The Best Gaming Headsets of 2016

 

Introduction

Whether you are on team PC, Xbox, Playstation, or enjoy cross-platform gaming, we can all agree that, when it comes to playing video games, high-quality audio can change your experience from being just average to unbelievably amazing. The audio given through a headset can send you into a world of fantasy that regular speakers just can’t give. That is why, at E-Review, we have gone through and found the top five headsets of 2016 (along with some extra information we thought you might find valuable).

Headphones vs Headsets

What exactly is the difference between headphones and a headset? This is quite a frequently asked question which can leave most people scratching their heads. We did a little bit of searching and came up with these definitions:

  • Headphones – A headphone, or earphone, is a miniature speaker that fits in, or on, your ear. These often do not have any special features, but newer models can include volume dials on the length of the wire, or special fitting for the ear.
  • Headset – A headset is similar to a headphone, as it has miniature speakers (or a more powerful single speaker), but only fits on the ear, rather than in. As well as this, the headset is fitted with a microphone, which aids in communication to other people.

What Are Your Options?

Not every headset is the same, meaning prices and quality can vary greatly, depending on what it is that you want. Smaller features that you may not have even considered can actually change the quality of your product and should be taken into consideration before you decide on a specific headset to purchase:

  • Wireless – When choosing a wireless headset, it is important to know that there is more likely going to be a struggle with latency (see ‘What To Look For: Sound Latency’), but can offer more range of motion and comfortability. For wireless, prioritise surround sound quality and rechargeability.
  • Wired – As the heading suggests, wired headsets come with a wire that is plugged into the device and cannot be used without one (always check the port you are plugging into as compatibility may become an issue). Latency is often a lot better with wired headsets. Overall experience is often better with wired, and can offer a better gaming experience.
  • Colour Changing – Often referred to as chroma, the colour changing headsets are more of a personal preference, as they do not serve much of a purpose. However, with some products, they can be programmed to change to your preference of colour, or change according to your character’s health, team or danger.
  • Noise Cancellation – With noise-cancelling headsets, there are electronics that are fitted into the ear cups that create a noise-cancelling wave. This wave is 180 degrees out of phase with any active noises.

What To Look For

Before you decide which headset you want, there are a few things that you should look for:

  • Frequency – This shows what range of sounds the speakers are able to produce. All headsets will have a high range, going from as little as 20Hz to 20kHz – some headsets will have a higher range than others. Frequency is also measured in how accurately the headset can reproduce the sounds at the frequency they should be.
  • Sensitivity – If you have a headset with a high frequency, when you turn the volume up or down, the watts will be used more efficiently to give larger increases and decreases in sound.
  • Speaker Drivers – Typically measured in millimeters, the larger the driver is, the more bass tones there will be in the lower frequency ranges. However, it may struggle more at higher frequency ranges.
  • Surround Sound – Most often 5.1 or 7.1, the surround sound will affect how immersive your gaming experience is and, based on the quality, can help detect where enemies are based on your position. Choosing 7.1 virtual surround sound will often lead to a more realistic gaming experience.
  • Microphone Quality – When looking at microphones, you want something that is easily adjustable, so that is is not too close to your face, causing distortion, or too far, causing quiet audio. Not only this, but you should also look for a mic that will allow for smooth and automatic communication, rather than grainy and distorted. Noise cancelling microphones are also an option if you have rather noisy surroundings.
  • Sound Latency – If you have a high latency, transmitted sound may often become delayed, jumpy and can even be known to slow down or speed up unexpectedly. A quality gaming headset will have a low sound latency.
  • On-board Features – This feature is something that is more of a personal preference than anything. Separate volume controls and microphone controls may be attached to the headset, making any adjustments a lot easier.

Knowing Your Price Range

When it comes to deciding on the budget for your headset, it can be daunting to look and see that some of the top products sit at around £250 – £300, while some can also cost as little as £30. Seeing such a vary in prices can leave you wondering if the cheaper products are even any good, or if the more pricier of products are just a scam to get more money out of you.

What is always essential to remember is that price does not always mean quality. But, it is always key to remember that the more high quality products will sit a little higher than £30. Before you go and pick up the first expensive headset that you see, expecting the price to mean that it has all the latest features and is top of the range, it is essential that you actually look at the specifications on the side of the box.

When you pay up to around £30 – £50, it can be expected that you will get a satisfactory product that does the job and no more. If all you are looking for is something that is cheap and will do what it says it will do, then then this is the price range for you. Casual gamers may not be too bothered about the quality of the sound, as long as they have a headset that enables them to communicate and not have to use a standard speaker.

If you are paying up to around £100, you will find that the headsets become a little more high quality than before. This is where the price not always meaning quality may apply for you. By spending around this much, you may actually get your hands on a product which has most (if not all) the features that a £250 – £300 product might have, at pretty much half the price. This budget is recommended for those that are quite into their gaming experiences and are looking for a more reliable product that will have some better features than those previously listed.

When you are looking at the price range of roughly £250 – £300, it is more than important to do some extensive research before you pull out your wallet. Not all the time, but often, large companies will bring out an attractive looking headset which is similar to those of the £100 budget, but with a snazzy button on the side of the mic. Some of the time, these products are just overpriced and not worth the cost, but if you look into the specifications, you may find that some of these headsets are worth the investment in the long-term.

Our Top Picks

When we were carefully selecting the headsets that we believed most deserved to be in our top five list, we decided to involve a range of products with an assortment of specifications and functions, so that the perfect headset out there for you is more likely to be in reach now! When reviewing each product, we added important specifications, such as: connection type and frequency response range. Along with that, we included a few positives and negatives to make sure we weren’t pulling any sort of wool over your eyes. Read on to find your perfect headset:

SteelSeries Siberia 800 (£250.97)

Frequency Response Range: 20Hz – 20KHz

Weight: 318 grams

Connection Type: Bluetooth

Cable Length: Wireless (12m, 40ft straight line)

Batterie life : 20-hour lithium-ion batteries ( 2 pieces )


PROS:

  • Has a sturdy and durable build.
  • Ear cups are padded, which is perfect for long gaming sessions.
  • Sound is amazing.
  • Comes with a set of two swappable batteries , which can be changed mid-action. 
  • High versatility , can be used with most of all devices : PC/MAC/XBOX/PS/PHONE/TABLET

CONS:

  • Price will put many customers off.


Description:

As the most expensive headset on our list, the Siberia 800 is definitely not for anyone that has a budget in mind. This wireless headset is perfect for mobile gamers (or those that tend to rage anf walk away from the screen in anger). With padded headcups, hours upon hours of gaming can be comfortable. A very durable build means that the Siberia 800 is most definitely worth the long-term investment.

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Creative Sound Blaster Recon3D Omega (£225.85)

Frequency Response Range: 20Hz – 20KHz

Weight: 325 grams

Connection Type: Wireless (SPIF + USB required for soundcard)

Cable Length: 1 meter (SPDIF)


PROS:

  • Despite size, comfortable long-term gaming is very much possible.
  • The external soundcard makes for great surround positioning.

CONS:

  • While it is not the most expensive on the list, it can still be off-putting.


Description:

While this is one of the more pricey headsets on the market, it is sure to get the job done at an excellent standard. If you are looking for the best product, no matter the price, this is the headset to go for. Though the product is quite heavy, it really is the cherry on top when you realise that the quality of the fit and the comfort that is giving goes beyond anything that the weight may make you assume.

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Kingston HyperX Cloud (£95.30)

Frequency Response Range: 10Hz – 20KHz

Weight: 350 grams

Connection Type: 3.5mm jack ( + airplane adapter)

Cable Length: 3 meters


PROS:

  • Has a sturdy and durable build.
  • Headband is padded along with ear cups, meaning long-term use is comfortable.
  • Sound is accurate and has a good low-end response.

CONS:

  • Lack of surround sound may put off some customers.


Description:

Priced at just under £100, this beauty of a headset weighs in at 350 grams and, while it’s not the lightest headset on the market, when you wear it, you could never tell the difference. THis particular headset includes a pair of high quality leatherette earcups, but a more velvet-finished pair are included too, if you would prefer to switch things up a bit.

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Creative Draco HS880 (£49.99)

Frequency Response Range: 20Hz – 20KHz

Weight: 325 grams

Connection Type: 3.5mm Stereo Input

Cable Length: 2.5 meters


PROS:

  • Noise cancelling boom mic makes conversation in-game much easier.
  • Simple design makes it attractive and not too bulky.
  • In-line remote control makes quick movements easier.

CONS:

  • No PS4 or Xbox One adapter available.


Description:

Seen as quite cheap in most people’s eyes, especially compared to previous items on our list, this headset that sits at under £50 is perfect for those that are on a budget. With a noise cancelling microphone, conversations within game, or communication in general, can be made a lot clearer. No longer will you have to tab out of your game to change the volume of the game either, with the in-line remote control! Gaming has just been made a lot easier.

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Turtle Beach Ear Force X12 (£29.99)

Frequency Response Range: 20Hz – 20KHz

Weight: 350 grams

Connection Type: USB Port, HDMI audio adapter cable (dongle)

Cable Length: 5 meters


PROS:

  • Has a microphone monitor and volume control that other products in the price range may not have.
  • Product is surprisingly durable and there is a lot of comfort when worn.

CONS:

  • Long-term gamers may want to save up for a more effective product.


Description:

If you are looking for quality, but do not wish to spend much at all, then the X12 is the perfect product for you. With an inline volume control and a microphone monitor, it is hard to tell why this product is as cheap as it is. The quality of the X12 means that you can keep them for years before you need to even think about replacing them, and the comfort will allow you to game for days on end (though, we wouldn’t recommend it).

Conclusion

No matter what sort of price range you have, whether it is as high as £200 or down closer to £20, there is most certainly always going to be a headset out there that is perfect for you. While it can be difficult figuring out what is best for your specific needs, it is always recommended to do your research before you spend anything. Looking into connection types and response range should sit high on your to-do list before you even consider looking at purchasing. Always make sure that the product you are buying is highly recommended, and don’t go handing your money away to a company that is selling you a low-end product with an attractive design for well above what it is worth. Checking around the internet and asking people their recommendations is always a good thing to do. While technical specifications play into your gaming experience, it is also highly recommended to actually look into durability. When it comes to durability, the more expensive headsets are usually the best. Would you rather spend £20 – £50 on a headset that will last a short period of time, or a bit more on something that could work extremely well for years? If you find the perfect headset for you, it should be able to last you for years, not months or weeks. A headset is an investment into a better gaming experience.

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