Best Gaming Headsets Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best gaming headsets you can buy in 2019.
There's a lot to consider when choosing a gaming headset, but sound quality really should be your highest priority - no amount of fancy features can make up for awful audio. The problem is, most gaming headsets sound pretty naff. Most strongly lean towards the bass frequencies, which might sound great for those big explosions, but the bass is usually of such poor quality that everything gets drowned out by a soft, woolly bottom-end.
We strongly believe that you should be looking for a headset that's fairly neutral and tonally balanced, as that means you'll get the sound that your games' audio engineers intended. At the same time you want plenty of punch and strong dynamics in order to deliver the excitement and intensity of the latest and greatest shooters, an open and spacious soundstage for increased atmosphere and immersion, and lots of detail and clarity so you don't miss any important dialogue or those subtle audio cues that can give you an advantage in combat.
Many of the more premium headsets available now offer some form of surround sound. In some cases that works quite well, but great stereo sound is vastly superior to rubbish surround sound, so don't obsess over this.
Also consider how you want to connect to your console. The controllers for the PS4 and Xbox One both have standard 3.5mm sockets for wired headsets, meaning you're tethered to the gamepad in your hands, rather than the console across the room. If you want to go completely wireless, there are plenty of more premium options available that will help you do just that - most involve connecting a small dongle to your console, but others have bigger, more advanced audio processors that usually take a signal from your console's optical output.
The quality and usability of the microphone is also paramount if you intend to play online with others, and overall comfort is vital for those extended gaming sessions.
With all of the above - and your budget - in mind here's our pick of the best headsets. And with Black Friday around the corner, it's a good time to be keeping an eye out for bargains.
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This official, premium PlayStation 4 headset is simply the best-sounding gaming headset we've tested. It avoids falling into the massive bass trap, instead offering a crisp, clear and balanced sound that generates lots of excitement.
PS4 users predictably get the best experience, with information such as battery life being integrated into the PlayStation's UI and game-specific sound profiles being available on some games. There are a handful that even combine with the Platinum Headset to offer 3D Audio, which works really well.
But PC and Mac users can also use the Platinum headset wirelessly, while even Xbox and Nintendo Switch gamers can use is as a standard, wired headset.
The only flaws are that the Virtual Surround Sound (VSS) mode doesn't sound great (switch it off and just use the headset in stereo) and that the invisible mic picks up a little more background noise than the stalk-like mics of some rival headsets.
There are loads of gaming headsets available in the £20-30 range and most are as terrible as you'd expect, but the Xiberia V20 proves that it is possible to get very decent sound at a very low price. This simple headset connects to any 3.5mm output (the one on the bottom of the PS4 controller, for example) and delivers a surprisingly clear, balanced and exciting sound.
There's also a USB cable, but this is only to power the light strips on the ear cups so can be ignored. It would actually be nice if this cable could be detached to avoid clutter, but at this price that's pretty much our only complaint.
Be aware that there seems to be another Xiberia headset referred to as 'V20' that has an audio USB connection for PC and claims to offer 7.1 surround sound. This is not the model we've tested.
The price of this new headset from Audio-Technica looks very high when you consider that it's not wireless, but the sound quality is undeniably premium. There's a definite bias towards bass here but, unlike those of many gaming headsets, the low frequencies here are punchy, solid and well defined, making the whole presentation satisfyingly chunky and bombastic.
There's great spaciousness to the delivery, too, which makes for a really immersive gaming experience, and voices and effects are clear and crisp.
The simple, wired design means they're compatible with everything, and you can even detach the mic completely, turning the headset into a standard pair of headphones that you won't be embarrassed to wear on the bus.
This Turtle Beach headset takes a very similar approach to the official PlayStation headset above: plug a small dongle into the USB socket of your PS4 and you're all set for wireless audio and chat. Of course, the Stealth 600 doesn't have the Platinum headset's UI integration or game-specific sound profiles. It can't be used with a wire, either, so if the battery runs flat you're all out of luck and you can't use the headset with devices that aren't the PS4.
That said, the sound is decent for the money, with a reasonable tonal balance, good spaciousness and weight. We'd like a bit more punch in the bass and a little less zing from the treble, but if you simply must have wirelessness and your budget is tight, this is a good option.
We've tested the PS4 version of the Stealth 600 but there is also an Xbox One model - you'll recognise that one by its green highlights.