Have you been looking for the perfect gaming headset for you? Here are my top recommended picks, budget first and then premium.
HyperX Cloud II
I’m going to start the list off the list with the HyperX Cloud 2’s. They are excellent budget gaming headphones (and were my first pair of gaming headphones).
The build quality of these headphones is good. Nothing feels cheap. They are made of aluminum and solid plastic. The microphone is detachable, and the chord has a protective netting around it to prevent getting damaged. On the USB sound card you can adjust volume, microphone volume, and turn the surround sound on and off. The headphones come with two kinds of ear cups, sound blocking and non sound blocking, which are easy to change out. The relatively high quality microphone is also detachable, in case you don’t need it.
Now to the performance. I’m no audiophile, but I think they sound pretty good. When you turn on surround sound it does distort the sound a little, especially things like music, but for gaming it sounds fine. The microphone is also good. You can get better microphones out there, but I’ve used headsets with much worse microphones that cost much more. So it gets the pass from me.
The biggest cons to me of the headset where the weight, and the lack of software. The heavy weight of the build actually gave me headaches over long use. Although, the headset is very highly rated so most people don’t have this issue. Also, there is no software that comes with the headset. So you can’t adjust sound settings, have presets for music, etc. It isn’t really important, but is a nice addition that can make the experience feel more premium, which these headphones don’t have.
SteelSeries Arctis 5
Next are the Steelseries Arctis 5. These are also a excellent budget option. They are lightweight, comfortable, have virtual surround sound, have a great microphone, have software, and are even RGB! The RGB being significantly less useful, but hey it’s still cool.
The Arctis 5 are made fully out of plastic so they are very light weight. The plastic feels good and is flexible so it shouldn’t be breaking, but it’s still plastic so treat them well. One of my favorite things about SteelSeries headphones is the dual band suspension system. It gives a better distribution of pressure on your head then most solid bands with foam on them. Combined with nice foam ear cups, they are very comfortable.
Besides comfort, they also sound great. Now note that these aren’t super high end studio headphones, but when I tested them I had no complaints, I thought they sounded excellent. Combined with the software, you can make it even better. The software has a 5 band equalizer, with presets which you can also customize to your preference, as well as turn on your surround sound presets, and microphone settings. The microphone is also very good. It’s better than the Steelseries Siberia 350’s and 650’s microphones.
Now to the cons of the Arctis 5. They are great budget headphones, but nothing is perfect. The ear cups are a little shallow, so if you have big ears they will press against the inside against the speaker. Its padded, but it can still make your ears hurt. If you don’t have big ears then you probably don’t need to worry about it. And also, the build is plastic, which is in its own way a con. And they are overall budget headphones, so even though they sound nice you cant really expect top quality sound. Although for gaming, as I already stated they sound fine.
HyperX Cloud Revolver
Another option is the HyperX cloud revolver. I haven’t used these personally though so I don’t have as much to say about them. They are the newer, higher end version of the Cloud II’s. Most things are similar to the Cloud II’s (like the aluminum and plastic build quality), but it features a dual headband system for improved comfort (it spreads the pressure over your head better then a standard headband) and a few equalizer options on the USB dongle. Which helps solve the issue that the Cloud II’s have with no software for sound customization. Being a newer model, they also sound better using newer drivers.
They will still be a little heavy, but if that doesn’t bother you, they seem like a very good headset.
Steelseries Siberia 650
The Steelseries Siberia 650 are a very nice pair of headphones. These are the ones I use. I will say now though, that they arnt perfect, so don’t worry about me being biased for the headphones I use.
The construction of the headset is more premium then the cheaper headphones, with an aluminum band, and real leather with memory foam padding. They are heavier then full plastic headphones, like the Arctis and Sennheisers, but they are balanced well so they don’t feel too heavy. The overall balance between top and side pressure is very good thanks to the dual band technology. They also use a flat wire instead of a normal round cable, which makes it much harder to tangle. They also have nice external features, where you can turn the dial on the right ear to change volume, and the left you can mute / un mute your microphone. If you treat them well, I see no reason they would physically break. Also a nice cosmetic, is they are RGB illuminated on rings around the ears and on the microphone. RGB is pretty pointless, but is always a nice addition to your battle station.
The cable can either be plugged into the USB sound card, or into a splitter. For gaming, you obviously want to use the sound card. I find the surround sound to be very good, and has less distortion then the HyperX Cloud II’s surround. It seems to increase the bass, but there isn’t any fuzzing sounds or anything. Turning on surround feels more like a EQ preset then anything else.
The Siberia 650’s also have excellent software. Its very similar to the Arctis and Siberia 350’s software, but you EQ has a 10 band equalizer instead of 5. Also, the surround sound is a toggle, instead of a emulated EQ preset. I find this to be nicer in general. Sound wise, they sound perfectly fine. Some super audiophile could probably think of something bad to say, but I like them a lot. The speakers are very big and give off great sound, and combined with the custom equalizer, you can tune them to sound however you want.
The Siberia 650’s do haev a few cons though. The microphone isn’t that great. Its not the worst, but for premium headphone standards, it could be a lot better. Although I guess you cant expect that much from the microphone that you can push up into the ear cup. If you get a desk microphone or a mod mic it wont be a problem though. Also, the main problem for me is that the ear cups are very shallow. If you haev big ears, or your ears stick out a lot, they can push up against the insides of the speakers. There is some fabric material inside, but the pressure can make your ears hurt. Because of this, I made extra earcups to put on over the normal ones to give more depth to solve this problem (and I stretched the headband out more to make up for the new added pressure). This was a little bit of work though, so if you have big ears you may be better with a different pair of headphones. Most people wont have this problem, but it is important to note.
Lastly are the Sennheiser PC373D. These are the audiophiles solution to gaming headsets. Being made by Sennheiser, not a gaming company, you can assume the sound quality is excellent. Along with the high sound quality, you get a high end build quality, high comfort, and an excellent microphone.
The PC373D’s are made of plastic, but it is very high end plastic. It’s the kind you can bend really far that doesn’t break and just comes back to its normal place after, not the cheap brittle stuff that snaps that most people think of when they think “plastic”. The other great thing about using high end plastic over metal, is the weight. The PC373D are extremely low weight. Combined with the high quality foam padding with soft velvet covers, gives extreme comfort for long gaming sessions.
As I stated earlier, Sennheiser is a audio company that decided to make a pair of high quality gaming headphones. So as you can expect, the sound quality is excellent. With the software, you have the ability to turn on the equalizer with 3 EQ presets (so 4 options including the off preset). I personally would like the ability to customize my EQ settings, but audiophiles generally seem to hate custom presets because the custom ones are made by audio engineers to sound the best, so you shouldn’t change them anyway. In the software you can toggle surround sound on and off, or you can use the button on the little USB dongle. I’ve used them and I can say that of all the gaming headphones I have used, they have by far the least distortion in sound from turning surround sound on. Most headphones you can notice a difference in the sound ,not necessarily making them sound worse, but different. Almost like surround is an EQ preset. Not on the PC373D’s.
The microphone is also very good. It’s not a desk microphone, but for a headset you can’t ask for much better. It doesn’t have any issues with cutting out from noise cancellation like some others might have. You can also lift it up and it clicks into place, meaning the microphone is muted. A nice little quality of life feature.
There’s not much bad to say about the PC373D’s. You could say the cost, but if you can afford it and wanted a premium product, I can hardly even say that. The software could have a little more customization, but generally that’s not very important. Overall, they are an excellent pair of headphones for gaming.
There are more than 5 good pairs of gaming headsets out there, but overall I feel like these ones are so good you don’t need to really look at the others. You still can, but one of these is probably the right choice. Each one of these is excellent in its own way, whether its excellent performance for a low cost or premium quality for a premium cost.
Hope this helped on your journey to find the right gaming headset!