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Gaming Headset Buying Guide

by Emma Howes January 04, 2022

Gaming headset buying guide

Nowadays, gaming headsets are an essential part of any gamer's setup.

Whether you're a hobbyist, a casual gamer, or a professional player, these headgears help gamers win and fully enjoy game sessions.

Indeed, these headsets for gamers provide specific features to enhance the overall gaming immersion.

However, choosing the right gaming headset is picky and depends significantly on your utilization.

It must be simultaneously comfortable, a great communication tool to chat with teammates, enhance the game ambiance, and fancy other essential features that we'll cover.

This article will help you break down all those essential features based on your needs, figuring out precisely what you want and how to get the best one to add to your setup.

What Is a Gaming Headset?

A gaming headset is a device that people use while enjoying entertainment sessions.

It's specially designed to make the gaming sound experience more accessible, much like a gaming mouse is designed to be ergonomic and functional for games that require aiming speed and precision.

A gamer headgear usually comes along with two comfy earcups, advanced sound technology, and, finally, a microphone.

Meanings that headsets enhance the overall sound ambiance and make it easier and more efficient to communicate with other players.

The sound quality that you'll get differs between all available models and is also more attuned to your specific environment.

To summarize, the gamer headset's job is to streamline all of your sound-related expectations and fulfill all your needs so that you don't have to be distracted from your game sessions.

What Are The Differences Between Gaming Headsets And Regular Headphones?

A women playing online games with her gaming headset
A women playing online games with her gaming headset

Regular headphones are the most popular headgear options.

They are versatile and can be used to play video games, watch TV shows and movies, or even listen to some music.

They are used in video game rooms, lounges, public, transit, and even while doing sports.

They're indispensable if you like to stay up late, get up early, have noisy roommates, or need to avoid making sounds to let kids sleep.

But regular headphones have some setbacks in the gaming world.

They don't always come with a microphone that allows you to chat with other players or comes with a primary microphone resulting in no features to improve your voice quality.

And a bad sound quality can really hurt your teammates' ears.

Sometimes their sound quality is ideal for YouTube videos or Zoom meetings, but not for hearing the opponent team's footsteps in competitive games.

And overall, their quality and longevity tend to be shorter.

However, it's partially accredited to their general breadth of use and inclusion in different environments where wear and tear are more numerous, such as weather conditions or backpacks.

So if you depend on a great device to chat clearly with mates while playing games with them, it's definitely best to purchase a set of gaming headsets designed for your utilization.

Do All Headsets Come With a Microphone?

Most video game headsets come with a microphone for your convenience.

It just makes it easier to communicate without needing the whole stand to be set up.

The microphone is small, similar to what professional singers use when dancing.

A few different styles mainly relate to how the microphone is moved rather than impacting the sound quality.

Wrapped Wire Microphone

One popular style is a wrapped wire, meaning the microphone is very elastic.

It allows greater freedom of movement, especially if you speak with a lot of air in your vocal inflections.

Rigid microphone

Another style shifts a rigid microphone up and down, setting it into place in a fixed location before your mouth.

It is okay if you're worried about potential damage to a softer version.

Do You Really Need Gaming Headphones For Your Gaming Use?

The short answer is, yes, definitely.

That is especially true if you're playing competitive video games such as League of Legends, Call Of Duty, Counter-Strike, New World, Apex Legends, Rust, Destiny, and so many other games that could fancy having dedicated headgears.

In fact, gaming headsets improve the overall sound quality drastically.

They allow you to clearly hear those around you, allowing you to communicate effectively and succinctly with your team.

They also more accurately distinguish between different ambient sounds to hear special effects that are necessary to know what abilities the opposing team might be using while also listening to teammates' feedback.

Furthermore, they allow your crew to hear your voice clearly so that when you're giving commands, they understand you.

Gaming headphones are also made to be worn for long periods with comfort and ease, unlike regular headphones that are meant for trips between classes or lunch breaks.

They exist to be worn for hours on end, so your comfort is a high priority as a part of their function.

Their headbands are padded, and their ear cups tend to be larger and softer.

Everything is thought through so that your head is as comfortable as possible, mainly so you can forget you're even wearing a device.

7 Features to Check Before Picking Up a Gaming Headset

To pick up the proper gamer headset, you need to understand your needs first.

These needs may change depending on your environment, the types of games you play, and your gaming professionalism.

Rather than breaking these categories down based on individual lifestyles, this list will break down different types of headphones commonly found on the market.

It will include examples that you may identify with, read through, and figure out what traits you're looking for.

From there, you'll be able to look at the market while determining the headsets type that functions best for you.

Buy gaming headsets and game headphones
Buy gaming headsets and game headphones on Dubsnatch

Audio Quality

Audio quality is crucial for good headphones, regardless of use.

However, gaming headsets must allow you to hear the nuances within played games.

These games often have different sound types, relying upon the genre.

Sound quality is crucial in popular game genres like MOBA, battle-royale, FPS, or MMORPG.

It has a significant role in your gameplay.

Hearing about his abilities utilization or the opponent's ones will often clue you into teammates' movements, traps, dangerous areas, or other possible dangers in-game.

So, hearing all these noises, as small as they are, helps you perform better and react faster when the situation is critical.

We could write countless articles on sound quality.

Still, we've listed the basics to help you better understand what you're buying.

The first thing to know is that sound quality is estimated by frequency and measured by Hz (Hertz).

But purchasing headgear with the highest frequency isn't necessarily the only factor to consider.

In fact, headphones between 20Hz and 20KHz are of standard and acceptable quality.

That frequency is enough for hobbyist gamers or even light casual ones.

The other major factor is the driver available, which is basically the tiny device that controls the sound.

Their components make the sound quality better or worse.

Dynamic coil drivers

Dynamic coil drivers are suitable for bass notes, so they're ideal if you focus on games' soundtracks.

Planar magnetic drivers

However, planar magnetic drivers are better at picking up whispers, gravel crunches, and things of that nature, so they're more useful for soft in-game sounds.

Stereo Sound (2.1)

Many people prefer purchasing headphones that feature stereo sound to achieve a higher sound quality.

Stereo sound, also called 2.1 sound, is played through multiple channels, allowing a layering effect to be heard.

This means that you can more accurately pick up on subtle sounds within a game.

These kinds of headphones are normalized nowadays, but some of the best ones are high-end and offer in-depth audio immersion.

Stereo sound headphones can be a good choice for casual gamers

Virtual Surround Sound (7.1)

Many gamers have begun wearing virtual surround sound headphones.

These allow for multiple speakers to send sound waves from different directions around their ears.

It causes them to hear sounds and think that it is coming from a different angle, making certain video games more realistic and enjoyable to play.

The sound on these headphones can often be customized and provide an overall better audio experience than stereo sound.

They are an optimal choice for professional gamer in-being or competitive ones.

A man making win series in competitive games
A man making win series in competitive games

Sound Isolation

Noise-canceling

Noise-canceling headphones are suitable to avoid distraction from your roommates but not when you have children.

If you tend to stay up late playing games or prefer to play while others are busy or in meetings where they need to speak louder, noise-canceling headphones are a must.

They're designed to block out the noise in your room and house, allowing you peace within your playthrough.

However, these types of headphones aren't ideal if you need to hear what's going on in your house.

If, for instance, you have children who need your attention for a moment, then it's best to have headphones that allow you to hear them.

Supported Platform

When you have to pick up a headset, selecting one compatible with your platform or system is one of the most important things.

Some are only compatible with specific devices, such as computers, phones, tablets, or console systems.

It would be best to choose headphones that will be useful with whatever devices you currently own.

Remember that some headsets will also come with adapters, meaning you can use the same pair of headphones for different devices, even if they would not normally fitted with a specific device.

Wired or Wireless

Video gaming headsets can be wired, meaning they plug into another device to function, usually your computer or console system.

They can also be wireless, much like a phone, meaning they need to be charged to be functional but are more likely portable.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both of these styles.

Wireless Connection

Wireless headsets are portable and suitable for people whose video game headsets will also operate as regular headphones.

Let's suppose the exact pair of headphones used for Call Of Duty is also used daily on campus.

In that case, a wireless headset might be a way better option.

It's far easier to walk around without worrying about getting tangled in a cord or getting it caught on a door.

The drawback is that a wireless headset relies on batteries and must be charged continually.

And sometimes, it comes with a specific type of charging cord that only fits that unique device.

Meaning it's more costly to replace it when needed and add another thing to remember to bring along with you.

But overall, it's a solid choice for its ability to transcend rooms and usage during travel.

They also avoid stress as you don't have to care about your gaming headset cord getting tangled anymore.

Wired Connection

Wired gaming headsets are convenient for at-home use, as they simply plug into the computer or console system.

They often come with microphone switches along the cord that allow headphones to be muted with the volume control option.

It's sometimes easier for someone's hand to find during a close match, leading to ease of access and more reactivity.

However, by being plugged into the computer, the cord can get tangled, especially when you stand up and try to walk away.

These headsets are standard and tend to be less expensive than wireless headphones, so they are a good investment overall.

Should you choose a wired headset, you may also want to consider how that headset can be plugged into your device.

But if you opt for a wired connection, the most standards outputs are either a headphone jack or a USB port.

Purchasing an adapter could also meet your expectations to fit all your devices and make the cord longer.

Headphone Jack

Headphone jacks are good if you have a space for them on your computer close by where you'll be sitting.

Of course, the principle is the same for a gaming console.

They're convenient for laptops and desktops and easily plugged in.

They can also use headphones on other devices, such as aged phones or gaming consoles.

However, they do break relatively easily.

USB

USB jacks are convenient, as they can be plugged into a computer and basically left alone.

However, they typically can't be used on the phone without an adapter.

That being said, these device outputs are compatible with some game consoles like the PlayStation.

However, they do tend to take up more space, so someone who needs to use multiple USB ports for other functions may prefer a headphone jack.

You could also consider purchasing a USB hub to add new ports for your devices.

Shop headset holders and headphone stands
Shop headset holders and headphone stands on Dubsnatch

Comfort

Comfort is a huge factor in picking out headphones, especially for those who game for long hours or commonly use their set as a complete part of their setup.

You don't want your head to become sore or your ears to feel uncomfortable!

There are 5 main factors to discuss when looking at comfortable headsets:

  • The first one is the headband which goes over the top of your head.
  • The second is the ear cups, which can range in size and function.
  • The third is the breathability.
  • The fourth is materials.
  • The last factor is the weight.

Headbands

Headbands go over the top of the headphones, holding them in place on your head.

If uncomfortable or not properly fit, these can cause headaches or stiffness.

It's good to pick out cushioned headbands if you feel it's necessary to be comfortable.

Some are fixed, meaning their length is manually adjusted at the sides near the ear caps.

So you can place them higher or lower over your ears as you see fit.

Others are tension set, so you simply lift them on, and they remain in place over your ears.

Earcups

Ear cups are the things on the side that cover your ears.

These are where the noise cancellation effect comes into play and whether or not the ear cup is closed.

Closed Earcups

A closed earcup is ideal for noise cancellation.

It typically has extra padding and is snug around the ear itself.

It doesn't allow for much breathability, so this is a factor to consider when purchasing, especially if you sweat in a close gaming round.

But overall, they are made to be comfortable and secure.

Open Earcups

An ear cup that isn't closed is good for someone prone to ear infections, such as swimmers.

They're also ideal for someone with a hearing aid to allow the support to be worn without much discomfort.

They're helpful for those who may need to hold conversations while wearing a headset.

Breathability

Some headphones are more breathable than others, meaning they allow your skin to air a bit more.

That can be an essential characteristic for those who sweat a lot in competitive games.

Snug earphones are helpful for noise cancellation but can get sweaty if used for too long.

Breathable headphones are typically made out of cloth or plastic.

They're very comfortable for long periods, so they're an ideal choice for someone who is gaming for many hours at once.

Materials

Video game headgears are made out of different materials.

Some of the cheaper ones are made out of plastic, without much padding.

They're rather stiff but portable and suitable for everyday use without being worn down quickly.

Some of the more expensive headphones come with padding, which can be cloth or leather.

Cloth padding is comfortable and highly padded, ideal for warm climates.

But it's trickier to wash than leather and wears down at a higher rate.

Leather padding material is some of the best on the market.

It is more expensive but maintains its form longer, with higher quality.

Choosing a gaming headset with leather padding is always a trusted solution for longevity.

Weight

Headphones weight is another factor to consider when purchasing.

The heavy ones will be uncomfortable to wear in the long run, whereas the lighter ones will offer better convenience.

It is essential to compare the weight of any pairs you may own to any future headsets you may want to purchase.

To ensure you're not picking something out that might be too heavy for your use.

An esports player highly focused in a competitive round
An esports player highly focused in a competitive round

Communication

With Microphone

Choosing to use a microphone or not depends on your setup.

Even if you think you won't need a microphone, they do come in handy for talking to teammates, giving voice commands, writing documents, participating in Zoom lectures, and playing that one horror game, Stifled, that listens to you through your microphone.

Without Microphone

There are some instances where someone may not need a microphone directly on their headset.

It is popular amongst YouTubers, Twitch, and Facebook Gaming streamers, as the microphone can sometimes sit before their mouth at an angle that feels awkward for them while on camera.

They may prefer to buy a separate microphone and stand with slightly different sound quality, allowing for excitable yelling.

If this is the case, a microphone on your headset is unnecessary, and you can focus on a headset that looks for other qualities instead.

Keep in mind that if you don't already have a microphone, getting a dedicated one is an additional purchase to consider and comes with extra space to free in the room for the stand.

Style

A headset looks like a fun way to ensure that your environment isn't dull.

It can add some color to your desk or be a way to express your tastes.

Colorful Headsets

Colorful headsets are great if they're going to be taken outside.

They don't typically come with extra features that would make them tricky to transport, nor do they have lights that could break in different weather conditions.

But they're still fun and as flashy or neutral as you prefer.

LED Headphones

LED headphones are lit up, typically along with the ear caps.

They may glow one specific color or pulse through several.

Some of the more expensive varieties can even be set to different modes.

These are ideal for a gaming room setup where you already have or plan to install other LED light decorations.

They can match lighted keyboards or anime-themed lamps.

They're best for entertainment use at home.

But they are also okay for professional environments due to the lighting being often on the side.

Still, at least LEDs can be shut off when needed.

Cat Ear Headphones

Cat ear headphones are a fan favorite and a personal choice.

A fun treat for anyone who enjoys them.

Some headsets come with cat ears attached to the headband in various colors.

Other fake cat ear-shaped decorations are sold separately, able to be attached to existing headphones to decorate them for your enjoyment.

Popular streamers on Youtube and Twitch have been known to wear cat ear headphones, as they add something extra to the screen.

Buy gaming merch on Dubsnatch
Buy gaming merch on Dubsnatch

Buying a gaming headset is not an easy task.

Many features that meet your needs can add extra value to even the most standard one.

Some are major in your decision, like the device connexion type, the included microphone, and finally, the compatibility with other devices.

But there are also other features to consider as the designs for headsets are numerous, including ones that cover noise differences and volume control.

Picking up one that reflects your current gaming setup and theme you want to achieve is essential for continuality.

Once chosen, gamer headsets can significantly impact your overall performance and help you make a difference while you make win series!

Emma Howes
Emma Howes

She is a huge League Of Legends gamer and passionate about Asian different cultures.


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