsets that we haven’t gotten hands on yet—but look promising from our experience and knowledge—in the “Other Great Options” section. We give each of those a Consumer Score, which represents the percentage of customers who rated each product at least four out of five stars on retail sites like Amazon, Walmart, and the manufacturers’ pages.
Logitech G Pro X Wireless
Drivers: 50mm neodymium | Connectivity: USB-A RF dongle | Frequency response: 20-20,000 Hz | Mic: Electret condenser microphone
Logitech’s G Pro X Wireless gaming headset is the last headset we tested in the pool but proved to be the best in terms of overall performance. Straight out of the box, its sound profile was well-balanced, bringing out every minuscule detail like the faint buzz from an overhead light bulb or the multi-directional scattering of gravel on roads we drove over. The boom microphone is one of the best sounding we used and is the only option on the list to include a foam windscreen to eliminate pops. While our voice by no means sound as good as on a dedicated streaming microphone, there’s virtually no tinniness or phone-like overlay in recordings. Teammates in online games confirmed that our microphone audio sounded fuller, with a consensus that this is the most natural and clear input we tested. Lastly, the battery life met its 20 hour claim, exceeding it by a little over an hour, ensuring you’ll have more than enough juice for longer game sessions.
In Mafia III, we heard conversations from a gathering of NPCs through the walls of a hotel room, the easy to miss spinning of records in a surveillance station, and even the quiet laps of waves along the bayou. Cutscenes spring to life with clear dialogue and background noise thanks to a wide soundscape that stayed especially clean in mid performance. Other than visual cues, we could make out an attack was going to occur in-game by the screech of a car coming to an abrupt stop and distant shuffling of enemies. These headphones truly shine with a massive bass that isn’t distorted at peaks and allows for other sounds to come through—perfect for multiplayer games. Whether we played Call of Duty or PUBG, gunshots popped according to their distance and resonated throughout a space, while explosions boomed without any crackle.
After unboxing the Pro X Wireless, we swapped out the leatherette ear pads for the memory-foam cloth ones instead—a nice option to have. On the left cup sit all the standard controls; a volume knob, a power switch, a mute button, a 3.5mm microphone port, and a USB-C input for charging. The build quality is meticulous, with a premium aluminum outer and well-padded steel headband. But the design doesn’t stand out from a basic pair of black headphones. While we appreciated this for the ease of incorporating the G Pro X Wireless into a work setup, if you want flair, look elsewhere.
They’re expensive, but the Pro X Wireless are well-built with a focus on producing and relaying premium sound. While we wish they were a tad less bulky and offered Bluetooth connectivity, there’s little overall to complain about.
SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless
Drivers: 40mm neodymium | Connectivity: USB-C RF dongle, 3.5mm | Frequency response: 20-20,000 Hz | Mic: Bidirectional noise-canceling boom microphone
SteelSeries’s Arctis 1 Wireless gaming headset reproduces crisp, clear sound and works across a wide variety of devices. The breathable mesh cups are more porous than other materials—great for keeping you from getting clammy, not so great for blocking outside sounds. However, the extensive connectivity, battery life, and range are hard to top for the price.
Over the course of a month we easily used this headset with a PC and across all major video game consoles including the Nintendo Switch, PS5, and Xbox Series X (via the USB-C to USB-A conversion adapter). You can rest assured knowing your system of choice is compatible with these headphones. When using the headset with an Xbox, we simply had to slide a switch directly on the dongle from “USB” to “Xbox” mode to get the system to recognize and output sound to the Arctis 1. Android phones and tablets with a USB-C port are compatible with these cans, but we didn’t have a device on hand to test their performance. Unlike the G Pro X Wireless above, you can use a 3.5mm wired connection to plug the headphones into the auxiliary port of supporting devices.
As audio poured through, we found the dialogue rivaled our top pick in clarity, especially across different types of accents in Mafia’s dialogue. From thick East Coast mobster voices to whistles sprinkled throughout southern twang, each speaker retained characteristic sound traits—even NPCs outside of cutscenes. While the bass from gunshots pops, explosions and low rumbles like those from the roar of the protagonist’s Ford Torino GT-inspired car aren’t as powerful. On the bright side, the sound is accurate and doesn’t distort at peaks.
SteelSeries opted for an RF dongle over Bluetooth for transmitting audio wirelessly; in our testing, this translated to no noticeable lag and less drain on the battery. Like our top pick, the Arctis 1 Wireless also exceeded its 20 hours of promised battery life. As for the microphone, our voice came across quite clear, if a bit quiet.
—BEST NOISE CANCELLATION—
Bose QuietComfort 35 II
Drivers: 40mm neodynium | Connectivity: Bluetooth, 3.5mm | Frequency response: 10-20,000Hz | Mic: Electret condenser microphone
As one of the best wireless headphones of all time first and a gaming headset second, the QuietComfort 35 II provided the best sound out of our pool. This generation adds a boom mic and volume wheel for improved sound input and control while playing. At $300, they’re expensive, and the lack of an RF dongle for lag-free wireless audio kept them from earning the top spot. With that said, the QC35 II are one of only two headsets on our list to support Bluetooth—only with the boom mic removed, however. Once you do take it off, these make for comfortable high-performance headphones with ANC, which can justify the price as a 2-in-1 investment.
We found the matte black body with rose gold embellishments to be pretty stylish, offering some glitz without going overboard. Throw the QC 35 II over your ears and you’ll find the plush leatherette cups run deep for a nice comfortable seal. On the right cup sit the power button and volume controls, which are surprisingly easy to reach thanks to the emphasized and clicky buttons that stand out for your thumb. On the left side, you’ll find the noise-cancellation button to cycle through levels. To activate the noise cancellation, you turn the headset on with the right side power switch.
We were disappointed that we had to plug the headset into a controller on consoles since Bluetooth is disabled when the boom mic is attached. The experience on PS5 is fine, but on two different Xbox Series X controllers, we found some light crackling coming from the left cup. In Mafia, the ensemble of strings washed over us, while the distant musings of virtual pedestrians were much more audible. In multiplayer games, the excellent imaging made it easy to track down the position of sounds in a space, giving us the drop on opponents.
With active noise cancelling on, we could dimly hear the clack of clicky mechanical keyboard keys from two feet away. Roommates, banging pans, and even the leaf blower of landscapers just outside the window had a hard time breaking through during our test. For the maximum level of immersion in games, this is a great pick if you can afford to completely disconnect from reality during sessions. But if not, and you like to, say, keep an ear out for little ones in your home, then you should skip on these. The QC 35 II are an audiophile’s dream. You just need to shell out the cash for them.
—BEST FOR XBOX—
Xbox Wireless Headset
Drivers: 40mm neodymium | Connectivity: Bluetooth, 3.5mm | Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz | Mic: Bendable boom with dual mics
Befitting headphones built for gaming, the Xbox Wireless Headset’s controls are extremely easy to adjust on the fly. Each earcup functions as a dial. The left controls the balance between in-game audio and that of your party members’ chat; rotate the dial counterclockwise for more of the former and clockwise if you’re having trouble hearing your teammates over explosions or cinematic dialogue. (There’s a nice groove right in the middle of the dial’s travel for reference, so it’s easy to feel once you’ve hit 50-50.) The right cup controls the overall volume coming out of the headset. We’ve had no trouble reaching up to use the two amid frenzied online multiplayer.
The audio itself is excellent. Dialogue comes through clear via the 40mm speakers, and we’re able to hear enemies’ footsteps as they try to sneak up on us—from exactly which direction. The flexible mic stalk is easy to tuck up and out of the way when we’re playing solo, while an easily visible LED indicator lets us quickly confirm that our mic is on should we need to coordinate in multiplayer. And our teammates have never complained about not being able to hear us.
Ample padding on the headband and earcups make these comfortable to wear through extended play sessions, and the battery life (15 hours claimed) is there to match. We typically charge the headset once a week, with its low-battery tone coming in plenty of time for us to get it plugged into the included USB-C cord without dying on us mid-play.
Our issue with the Xbox Wireless Headset is the buttons. There are two—one for power and pairing and the other to turn on and mute the mic—and each provides a satisfying mechanical click upon a full press. But even when we’ve felt that click, it’s not uncommon that we’ve had to press the button again to get the headset to register our command. It’s annoying. Luckily, these controls (unlike balance and volume) are ones we have to use little during actual gameplay. The sound quality, ease of the other controls, and $100 price more than make up for it.
—BEST FOR PLAYSTATION—
Sony Pulse 3D
Drivers: 50mm neodymium | Connectivity: USB-A RF dongle, 3.5mm | Frequency response: N/A | Mic: Dual internal mics built into ear cup
Sony’s Pulse 3D headset sports an understated black and white design rife with curves to match the aesthetic of the PlayStation 5. (They’re also compatible with PS4 and PC.) There’s no external boom microphone. Instead, the mic is built directly into the earcups, which leads to a slightly muffled sound quality. Still, the sub-$100 price tag pairs with easy-to-reach controls, extensive EQ adjustments directly in the console sound menu, and 3D audio capabilities for PS5 to make the Pulse 3D an obvious choice for PlayStation loyalists.
Slipping the headband over our skull instantly adjusted the Pulse to provide a snug fit without clamping pressure. The ear padding is a bit bulky compared to the other headphones we tested but runs deep to create an effective seal. As sound poured in, we found ourselves impressed with clearly audible conversations through barriers, traffic outside a street-facing hotel room, and even a virtual street performer playing saxophone from two in-game blocks away. While the bass is balanced and the dialogue is clear, the Pulse’s default profile is quieter than the rest of the gaming headsets we tested even at maximum volume. Since they’re developed by Sony directly, you can extensively adjust sound profiles and EQ from the PlayStation sound setting, unlike third-party options.
Switching over to the PS5 title Demon’s Souls to utilize the 3D audio feature, we noticed positional audio had a major impact on anticipating threats. We could pinpoint the groans of the undead to an exact location as we explored a passageway so we could avoid an ambush. Distant roars of a dragon became progressively louder as we reached its location in the game. And as we ran and rolled across a bridge to avoid said dragon’s flame attacks, we heard fire crackle and rush from behind us as we narrowly avoided death. The placement of virtual objects like enemies and environmental features shines on the Pulse.
Their 12-hour battery life meant they needed to be charged after every third session. While that falls on the shorter end of the spectrum, it’s hard to forget to charge them thanks to the visual battery bar showing their charge on screen.
HyperX Cloud Flight Wireless
Drivers: 50mm dual chamber neodymium | Connectivity: USB -A RF dongle, 3.5mm | Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz | Mic: Electret condenser microphone
At just 11 ounces, the headset is lightweight despite thick memory foam lining the bottom of the headband. The plush leatherette earpads enveloped our tester’s larger pierced ears without pressure, lending impressive breathability over extensive sessions (not something you always get with this material).
On the left cup you’ll find your power button, an auxiliary port, a Micro USB charging slot, and a connection for the boom microphone. The noise-cancelling, bi-directional boom mic on this set is clear, stripping out things like the hum of a fan as central heating kicked in. Alone on the right side sits a notched volume wheel, which gave us a nice texture for grip while adjusting levels.
While the Clouds deliver booming bass, we found that indirect noises like background conversations around the city or a hotel room radio could be lost even at high volumes. The tradeoff is enhanced dialogue clarity in cutscenes. While explosions have impact, especially front and center, overall bass is boomy from the large 50mm drivers and sealed fit.
Between games, we flipped the headphones outward and rested them on our neck with ease. The battery averaged just shy of 17 hours of playtime over the course of a month with the LED lightning on the cups and mic controls turned on—just a bit shorter than the advertised 18 hours.
While we linked above to the PS5-compatible model we used for testing, you can find the Xbox version here.
OTHER GREAT OPTIONS
HyperX Cloud Orbit
Consumer Score: 62% gave it 4 stars or more
Drivers: Planar transducer, 100mm | Connectivity: 3.5mm, USB Type A, USB Type C | Frequency response: 10-50,000 Hz | Mic: detachable noise cancellation mic
The Cloud Orbit is incredibly comfortable and supports multiple connections, making it compatible with a variety of devices. The unique 3D sound tracking allows you to feel more immersed, especially in first-person games, since you’ll hear sounds relative to the direction your character is facing. “I wanted a good headset for gaming on my laptop while I’m on the go, and this headset blew me away,” wrote a reviewer. “It sounds like you can actually tell right where things are in games. I’ve also noticed sounds I didn’t notice when using other headsets or headphones.” The downside is that with all this innovative technology comes some confusing software, which gave some reviewers trouble when setting the Cloud Orbit up. Oh, and it will normally put you back about $300.
SteelSeries Arctis Pro
Consumer Score: 82% gave it 4 stars or more
Drivers: 40mm neodymium | Connectivity: 3.5mm | Frequency response: 10-40,000 Hz | Mic: retractable noise-canceling
Reviewers have lauded the previous headsets in the Arctis series, and the Pro is another excellent entry in an already great line. While it’s expensive, you’re unlikely to be disappointed if you’re willing to spend the money. This headset has a frequency response range of 10 Hz up to 40,000: This incredible range brings more distinct and crisp sound for a more realistic experience. PC Gamer reviewers did note that it can be a bit bulky, since the headphones connect to the GameDAC (digital-to-audio converter) and use a 3.5mm jack instead of USB-C or lightning ports. While this may not be a huge concern for some, it’s certainly worth considering if you plan to frequently use them with a phone that doesn’t have a headphone jack. Still, the headset excels in comfort even through long sessions without sacrificing design. “The design is sleek, and strays away from the ‘gamer’-style headsets that you could never wear out in public with confidence,” wrote one reviewer on Amazon. “They are also designed with comfort in mind,” including an adjustable headband and large ear-cups.
Razer Kraken X Ultralight
Consumer Score: 85% gave it 4 stars or more
Drivers: 40mm with neodymium magnets | Connectivity: 3.5mm | Frequency response: 12-28,000 Hz | Mic: Bendable, cardioid pickup
The Razer Kraken X is a comfortable, reliable headset that won’t break the bank. While it’s not the most stylish or innovative, it has a truly remarkable virtual 7.1 surround-sound system—the same that’s available in some of Razer’s higher-end models. “The sound is wonderful, it’s everything that I was expecting from its price,” wrote a reviewer on Amazon. They also claimed that it was durable, comfortable, and had a good seal, though a few others complained about the mic not being detachable.