Gaming Headset Review Roundup: Which One Is Right For You? Friv 0

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Introduction


A few of the gaming headsets we reviewed.

There’s an abundance of gaming headsets on the market, and it can be daunting to find one that’s high quality and fits your preferences. It's also difficult to test everything that's out there. Fortunately, we gathered a handful of the latest wired and wireless headsets and did a lot of the work for you.

We tested the sound quality through a variety of methods. We used Naturespace to get a feel for soundstage--depth and direction of sound--and played through Battlefield 1 missions and a round of competitive Counter-Strike Global Offensive (CSGO) for in-game impressions. We also listened to a range of high bit-rate music ranging from loud punk rock to bass-heavy trap rap to modern orchestral scores. Microphone quality was tested by recording voice in Audacity. Comfort can only be evaluated based on an hour of use.

Before we jump into our roundup, let’s go over some audio terminology:

Highs: High-frequency sounds, also known as treble. This can include soprano vocals, crashing cymbals, high-pitched synths in music.

Mids: Mid-frequency sounds. There’s a wide range of what’s considered mid-frequency, from spoken word, gunshots, and footsteps for games to rhythm guitar, tenor vocals, and snare drums in music.

Lows: Low-frequency sound, also known as bass. In games, bass will add a weighty feel to explosions and gunfire. Bass drums, bass guitar, and baritone vocals will be richer in music.

Sub-bass: Sub-bass is a lower-frequency bass. It can often be used to supplement rumble within a game environment. This can be very hard to detect without proper audio equipment.

Soundstage: Soundstage refers to the location of sound. It encompasses the direction and distance of sound effects. Games like Battlefield 1 and CSGO benefit greatly from good soundstage, helping players detect footsteps of approaching enemies and gunfire from specific locations.

Virtual 7.1 Surround: Most headsets only have two audio drivers and have to rely on virtual 7.1 surround sound to simulate more full audio experience. Virtual surround makes it feel as if audio is happening around you, rather than being sent at you.


Razer Kraken 7.1 V2


Razer Kraken 7.1 V2

The Razer Kraken 7.1 V2’s design is bulky, but it’s not as heavy as it looks. The thick earcups are comfortable for long sessions, though there isn’t much ventilation. This headset does not have a 3.5mm jack and only connects through USB. It also doesn’t have volume control on the cord or headset.

The mids are steady and the highs are very crisp. The lows truly shine as they are punchy and the bass really kicks. The sub-bass is present but not as prominent, however. The Kraken 7.1 really stands out in our soundstage test, and gave a sense of depth in the simulated Naturespace environment. The retractable mic offers top-notch voice-chat quality.

It also features Razer Chroma backlighting on the earcups, though it's a non-factor for something you can’t see while you use it.

At $100, the Kraken 7.1 V2 is a great option if your main concern is audio quality and soundstage, even if it doesn’t come with many features.


Steelseries Siberia 200


Steelseries Siberia 200

The Steelseries Siberia 200 headset improves on the company’s modestly-priced line of headsets. With its light aluminum frame, it features the auto-adjusting headband that makes it easy to slip on. The headset is slightly heavier than it looks, but the cushioned earcups make it a comfortable fit.

Audio quality is solid for the price. The bass doesn’t exactly punch out at you, but the highs and mids sound great even at louder volumes. Our soundstage and in-game tests had noticeable depth of sound. Though it features a convenient retractable mic, the quality of its output is fairly lacking and just serviceable for voice chat.

This headset connects through two 3.5mm jacks, one for audio and one for the mic. It comes in seven different colors, and is priced competitively at $80 MSRP and often goes on sale for $60. The Siberia 200 is a great choice considering its audio quality and comfort.


Steelseries Arctis 5 7.1


Steelseries Arctis 5 7.1

The Steelseries Arctis 5 integrates an elastic auto-adjusting headband in its frame. It rests easy over your ears due to the padded mesh earcups, but bigger ears may come in contact with the inner drivers. The headset slips on and off with ease as it doesn’t clamp down too hard, yet it stays in place just fine.

The package comes with an audio mixing dial that allows you to balance in-game volume and voice-chat volume on the fly. This can be very helpful if you rely on clear communication in multiplayer scenarios. The dial itself can be cumbersome as it’s situated on the cable, closer towards the user. There’s an input for a 3.5mm jack, but it's sold separately. The Arctis 5 also features RGB backlighting, and virtual 7.1 surround.

The mids and highs are rich and vocals come out nicely. The lows have presence and clarity but don’t really standout and the sub-bass is a bit shallow. The Arctis 5 shines in our soundstage tests and depth of sound is a definite highlight in the Arctis 5. The mic quality is another highlight of this headset, and is a substantial improvement over the Siberia 200 headset.

The Arctis 5 retails for $100 and is a great ergonomic product that offers a nice balance of audio and microphone quality.


Logitech G231 Prodigy


Logitech G231 Prodigy

The G231 Prodigy is the entry-level headset for Logitech’s gaming product line. It puts out good bass, and decent mids and lows, but expect these frequencies to become get muddled at higher volumes. In-game audio sounds rich at medium-to-high levels, but explosions and gunfire lack depth.

The biggest knock against this headset is its plastic construction. It squeaks and creeks with facial movements like chewing or drinking. It’s very noticeable and bothersome, and could be a deal-breaker. The G231 has a relaxed fit and its earcups provide initial comfort, but the mesh material can be slightly abrasive. The mic quality is fine for voice chat, but picks up a fair amount of background noise.

At $70, the G231 Prodigy would be a decent purchase if it wasn’t for its audible plastic frame squeaks.


Razer Kraken Pro V2


Razer Kraken Pro V2

Razer’s Kraken Pro V2 is a straightforward stereo headset with solid overall sound quality. It has strong bass and mids that stay clean at medium-loud volume. The highs and vocals can get slightly distorted at louder volumes, though. While directional sound was great on the Kraken Pro V2 during Battlefield 1, it lacked a little soundstage depth.

The design is identical to the 7.1 edition of the Kraken with thick padded earcups, a retractable mic, and aluminum frame. It’s bulky, but not heavy, and comfortable to wear for extended periods, though it can get warm. The Kraken Pro V2 connects through a 3.5mm jack, however. The retractable mic is very similar in quality to the Kraken 7.1 and works well for voice chat.

For $80 retail, the Kraken Pro V2 is a decent choice.


HyperX Cloud Stinger


HyperX Cloud Stinger

The HyperX Cloud Stinger headset is a fair option if you’re on a budget. It rests comfortably on your head and the foam earpads make long sessions easy. The plastic construction does feel a bit flimsy, but not to the point that you should feel worried it will break from normal use.

These have decent audio quality overall, but the sub-bass isn’t very present. The highs tend to come out distorted at louder volumes. Directional sound was impressive during a Counter-Strike session when listening for footsteps, but it lacked depth in Battlefield 1. The microphone is slightly bulky, and while it's good enough to deliver clear voice chat, the mic output is more muddled than our other headsets.

At $50, the Cloud Stinger headset is properly priced, and is a decent upgrade from cheaper headsets.


Fnatic Gear Duel TMA-2


Fnatic Gear Duel TMA-2

The Gear Duel TMA-2 headset was made in partnership between AIAIAI and Esports team Fnatic. The key feature of this package is its customizability. You’re given on-the-ear and over-the-ear earcups. It also includes options for an inline mic or a boom mic. It’s up to you to put a headset together that fits your preference. However you construct this headset, it’ll be lightweight and compact. One downside to this headset is that it tends to clamp on your head more than others.

While the bass is strong and clean, it sometimes overpowers the mids and highs. At higher volumes, the lack of balance between these frequencies is more apparent. The cables it comes with are also very short, which makes it hard to use for spacious setups. Both the attachable boom mic and inline mic pick up voice cleanly without much distortion.

The Gear Duel TMA-2 is expensive. Although it’s not a weak product on its own, its $200 MSRP makes it hard to justify when there are better options on the market.


Astro A50 wireless 7.1


Astro A50 wireless 7.1

The Astro A50 wireless headset is impressive, which is why it sports the $300 price tag. It comes with a charging dock that snaps the headset into place. The dock also acts as the receiver of the headsets wireless signal. This could be cumbersome for those who don’t want extra pieces of equipment around their setup, but the dock displays battery life and has an extra USB port. The two models of the A50 are intended for either the PS4 or Xbox One, but both are functional with PC.

The A50 offers one of the best soundstage experiences. The Naturespace test showed that the headset offered rich depth and distinct sound direction. The lows were bold with good sub-bass presence. Mids were balanced well and weren’t distorted. Highs crackled ever so slightly at very loud volumes, however.

The microphone quality is a low point of the headset. Voice chat is clear enough to understand, but comes out noticeably muffled. The microphone folds up and down, and its rubber housing makes it easy to flex in or out.

The headset comes with dense velour ear pads, which make it the most comfortable headset in this roundup. There’s also a velour pad under the headband. The rubber-like frame is very flexible and durable. The volume wheel on the left earpiece controls volume independent of your desktop level, which can be cumbersome since it's hard to tell the level on the headset itself. Virtual 7.1 surround sound is activated by a button on the headset and the right ear panel allows you to adjust the balance of voice chat and in-game volume.

The A50’s main detractor is its high price. You’ll have to weigh its features against its hefty cost.


Razer Man-O-War wireless 7.1


Razer Man-O-War wireless 7.1

The Man-O-War is Razer’s 7.1 surround sound wireless headset. It’s similar in design to the Kraken series with the overall bulk and comfortable ear pads, but its leather ear pads tend to sink in more which may cause bigger ears to come in contacts with the drivers. It also sports a different, low-profile headband. The Man-O-War comes with a 2.4GHz USB receiver and a wired USB extension dock that is about six feet long. There is no option to use this headset wired, however.

While the headset offers good bass, it’s not as bold as other headsets, which is surprising coming from Razer. Mids and highs stay clean even at loud volumes, but a slight imbalance may be noticeable. The microphone retracts and its quality is crisp.

Razer says the Man-O-War lasts up to 20 hours without the RGB Chroma backlighting and 14 hours with backlighting on.

The Razer Man-O-War goes for $120, which is a fair asking price considering it’s high quality and wireless design.


Logitech G933 Artemis Spectrum wireless 7.1


Logitech G933 Artemis Spectrum wireless 7.1

The G933 Artemis headset is Logitech’s high-end wireless headset. It sports an extravagant design with full RGB backlighting. The mesh ear pads feel great for short sessions, but do get uncomfortable after several hours. The headset is quite bulky and tends to clamp a little tight, but stays in place nicely. The frame doesn’t flex much, which makes it cumbersome to put on at times. The wireless USB receiver is cleverly tucked behind the removable panel on the left earpiece. The right earpiece houses the battery.

Sound quality is king with the G933. Battlefield 1’s atmosphere feels full and a strong level of bass sets a chaotic tone. Mids and highs don’t lose much clarity at loud volumes. It’s evident with music and in-game sound effects. Distance and direction of sound is also detailed. The microphone disables itself in the up position and turns on when you pull it down. The microphone also sounds clear.

Three G-keys reside on the left earpiece and can be mapped as macro keys through Logitech software. While the G933 receiver connects through USB, the headset also has a 3.5mm input to use with mobile devices and other audio equipment.

The Logitech G933 retails for $200, which can be worth it if you won’t compromise on sound quality and want extra features.


Corsair VOID wireless 7.1


Corsair VOID wireless 7.1

The Corsair VOID wireless headset offers impressive sound quality. The lows have presence, the mids and highs are clear at medium-high volume. It is missing some punch in the sub-bass, but the audio you get out of the VOID headset is great for its price. It also features virtual 7.1 surround to boot.

The earcups are comfortable and have good ventilation, but it does have its detractors. The headset is heavy and doesn’t have the most elegant frame design. The microphone isn’t great, however. It doesn’t bend in or out and ends up situated very close to the mouth. Its mic quality also disappoints considering its price.

The model we tested sports RGB lighting on the Corsair logo on the ear pieces. It also has a lever on the left ear to control volume as opposed to a wheel or up-down buttons.

The Corsair VOID headset retails for $100, which is a great value for a wireless headset.


Logitech G533 Wireless 7.1


Logitech G533 Wireless 7.1

The Logitech G533 is intended to be a more affordable version of its high-end G933. It charges through a micro-USB cord and lasts up to 15 hours on a full charge. The G533 also features padded mesh earcups, which are comfortable to wear, but may irritate sensitive skin. It creates a good seal around the ears but the headset itself slides around if you tilt your head up or down.

The lows stand out immediately with a good sub-bass presence. The mids and highs are well-balanced and stay clear at louder volumes. Detailed soundstage tops off the audio experience, which was apparent when playing through Battlefield 1. An audible beep plays into the headset when using the volume wheel on the left earcup, which can be jarring.

The microphone folds up and down, and automatically turns off when tucked away. It plays a beep to indicate when the mic turns on and off. It comes with a small integrated pop filter and can extend an extra inch. Mic quality is perfectly fine for clear voice chat.

The G533 is the latest headset from Logitech and retails for $150 and comes close in terms of quality to its high-end G933 counterpart.


Conclusion


A few of the gaming headsets we reviewed.

After testing out these 12 headsets, it’s clear that the importance of many features come down to personal preference. From our experience, when taking everything into account (price, performance, comfort, etc.), we recommend the Steelseries Siberia Arctis 5 as a wired headset. On the wireless side, we recommend the Razer Man-O-War. If price point is not a concern, Astro’s A50 wireless headset is our favorite of the bunch.

All of these headsets have something to offer. Whatever you choose, you’ll improve your gaming and music experience if you’re starting from cheaper audio setups. Just be sure to do your homework and understand what you’re purchasing first.

Below is a summary of the headsets we reviewed. Let us know of any questions or concerns in the comments below!

Headset

Connectivity

Microphone

Other Features

Base Price

Logitech G933 7.1

Wireless (USB)/3.5mm wired

Semi-retractable folding mic

Three Macro G-keys, RGB backlight, virtual 7.1 surround

$200

Logitech G533 7.1

Wireless (USB)

Semi-retractable folding mic

Built-in pop filter, virtual 7.1 Surround

$120

Logitech G231

Wired (USB)

Folding mic

$80

Razer Kraken 7.1 V2

Wired (USB)

Retractable mic

RGB backlight, swappable ear pads (not included), virtual 7.1 surround

$100

Razer Kraken Pro V2

Wired (USB)

Retractable mic

Swappable ear pads (not included)

$80

Razer Man-O-War 7.1

Wireless (USB)/3.5mm wired

Retractable mic

USB extension dock for wireless receiver, RGB backlight, virtual 7.1 surround

$120

Astro A50 7.1

Wireless (USB)/3.5mm wired

Folding flexible mic

Charging dock, swappable ear pads (not included), Game and voice chat volume mixing, virtual 7.1

$300

Corsair VOID 7.1

Wireless (USB)

Folding mic

RGB backlight, virtual 7.1 surround

$100

Steelseries Arctis 5 7.1

Wired (USB)

Retractable mic

ChatMix Dial, RGB backlight, swappable headband, virtual 7.1 surround

$100

Steelseries Siberia 200

Wired (3.5mm)

Retractable mic

Seven color options,

$80

HyperX Cloud Stinger

Wired (3.5mm)

Folding mic

Memory foam ear pads

$50

Fnatic Gear Duel TMA-2

Wired (3.5mm)

Modular boom mic or inline mic

Swappable ear pads and microphone

$200




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