What makes a good gaming headset? Well, that largely depends on what you’re wanting to use your headset for. In this article, we’ll look at the factors to consider when selecting the right headset for you.
The very first thing to consider would be the platform on which you intend to do the majority of your gaming on. The reason being is that gaming headsets come with different connection types or sizes and what is designed for use (or connection, rather) on a PC might not be compatible with an Xbox, for example. Headsets featuring a USB connection or separate audio and microphone jack might work for your PC but probably won’t work with your console. On the contrary, a headset featuring a 3.5mm jack is almost always compatible with PC as well as consoles.
Connection Type (Wireless vs Wired)
Although probably a preference-based choice, there are advantages and disadvantages to both. Many of the top manufacturers are now offering a wireless version of their best-selling headsets, but usually at a higher price. The question is, is it worth it?
Wireless headsets are obviously, wireless. They usually connect to a charging station which in turn is connected to your PC or Console. Not all wireless headset technology is the same though, with some using a radio frequency (RF) and others using Bluetooth. Bluetooth is generally more stable, with RF being more susceptible to interference and dropout. The advantage of a wireless headset is that you can get up and walk to the kitchen and make a cup of coffee while still being able to talk to your teammates. Wireless headphones are also battery-powered, with different models offering different battery life. Be sure to check the battery life if you are looking to go for a wireless headset, for great wireless options head over to Outeraudio.com.
Wired headsets are usually connected via USB or a 3.5mm connection. The advantage to wired headsets is that they provide higher sound quality, and are generally cheaper in price. The disadvantages include having a cable that is susceptible to breaking over time, as well as the cable often being way too short for PC users. When buying a wired headset, go for one featuring a braided cable. These are usually more durable and hold up better over time.
Perhaps the most important factor is the level of comfort. If you’ve ever had an uncomfortable or ill-fitting headset then you’ll relate exactly to what I’m saying. As the old adage goes, “time flies when you’re having fun” and this is particularly true when gaming. You’ll spend a lot of hours sitting wearing your headset, and an ill fit can quickly cause pain. Two main factors to look at here are:
Earcup Fit (On-ear vs Over-ear)
Gaming Headsets are available as either an on-ear or over-ear fit. Within those two types, you do also get a variance of the shape of the earcup (rounded or oval), as well as the material and padding used (soft or firm padding, and fabric vs PU leather fabric). Most people find over-ear headphones to be more comfortable than on-ear, however, as each person’s ear size is unique, this will ultimately be your personal preference. Try a few headsets on at a store when choosing your headset to see what feels most comfortable for you.
The headband is just as important in ensuring a comfortable fit. The weight of the headset is going to rest on the top of your head, so it goes without saying the headband should ensure comfortability. Another important aspect is to make sure it’s adjustable enough to fit your head. If on the shortest setting, the earcups end up sitting a bit too low on your ears – causing your ears to carry some of the weight of the earphones, they’re going to be uncomfortable. Additionally, it’s important to make the that the headband doesn’t sit too tightly and cause the ear cups to press against your ears.
What changes your headphones into a headset? The microphone. Having a microphone is an essential item when playing online. Microphone quality is more important to some and less important to others. You might prefer your voice being crisp and clear while others might be happy so long as their voice is loud and audible. With that said, having a poor quality microphone might set you fast on your way to being muted in a server. So be careful when selecting your headset. Some useful features when looking at the microphone would be noise cancellation as well as low feedback. Feedback is that white-noise, soft “shhhh” sound you often hear with low-quality microphones. If you’re streaming or just want particularly good quality audio, you can look at getting a separate condenser microphone instead. However, there are plenty of gaming headsets used by pro players, such as the very well known HyperX Cloud II (used by S1mple) or the Sennheiser GAME ZERO (used by Coldzera) each gamer with their own preference.
When talking about design, we’re not talking about the color scheme or aesthetic design, but rather open-ear and closed-ear designs.
As the name suggests, an open-ear design is where the ear is not fully closed. This feature allows for breathability and often improves acoustics. On the downside, open-ear headsets leak sounds, allowing those around you to hear. If you’re in a shared living space, this would probably not be best suited for you.
Closed-ear headsets feature passive noise canceling. They don’t leak sound like open-ear headsets do and because they keep the sound in, they give you an immersive sound experience within your games. The bass is often more pronounced than with open-ear design and fabric earcups might be a better choice when selecting closed-ear headsets to prevent feeling clammy from the lower breathability.
The process of picking out your peripheral gear is a very important one to a gamer, making hasty choices or selecting cheaper options can take away from your gaming experience and greatly decrease your gaming abilities. That is why when picking out your gaming essentials it is always important to do proper research, follow the professional scene and see what works for them, but at the same time keep in mind your own personal preferences. With the highly competitive industry that is consumer electronics, all big brands have carefully put in the time and research to bring users of all tastes something that will suit them well.