Most individuals can meet their gaming audio wants with an excellent pair of headphones. However should you play numerous multiplayer video games or steadily use your console/rig to talk with pals, an excellent gaming headset and its included microphone will make extra sense. Sadly, the marketplace for gaming headsets stays riddled with junky .
So for Ars Gaming Week, we’re getting you some assist. We spent the final three months testing 30 gaming headsets to search out those most value shopping for. Under yow will discover our present favorites, together with choices for these on a finances, these with money to burn, and people who wish to go wi-fi. And, like with all of our Guidemasters, you’ll be able to think about this a residing information—we’ll you should definitely replace it as new standouts arrive.
One final be aware: like most audio-related shopping for guides, there are private biases at play when speaking headsets. Completely different individuals have totally different sound preferences, and that’s high quality. I can solely communicate to what I like, and as somebody who’s used lots of of headphones over time as a tech reporter, I prefer to suppose my opinions will be of use. All of that is to say that, as with most audio evaluations, no person can inform you what you want, and it’s finest to deal with this information as a part of a wider consensus that helps you discover the merchandise which might be value it.
That stated, we’re assured the next headsets will go well with most individuals effectively.
Desk of Contents
The perfect gaming headset for most individuals: Cooler Grasp MH751
The Cooler Grasp MH751.
It is supremely comfy and well-padded.
It would not look almost as gaudy as most gaming headsets, both.
The mic mute toggle. Quantity dials are on the aspect.
The MH751’s removable mic.
Most individuals available in the market for a gaming headset can purchase the Cooler Grasp MH751. For lower than $100, it supplies distinctive worth in consolation and audio high quality, with an excellent microphone and a comparatively good-looking design as well. It’s a no-frills headset with few particular options, but it surely nails the basics so effectively that most individuals available in the market for a gaming headset are unlikely to care.
I wasn’t anticipating to love the MH751 as a lot as I did contemplating how little cachet Cooler Grasp has within the audio world. There’s a secret to the corporate’s success right here, although: the MH751 and its pricier sibling, the MH752, are rebadged variations of Chinese language OEM Takstar’s Professional 82 headphones, that are one thing of a cult favourite amongst audio fanatics. They’re not precisely the identical factor—the bass adjustment slider on the Professional 82 is gone, and the Cooler Grasp headsets use a three.5mm jack as an alternative of the extra obtuse 2.5mm port—however the meat of the design could be very related. What adjustments Cooler Grasp did make are usually for the higher, together with a tidier sound and a nicer-feeling pseudo-sanded materials on the ear cups.
The important thing promoting level right here is consolation. A gaming headset is one thing you’re prone to put on for hours at a time everytime you use it, so no matter you purchase must play good together with your head. As a result of everybody’s head is totally different, consolation is subjective, however the MH751 is as shut as I can get to guaranteeing one thing will really feel nice round your ears. It was simply essentially the most comfy of the 30 gaming headsets I examined, and it ranks among the many most agreeable headphones I’ve ever worn as an entire. Once more, the key right here is shameless copying: the Takstar Professional 82 kind of rips off the design of Sony’s MDR-1A, which I’m on the report as calling the nicest-feeling headphones I’ve ever used.
The MH751 can’t fairly attain these heights, however its leatherette ear pads have ample quantities of soppy reminiscence foam padding and loads of area to suit the entire of your ears. They relaxation gently towards your temple as an alternative of clamping down too tight. Whereas the headscarf doesn’t have as a lot padding, there’s sufficient to current no issues. The design feels good and lightweight as a result of it balances its weight so evenly. Adjusting the headscarf is clean, with mild clicks to point your calibrations, and there’s a beneficiant quantity of room to make these changes. The results of all this can be a headphone that ought to match even the biggest heads with aplomb and stay pleasing to put on for multi-hour play classes. (Your ears might get a bit of sweaty over time, however that’ll occur with nearly any over-ear headphone.) To be clear, once I say “even the biggest heads,” I’m speaking about myself. After I get this enthusiastic over a headphone’s really feel, it ought to offer you specific reassurance.
That consolation wouldn’t imply a lot if the MH751’s sound was subpar, however that’s very a lot not the case. The operative phrases listed here are neutrality and stability. Nobody a part of this sound signature dominates the opposite: bass is current and well-measured however not boosted, mids are real looking and detailed, highs are clear and never fatiguing except you dial the amount as much as harmful ranges. The soundstage is extensive sufficient for a closed-back headphone, and imaging is powerful, so that you’ll be capable to select enemy footsteps in a first-person shooter and the like. It’s not a flat sound profile, but it surely’s decidedly flatter than most gaming headsets. You principally hear issues as they had been blended to sound. If something, some individuals might need it was much less balanced within the low-end, since bumped-up bass may give explosions and different motion recreation sound results extra affect. There’s additionally no digital encompass sound help—there’s within the MH752—however that has by no means made or broke the standard of a gaming headset, since that tech is basically depending on what recreation you’re taking part in. The parts and tuning of the MH751 is nice sufficient to outclass the sound of many pricier headsets that do embody 7.1 encompass.
I don’t wish to overstate issues: that is nonetheless a sub-$100 headphone, and you will get extra element and crisper treble on barely costlier headphones. However in comparison with most gaming headsets, even ones nearer to $200, the MH751 hits what it’s going for and provides little to complain about.
Equally, the MH751’s microphone punches above its worth vary. It provides voices an excellent sense of fullness and readability, and it does an excellent job of suppressing exterior noise—not the most effective, however good. You may hear a pattern of me utilizing it under. (And sure, I assumed the thought of studying Dickens in a submit about gaming headsets could be humorous.) The mic is versatile sufficient and completely removable, and it locks tightly into place when it’s related.
On prime of all of this, the MH751 doesn’t seem like a gaming headset, which is without doubt one of the greatest compliments I may give any gaming headset. There’s no gaudy RGB lighting and the Cooler Grasp emblem on the aspect doesn’t seem like one thing a bunch of men in a board room thought would attraction to energy-drink-swilling “players.” Whereas the all-black end isn’t essentially the most thrilling factor on the planet, and there’s an excessive amount of plastic to say the headset feels out-and-out premium, on no account does the MH751 really feel flimsy or creaky. It’s very a lot one thing you’ll be able to put on exterior with out getting appears to be like. The braided cable is a bit lengthy and locations the amount/mic mute controls barely too far down, however just like the mic it’s detachable, so you’ll be able to at all times swap in a extra travel-friendly twine if it bothers you. Isolation is simply OK, although, so that you may nonetheless hear louder noises should you’re taking part in with the amount at a low degree. The ear cups don’t fold up, both. Nonetheless, that is mild and good-looking sufficient to work as an excellent cellular headphone.
All of this implies the MH751 isn’t simply good for a gaming headset—it’s a legitimately sturdy pair of headphones with a high quality mic. It’s nice for gaming, nice for audio fanatics on a finances, and nice worth.
Distinctive consolation, balanced sound, and understated design at an reasonably priced worth.
Design may really feel extra premium and ear cups don’t fold up.
Cooler Grasp MH751
On a finances: Kingston HyperX Cloud Stinger
The Kingston HyperX Cloud Stinger.
It isn’t essentially the most premium feeling factor, however for a $50 headset it is good and cozy.
Its mic and cable are completely hooked up, however they work effectively.
The MH751 is usually accessible within the $60-70 vary—at that worth, it’s well worth the premium over any finances headset. (It grew to become considerably low in inventory on-line within the days earlier than this information was printed, however a Cooler Grasp consultant advised me the scarcity is barely short-term.) Should you’re decided to spend not more than $50, although, the HyperX Cloud Stinger ought to serve you effectively. It’s a downgrade from the MH751 in nearly each manner, however its energetic sound and comparatively comfy design make it an excellent purchase for these on a budget.
The Cloud Stinger has what’s often known as a “V-shaped” sound signature: it boosts the low- and high-end frequencies on the expense of a extra recessed mid-range. The bass is especially hyped-up, however all that added thump feels extra enjoyable than overblown in observe. The highs are current to the purpose of fatigue on the highest volumes, however they’re neither overly dulled nor sibilant. Imaging is great as effectively, and distortion is low. All of this makes for a sound that isn’t balanced or pure for music, but it surely works effectively for gaming: the highly effective low-end provides explosions and shotgun blasts extra oomph, the bump within the treble and high-mids makes enemy footsteps extra distinguished, and all of it places sounds the place they’re purported to be. The laid-back mids do make you miss out on some finer particulars, however for the worth and the purpose of the headset, it sounds good.
Equally, the Cloud Stinger’s microphone isn’t top-notch however performs effectively for a $50 headset. It does effectively to maintain voices audible inside background noise. Speech is persistently clear, although it lacks some airiness and sparkle within the treble and makes voices sound barely duller then they’d sound on higher mics consequently.
The design right here has its ups and downs. On the plus aspect, it’s comfy, with spacious ear cups, a extremely adjustable headband, and an excellent quantity of reminiscence foam padding on each. It’s a bit stiffer on the ears than the MH751, however so are most headsets. What’s right here isn’t outright stiff in any respect and it’s light-weight. The Cloud Stinger is just a few years outdated at this level, however this design remains to be extra nice to put on than many headsets that price twice as a lot.
That stated, the plastic-heavy exterior appears like a $50 headset. The ear cups don’t fold up. The microphone isn’t all that versatile. It leaks noise at increased volumes, and it’s mediocre at isolating exterior noises. And each the mic and the three.5mm cable are completely hooked up. Mix all that with the massive purple HyperX emblem on the perimeters, and you’ve got a headset that’ll look very goofy exterior of the home. (HyperX introduced new PS4- and Xbox-themed variations of the headset shortly earlier than this information was printed, however a HyperX rep says the brand new fashions have the identical technical specs as the present pair.) Nonetheless, should you’re particularly available in the market for an reasonably priced gaming headset, these shouldn’t be dealbreakers. For the cash, the Cloud Stinger is a enjoyable time the place it issues essentially the most.
Enjoyable sound and loads of consolation for $50.
Non-detachable microphone and cable.
HyperX Cloud Stinger