For hardcore gamers, headsets are a big thing.
They often want surround sound, tuned drivers, different EQ modes, software so that they can customise their listening profiles, crisp microphones that can be muted, and a design that either matches their consoles or simply makes them look stylish while out and about. Luckily for them, there are a thousand different brands of gaming headphones on display at E3 2016, and Pocket-lint looked at the best ones available.
A50 (Astro website)
Astro has updated its A50 gaming headset. Aesthetically, the latest version looks very similar to the last. The main difference between the two is that the A50 comes with mod kits ($50 each), allowing you to switch out core pieces of the headset. Astro said it also took everything it learned from last year’s A40 TR launch and applied it to the new A50, meaning both now share the same digital platform.
The A50 works with Astro's Command Center software, so you can adjust inputs, outputs, noise gate, side tone, microphone levels, chat audio, Aux channels, custom EQ profiles, and more. The headset comes with three preloaded EQ settings to boot. Also, not only does the A50 have a fully customisable audio experience, but it has a new wireless charging base. It acts as both a display stand and charging dock for the headset.
The dock has spots carved into that allow the headset to stand up, and in those divots you'll see a set of power contacts. You can plug this base station into a PC, Xbox One, or PS4 - depending on which version of the A50 you own (the Xbox One edition has green aluminium accents, while the PS4 has blue). The headset connects wirelessly to the base over a 5GHz frequency, and Astro has promised a battery life of 15 hours.
Astro said its A50 wireless gaming headset will release later this summer for $300 apiece. Check out the gallery above to see more pics.
The Turtle Beach booth at E3 2016 featured a number of products, including the new Elite Pro line for eSports (starts at $199.95) and all-new Stealth 350VR headset ($79.95).
Elite Pro (Turtle Beach website)
The Elite Pro is the first gaming headset designed for eSports athletes. It has 50mm Nanoclear speakers, a Pro Gaming microphone with TruSpeak technology, Turtle Beach's ComforTec Fit System (an "adjustment system for truly personalised comfort"), AeroFit Ear Cushions, and ProSpecs Glasses Relief System for gamers who wear glasses. The unique thing about this headset is its size adjustment system.
With this system, tournament goers can choose the proper size as well as desired tension for around their ears and head, and the grooves can be adjusted into the cushions to provide a more comfortable experience to anyone who wears glasses. Turtle Beach's Elite Pro sells for $199.95 USD and is compatible with the Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC, and phones.
Stealth 350VR (Turtle Beach website)
Turtle Beach also came to E3 2016 with the 350VR. It's an amplified gaming headset designed to give extra clearance for VR cables and headbands. It packs a 30+ hour rechargeable battery, variable bass boost, and two 50mm Neodymium speakers. There's also a removable noise-canceling mic with a "Mic Monitoring" feature that allows you to hear your own voice. The headset's audio cables are detachable too.
The Stealth 350VR will land this autumn with a $79.95 price tag.
LucidSound, which is comprised of a bunch of veterans and experts formerly from Mad Catz, is trying to break into the saturated market of gaming headsets with an interesting angle: gaming headsets don't need to look like they're aimed at 14 year olds. LucidSound said it wanted to introduce headsets that not only impress gamers, but also allow gamers to go and about with their headsets doubling as stylish headphones.
That means you won't see any tacky green or blue accents or something that looks like it could be out of a Tron movie. The company showed us three headsets (the LS20, LS30, and LS40). While the LS30 is its signature wireless model reminiscent of Sennheiser or Audio-Technica headphones, we were really impressed with the two newest headsets, the LS20 and LS40.
LS20 (LucidSound website)
The LS20 retails for under $100, and LucidSound emphasised that it's hard to find a quality gaming headset at that price point. This model, which is the smallest of the three, has on-ear cups and focuses on console and mobile gaming. Although it doesn't have discrete chat volume and wireless functionality, gamers will love the detachable boom mic and volume controls located on the outer ring of the right ear cup.
The headset also works in a powered-down mode and provides 20 hours of sound. We liked all these features, but the design is what really caught our eye. It didn't have unnecessary buttons all over the ear cups, and it sported a very soft pleather-like material in the colours white and gold. It looked and felt fancy. It was also incredibly light and comfortable, so gamers and audiophiles alike won't get headaches wearing the 20s.
LS40 (LucidSound website)
The LS40 is the highest-end model of the three. It costs $200 and looks just like the LS30 in terms of size. In terms of colour scemes, it comes in white and gold just like the LS20 but also offers a brown and black design. The LS40 comes with DTS 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound in addition to stereo. It's wireless and offers a detachable mic, too, so you take phone calls and utilise commands through Siri or Google Now.
Both the LS20 and LS40 are due in September. They work with PCs, PS4, Xbox One, and smartphones.