Chapter 1 – Guide on the Best Gaming Audio Setups and How to Get The Most Out of Your Gaming Headphones

Audio is essential in many games. Whether it's first person shooters, horror games, strategy games or anything else! If you're tired of basic gaming headsets and want maximum sound quality to immerse yourself into the game, here are some tips on what you can do to make sure you get the most out of your gaming headset. Finally, we'll show you some gaming headphone setups for different types of gamers.

This article is made up of two parts. The first part is a detailed list of the best gaming headset products and audio gaming setups (1, 2, 3). Overview review with various advices and recommendations for all aspects of your gaming audio experience. The second part is a How to Get The Most Out of Your Gaming Headsets guide. There are a lot of different ways to improve the headphones’ current sound.

Gaming audio setups can be a lot of fun. You can have a lot of sound effects, music and other added effects to the game that might not otherwise exist with just the visuals. A great gaming audio setup is never too expensive, but it will vary depending on what you want to do with it and how much money you’re willing to spend.

One of the reasons to build an audio setup for gaming is the fact that most “gaming” headsets designed for gaming are usually not the best in terms of sound. But let’s start off with the basics:

What is a Gaming Headset?

A gaming headset is a type of headphone that is designed specifically for gaming. Most modern gaming headsets come with various features intended to provide maximum immersion and comfort when playing games, such as 7.1 surround sound and clear noise-canceling microphones to communicate with teammates or opponents.

Some gaming headsets are made to work with multiple platforms, while others are made for specific games, but most are built with features that can be useful for any type of game, including strategy games, shooters, RTS games, and MMORPGs. However, note that some gaming headsets can be used on PC but are incompatible with Xbox consoles or PS4 consoles.

While most wireless gaming headsets are compatible with a larger variety of gaming consoles. It all comes down to the connectivity between the headset and console. Therefore, always check if the headset is compatible with your console before buying it.

If you don’t know which gaming headset is compatible with your console, you can choose from any of the best cross-platform gaming headsets we recommend:

  • Audeze Penrose Gaming Headset – PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Switch
  • SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC – PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Switch
  • Hyper X Cloud Mix – PC, PS4, Xbox One, Mac, Nintendo Switch, Mobile, VR devices
  • Drop + Sennheiser PC38X – PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox, Xbox One, Mac, Mobile
  • HyperX Cloud Alpha – PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X & S, Nintendo Switch, Mobile
  • Razer Blackshark V2 Pro – PC, Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Mac, Nintendo Switch, Mobile (via cable)

Why Invest in Gaming Headsets & What Makes Gaming Headsets Different?

The main difference between headphones and gaming headsets is the presence of a microphone. In addition, most headsets are great for watching movies or listening to music, but they often can’t provide the best experience in terms of gaming. Regular headphones can be used for gaming, but gaming headsets often provide features that gamers needs.

In short, if you can build an gaming audio setup that provides the following, you’re ready for gaming:

High-Quality Audio

Stereo gaming headsets are good for music listening but surround sound headsets can be better in some games because they allow you to hear sounds coming from different directions, which improves your situational awareness in games. Many gamers want audio quality equivalent to HD Theater Systems.

The sound should have a V-shaped sound signature and good spatialization, allowing you to hear footsteps and conversations around you and the little noises that make a gaming experience more immersive.

In other words, you can always hear everything from your opponents and teammates without buying a full 7.1 surround sound home cinema. The best surround sound is achieved by using gaming headsets with good soundstage and imaging, not through software programs and virtual 7.1 or 5.1 surround sound effects, and neither through multiple drivers.

However, if you’ve got good headphones that are capable of producing accurate sound imaging, have a broad soundstage, and excellent sound quality, then you’ll be able to enjoy virtualized surround sound more than with a cheap pair of gaming headsets.

Reliable Microphone

Clear communication is very important for players to coordinate attacks, defend positions and execute strategies. The best type of microphone should capture and record your voice without any background noise or microphone feedback. Gaming headsets typically have a removable boom microphone with a noise shield to get rid of ambient noise and provide a clearer voice. The choice of microphone placement is also important; some headsets have the microphone on the side of the head while others have it inside the headset.

An omnidirectional electret condenser microphone is also preferable. Omnidirectional microphones are preferred for singing because they can pick up sound from more angles. Whereas a condenser microphone is favorable for recording soft, delicate sounds, as opposed to dynamic microphones that capture louder sounds. Therefore, an omnidirectional electret condenser microphone is the best solution for a gaming headset.

Long-lasting Comfort

Since gamers immerse themselves in a game for hours on end, it’s important to wear a comfortable gaming headset. If the headset isn’t comfortable, you’ll be forced to take untimely breaks to rest your head, which is the opposite of what you want when the game gets intense. That’s why some gamers choose over-ear or around-ear gaming headsets instead of supra-aural or on-ear gaming headsets.

Over-ear gaming headsets have a more surface area to rest on, so they don’t put pressure on your ears. Over-ear headphones are also easier to adjust to fit your ear and have more padding to reduce the pressure. The amount of padding in a gaming headset has proven to be an important factor in overall comfort.

Multi-console Compatible

Although some gaming consoles like PS4 and the newer version of the Xbox One controller have implemented a port for headphone jacks, this is not true for all consoles. Gaming headsets should be compatible with PC, gaming consoles, and mobile devices so that your headset will not be limited by the game you want to play or the device you want to use it on.

For instance, major consoles like PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have their own proprietary ports for headsets. You can use regular headphones with PS4, PS5 & newer versions of Xbox One as long as it has a 3.5 mm jack. Bluetooth headsets won’t work on PS4 and Xbox One unless you use a Bluetooth transmitter or have an Xbox/PS4 wireless Bluetooth module.

5 Types of Headphone Jacks - Everything you Need to Know
Placeholder

Multi-platform Compatibility

Before we dive into the best gaming headphone configurations, we need to talk about one aspect that is critical to a large group of gamers who play on multiple gaming consoles: multi-platform or cross-platform compatibility.

Do gaming headphones work with all gaming consoles?

In general, the answer is “yes” to this question. Gaming headsets are compatible with the majority of gaming devices, including gaming PCs, consoles (PS4, Xbox One, Switch), smartphones (Android & iOS), and tablets. Some headphones may be more compatible than others, which receive the “multiplatform compatible” title.

At the same time, there are also gaming headsets with limited compatibility. These are gaming headsets where you choose the platform you want it to be compatible with. This type of gaming headset can be compatible with PC gaming platform & PlayStation gaming platform, or Xbox gaming platform. For example, the Astro A50 TR comes in three versions: compatible with PC and Mac (Astro A50 normal), Astro A50 Xbox for Xbox One, and Astro A50 PlayStation. The Xbox One & Playstation versions are also compatible with PC & Mac.

If you want to use your wireless headset on more than one console, it’s important to research its compatibility with that console. Meanwhile, if you want to use your headphones on your PC, you don’t have to search for PC-compatible gaming headsets.

Can I use any wired headphones for PS4?

Yes. You need a headphone with a 3.5mm CTIA headphone jack to work with PS4 or PS4 Pro. If that’s not the case and your headphone’s cable is an OMTP, you’ll need a dongle that converts the 3.5mm OMTP jack to a CTIA compatible jack.

CTIA is an acronym for Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, also known as American Headset Jack (AHJ). A CTIA standard connector is a 3.5mm TRRS connector with Audio Left, Audio Right, Ground, Microphone. It can be found on many of the most common headphones on the market.

OMTP is an old standard for cellphones and smartphones with 3.5 mm TRRS pins (Audio Left, Audio Right, Microphone, Ground).

Can I use any Bluetooth headphones for PS4?

Bluetooth headphones will work with PS4, but only if they’re compatible with PS4 or you buy a Bluetooth transmitter. PS4 and Xbox one are not Bluetooth compatible; hence they use a different radio frequency which usually requires a special USB dongle to transmit the wireless signal. You can get your Bluetooth headphones to work with PS4 by using a PS4 USB Bluetooth adapter.

Can I use any wired headphones for Xbox One?

You can connect a wired gaming headset that uses a 3.5 mm jack like Sennheiser Game Zero/Game One, Sennheiser GSP 500, or Steelseries Arctis 3 to your Xbox One Controller. That’s only if your Xbox One controller is a newer version with a 3.5 mm headphone jack.

Can I use any Bluetooth headphones for Xbox One?

Xbox One consoles work with Xbox Wireless which uses a different radio frequency than Bluetooth. In that case, there isn’t a native way to connect a Bluetooth headphone that is not compatible with Xbox’s wireless technology. Therefore, to use a regular Bluetooth headphone with Xbox One, you’ll need to use a Bluetooth transmitter and follow some steps.

This link should help: https://gaming.stackexchange.com/a/332974

Can you use a gaming headset with your smartphone?

Most gaming headsets with a 3.5mm jack can be used with any smartphone. You can connect your gaming headset to your phone using the 3.5mm jack or by using Bluetooth or an adapter that matches your smartphones’ charging port.

Unless you have an older version of the iPhone with a headphone jack, you will need to purchase a Bluetooth gaming headset or a 3.5mm to Lightning adapter.

How are Dynamic Headphones Classified
Placeholder

There are many aspects that can go into finding the best gaming headset set-up. One of the most important aspects that people should take into consideration is the type of game they want to play. There are also other things to think about when choosing your gaming headset, such as the signature of the sound, budget, amplification and the gaming environment you will be using the headset for. Here is a quick look at the different types of headsets and their features.

SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC

The SteelSeries Arctis Pro+ GameDAC is capable of playing high-resolution audio. It is one of the gaming headsets that escapes the stereotype that gaming headsets are of poor quality. The headphones come in a big box containing its patented GameDAC with ESS Saber 9018Q2c combo DAC that plays and processes high-resolution audio through its 96 kHz/24-bit conversion (when paired with your PC), extends the frequency range up to 40,000 Hz, and offers DTS Headphone X V2.0 surround sound technology.

It has a pleasant finish with fine yet firm tension inserts to provide a durable grip. The innovative SteelSeries Engine 3 software can be leveraged for customization, among many other things. The sound is well-optimized has a somewhat dark sound signature with detailed and clean musical notes. Sibilances are also not noticeable, and the soundstage is quite well-defined.

Gaming with the SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC is an enjoyable experience thanks to the excellent fit and performance it offers for the price. It rivals many other gaming headsets, such as the Astro A50, which is not cross-platform compatible and is more expensive.

In the end, these headphones were able to come out on top by being versatile and high-value. The SteelSeries Arctis Pro+ GameDAC is an authentic headset with well-rounded sound by combining high-quality components, excellent build quality, and solid software. With a very good microphone, quality digital-to-analog converter for gamers, a very solid build, and great sound quality, it will be hard for this headset not to please its users.

A fellow Redditor sound engineer also offers his sound equalization setup for gaming with the Arctis Pro + GameDAC: “My Equalizer APO EQ: 15 Band EQ Band 1: 12.2 Band 2: 11.4 Band 3: 14.6 Band 4: 10.1 Band 5: 8.6 Band 6: 7.8 Band 7: 1. 7 Band 8: 4. 4 Band 9: 4.8 Band 10: 6.3 Band 11: 9.4 Band 12: 9.8 Band 13: 16.3 Band 14: 20.1 Band 15: 20 Preamp: -8.50dB *Both Equalizer APO and SteelSeries EQ settings must be active together to get the sound I hear!”

Pros

  • Great sound quality – the microphone is just as good
  • The ability to customize the audio with the SteelSeries Engine 3 software
  • Good build quality and solid feel

Cons

  • Expensive

Sennheiser PC38X

Gamers have always gone for the most obvious and recommended gaming headsets, which critics have praised. Common gaming headsets from Steelseries, Turtle Beach, Astro, Razer, and many others can be expensive for this reason and the fact that they’re marketed as “designed for gaming.” But how often have gamers opted for a Sennheiser gaming headset? It’s rare, but Sennheiser has something to offer gamers that is even less popular than Game Zero and GSP 300, and that’s the PC38X.

It turns out that Sennheiser can do just as well as its competitors with gaming headsets for a much more reasonable price. And Drop + Sennheiser PC38X is a cross-platform compatible gaming headset that excels in microphone quality, sound and value. It’s also quite affordable (around $200) and manages to surprise with its excellent neutrality and sound extension.

In terms of sound, the PC38X has a warm/dark sound signature that is different from what is most commonly found in consumer gaming headsets. While Sennheiser’s gaming headsets are prized for the quality of their microphones, we wouldn’t play games where spatial awareness is important, as they don’t emphasize footsteps and other minor elements that provide a sense of location – for that, you’re better off with Beyerdynamic TYGR 300 R. The headset has excellent noise-cancellation microphones, making it a great choice for online games and chatting.

The PC38X is very comfortable around the ears, but it has the same design as the company’s previous models, the PC 373D and the Game Zero. It’s fairly light at 253 grams, and it’s not huge either, so it’s easy to wear them for long periods of time. It offers a frequency response of 10 Hz to 30 kHz with an impedance of 28 ohms and an SPL of 109 dB, which shows no need to use a headphone amplifier. The PC38X is compatible with PC/MAC and gaming consoles like PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Switch, and mobile devices.

Pros

  • Very good sound quality
  • Great microphone
  • Multiplatform-compatible
  • Great value for the money

Cons

  • Poor positional accuracy, it can’t be used in FPS games

HyperX Cloud MIX

The HyperX Cloud MIX strengthens Kingston’s portfolio of gaming and audio products. The most important feature of this model is its Hi-Res Audio certification, which makes it the first gaming headset in the HyperX lineup with high-resolution sound. Although the sound quality deteriorates when connected to Bluetooth, its near hi-fi sound and fine craftsmanship make up for it.

The HyperX Cloud MIX is not as versatile as other high-end headphones, Arctis Pro + GameDAC, for example. However, it does offer compatibility with several gaming consoles, has a lightweight construction (260 grams without microphone and 275 with), aptX LL, two microphones (built-in and on cable), and high-quality construction. The sliders are steel, which gives them certain durability when connected to the earpieces and the headband. In addition, the ear cups are soft and comfortable enough to fit your ears perfectly.

The headset provides quality sound when using it in wired mode. But the headset’s sound is a bit compromised when it is connected wirelessly and the Hi-Res Audio certification doesn’t seem to make any difference. At least heavy music listeners and gamers can get a lot of bass from the Cloud MIX’s sound signature. The sound is strong and clear but mainly bass-heavy. This can be a disadvantage for gamers because it drowns out the overall sound, making it a bit chaotic, uncleared, and too colorful.

While the bass doesn’t get the most accurate portrayal, the headset does have its good points. The sound of gunshots is amplified sufficiently well, and explosions appear a bit too real. Voice is heard clearly, even when other frequencies are present. The sound of engines is well reproduced by the headset, and the overall sound is clear and deep enough.

The HyperX Cloud Mix headset is a good product for those who want a durable headset with good sound quality to play on a PC, PS4, or any other gaming console. If you are one of those people who want a bass that hits hard in your headphones, you should try the HyperX Cloud MIX gaming headphones. At the same time, it offers excellent quality for listening to music, including heavy metal, rock, electronic, dance, and other similar genres.

Pros

  • Offers low-latency for gaming
  • Well-built
  • Satisfying sound quality
  • DTS:X V2.0 Surround sound

Cons

  • Bass too strong
  • Sounds are somewhat muffled
  • Sound quality via Bluetooth is diappointing

Razer Blackshark V2 Pro

The Razer BlackShark V2 Pro is a well-rounded wireless gaming headset, offering a mix of sound quality, great wireless functionality, and surround sound thanks to the Razer Synapse 3 software. It is made of plastic and ear pads with memory foam wrapped in breathable fabric. According to the manufacturer, for wireless gaming, HyperSpeed technology is said to provide fast connections – 25% faster than any wireless gaming technology currently available.

The headset is equipped with all the necessary controls on the left earcup. These include the power button, status indicator, two ports (charging and 3.5 mm audio + mic), a dedicated button to mute the mic, and a volume knob to adjust the audio. There is also a 3.5mm jack to connect your gaming or mobile device. When using the Razer BlackShark V2 Pro with your computer, you also have access to the Razer Synapse software for equalization, sound presets, microphone sensitivity, and other settings.

Because it’s wireless, the headset weighs more than its wired counterparts (320 grams vs. 260 grams). Still, for gaming, the headset impresses much more with its sound quality than comfort. The sound-image lag is not noticeable, which seems to prove Razer’s HyperSpeed technology. And the sound quality in wireless mode doesn’t suffer from the so common background noise we experienced in way too many top wireless gaming headsets. The basses are also deep, well balanced, and with a good attack for this price range. High-frequencies are detailed with great intelligibility but are often too strong, distracting attention from the mids, which seem to blend together.

The Razer Blackshark V2 Pro is a gaming headset that is specifically designed for playing games. The Blackshark V2 Pro has very clear sound, strong bass, and flexible microphone settings. The analog cable is a good solution, but heavyweight might disappoint you. If you want your gaming experience to be pure and full of details, then this headset will not disappoint you. This headset offers good sound quality via wireless with no background noise, unlike other mid-range wireless headphones from HyperX and Logitech.

Pros

  • Superb sound quality
  • Good wireless connectivity
  • Very flexible mic settings
  • No lag

Cons

  • Above-average weight for a wireless gaming headset
  • Brighter than usual sound signature

Razer Blackshark V2 Pro

The Logitech G PRO X is a headset designed for video games and consoles. After Logitech purchased Blue Microphones, they designed this product to be an upgrade over previous offerings in the gaming space with superior microphone quality from Blue VO!CE and a simple yet elegant design without squeaking components.

The microphone, as well as some of the processing, is optimized for gaming. It does a good job of making speech clear and audible, which can also be adjusted in the G HUB software to your preferences. The exclusion of background noise greatly improves the gaming experience and communication. The base of the Logitech G PRO X is made of a solid anodized aluminum frame that is heavier and more durable than many competitors. Whereas the 50mm drivers allow for better sound quality and give you a natural feel for your position in the game.

The sound quality offers a good amount of basses that aren’t muddy or heavy on the mids but sometimes don’t convey the action properly. It’s fantastic in games but has much more impact on music. The Logitech G Pro X has a lot of good qualities but also some drawbacks. For example, it doesn’t have great dynamics to handle complex music or games with too much action. To remedy this, some adjustments must be made in the G HUB to reduce the amount of bass.

The earpads are designed with leatherette ear cushions to help prevent fatigue and offer an excellent fit for almost any head size. This is especially helpful, especially considering the tight fit the G Pro X offers compared to the company’s other gaming headsets. And if you plan to wear this headset for long gaming sessions, it’s comfortable, but its weight will require adjusting the headset to avoid painful positions after a while. So be sure to take this aspect into account when choosing your gaming headset.

The Logitech G PRO X also has some additional features to help you game better, a removable microphone to reduce unnecessary weight and a built-in USB sound card (DAC), which gives you access to Logitech G Hub interface for sound customization, DTS: X 2.0, microphone settings and other features.

In the end, the Logitech G Pro X is a great closed-back gaming headset with impressive options for a wide variety of connections (wireless + wired). It offers a great sound in most situations and the ability to use a DTS: X 2.0 virtual surround sound mode via its own sound card, which reveals all the possibilities of the headphones to the fullest.

Pros

  • Overall good audio performance
  • Good recording quality via Blue Vo!ce mic
  • Decent battery life
  • Impressive craftsmanship

Cons

  • Above-average weight for a wireless gaming headset
  • Brighter than usual sound signature
Headphones Features
Placeholder

Beyerdynamic TYGR 300 R + JDS Labs ATOM (For EU users) or FX-Audio DAC-X6 Mini HiFi 2.0 (for USA users) ($300 - $400)

Some people didn’t have a good experience with the DT 770 Pro’s bright sound signature. Unlike some of the German company’s headphones, the DT 880 Pro and TYGR 300 R are much smoother and more game-friendly and lack the brightness caused by spicy highs, making them more appealing. The TYGR 300 R is also 40 grams lighter than the MMX 300 2nd Gen with a weight of 290 grams, which makes streaming a more comfortable job.

The bass has enough punch in the low end to keep your attention on the game and provide relevant information, while the highs help you hear the footsteps and bullets of enemies much more easily. The mids are also incredibly clear, don’t blend, and provide good separation between instruments. The sound profile highlights the sounds of the game well. And the level of clarity and quality of sound reproduction is unmatched by headsets labeled for gaming. Plus, there are no frequencies that are too high, making them a good choice for gaming.

All in all, the Beyerdynamic TYGR 300 R is a great deal. It’s not a power-hungry gaming headset, so you don’t need an amp for it. But it can still benefit from something like FX-Audio DAC-X6 Mini HiFi for better imaging. The headset is quite affordable at around $300 and can compete very well with Sennheiser’s 6XX series hi-fi headphones. You don’t need a gaming headphone amplifier or microphones, as the TYGR 300 R comes with a great mid-range Fox USB condenser microphone; once the package arrives, you are ready to stream.

Sennheiser HD 598, Sennheiser HD 600 or Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro + HyperX QuadCast S or BLUE Microphones Yeti X Bundle + E10K USB DAC and AMP or Schiit Magni 3+ ($500 - $800)

You will often see streamers and podcasters with a Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro or DT 990 Pro. While the DT 880 Pro and DT 990 Pro used by streamers like Ninja are smoother and don’t have that concentrated treble sound that makes long exposure to sound irritating, they still aren’t the perfect choice for streaming or gaming. Still, they do provide better quality than much more expensive headphones. While the closed-back DT 770 Pro has fantastic sound quality with lots of detail and an excellent soundstage, they are still too bright, so we recommend the DT 990 Pro for a more composed, analytical sound.

The Sennheiser HD 598 and HD 600 headphones are the preferred alternatives in that they are among the most comfortable in terms of physical comfort and sound signature. Although the stereophony is not as wide as Beyerdynamic headphones, they have a wide soundstage and a neutral sound rather than the airy, bright sound of most Beyerdynamic headphones. The HD 598 has a relatively neutral sound signature with a high level of detail, which is more fitting for gaming and streaming. They’re also feather-light and offer generous padding to make them comfortable for long streaming sessions.

The Sennheiser HD 598 with its bass is also a great option with an excellent sound signature that makes gaming sound very realistic and enjoyable to listen to for long periods of time. With a price tag of around $250, you can own a premium headphone without breaking the bank. Plus, the sound is quite warm for an open-back reference headphone, provides excellent positioning accuracy and the highest level of comfort for all-day wear.

If you’re looking for a higher quality headset, the HD 600 is an upgrade from the HD 598, and it’s not very expensive. It actually sounds more neutral than some of the other alternatives on the market. It offers greater clarity and cleaner sound reproduction than the HD 598, but it doesn’t have the same ample soundstage and has a less warm sound signature. Overall, the HD 600 is more accurate, clearer, and offers a cleaner sound response than the HD 598, but less warmth, soundstage, and comfort.

The two Sennheiser headphones, HD 598 and HD 600, can be purchased on Amazon, Bestbuy, or Newegg. They are in high demand and may not be in stock in some stores so check them on all websites.

HyperX QuadCast S

As streaming continues to evolve as a business, it’s high time to ask what the best mic for streaming might be to communicate with your audience. The HyperX QuadCast S is quite massive and aesthetically pleasing with RGB lights. It includes a microphone gain control, recording modes, and a built-in pop filter that attaches to the microphone and eliminates plosives. It also comes with the HyperX NGENUITY app, in which you can create customized microphone illumination modes profiles and adjust the volume of the headphones and microphone.

The recording quality is exceptional, with a 48kHz/16-bit sound recording. For any type of recording, this microphone will do very well. Thanks to the multiple recording options, you can switch between stereo, cardioid, omnidirectional, or bidirectional recording mode. It’s suitable for multiple recording applications and not just streaming. You can communicate with your team or record a voice-over using the cardioid mode or host a podcast and enable the omnidirectional mode.

BLUE Microphones Yeti X Bundle

BLUE Microphones Yeti X Bundle offers a greater deal of accessories for the same money with plenty of settings such as vocal effects, microphone gain, headphone volume control, an on/off microphone toggle, and an option that adjusts the computer audio in relation to the microphone audio. Everything is designed to offer maximum customization for your personal preference and the best conditions for Twitch or Youtube streaming.

Just as with HyperX QuadCast S, Blue Yeti X offers RGB lights, multiple polar pattern modes, and far more versatile software thanks to Logitech’s G HUB. The condenser microphone has a great recording quality, is versatile, but requires a pop filter to eliminate the pops and sibilance of the voice. It is a good choice for team speak; however, it’s much more suitable for streaming.

In the end, the Blue Yeti X 4-item microphone bundle prepares your setup for streaming in the best way possible. It includes the Blue Yeti X microphone, the Knox Gear boom arm, a pop filter, and a 4-port USB 3.0 hub. Instead of the Blue Yeti X, you can also purchase the Blue Yeti Nano, which, when combined with the Sennheiser HD 598 and the E10K USB DAC/AMP, is the ultimate budget streaming setup.

Schiit Magni 3+

As a last touch, to complement the Sennheiser HD 600 with its 300-ohm impedance and create the perfect gaming headphone setup, the Schiit Magni 3+ will provide the power it needs. If you can’t afford the Sennheiser HD 600, or if you want to save a bit of money on the amplifier, the Sennheiser HD 598 and E10K DAC + AMP is also terrific alternative.

The improved positional accuracy, overall immersion, clarity, and ability to notice subtle details while playing Overwatch or PUBG or any other competitive multiplayer game makes the Sennheiser HD 600 and Schiit Magni 3+ combination such a great combo that it becomes disgusting how easy it is to dominate the game, to hear footsteps, the direction of enemies coming towards you or the shooting and firing of other players from a distance.

All of these advantages can be given to you for an absurdly reasonable price. If you could choose one setup from this list, this should be the one. And even if you don’t use it for gaming, this is still an excellent setup for music. It is probably the most versatile choice for gamers that also love to stream.

The Sennheiser HD 598 can make your experience with any game more immersive through its wide soundstage, the ability to distinguish between different sounds, the accuracy of details and tonality, making the Sennheiser HD 600 a perfect choice for FPS games. The headphones’ focus on musicality, attention to detail, and excellent transparency make it great for streaming, music production, and gaming alike.

Headphones Features
Placeholder

Note: This build is much cheaper if you buy the K712 Pro from Thomann (shipping to the USA included).

AKG Pro Audio K712 PRO is one of those headphones that provides a stellar soundstage and supreme comfort. They’re intended for studio use but are an incredible choice for every audiophile, even if you don’t particularly care about gaming. The Pro Audio K 712 PRO is a full-size, over-ear headphone with an open design with an exceptional sound quality that’s perfect for the studio, musical performances, watching movies, and most importantly, gaming.

They are incredibly comfortable and can be used to play for 8 hours straight with ease. Their strong features are their neutral sound that doesn’t make gaming and listening to music a hindrance after too long, and their well-developed soundstage that makes them perfect for gaming and listening to streaming.

They have an average impedance of 62 ohms, making them somewhat difficult to drive unless you pair them with an amplifier or DAC/AMP like the SoundBlasterX G6 or the Schiit Magni Heresy, which provides much more power than the Magni 3+. Although it doesn’t have too much bass, the K712 Pro plays very deep, and its neutral sound offers some advantage in that you can equalize it to your own needs without impairing the integrity of the sound.

It’s also worth noting that AKG Pro Audio K712 Pro is the perfect match with the Sennheiser HD 598. If you’re serious about gaming and want to enjoy the fullest and most spacious soundstage—even more spacious than Sennheiser HD 598)—excellent detail and positioning of the sounds, the AKG K712 Pro + Schiit Magni heresy AMP are the best you can get without stepping on high-end audiophile territory.

HiFiMAN Sundara Hi-Fi + Schiit Hel or FiiO K5 Pro + Blue Yeti Nano + SADMI Walnut Headphone Stand ($500-$600)

If you want a complete gaming audio setup, this is the setup for gaming I recommend to audiophiles that love to play some action games with a bit more immersion and feel of speed. HiFiMAN Sundara Hi-Fi and Schiit Hel offer a great combination for those that prefer a sound rich in detail with a crystal clear reproduction and good loudness over the bass.

The Sundara Hi-Fi doesn’t have a high-impedance like AKG K712 Pro, which sits at 37 Ohms, although a good gaming amplifier like Schiit Hel is required to make the 70 mm magnetic planar drivers work their absolute best.

The Hi-FiMAN Sundara HiFi is one of those open-back audiophile headphones that is as comfortable for music as it is for gaming. While the planar isodynamic drivers don’t offer much bass, the overall sound signature is neutral, balanced, and truly captivating, revealing midrange and treble with incredible depth and clarity. And if you want a little more bass, don’t hesitate to use an equalizer.

Until you can afford one of the more expensive setups (like our first choice), the immersive performance and detail-rich sound of the HiFiMAN Sundara + Schiit Hel or FiiO K5 Pro, along with the Blue Yeti Nano USB microphone, will suffice for a stunning competitive gaming setup.

The Best Types of Gaming Headsets Overview

You may have been looking for a good pair of headphones to play games and asked yourself the question: “What type of gaming headsets are best for me?” The answer to this question will vary depending on your personal needs, but in general, there are three types of gaming headsets to choose from:

  • Closed-back and Open-back Full-size Headphones
  • Wired Over-ear Gaming Headsets
  • Wireless Gaming Headsets

Let’s take a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of each type.

Closed-back and Open-back Full-size Gaming Headsets

We believe that closed and open-back headsets are the best choices of the three best types of gaming headsets. However, each type comes with its own advantages and disadvantages:

A much wider selection

You have a wider selection of closed-back gaming headsets available to you. Most headphones on the market are closed-back and open-back, including some of our top-rated candidates. The V-Moda Crossfade LP2 or 2 Wireless, for example, has an amazing sound quality and is also one of the best headphones for gaming, thanks to its praiseworthy soundstage, sound separation, and imaging.

Thicker, bigger, and more comfortable paddings

These headphones have slightly bigger ear cups with earpads that envelop your ears. An over-ear headphone’s ear pads have more contact surface and thicker padding than on-ear headsets. Thus, they put less pressure on your ears for better passive noise insulation and overall comfort, improving your experience, especially during long gaming sessions.

Game sounds are conveyed in the best possible way

If you prefer gaming that requires a great sound stage, then a closed-back gaming headset will be your best choice. The circumaural closed-back headphones have large ear cups and padding around your ears to help you focus on the game sounds and enjoy the immersive experience.

Full-size headphones equip the biggest drivers to reproduce sound accurately; some have drivers as big as Audeze LCD-GX with 100 mm drivers or Monolith M1070 with 106 mm for budget users. Planar magnetic drivers of this size offer a wide soundstage, beautiful spatiality and depth, as well as great detail recovery. This is also due to the open-back construction, but closed-back gaming headsets with large drivers also offer excellent sound reproduction and much better bass reproduction. On-ear and in-ear headphones do not benefit from these advantages.

The Disadvantages of these Closed-back and Open-back Gaming Headphones are Minimal but Existent

Open-back headphones have a broader soundstage with a brighter sound. They also offer a more natural and open sound. However, they leak sound more than closed-back gaming headsets. The bass response may sometimes be inadequate or not enough. And this is an important frequency band in games because it delivers the most impact, intensity, and importance to the game sounds.

On the other hand, because open-back headphones are, well, open, they don’t suffer from the ventilation issue that many closed-back headphones have. Breathable ear pads must be equipped with your closed-back headphones but only if you’re willing to sacrifice bass quality or the memory foam of the earpad is dense. Even if it’s open-back, having breathable ear pads is a must.

Wired Over-ear Gaming Headsets

As we already mentioned in the best gaming headset review roundup, the over-ear gaming headsets are among our favorite gaming headsets.

Over-ear headphones have larger and more spacious ear cups to better isolate ambient sound and physical noise. The heavy-duty ear cups and leather circumaural padding isolates the sound completely from the outside world.

Wired gaming headsets provide a more realistic and immersive gaming experience than wireless gaming headsets, and many gamers prefer them for this reason. Compared to regular wired headphones for gaming, these can have some additional features that improve the audio experience, including:

In-line audio controls & Microphone

Earpads designed for gaming

Wireless Gaming Headsets

Wireless gaming headsets do have some limitations but also offer access to other things. Regarding the limitations of wireless gaming headsets, I’m not talking about Bluetooth connectivity, latency or battery life, but about connections with other gaming platforms like Xbox One and PS4 or PS5, which use their own proprietary Bluetooth technology that works at a much higher radio frequency range to avoid interfering with other 2.4 GHz signals and also make their platform more exclusive and less accessible by headphones that aren’t specifically compatible with them.

Some wireless gaming headsets have cross-platform connectivity, meaning they work with multiple devices, but this feature usually comes at a cost. Others are only compatible with a specific game console, meaning they are headsets for Xbox One or PS4 only. Other wireless models can’t connect and require a Bluetooth transmitter, which increases the cost of your gaming rig.

As mentioned in the beginning, another significant issue with wireless gaming headsets is the latency. Your wireless gaming headsets must offer a low latency either via a USB dongle or advanced Bluetooth codecs like aptX LL or aptX Adaptive, and even in that case, you’ll still end up buying a sound card or portable amplifier that like Sound Blaster E5 that supports aptX LL or an aptX Low Latency USB transmitter.

For more information, check out this post about the Advantages and Disadvantages of Wireless Headphones.

Here are a few highly recommendable wireless gaming headsets with low latency:

Logitech G Pro X Wireless Lightspeed - Full Review

The G Pro X Wireless Lightspeed is one of Logitech’s most expensive wireless gaming headsets. While it doesn’t come cheap, this product will make you think twice before writing it off as overpriced. The manufacturer uses its proprietary Lightspeed wireless technology for low latency transmission and 50 mm drivers for a powerful sound.

Razer BlackShark V2 Pro - Full Review

The extremely comfortable Razer BlackShark V2 Pro is a gaming headset that challenges the gaming industry. This headset is perfect for gamers who want to maintain full control over their gameplay while benefiting from the comfortable ear cup design and directional microphone with background noise reduction.

Astro A50 Gen 4 - Full Review

The Astro A50 Gen 4 is simply one of the best wireless gaming headsets you can get right now. It’s not very affordable and doesn’t come with many features, but it does offer high-fidelity sound and two channels of audio to set the in-game sound differently than on Discord or Teamspeak.

HyperX Cloud MIX - Full Review

HyperX Cloud Mix is cross-platform compatible, has a detachable microphone that serves any gamer well, and a built-in USB rechargeable battery. The headset can also be operated via a cable, which translates into slightly improved sound quality, a necessity given the average sound compared to other wireless gaming headsets in the same price range.

HyperX Cloud II - Full Review

For a budget of roughly $100, the HyperX Cloud II wireless headphones are a good choice. Its sound is pretty good, its construction is neat, and it’s very comfortable to wear. Its detachable microphone also makes it a good choice for gamers who plan to use their headset for gaming and chatting.

Wireless gaming headsets are incredibly favorable when they tick all the boxes of quality, comfort, latency, range, etc. Still, in most cases, such headphones are incredibly expensive and make some compromises. For this reason, when it comes to gaming, wired gaming headsets are still among the best options for PC and console gaming.

I know what you may say. “These aren’t all gaming headphones types. What about the on-ear gaming headsets or in-ear gaming headphones? How about the gaming headsets with surround sound?”.

Now that we finished talking about the 3 main types of headsets for gaming, let’s discuss the remaining types and why they are not the most suitable for gaming (they are good, but they are not the best).

Btw, there’s a TLDR; a bit lower.

On-ear Gaming Headphones

This type of gaming headset is more viable for gaming than the last two. Although it is not without flaws.

On-ear gaming headsets are lightweight, have big drivers to produce a full bass response, but they are less immersive than over-ear gaming headsets. Their design has decent padding and a closed-back design for good passive sound insulation. They usually come with a retractable microphone or integrated mic to communicate with other players, which tends to be very high-quality, especially if we’re talking about Jabra Evolve 65.

So far, everything seems fine. On-ear gaming headsets are a good option for casual gamers who won’t feel the inconvenience of the extra padding over-ear headphones. But for hardcore eSport players looking to get an edge on their opponents and having a comfortable gaming experience, on-ear headphones are not the best option.

They are not ideal for competitive gaming due to their lack of isolation and padding. But since they’re lighter, they are great for playing some FPS, RPG, or Racing games for 1-2 hours, listening to music, podcasts, and even daily commute if they’re wireless.

In-ear Monitors for Gaming

There are plenty of in-ear monitors that sound mind-blowing. They’re also are designed to isolate you from outside noise, which is fantastic for a quiet environment. But they encounter some issues when it comes to video games and gaming consoles.

If the gaming IEMs are wired, they have a 2m cable long enough to plug into the PC’s sound card at the back of the computer. If it’s not long, you have to plug it into the front audio 3.5 jack, the motherboard’s audio output.

The issue here is that you get a much lower sound quality from the front jack than from the rear jack. Your only option would then be to buy an external gaming amplifier, meaning you’ll throw more bucks for your gaming setup to get a similar (or lower) sound quality for the price of a bit more than an over-ear gaming headphone that provides better comfort.

If the gaming IEMs are wireless, they must have a very low latency which is not hard to achieve if you buy a pair of in-ear gaming headphones with aptX LL or aptX Adaptive like HyperX Cloud Earbuds or Razer Hammerhead True Wireless with ~50 ms latency.

The problem with wireless in-ear gaming headphones is the occasional signal dropouts, battery and charging concerns, and generally, true wireless gaming earbuds are overpriced and not the most hygienic options. Their sound comes from tiny 10-15mm drivers that don’t offer rich bass response and a large soundstage like the 50mm drivers in regular over-ear gaming headsets.

Surround Sound Gaming Headsets

3D sound, virtual surround sound, or true surround sound spatial effects are very popular features in games, and I have long thought they were good too.

You don’t need them. A virtual 7.1 surround sound or three-dimensional virtual sound will give you a unique and somewhat immersive gaming experience, but 90% of the time is poorly implemented and doesn’t add to the game any valuable insight. If you’re looking for a clear and defined sound, you may want to avoid those types of headphones.

Virtual surround sound is just a marketing scheme to sell gaming headsets. The 3-dimensional surround sound effect offers a distinct experience but not necessarily an advantageous one.

Instead of buying 7.1 virtual surround sound gaming headset or a headphone with 4 or 5 mini drivers that try to reproduce a true 5.1 surround sound effect, you can make a better use of your money and buy a gaming headset that has a decent and well-balanced sound, a spacious stereophonic scene and can reproduce high and low frequencies accurately.

Another option is to build a gaming audio setup for immersive gaming experience. If you want to be closer to the action, invest in a set of over-ear headphones with professional professional gaming headsets and amplifier: AKG K712 Pro & Schiit Magni Heresy.

TLDR;

  • On-ear Gaming Headphones – Thin padding, Comfortable for the first few hours, Good-sounding
  • In-ear Monitors for Gaming – Low-value, Not hygienic for long gaming sessions, Small soundstage, Weak bass response, Overall good noise isolation
  • Surround sound gaming headsets – Expensive, Trivial 3D sound effect, Cheaper than audiophile gaming headsets, Provides a unique listening experience

As with all things, you get what you pay for. Gaming headsets are designed to last, so you want the best quality components at a reasonable price.

Headphones Features
Placeholder

The top gaming headphones can be used for one thing: playing video games. They also enable you to listen to music and watch movies. However, they’re not highly efficient for that type of endeavor.

This is not earth-shattering information, but what if I tell you that the headphones you use for gaming can be just as excellent for listening to music or watching movies? That’s precisely what you’ll learn from this guide: How to Buy The Perfect Gaming Headphones That Excel in Gaming And Beyond.

Headphones Designed for Avid Gamers - High-Fidelity Gaming Headphones

If you are serious about gaming, one thing you might want to consider is investing in an audiophile headphone for gaming or any good pair of headphones that does not provide a narrow sound stage and muffled sound response. Your headphones don’t have to be labeled “gaming headsets’. Any headphone that helps you hear all the nuances in the game is viable for gaming.

Better audio reproduction allows you to notice and understand more of what is happening in the game and respond faster, improving your game. When it comes to competitive games, oftentimes there is a tight competition between players, so having any kind of edge will help you win; that is why it is important for you to choose one that suits your needs the best, especially when the sound is reproduced makes your gaming even more enticing and fun.

For music listening, hi-fi gaming headphones are just as pleasurable. They allow you to hear the different instruments clearly and recognize an abundance of details and nuances in the music. The subtle sounds are reproduced with high fidelity and delivered to your ears, so you can sit back and enjoy the music with your audiophile gaming headphones.

Professional Reference Headphones for Gaming

If you want a headset specifically designed for gaming with a hi-fi audio quality and bearable for audiophiles, ignore the mainstream advice to look for surround sound technology, a removable mic, and a detachable boom mic, and go for a professional reference headphone used in studios. Some can be taken from the studio straight to the “gaming room” and used for gaming without an amp.

For example, Sennheiser is a brand that produces professional reference headphones not only in the studio reference line but also in their gaming lineup. For those with a budget of around $300 – $400, there are better-sounding headphones for gaming than the “gaming” labeled Audeze Mobius and Astro A50 Wireless.

Here's a quick summary of the best affordable hi-fi headphones for gaming

  • AKG K712 Pro
  • AKG Q701
  • Monolith M1070
  • HiFiMAN Sundara
  • HiFiMAN Deva
  • (wireless)
  • Beyerdynamic DT 880
  • ATH-R70x
  • Sennheiser HD 660 S
  • Sennheiser HD 600
  • Sennheiser HD 598

All these headphones are tested and proven to be astounding for gaming. Plenty of audiophiles I know play games with these hi-fi headphones and they’re satisfied with the sound. And let me tell you, some can be so demanding and nitpicking it’s sometimes hard to convince them to listen something other than these picks, but I’m very happy that I can share these headphones with you.

A gaming headphone amplifiers will help get the most out of these headphones and are a really good investment if you already own an expensive gaming headset that is hard to power. Still, you don’t need an amplifier for all headphones, especially if they have a good sensitivity of more than 100-110 and an impedance lower than 32-Ohms like Audeze LCD-GX. But you’ll be significantly more satisfied and aware of the games’ details and positioning/direction with a headphone amplifier.

Types of Earpads for Gaming Headsets

Earpads are the part of the headphones that rests on your ears. The best gaming earpads have a soft surface that makes them comfortable to wear and a thick layer that provides maximum noise isolation to allow you to hear your in-game audio clearly without being distracted by outside noises.

Besides offering comfortable wearing, breathability, and sound insulation, earpads also play a vital role in sound quality, the openness of the soundstage, sound signature, and sound response.

Earpads Affect Your Headphones' Sound Quality

The air-tightness of the leather earpads is essential for closed-back gaming headsets. This is why you rarely see closed-back headphones with velour or other breathable materials. And when a closed headset has breathable ear cups, the foam structure is denser or closed-porous.

The thickness is also important because it increases the distance between your ear and the drivers and the sound insulation. Slimmer earpads aren’t as comfortable because they don’t have as much material between your ears and the drivers, but they produce a slightly fuller sound.

A more breathable material also helps with the fullness of the sound and increases in soundstage dimension as it allows more air to circulate around the earpads and allows better movement of sound to your ears.

Sound Signature is A Personal Choice, You May Want Slimmer Velour Earpads or Thicker Leather Earpads

If you’re unhappy with the headphone’s current earpads and want to buy your own ear pads, there are two options. You can get standard ear pads or gel ear pads which are most often found in gamine headsets. The decision is up to you, depending on what kind of feel and comfort you like the best.

  • Standard Padding – This type provides the most noise isolation, but it may be too tight around your head or put pressure on your ears over time because the memory foam on the inside loses its firmness over time.
  • Gel Ear Padding – This type is often found in gaming headsets rather than regular headphones; they offer a much cooler feeling if that’s what you’re looking for in a gaming headset since they are filled with a special cooling gel. Razer is known for its comfortable gaming headsets with cooling gel ear pads. The Razer Blackshark V2 Pro headphones are by far the best your money can buy.

Both types of earpads are the same in that they have high-grade memory foam on the inside and material that envelops the padding, such as leather, suede, or velour.

If you’re unhappy with the headphone’s current earpads and want to buy your own ear pads, there are two options. You can get standard ear pads or gel ear pads which are most often found in gamine headsets. The decision is up to you, depending on what kind of feel and comfort you like the best.

  • Standard Padding – This type provides the most noise isolation, but it may be too tight around your head or put pressure on your ears over time because the memory foam on the inside loses its firmness over time.
  • Gel Ear Padding – This type is often found in gaming headsets rather than regular headphones; they offer a much cooler feeling if that’s what you’re looking for in a gaming headset since they are filled with a special cooling gel. Razer is known for its comfortable gaming headsets with cooling gel ear pads. The Razer Blackshark V2 Pro headphones are by far the best your money can buy.

Both types of earpads are the same in that they have high-grade memory foam on the inside and material that envelops the padding, such as leather, suede, or velour.

Leather Earpads

Leather earpads are durable, can last up to 20 years, and have a nice, soft, and natural feel. They’re also quite cool and comfortable but have a tendency to get hot very quickly in the summer days. The issue with leather earpads is that they can absorb sweat and become quite smelly if you don’t clean them. Leather earpads also require weekly maintenance in order to keep them fresh and neat. The cleaning has to be done with specialized leather cleaners or a mix of water and soap.

Resources:
How to take care of your ear pads: https://wickedcushions.com/blogs/news/headphone-ear-pads-101-the-what-why-how-of-ear-pads

Pros
  • Natural feel
  • Comfortable
  • Durability
  • Quality leather doesn’t peel
Cons
  • Absorbs sweat
  • Needs weekly cleaning
Alcantara Earpads

Another popular material for gaming headset earpieces is Alcantara, also known as Suede Velvet. This synthetic material is known to be a durable and easy to clean material. Alcantara earpads are a bit more comfortable than leather ones do not heat up as quickly, but they wear out faster and aren’t very durable. You can pay for new pads every now and then, but that means a regular cost, which is unfortunate for long-term use. This is not the case with leather pads.

Pros
  • Lighter than leather
  • Doesn’t get hot
  • Easy to clean
  • Comfortable
Cons
  • Not as durable as leather
  • Synthetic material
  • It wears off fast
Velour Earpads

Velour ear pads are somewhat more elegant and sophisticated than Alcantara because, at its core, velour is a natural material and mostly made of 100% cotton, which is comfortable and pleasant on the skin. The look and feel of velour are quite pleasing to most users, and the comfort is top-notch. It’s not as durable as leather but more breathable, allowing for proper ventilation and a cool-to-the-touch feel. If you’re looking for soft, breathable, and comfortable earpads. Velours might be a perfect choice; it’s also cheaper than leather.

Pros
  • Most Comfortable
  • Natural and elegant
  • Breathable
  • Cheap
Cons
  • Less durable than other earpads
  • Can wear out quickly
  • The texture is easily ruined
  • Difficult to clean
Synthetic Leather Earpads

Synthetic leather, also known as leatherette, protein leather, or simply “faux leather,” is a synthetic version of animal leather without the smell of genuine leather and a much shorter lifespan. They don’t wear out or peel off as quickly, making them a great choice for gaming headsets. It’s a cheap product but doesn’t offer the same degree of ventilation as real leather pads.

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Low maintenance
  • Doesn’t crack or peel as easy as leather
  • Comfortable
Cons
  • Shorter lifespan
  • Not as breathable as genuine leather
  • Can heat up waster than leather
  • May be harmful to your health
Are memory foam ear pads comfortable?

The question, “are memory foam ear pads comfortable” is the same as asking the question, “does a soft pillow feel good to lay your head on?” And if that answer is yes, then memory foam ear pads should feel good. If you’re trying to find a comfortable headset for long gaming sessions and you live in a hot environment, then be sure to buy a headset with gel earpads with Alcantara or velour cushion or buy a separate pair of cooling gel ear pads for your headphones (if they’re compatible).

Which type of material is the best for ear pads?

The best materials for making your headphones more comfortable are ranked in the following order:

  1. Velour
  2. Leather
  3. Alcantara
  4. Synthetic Leather

Velour and leather are the best fabrics to make ear pads because they’re comfortable and offer the highest value of comfort/sound quality for most people.

For the most comfortable earpad material, you will have to opt for velour pads. Velour earpads are supremely comfortable, don’t get too hot in the summer, are easy to clean, and are pretty darn durable. The only downside is that they seem to wear out over time.

The second-best material for ear cushion covers is leather, real leather. This is the highest quality material, lasts the longest, and offers a decent level of breathability. Because leather is not as breathable as velour, leather earpads are more likely to heat up and absorb moisture and sweat, which is why they’re the hardest to maintain.

Many factors contribute to the audio cues in the gaming world, and it’s not necessarily about having a headset with surround sound. The sound has to be clear, detailed, and emphasizing the treble and bass notes. Virtual surround sound gaming headphones try to stimulate the spacious and ample soundstage of a quality audiophile gaming headset.

Gaming headsets like Audeze LCD-GX provide the spatial effect, imaging, and great audio resolution needed to fully enjoy the game and use the auditory information the game offers to you.

They do cost almost $900, but there’s no way around quality sound. Surround sound features don’t cut it. You can go for something cheaper like Audeze Penrose, V-Moda Crossfade 2 Wireless, or HiFiMan DEVA. All three are great wireless headphones for gaming under $500. For people who don’t fancy Bluetooth headphones, HiFiMAN Sundara Hi-Fi or Monolith M1070.

A Final Note About Surround Sound

If none of these options suit you and you are serious about playing games with surround sound to get pinpoint accuracy and an immersive gaming experience, buy a quality open reference studio headphone like the AKG Q701, Beyerdynamic DT 880 32-Ohms, or AKG K712 Pro (if you find them on sale) and use it with Razer 7.1 surround sound software or Boom 3D and a Schiit Magni or Schiit Fulla 3 amplifier to get better positional accuracy than any other PC gaming headsets.

A surround sound can be installed with any software, whether through the default Windows Sonic Surround or third-party software like Razer Surround. Just remember that the positional accuracy of a mid-range or high-end gaming headset is not as good as a reference studio headphone, and you may need a quality amplifier DAC to make full use of the surround sound feature.

How to Choose a Gaming Sound Card or Headphone Amplifier If You Need One

What is a Gaming Sound Card?

A gaming sound card also called a sound card for gaming or sound interface, enhances your computer’s audio by turning the analog signals into digital data. This conversion process can be a limiting factor for some soundcards because regardless of its capabilities, it may not be able to pull the maximum audio quality from your headset. A dedicated external gaming amplifier can amplify and improve acoustic quality in your audio better than pre-built PCs with mediocre soundcards.

The Importance of Headphone Amplifiers in Gaming

There are many reasons why audio enthusiasts and gamers invest in a quality sound card like Asus Xonar DG, Asus Xonar SE, or a portable headphone amplifier like Sound BlasterX G6. These devices help improve the headphone’s sound, thus improving gameplay. Some people use amplifiers to provide better-quality music, while others rely on headsets for communicating with teammates.

But suppose you’re playing competitively online FPS games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO) and Overwatch. In that case, an amplifier can power those hard-to-drive audiophile gaming headsets you use for competitive play. Therefore, a gaming headset amplifier is a way to go because it gives you an advantage over those who don’t have one!

AKG K712 is known in the audio business but not as popular in the gaming industry. They’re by far the best open-back gaming headphones for gaming with ample soundstage and supreme comfort. They’re pricier and not as easy to drive, but you connect them to a Schiit Magni or Fulla 3 amplifier, and you’re more ready than any other pro player. We’ve found them the cheapest on Thomann.de

To choose a high-quality headphone amplifier, you must consider the following aspects:

  • Powerful internal amplification circuit
  • Impedance and sensitivity
  • Excellent acoustic performance
  • Price
Powerful internal amplification circuit

Buy an amp with a powerful internal amplification circuit that can drive high impedance headphones without any problem. There are four amplifier circuits: Class A, AB, B & C. We won’t get into the differences between the circuits because it is beyond the scope of this article. However, Class A offers low distortion for gaming purposes, and Class AB offers power efficiency and sound quality, which is what you need. This fig can help!

Powerful internal amplification circuit

Cheaper gaming headphones with low impedance and high sensitivity don’t need an amplifier, but high-end gaming headphones do. The ATH-R70x, for example, has low sensitivity and high impedance, which means you have to calculate the power needed for the volume level you want.

For a listening level of 100 dB SPL, the ATH-R70X doesn’t need an amplifier, but for a value above 115 dB SPL, you’ll need at least 40 mW of power.

As a general rule, your amplifier should have an output impedance x10 less than the headphone impedance. The Fiio E10K has an output power of 200 mW @ 32 Ohms, meeting our requirements. To calculate how much power a headset needs, use a headphone power calculator:

Excellent acoustic performance
This is the most important consideration for anyone looking for a headphone amplifier. Distortion-free sound will provide a much better listening experience that will not affect the accuracy and clarity of the sounds reproduced by your headphones and, therefore, allow you to make a better decision during a game.
Some amplifiers have a Class A circuit with low distortion sound, while others can make your gaming headphones sound warmer or even brighter, resulting in a harsh and overwhelming sound.
Soundstage and sound signature are elements of sound that are affected by the amplifier. It’s best to find an amplifier that complements your headphones. It’s harder to do that, but for a wide soundstage and accurate imaging, you can’t go wrong with the Sennheiser GSX 1000 gaming audio amplifier.
Price
Price is another factor that matters, but mostly when you have several options and need to choose the most cost-effective model. The Sound BlasterX G6 is an affordable headphone amplifier for about $180. It can drive 600 ohms with ease. Furthermore, it has an integrated DAC that converts analog signals into digital to improve sound quality, a Dolby Digital decoder for virtual 7.1 surround sound, and a 32-bit/384 kHz high fidelity audio.

What is The Best Headphone AMP + DAC for Gaming?

This section will provide you with 2 headphone amplifiers that give the best gaming performance and provide adequate sound amplification and a fantastic DAC. The first model is called Schiit Hel Gaming DAC, and it’s “Designed in California, Built in Texas.”

Schiit Hel Gaming Amp - High-end amplifier

Schiit Hel is an amplifier that speaks the language of gamers and audiophiles alike. The Hel’s discrete circuitry and powerful integrated linear power supply were enough to power the Audeze LCD-GX at High-End Munich 2019 and are considered the world’s best-performing headphone amp at its price point.

If you’ve ever been disappointed with your computer’s audio and every time you plug in your audiophile headphones, the sound is dull. Or when you play a game, it sounds like a potato chip. With the Schiit Hel amplifier, you no longer have to worry about fuzzy sound from gaming-oriented audiophile headsets like the Audeze LCD-GX or with much higher impedance like ATH R70X (470-Ohms).

Schiit Hel is built with an AKM AK4490 DAC, an Alps RK09 potentiometer, and Texas Instruments amplifiers. It has a 110 – 120V US power supply and 24-bit AKM analog-to-digital conversion. In addition, Schiit Hel has a low and high gain with a maximum output of 1.3V RMS and 8V RMS, respectively. The output impedance is 75 ohms on the line output and 0.25 ohms on the headphones. This high-quality amplifier will power any size headphone for an authentic listening experience that brings the world of your favorite games to life!

Schiit Fulla 3 DAC/AMP for Gaming - Budget Amplifier

A great budget alternative to Schiit Hel is Schiit Fulla 3. If you are an avid gamer, which you should be if you’re reading this article, this little box will make your life much easier. The Fulla 3 DAC/Amp is your perfect partner for budget-friendly gaming. You simply plug it into your PC, Mac or Linux PC and enjoy the high-quality sound without the wires.

The Fulla 3 works with most headphones between 16 Ohms and 300 Ohms and supports audio stream up to 24 bits/192 kHz sound quality. For DAC, it uses AKM AK4490 with OPA1662 filtering, and the Amplifier is a Dual TI TLLMH6643. You can use either a 3.5mm jack or USB port to connect headphones for high-quality sound reproduction.

Its build is quite neat and uses aluminum, which makes the device feel good in the hand. It has a large potentiometer, a jack input, and a preamplified output. The sound is warm and enjoyable, and low in distortion with less than 0.002% THD. The price of around $99.00 remains justified since it does what it promises with dedication and is very easy to use and versatile. The Schiit Fulla 3 is a budget amplifier that I strongly recommend if you look for a simple-to-use solution for gaming with quality sound.

Microphones for Gaming - External Microphone vs. Built-in Microphone

In general, it is better to have a dedicated microphone that you can use for both online and offline gaming. However, a microphone is necessary only if you’re the type of gamer who plays in teams or uses VOIP in-game.

An external microphone or dedicated microphone offers much better quality than any electret microphone boom coming with a gaming headset. The capsule of a dedicated microphone is much larger than the built-in microphone, meaning it picks up more sound and the recording is clearer. Some dedicated microphones also come with software or a hub to control your audio, equalization, or other settings. Another advantage of dedicated microphones is that you don’t buy them if you don’t need them. Whereas with gaming headsets, whether you like it or not, the price already includes the built-in microphone.

Headset microphones can also be convenient because they are always in front of your mouth and do not take up desk space, unlike desktop microphones which may also require a suspension microphone arm mount or microphone isolation shield. They are not as reliable and sensitive as desktop microphones and tend to fail quickly. Fortunately, most headset microphones are detachable and can be replaced.

It is not cost-effective to buy a gaming headset for the microphone instead of buying a hi-fi headphone with a dedicated microphone. You get better sound and recording quality with less money with the second option.

So, to sum up, having a dedicated microphone is more important nowadays with the rise in the popularity of gaming microphones. If you are looking for an external microphone for gaming, we recommend Blue Yeti Nano – Cheap, simple, and offers great recording clarity.

Gaming Headphones Vs. Gaming Speakers

If you want to get the most out of your gaming audio system, you’ve probably already asked yourself: Is it better to play with headphones or speakers?

Instead of buying a pair of headphones, you could also buy a more expensive pair of speakers with great sound output, depending on what you prefer most. But before you buy a set of gaming speakers, you need to think about the quality of the sound in relation to its price. In most cases, gaming headphones offer much better value and sound output for the same price. Only in the high-end segment of headset-speakers will you find speakers that can compete with gaming headsets. And even then, you won’t be able to carry your speakers with you everywhere.

This is a very important aspect that you have to consider if you want to have a high-quality gaming experience. If you are searching for the best gaming headsets under $100, some models will meet all your expectations such as the HyperX Cloud Alpha or Corsair HS70 or Philips Audio Philips SHP9500 HiFi for the best headphones for gaming under $100. Keep in mind, however, that the Philips SHP9500 does not have a microphone.

Headphones Features
Placeholder

Answer & Questions

What is More Effective: A Headphone Amplifier or A DAC (Digital-to-Analog Converter)?

First of all, what is the difference between a headphone amplifier and a DAC?

A headphone amplifier is a device that boosts the sound from a low-power source. In order to amplify the sound, this device will have a preamplifier with high input impedance and high power output with low output impedance.

A DAC converts analog audio signals into digital data to be processed by a computer or MP3 player. A lot of PC integrated sound cards do a poor job at converting analog and digital signals. This can result in jitter or aliasing, which is a distortion that makes the signal sound. A DAC’s job is also to offer high-bitrate music and play high-res audio files.

In the end, A DAC helps to improve sound quality by offering a higher-resolution sound and handling the digital-to-analog conversion better. While an amplifier provides more sufficient power to the headphones to improve the volume, sound quality, and a much fuller sound, this is not always necessary or useful if using in-ear headphones or undemanding headphones.

Ultimately, to know whether your gaming headphones need a headphone amplifier or DAC, you have to decide on the above information and your type of gaming headphone.

Is your PC's Internal Sound Card Better than an External Sound Card?

If you are playing games on your old laptop or PC, they probably have a bad sound card. The difference in audio quality of the laptop’s built-in speakers with a headphone amplifier and without is really noticeable.

It is better to have an external sound card because it is more customizable, portable, and sometimes offers multiple connections.

Also, most of the time, you will enjoy better audio quality with a dedicated sound card; this is because PC manufacturers pay more attention to the motherboard, processor, RAM capacity, and video graphics card and do not focus as much on audio quality.

What are The Most Important Features of Gaming Headsets?

We’ve already written a guide about what you need to know before buying a gaming headset. We’ve covered the main characteristics that you have to look at when shopping for a gaming headset in this guide. You can read it here Best Gaming Headsets + How to Choose a Gaming Headset.

Although we’ll go through the most important gaming headset features again in case you missed them the first time.

  1. Offer more attention to wired gaming headsets – They’re the most cost-effective and offer the best performance.
  2. Open-back headphones are for comfort, brighter sound signature, and bigger soundstage – a large stereophony image is important in gaming.
  3. Closed-back gaming headsets offer a better bass response, sound insulation, and a much warmer sound signature, which is better for gaming.
  4. Only buy wireless gaming headsets if they’re multi-platform compatible and have a low latency
  5. Check the frequency response & make sure it has a V-shaped sound response
  6. Buy a gaming headset if you need a decent microphone – Go for a high-fidelity gaming headset if you don’t (Buy a Blue Yeti Nano later if you need one).
  7. Check the technical specification – Frequency response should be as wide as possible, preferably less than 20 Hz and higher than 20 kHz, sensitivity or sound pressure level higher than 100 dB SPL/mW, high-impedance requires more power and provides better sound quality and vice versa, THD or Total Harmonic Distortion should be as low as possible (< 0.5%)
  8. Prioritize headsets with big drivers – The bigger, the better (40 mm or more); they’re great for bass response and soundstage expansion for FPS, racing, RTS, or other genres.
  9. Drivers type also matter: Dynamic, Planar, or Electrostatic – The last two are more exclusive and provide better acoustic output and can be found in headphones like Audeze LCD-GX, Monolith M1070, and HiFiMAN Sundara Hi-Fi.
  10. Detachable cables are helpful for simple repairs; low-quality ones will break soon.
  11. Additional Tip: Change your ear pads to leather or velour covers. Leather if you don’t live in a warm location like Alaska or Washington DC and velour for hot places like Texas, Florida, or California – they manage heat and sweat better.
  12. Additional Tip: Choose Leather pads for closed-back headphones – Velour pads for open-back headphones. High-density memory foam with a leather cushion creates an air-tight seal with much better conditions for reproducing full and deep bass. Velour ear pads provide the environment for a larger soundstage and brighter sound.
  13. Additional Tip: Best closed-back gaming headsets should have oval ear cups because they help increase comfort levels and prevent internal noise from leaking out.
  14. Additional Tip: Ignore gaming labels, features like vibration and surround sound are useless
  15. Additional Tip: Invest in a gaming headset stand to keep your headphones on a desk when not in use.

Do You Need a Headphone Stand and What Headphone Stand Should You Buy for Your Gaming Headsets

A headphone stand is a device utilized by people who use headphones to keep the headphones in an upright position and make a bit more space on the desktop. They’re fairly cheap and can be found for less than 10 dollars. Some headphone stands are designed with plastic or aluminum, but there are also much more expensive ones designed with wood and stainless steel instead of cheap plastic.

The cheap plastic models can be purchased for less than 10 dollars, but the wooden and stainless steel models can cost 20 to 100 dollars or more.

Most people do not need a headphone stand. That’s an issue that arises when your collection of headphones becomes too big, and you need a designated place for storing your headphones. Still, if you want to keep things organized and improve the aesthetics of your desk with a beautiful walnut finish wooden headphone stand for your gaming headsets, then you should go ahead and purchase one.

Advice for Buying Budget Gaming Headsets ($25-$75)

Most gaming headsets in this price range offer poor quality, while some are quite decent. If you’re on a tight budget and want to get the best out of your money without paying more than 75 bucks, we suggest taking into consideration the following aspects while doing the research:

Don't buy retail gaming headsets

Many cheap gaming headsets in Walmart, Target, or local electronic stores are made in China by small manufacturers with zero reputation for quality or safety. These headphones use cheap plastic parts that break easily and are adorned with RGB lights and a copious list of features on the package’s front to attract you. They are just retail headsets that are poorly manufactured and offer a terrible sound quality.

Look for reliable entry-level models from well-known manufacturers

The best way to buy a budget gaming headset is to look at entry-level headsets from HyperX, Corsair, and Logitech like the Corsair HS70 Pro or the Cloud Alpha if you need a built-in microphone. And monitoring headphones like the Beyerdynamic DT 240 Pro or the Audio-Technica ATH-M20X because they offer exceptional value for money without disappointing you. You can order them from Amazon.com or visit any Gamestop store near you. There are several in California, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, and Tampa, Florida.

If you’re adamant about buying high-end reference studio headphones, it might be a better option to shop on Thomann instead of Amazon as they specialize in studio equipment and sometimes sell them for cheaper. The international shipping may add up a bit, but it will be worth it.

Do NOT Buy a Wireless Gaming Headset

The value of wireless gaming headsets isn’t fantastic since sound quality and comfort are also slightly compromised compared to their wired counterparts, as they are usually packed with extra features and components that don’t enhance the gaming experience.

For example, they may include separate wireless modules for Xbox One and PS4 compatibility, batteries, and a mediocre fixed microphone. It’s simply a waste of money in most situations. A few exceptions make a list, such as the Corsair HS70 Pro and the HyperX Cloud Stinger Core. But even these, compared to their wired counterparts, are able to deliver only an average sound.

Why Do Gamers Want a Good Gaming Headset?

There are many reasons why gamers want a good gaming headset. Here are some of the most important ones:

  • A good headset enhances the sound quality of your game by providing a good spatial representation of the action. It also focuses on the low and high frequencies that are most common in games, allowing you to enjoy more immersive gameplay with realistic sounds. Sadly, a good-sounding gaming headset costs much more than an entry-level studio headphone for gaming.
  • A good gaming headset provides comfortable and breathable earpads. It is very important for people playing for hours because it prevents the ears from getting uncomfortable, sweaty, or hot. It also provides an airtight seal that prevents external noise from leaking in when playing competitive games or listening to music and improves the reproduction of the basses.
  • Gaming headsets offer dual volume control for in-game volume adjustment and chat volume adjustment, so you don’t have to open the windows volume control all the time. They also provide software for setting up custom EQ settings for your game or music genre and other functions such as Bass Boost, Crystal Voice, Surround Sound 7.1, etc.
  • A good gaming headset also has easy-to-access controls to adjust the level of chat volume, mic mute, game volume adjustment, and audio management controls: play, pause, next track, previous track.

Some of these requirements for a quality gaming headset are more important than others. Still, overall, a gaming headset should offer a higher level of comfort than a regular headset and sound quality suitable for gaming which is why a remote control, audio controls or built-in mic can be useful but not crucial for gamers.

Why Do Gamers Want a Good Gaming Headset?

There are many reasons why gamers want a good gaming headset. Here are some of the most important ones:

  • A good headset enhances the sound quality of your game by providing a good spatial representation of the action. It also focuses on the low and high frequencies that are most common in games, allowing you to enjoy more immersive gameplay with realistic sounds. Sadly, a good-sounding gaming headset costs much more than an entry-level studio headphone for gaming.
  • A good gaming headset provides comfortable and breathable earpads. It is very important for people playing for hours because it prevents the ears from getting uncomfortable, sweaty, or hot. It also provides an airtight seal that prevents external noise from leaking in when playing competitive games or listening to music and improves the reproduction of the basses.
  • Gaming headsets offer dual volume control for in-game volume adjustment and chat volume adjustment, so you don’t have to open the windows volume control all the time. They also provide software for setting up custom EQ settings for your game or music genre and other functions such as Bass Boost, Crystal Voice, Surround Sound 7.1, etc.
  • A good gaming headset also has easy-to-access controls to adjust the level of chat volume, mic mute, game volume adjustment, and audio management controls: play, pause, next track, previous track.

Some of these requirements for a quality gaming headset are more important than others. Still, overall, a gaming headset should offer a higher level of comfort than a regular headset and sound quality suitable for gaming which is why a remote control, audio controls or built-in mic can be useful but not crucial for gamers.

Can You Add Surround Sound to Any Headphones?

Many headsets have built-in virtual surround sounds, but it’s not as useful and enticing as a headphone with native surround sound from a reputable manufacturer. There are 3D sound virtualization programs and software that you can install and use with regular headphones to get a similar experience, and it’s comparable to the experience provided by a good surround sound headphone with 7.1 or 5.1 audio channels.

To add Surround sound to your headphones, follow these steps:

  • Download a free virtualization software for surround sound like Windows Sonic or Equalizer APO, Razer Surround, or Sound Blaster Command – The last two Require Activation Code – or a premium software like Boom 3D Desktop, which has a one-time fee of $25 for 2 accounts
  • Install the software.
  • Connect your headphones to the PC with a 3.5 mm audio jack, and open the surround sound software.
  • Search for the type of surround sound you want for your headphones (5.1, 7.1).

What is The Best Surround Sound Software?

The best sound virtualization program for games is Boom 3D Desktop, but it’s not free and requires a one-time payment of $25 for access on two computers (Windows/Mac).

Considering you can get a Razer Kraken X with 7.1 surround sound for about $50, the software is expensive. However, you can use it with any headset, including high-fidelity gaming headsets, and it complements open-back reference headphones extraordinarily well. Moreover, it doesn’t stop at 7.1 surround sound; it allows you to create your own three-dimensional surround sound effect and adjust other parameters.

This Boom 3D Desktop virtual surround sound software is incredibly easy to use and involves only three steps: install, calibrate and enjoy. It is compatible with any type of headphones or speakers and gives you an almost legitimate 3D experience. This software is especially useful for games thanks to its audio effects, volume booster, 31-band equalizer, equalizer presets, surround sound technology, and intensity scale for a realistic surround effect.

All in all, it’s a great addition to any gaming headset because it allows you to have a better experience with surround sound in games. For example, in Counter-Strike Global Offensive, the sound of bullets is more powerful, footsteps are louder and more realistic, just like in Call of Duty. You can use it for life in any way, and thanks to the plethora of settings, it’s exciting to see what you can do with it once you’ve installed it!

Conclusion

We’re done. You read the whole article! This was Chapter 1 – Guide on The Best Gaming Headphones Setup and How to Get The Most Out of Your Gaming Headphones.

By now, you should have an idea of what gaming headsets to buy, a few ideas for audio setups for gaming and streaming, how to buy a gaming headset, compare the best models and how to improve your current headphones for better sound quality and gaming experience.

We hope you enjoyed this article and found it valuable!

If you have any questions, comments, concerns or need us to cover something more, please let us know in the comment section! We are always trying to improve our articles.

Leave a Comment