Setting out on a mission to find the very best gaming headsets was a daunting task. There are a multitude of options out there - wired, wireless, closed and open cup designs, stereo and surround sound headsets, oval and round earcups, leather and material finishes, the list goes on and on.

A lot of what makes a great gaming headset will be down to personal preference, but what we were looking for was a product that struck a perfect balance between quality of design, value for money and features that gamers would love. To create this shortlist, we worked through a mass of PC gaming headsets (many of which are also compatible with consoles) to whittle down to a list of finalists that we're sure you'll love. 

If you're looking for the best gaming headset for your money, then keep with us as we break down the very best we've seen and the reasons why you should consider adding them to your shortlist. 

Overall best surround sound gaming headset

Asus Strix True Surround Sounnd Gaming Headset image 7

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Asus Strix 7.1 "True" surround sound headset

When it comes to getting the best surround sound experience for gaming, there's no real substitute for a proper speaker setup with seven (or more) speakers and a subwoofer correctly positioned to deliver sound from the right direction at the right time. Virtual surround sound headsets do a reasonably good job as an affordable alternative, but what if you want closer to the real thing without clogging up your room with speakers and cables?

That's where so-called "true" surround headsets come in. These headsets are designed with multiple drivers to deliver a more realistic experience than that offered by the virtual ones which often just work with two (left and right) drivers. There aren't many true surround sound headsets about, but the Asus Strix 7.1 is one of them and it's the best from what we've seen. 

Design, comfort and sound quality

  • 10 discrete drivers including 40 mm front drivers, 40 mm subwoofer, 30 mm centre, 20 mm side, 20 mm rear
  • 32 Ohm impedance
  • 20 - 20000 Hz frequency response
  • Three metre braided cable
  • Breathable protein leather ear cushions
  • Foldable earcups 

The Asus Strix 7.1 headset is a gaming peripheral with a strong focus on quality and a big, bold design. This is a monster piece of kit, as you'd expect for a headset at this price point. The design is robust, strong and flexible. This is a big headset that sits nicely on the head, clamping tightly, yet comfortably to your ears to give you an enveloping audio experience whatever you're doing. 

Large breathable protein leather ear cushions ensure a comfortable fit and an all-encompassing sound. This is not an active noise-cancelling headset, but the design does work well to block out external noise and ensure you're fully immersed in the games you're playing. 

Asus Strix True Surround Sounnd Gaming Headset image 6

The highlight is the 10 audio drivers tucked out-of-sight within the ear cups that deliver a superb surround sound experience and the closest we've seen to a proper setup.

Long braided audio cables and a neat control box help maintain the comfort and prevent issues with short cables tugging on your ears while you game. It's also great to have quick and easy access to a range of settings within reach of your hands without needing to dive into separate software. 

Software and setup

  • Headphone amplifier/control box
  • Audio spectrum for first-person shooters, racing and action/role-playing games 
  • ENC microphone
Asus Strix True Surround Sounnd Gaming Headset image 11

This headset is powered by the headphone amplifier control box that sits neatly on your desk. This little box of tricks is the hub for the audio and allows you to easily change between settings, adjust volume and even tweak lighting on-the-fly. It acts as the sound card and works to process the surround sound audio to deliver the accurate audio experience you'd expect from a headset of this quality. 

The headset connects to the control box through then out to your gaming PC with two USB cables, both of which need to be plugged in to properly power the audio experience and lighting. This box also allows you to switch between audio spectrum profiles which adjust the surround sound experience to suit the game you're playing. 

The twist of a dial allows you to change the volume of the channels, adjust your mic sensitivity levels or adjust the surround sound profile to suit your preference the game you're playing. You can easily mute the microphone or turn surround sound on or off here too. There are also cables supplied to allow you to connect to speakers too, should you need or want to. This allows the option to switch between speakers and headphones when the need arises and demonstrates just how flexible this setup is. 

The control box also houses a small subtle microphone which is used to enhance the environmental noise cancelling of the mic. Asus claims up to 90 per cent noise cancellation from this setup, meaning people you're playing with won't hear the washing machine in the background or the click-clack of your mechanical keyboard. 

Thanks to the power of the control box, the Asus Strix 7.1 headset does not require separate software (though you can update drivers via the company's website) which makes it a lot easier to use as everything you need is right at your fingertips and easy to access. 

Setup, therefore, is as easy as plug and play. After a little tweaking to get things just how you want them, you're ready to enjoy an impressive gaming experience with an audio quality like no other. 

Gaming specifications

  • "True" 7.1 surround sound 
  • Static and breathing light effects
  • Dedicated volume controls and easy-access settings
Asus Strix True Surround Sounnd Gaming Headset image 3

The true surround sound experience you get with the Asus Strix 7.1 headset is undeniably superb. Being able to switch profiles according to the game you're playing and adjust volumes on-the-fly is really useful when you're gaming. Positional audio is superior to that offered by lesser headsets and by those virtual surround sound headsets out there. 

The headset design includes glowing Strix owl eyes. These can either bit set to static, breathing or off, depending on your preference. This lighting is impressive and unusual, it's also very much the Asus flavour and we like it, but if you don't it's easy to turn off. After all, you're more likely interested in the sound than the looks of the headset you're using. 

Microphone quality and design features

  • Unidirectional detachable microphone
  • 50 - 16000 Hz frequency response
  • -40 dB sensitivity 
  • Environmental noise cancelling

The Asus Strix 7.1 headset features a detachable microphone which allows you to use it with or without a mic depending on your preference. This is a bendable and flexible microphone that doesn't get in the way during use and offers a clear audio experience. 

During testing we found the Asus Strix 7.1 headset capable of offering an excellent communication experience across a range of software including Discord, Slack, Skype and more. It works as well for in-game VOIP as it does for calls with colleagues or friends. The quality of this audio is backed by the environmental noise cancelling which is managed by the microphone on the control box. This reduces the interference from other noise in the environment such as key presses or white noise that might interfere with your broadcast. 

Verdict

1/12Pocket-lint

After a great deal of testing, we're of the opinion that the Asus Strix 7.1 headset is the best surround sound gaming headset that money can buy. 

We also tested and compared with the Asus ROG Centurion, which is the flagship model and theoretically the new and improved version but found some issues with the microphone on some models which caused serious communication issues. Asus offer settings recommendations and tweaks for improving that quality, but we found that even then it didn't compare with the Asus Strix 7.1.  

The Asus Strix 7.1 offers a fantastic surround sound experience with "true" surround sound delivered from 10 drivers that is as close to the proper surround sound experience as you're going to get without actually buying a full speaker setup. The quality of the audio is superb whatever you're doing and we found this headset to be comfortable even after hours and hours of wear. 

The design might not be for everyone, as it's far from understated, but this headset is a testament to the old adage "you get what you pay for". 

Microphone performance is excellent, as is the experience delivered by the flexible control box and it's refreshing not to have to worry about setting up and configuring software. If you can stretch to it, we'd highly recommend considering this headset as your next purchase.


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Best and most versatile wireless gaming headset

Pocket-lintSteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless image 2

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SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless 

If you don't immediately baulk at the price, then the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless is quite possibly the very best wireless gaming headset currently available. It's certainly an incredibly versatile piece of kit. Like the SteelSeries Siberia 800 which it seemingly replaces, this headset is capable of cross-platform support for use on PlayStation, PC and even mobile devices. 

It has a variety of inputs including optical and USB for PC that allow you to take advantage of the Dolby audio and DTS virtual surround sound processing power inside the transmitter box. Built-in Bluetooth and an understated design mean it can also be taken with you out of the house in place of standard headphones. 

Design, comfort and sound quality

  • 10–40,000 Hz frequency response
  • 40mm Neodymium drivers
  • 102 dB SPL sensitivity/32Ohm impedance
  • Ski Goggle headband and AirWeave material earcups
  • 20-hour battery life via swappable batteries
  • 2.4Ghz wireless and Bluetooth 4.1 support

The SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless is the current flagship of the SteelSeries range. The design is immediately familiar as part of the Arctis range too. It features the same AirWeave cushion ear cups and Ski Goggle style headband as the other devices we've seen. The result is a comfortable and adjustable fit that sits nicely on the head. 

This headset features an incredibly versatile design. It's wireless, but it can be plugged in with accompanying wires too - there's an audio cable for smartphones and a MicroUSB connection for PC as well. Optical in and out, as well as USB and 3.5mm jack connections, allow for a variety of different connections easily. 

2.4Ghz wireless ensures a solid connection during use when you're connected to and in range of the transmitter box. The benefit of the Artics Pro Wireless is that control box too - there's no software required, it's all done with a turn of a dial and the press of a button. You have access to a multitude of settings with ease without the need to load and up faff about with software. 

Pocket-lintSteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless image 4

This little box sits neatly on your desk and gives you easy access to volume controls and a range of settings. It also holds a spare battery which is on charge when not in use and can be easily swapped with the battery in the earcup of the headset itself when the juice is running low. Meaning you never need to be plugged in if you don't want to be. 

The SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless also supports Bluetooth 4.1 connections, meaning it can be quickly and easily paired with any Bluetooth device. We comfortably used it on a laptop and mobile phone to listen to music and watch YouTube when we were away from our main machine. 

As well as being able to easily connect to Bluetooth devices, you can easily control it from the box. As an example, we connected the headset to a laptop we had for testing via Bluetooth and volume could not only be controlled from the box (not plugged into the laptop) but the headset itself and the laptop.

This is a brilliant headset for using in this way, as it's not only great for tunes but also supports Bluetooth calls thanks to the built-in retractable microphone. 

The result of this design is a superb audio quality that includes deep bass notes, a wide audio range and an excellent surround sound quality. We found this headset to joy to use when watching films, playing games and listening to music in equal measure.

The SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless is not a noise cancelling headset by nature. We did, however, find that the snug design eliminated a lot of external noise and made for a comfortable audio experience throughout the day and into the small hours of the night. It also is one of the only headsets where we've felt the need to use sidetone to be able to hear our own voice when we're talking to avoid shouting. 

1/4 

Software and setup

  • Dedicated transmitter/control box
  • SteelSeries Engine 3 compatible
  • Equaliser pre-sets, Game/ChatMix, surround sound controls 

Thanks to the powerful box of tricks hidden within the transmitter, the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless doesn't require any pesky additional software to be installed on your PC. It is, however, compatible with SteelSeries Engine 3, which means you can set it up in there and we'd recommend doing so as it also allows to update the firmware of both the transmitter and the headset when you need to. 

Within the settings on the transmitter is a number of options including an equaliser, the ability to change input methods, adjust volumes and turn Dolby processing on and off. 

You can also adjust the "Chat Mix" which basically allows you to change the volume levels of the games you're playing compared to those from any chat programs you're using (Discord, Mumble, Teamspeak and the like). This sort of flexibility allows you to easily set up the audio quality and volumes to match your personal preference. 

Initial setup and pairing with the transmitter box is a breeze and there's an easy to use on/off button on the headset itself to save battery life. There's no need to pair every time you turn your machine on either. 

A highlight of this new headset is the improvements SteelSeries has made to the controls. You can now access the settings via the headset itself by pushing the volume wheel in. This allows you to switch between modes to adjust Chat Mix, equaliser and source on the fly without touching the control box at all. 

Volume control can also be adjusted all the way up and down too, which wasn't possible on lesser headsets we'd tested. 

Pocket-lintSteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless image 6

Gaming specifications

  • DTS Headphone: X v2.0 surround sound/Dolby audio via optical input
  • Optical and USB inputs
  • Compatible with PC and PS4 (all variants)
  • ChatMix on-the-fly adjustment
  • 40-foot wireless range

The best wireless gaming needs to be accurate, long-lasting and easy to use. We found the sound quality of the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless to be lag free and accurate, offering an interference-free audio experience that was a pleasure to use during any gaming session. 

One compromise of the design here is the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless isn't Hi-Res certified like the SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC we've listed elsewhere in this guide. It is, however, still capable of producing a 40,000 Hz frequency response and does include DTS Headphone: X v2.0 surround sound processing. 

We found the result is an impressive sound experience. Not quite as good as the high-fidelity offering of the other headset, but with the freedom and comfort of wireless, it's a compromise we're willing to make. 

The SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless uses 1,000mAh Lithium-ion batteries that SteelSeries claims is capable of 10 hours playback before recharging is necessary. That's 10 hours per battery. The fact there's always one on charge means you barely notice the minor inconvenience of swapping them when you need to. There's no need to plug this headset in when juice is getting low, which is a usual nag of wireless devices. 

Wireless range is clearly another important factor when considering your wireless headset purchase. SteelSeries says the Arctis Pro Wireless is capable of around 12 metres/40 foot range, but in real-world use, we found it was a touch less. It is, however, not significantly less and it's certainly enough to pop to the kitchen for a drink or to the bathroom for a comfort break.

We're happy to report that the quality of the sound and performance of this headset is first-rate. We found no issues with lag or latency problems and, as we've already said, the sound quality is superb. Gaming audio over 2.4Ghz wireless is rich and immersive. 

Microphone quality and design features

  • Bi-directional noise cancelling
  • Retractable microphone with mic mute light
  • -38 dBV/PA sensitivity
  • 100–10,000 Hz frequency response
  • 2200 Ohm impedance

If you're an avid gamer, then you're likely playing online with friends, whether in multiplayer or co-op games or facing off against a range of people from across the world. A good microphone is key to a good quality gaming experience and a lacklustre mic will be your undoing in the more tactical games you might be playing.  

The microphone on the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless is as capable as it is flexible. It bends easily to suit your preference and will quickly retract into the headset ear cup if you aren't using it and want it tucked neatly out of the way. This is ideal if you want to use the headset as headphones while out and about and don't want everyone to know you're a gamer. 

There's a good frequency response and sensitivity level here that results in a superb quality microphone that's great for chatting to friends or goading enemy players. An easily accessible mic mute button on the back of the headset makes it simple to silence the mic when you need to and a bright red LED light will let you know when it's done too. 

Pocket-lintSteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless image 1

Verdict

The SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless is an expensive option if you're considering it as a potential gaming headset, but you do get what you pay for.

This is a marvellously comfortable wireless headset with a variety of inputs, features and functionality that deliver a superb sound quality whatever you're doing and whatever gaming system you're playing on. 

It's also surprisingly versatile and we loved being able to take it with us to use in place of headphones or to easily connect to other devices without having to disconnect and reconnect the transmitter box. The SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless certainly does it all and it does it well too. 


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The most comfortable wireless gaming headset

Pocket-lintAstro A50 Wireless gaming headset image 1

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Astro A50 wireless

Comfort is the name of the game here. There's nothing worse than a gaming headset that sounds great but leaves your ears aching, sweating or feeling squashed after a good gaming session. 

If this is a problem you've had, then the Astro A50 wireless may well be the solution. 

Design, comfort and sound quality

  • Open Air Over-Ear design
  • Cloth ear cushions upgradable to leather
  • 40mm Neodymium Magnet drivers
  • 20Hz - 20,000Hz Frequency Response

It might not look like it at first glance, but the Astro A50 wireless is an uber-comfortable gaming headset. It features velour style cloth ear cushions, that are large and comfortable enough to fit nicely over your ears. We found that these were like having small puffs of heavenly goodness resting on your head. 

The drivers too, are covered in the same ultra-soft material which means there's a gentle and comfortable pressure on all parts of your ears during use. Similarly, a padded headband ensures a light and comfortable fit. The size can be easily adjusted too - making this headset more than capable of coping with larger noggins. 

Pocket-lintAstro A50 Wireless gaming headset image 12

Of course being a wireless headset, the Astro A50 also benefits from the freedom from cables you'll love. It supports 5GHz wireless and has large drivers capable of delivering an excellent frequency response. In real terms, this means you get a low-latency and accurate audio experience that's perfect for gaming and other listening too. 

We found the Astro A50 is able to deliver a fantastic sound quality and though not high-res, still full of deep bass notes and impressively convincing surround sound.

When not in use, this headset is simply docked into the charging base which connects to your computer via MicroUSB for power and audio. It then charges via convection with the small metallic connectors on the bottom of the earcups. 

Software and setup

  • Optical Pass-through, USB Power & Soundcard, USB Charging Port, AUX In / Mic out (TRRS 3.5mm) inputs via basestation
  • Compatible with Astro Gaming Command Center

The headset works with Astro Command Center which allows for easy control of various settings - including three equaliser presets that can be changed on-the-fly with a button on the headset itself. These can also be tweaked in the advanced settings of the software until your heart is content.

The microphone too, can be adjusted to your personal preference. Adjusting both noise-cancellation to account for the environment (home vs a tournament arena for example) or simply changing the equaliser to adjust your tone. If you like hearing your own voice, you can adjust sidetone levels here too.

Pocket-lintAstro A50 Wireless gaming headset image 8

Gaming specifications

  • Dolby virtual audio
  • Up to 15 hours battery life
  • Up to 30ft wireless range over 5GHz

We were pleasantly surprised with how capable this headset is. The range is fantastic and it's great in any situation. Whether listening to music, streaming videos or playing games with your mates, the A50 delivers a crisp and encompassing sound that's a joy to the ears. 

It supports virtual Dolby audio with a simple press of a button on the headset and there's an audible beep to let you know when this has been turned on and off as well as a small indicator light on the charging base too.

The A50 wireless has a 15-hour battery which is capable of convection charging via the accompanying base station. We found we were able to get a full day's use out of this headset on a regular basis without any need for extra juice. Listening to Spotify during working hours and then gaming at night, the Astro A50 just keeps going and going.

A battery indicator light on the dock lets you know how much juice you have left and also highlights when the headset is in charging mode. 

The wireless range isn't quite as good as other headsets we've tested. It uses 5GHz wireless tech for low-latency sound and claims a 30-foot range. In practice, we found the range wasn't that great and audio often dropped out on a trip to the bathroom, but the quality of sound when it mattered was fantastic and that's what really counts.

In gameplay, the headset is just as convincing and capable. It delivers brilliant audio with an impressive virtual surround sound experience that you'd expect at this price point.  

Pocket-lintAstro A50 Wireless gaming headset image 9

Microphone quality and design features

  • 6mm uni-directional noise-cancelling microphone
  • Flip-to-mute functionality

The microphone on the Astro A50 is a pleasure to use. It has deep and warm tones and manages to cancel out a fair amount of the surrounding environmental noise during use. It can be tweaked and customised in the software and adjusted to your personal preference. 

We liked the sidetone capabilities here that allow you to hear your own voice and gauge volume with ease. 

Like the SteelSeries headsets on this list, the Astro A50 also allows you to adjust volumes to strike a balance between VOIP and game audio. This is known as "game:voice balancing" and is easy to adjust with the press of the corresponding button on the right earcup. This allows you to either hear more from your fellow gamers on Discord or immerse yourself fully in the game.

1/19Pocket-lint

Verdict

The Astro A50 isn't necessarily the best gaming headset on our list. It is, however, undoubtedly the most comfortable. It's also convenient, capable and brilliantly designed. It's easy to pick up and use and equally easy to drop in the charging dock when you need to. 

We were rarely left wanting when using this headset and would happily recommend it to anyone who is looking for a gaming headset that delivers constant comfort throughout the day.  


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Best affordable wireless surround sound headset

SteelSeries Arctis 7 gaming headset image 8

SteelSeries Arctis 7

If you don't want to break the bank, but still want a great quality wireless gaming headset, then the SteelSeries Arctis 7 is well worth a look. This is another great looking and feature-packed headset from SteelSeries that's fully capable of delivering an excellent wireless experience and with DTS Headphone X: 7.1 surround sound to boot.  

Design, comfort and sound quality

  • DTS Headphone:X 7.1 virtual surround sound
  • 40mm Neodymium drivers
  • 20-20000 Hz frequency response
  • 32 Ohm impedance
  • 98db sensitivity 
  • Changeable Ski Goggle headbands

The SteelSeries Arctis 7 boasts an impressive and funky modern design that includes swappable Ski Goggle material headbands which you can buy separately to customise your own look. These material straps cover top and bottom of the metal headband and lead to a comfortable fit on the head. 

Other than the patterned headbands, the design of the SteelSeries Arctis 7 is one of the more subtly designed headsets on our list. This headset has a clean design, with no garish RGB lighting that makes it easily usable as normal headphones as well as a gaming headset. The retractable microphone also tucks neatly out of the way when not in use, so it's as brilliant to look at as it is to use. 

Comfort carries onto the design of the ear cushions. The standard cups make use of soft AirWeave material which we found to be more comfortable and less scratchy than other breathable materials we've tested, but not as nice as leather ear cups which are always our preference. You can purchase leather and velour ear cushions separately though, so there are plenty of options when it comes to comfort. 

Interestingly, the SteelSeries Arctis 7 uses the same drivers as the flagship Siberia 800, so you won't be too surprised to hear that the audio quality on this headset is just as superb. The processing is slightly different though, this headset uses DTS Headphone:X 7.1 which delivers a pretty precise surround sound experience. In fact, we'd say the positional audio on this headset is superior to the Siberia 800, but still not as good as other headsets on this list. 

SteelSeries Arctis 7 gaming headset image 7

The support for DTS Headphone:X 7.1 does deliver an impressive wraparound sound which is a blissful joy to the ears. 

This headset is both comfortable to wear and an excellent performer. We enjoyed day long use listening to music, followed by an evening of gaming without any issues with discomfort. We like the subtle design of this one and the fact that it's customisable in both comfort and style to your own personal preference. 

Software and setup

  • Wireless USB and Wired analogue options including 3.5mm connections
  • 1.2-metre charging cable
  • Equaliser pre-sets, range compression and mic volume/sidetone settings
  • Game-specific profile launching 
1/3 

The SteelSeries Arctis 7 connects to your machine via a wireless dongle and we found initial setup and connection was a breeze. There's also an alternative for analogue connections for connecting 3.5mm devices too, so you can even use this headset with a mobile phone if you choose to do so.  

Initial setup requires installation of the SteelSeries Engine software which allows you to switch between profiles (with different equaliser settings) depending on what program/game you've launched – therefore you can set it to music for Spotify or to gaming when you launch your favourite games without the need to manually change in the settings each time.

There aren't too many settings here and there don't need to be. You can adjust the presets, equaliser settings and turn DTS processing on and off. There are also options for adjusting the mic including setting a sidetone to be able to hear your own voice should you feel the need and changing volume levels. 

The downfall of this headset is the paltry 1.2-metre charging cable which is far too short and tugs on the ear when in use. We found it was better to charge when we weren't using the headset, even though it is possible to game and charge at the same time. 

Gaming specifications

  • 12-metre wireless range
  • Approximately 20 hours battery life
  • AirWeave ear cushions

Wireless range on the SteelSeries Arctis 7 headset is one of the most impressive we've seen during our testing. Unlike the Siberia 800, this headset managed to broadcast throughout most of the house, including through other rooms and upstairs too. 

We also found this wireless headset to have the best battery life we've seen. We managed to squeeze out over 20 hours of use during testing, though we would recommend charging before it goes flat or you'll have an uncomfortable experience thanks to the short charging cable. A power light underneath lets you know when it's running low by changing colour with a traffic light system warning you when the charge is getting low. A red light is a bad sign and time to get it plugged in. 

During game sessions, we found the SteelSeries Arctis 7 to be more than capable of producing a high-quality sound and great gaming experience. This is an immersive headset that doesn't suffer from lag or latency issues. 

Microphone quality and design features

  • 100Hz - 6500Hz frequency response
  • -48 dB sensitivity 
  • 2200 Ohm impedance
  • Retractable design
  • Mute toggle button
  • Microphone noise cancellation

The microphone on the SteelSeries Arctis 7 is flexible and capable. For the most part, it delivers an excellent sound that's clear and concise. We did, however, find it suffered from a bit of noise – you can hear the "puff" of breath when you speak and it picks up a bit too much in that way which is a shame.  

The Arctis 7 also employs the Chat Mix technology with a wheel on ear cup which allows you to adjust the volume between game and voice chat software – great if people are talking too loudly and ruining your game and easy to adjust on the fly. 

There are power, mic mute, volume and Chat Mix buttons all on headset ear cups. We found the mic mute button was a bit tricky to use as it's not easy to press or feel due to being recessed in the earcup.

Verdict

1/12Pocket-lint

At this price, the SteelSeries Arctis 7 is an impressive and desirable gaming headset. From a value for money point of view, it's the best wireless gaming headset we've seen. There's a lot to like too - this headset is customisable with different headbands and earcups allowing you to change the design and comfort to suit your own preference. 

The wireless range and accuracy is impressive, as is the battery life. We also thought a lot of the sound quality, the headset's ability in terms of surround sound processing and the response of the microphone. It's not quite the best gaming headset, but certainly a contender and no doubt well worth every penny.


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Most stylish gaming headset

Razer Kraken V2 Mercury White image 4

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Razer Kraken 7.1 V2 Mercury White

If style and looks matter to you and you're bored of the same old boring black headsets then the Razer Kraken 7.1 V2 in Mercury White is worth a look. This headset is strikingly beautiful, especially when combined with the other Mercury White products Razer has to offer. This unusual design might be an appeal in itself, but we wanted to see if it also stood up against the competition. 

Design, comfort and sound quality

  • 50mm Neodymium drivers
  • 12 Hz – 28 kHz frequency response
  • 32 Ohm impedance
  • 123 dB sensitivity 
  • Oval or round ear cushion options

The Razer Kraken 7.1 V2 is, as you might have gathered from the name, the second version of this headset. It's also another surround sound headset from Razer that offers an excellent audio experience in a beautifully packaged shell. This headset is available in black, gunmetal grey and mercury white. We felt that the white version was certainly the most appealing, unless you're the sort of gamer that likes to stuff cheesy crisps while you play. 

This is a headset that features a funky design that's certainly comfortable. It can also be customised to some degree as you can choose between oval and round earcups depending on your preference. We were slightly disappointed with the feel of the headset in the hand, as the silver outer band that you can see on the earcups is actually plastic, not metal (as you might expect at this price point). This doesn't impact comfort, but we wonder about long-term durability. 

The headband rests nicely on the head and the earcups are certainly comfortable enough for hours and hours of use. We liked the braided USB cable and other neat, high-quality features that made this headset a pleasure to use, but felt that the build quality doesn't quite stand up to other headsets on this list. 

The sound quality, however, does not disappoint. This a virtual surround sound headset with audio that's been upgraded since the previous model. The large drivers offer a good range of sound with deep bass levels and a brilliantly immersive sound quality that gamers will love. Within the Razer Synapse software, you can calibrate the position of the audio to your own personal preference ensuring the best surround sound experience. 

We were disappointed in the lack of volume control on the headset or on the cable. It's surprising how a lack of something simple like this can be frustrating during everyday use. There is a mic mute button on the mic itself, but no volume controls to speak of. 

Software and setup

  • Braided two metre USB cable
  • Razer Chroma light effects
1/4 

The Razer Kraken 7.1 V2 features a braided two metre USB cable that's just about long enough not to be a comfort issue. The braiding nicely ensures it doesn't catch or rub on desk surfaces, which helps maintain a comfortable experience. 

This headset uses the Razer Synapse software which offers masses of options including equalisation controls, settings for mic noise control, voice clarity, ambient noise reduction and lighting effects too. The lighting here is subtle and understated, unlike the majority of other RGB capable products out there. The Razer logo on the side of the earcups lights up nicely with tweaking available in the software.  

Gaming specifications

  • 346 grams weight
  • Virtual 7.1 surround sound

The Razer Kraken 7.1 V2 is lightweight, comfortable and boasts a capable surround sound delivery which is enjoyable and effective. We found it great for everyday use and for gaming too. It's comfortable enough to be worn for hours and hours, no matter what you're doing and with the added bonus that you'll look great while doing it too. 

This headset offers not only great sound quality but accurate positional audio that's comparable with other virtual surround sound headsets on this list. 

Microphone quality and design features

  • 100 Hz – 10 kHz frequency response
  • > 55 dB signal-to-noise ratio
  •  -38 ± 3 dB sensitivity level
  • Active noise-cancelling microphone

The design features on this headset include a subtle and retractable microphone that can be simply slid out of sight when not in use. A mute button is built into the end of the mic which, when squeezed will activate the mute function and light the tip in a nice red hue to let you know it's active. 

With active noise-cancelling capabilities and a range of voice clarity, sensitivity and noise reduction settings in the Synapse software the microphone offers an excellent vocal delivery that's great to use. We found the Razer Kraken 7.1 V2 worked well with a variety of software including Slack, Skype and Discord as well as in-game VOIP. 

Verdict

1/11Pocket-lint

The Razer Kraken 7.1 V2 in Mercury White is a cracking headset offering from Razer. It's beautiful and sleek. There are a few niggles with the design, the lack of volume controls and the slightly questionable build quality being the main two. But for looks and audio performance, it's worth considering. It's also one of the more affordable virtual surround sound headsets on the market, so if you want something that performs, looks great, but doesn't break the bank, then this might be it


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Best high-fidelity gaming headset

Pocket-lintSteelSeries Arctis Pro and GameDAC image 10

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SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC

If you think of yourself as a bit of an audiophile and only the very best audio is enough whatever you're doing then the SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC might be for you.

SteelSeries say this new headset represents the "first complete gaming audio system to receive the Japanese Audio Society’s Hi-Res Certification". 

The focus here is firmly on creating a high-resolution audio experience for gamers that's as incredible in game as it is listening to music, watching films or just chatting to friends. This new design is intended to deliver the cleanest and purest audio experience whatever your game of choice.

Design, comfort and sounds quality

  • High-fidelity 96kHZ/24-bit audio
  • Hi-Res Certified
  • 32 Ohm impedance
  • 98db sensitivity
  • 10-40,000Hz audio response
  • 121dB of dynamic range
  • -115dB Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise
  • Gunmetal finish headband with swappable Ski Goggle-style headbands
  • Comfortable AirWeave material earcups
  • RGB lighting on earcups

If the SteelSeries Arctis Pro is immediately familiar it's because it features a similar design and build to the Arctis 7. This is a tried and tested design that works well and we found it superbly comfortable during our time with the Arctis 7, so we're pleased to see it again with this new device.

This new headset features the close and comfortable fit of the Arctis range. With a freshly styled gunmetal finished headband supported by a swappable ski goggle-style band that can be easily tightened or loosened depending on your preference. This design is surprisingly comfortable as it's the material headband that sits on your head, not the metal, so you don't get an unpleasant pressure on your noggin while you're gaming.

Also present in the design is the same AirWeave material earcups which we found pleasantly comfortable even after hours and hours of gaming. Unlike leather earcups which might cause you to have sweaty ears after a few hours, these material ones provide a close fit and surprising comfort all day long which make them a joy to wear.

This design means the SteelSeries Arctis Pro sits tightly on the head, while the deep earcups manage to successfully block out a lot of surrounding environmental noise. Though certainly not an active noise cancelling headset, it is one that reduces distractions significantly. We found that we were using mic sidetone settings here to be able to hear ourselves think while playing or listening to music if we had to talk to friends or family members, which is a testament to the quality.

The SteelSeries Arctis Pro features premium drivers which the company claim are capable of delivering double the audio range of most standard headsets (at 40,000Hz). This has a number of implications in the use of this headset. Firstly, if you're a PC gamer this means that you can dive into the settings on the GameDAC (Digital Audio Converter) and switch over to Hi-Res audio. Doing this means the little control box then does the leg work and transforms sound into High-fidelity 96kHZ/24-bit audio. You can then open up Windows sound settings and see the full glory of the high-end audio.

Secondly, it means the quality of the sound is on a new level. We found the audio range of this headset to be mighty impressive. It opens up your ears to new sounds you might not have heard in game before, but also delivers a wider range in music too. The bass notes are excellent, the highs and lows are a joy and there's no denying the high-fidelity audio is certainly impressive.

Software and setup

  • Dedicated high-fidelity USB DAC (Digital Audio Converter)
  • Powered by ESS Sabre 9018
  • Equaliser pre-sets, Game/ChatMix, surround sound, RGB illumination controls on DAC
  • SteelSeries Engine 3 compatible
Pocket-lintSteelSeries Arctis Pro and GameDAC image 13

With the GameDAC converting the audio, the SteelSeries Arctis Pro then becomes a complete audio system that delivers tremendous sound with a range of tuning options. Like the SteelSeries Siberia 800, the control box offers a number of inputs and outputs. This headset is compatible with both PS4 and PC and comes with cables for USB and optical connections on those devices as well as an option to use the headset with a mobile phone.

On PC all the work is done via a standard USB connection and that gives you easy access to Hi-Res audio and a range of other settings that include DTS Headphone:X. On PS4 with an optical connection, you can take advantage of Dolby 5.1 processing too.

The SteelSeries Arctis Pro is compatible with the SteelSeries Engine 3 software, which means it's open to a range of other tweaks, customisation and personalisation according to your needs. The addition of the GameDAC though means that you don't need that software to enjoy the headset in its full glory. On a desk the DAC offers the ability to change settings on-the-fly and it as a separate unit it means PlayStation gamers can enjoy all those settings too without needing to plug into a PC.

Setting this headset up is as easy as plugging a USB cable into your PC or optical cable into your PS4 then plugging that into the control box with the other cable going to the headset itself. Then the GameDAC talks you though set-up depending on what device you're using and how to use the controls. Using this box is as simple as adjusting the volume wheel and click it in to accept settings to twisting to adjust with a separate button to go back or exit.

On the GameDAC you have access to a range of different settings that include equaliser pre-sets, Game/ChatMix levels, surround sound options, RGB illumination, mic sidetone and more. We like how easy these controls are to use and how simple it is to switch not only between Hi-Res audio and the other sound settings, but to adjust things like volume of the mic and the colour of the RGB lighting with ease.

Gaming specifications

  • DTS Headphone:X virtual surround sound/Dolby 5.1 via optical input
  • Optical and USB inputs
  • Compatible with PC and PS4 (all variants)
  • ChatMix on-the-fly adjustment
  • RGB lighting on both earcups and mic

The available options for audio quality will vary depending on what device you're planning on using the headset with. On PC you can activate DTS Headphone:X virtual surround sound to make the most of your gaming sessions, but only if Hi-Res audio is turned off. On PS4 with an optical input you can enjoy the joy of Dolby 5.1 surround sound. There's a good mix of options here to adjust the sound to your own personal preference.

We found Hi-Res audio delivered a superbly impressive experience during gaming sessions, whether dashing through the deserts in Assassin's Creed Origins or smashing in doors with friends on Rainbow Six Siege.

The DTS Headphone:X audio is good too, though it doesn't stand up against other surround sound experiences delivered by headsets that are focussed more on that type of audio than they are high-fidelity experiences.

As with other SteelSeries headsets, the Arctis Pro also offers ChatMix settings, which mean you can tweak the levels of game volume vs voice audio from chat services like Discord, Mumble or Teamspeak.

As well as having a volume wheel on the GameDAC, there's also one on the back of the headset, along with a mic mute button which makes it easy to adjust your volume levels whenever you need to, even if you keep the GameDAC at arm's length.

The cables on this headset are also sufficient to stretch across a long desk and plug into the back of a gaming machine without much trouble. The only downside is the cables aren't braided, which we'd expect to see at this price point but that's probably the only downfall of an otherwise solid piece of gaming kit.

In terms of RGB lighting, the SteelSeries Arctis Pro features subtle rings around the outside of the headset that can be tweaked in the GameDAC. The options for colour here include rainbow, heat orange, frost blue, then orange, red, yellow, blue, green, purple or off.

Similarly, you can also adjust the lighting on the tip of the mic. This light shows when the mic is muted and you can change the colour with the same range of options as available to the ear cups. There's plenty of flexibility and customisation options and we like how easy everything is to both setup and tweak on a whim.

Microphone quality and design features

  • Bi-directional noise cancelling
  • 100-10,000Hz frequency response
  • -38 dBV/PA sensitivity
Pocket-lintSteelSeries Arctis Pro and GameDAC image 11

Like the other headsets in the Arctis range, the SteelSeries Arctis Pro features a bi-directional noise-cancelling microphone that's retractable into the body of the headset. This mic is also bendable and flexible, so it can be easily moved into comfortable positions or out of the way if you need to stuff something in your face while you're gaming.

The mic is also adjustable – with volume options available in the GameDAC settings and an easy-access mic mute button on the back of one of the ear cups. We were impressed with the recording quality and the noise cancellation abilities of this one too.

In the settings you can tweak the sidetone of the mic so you can hear your own voice within the headset. There are options to turn this off completely or set it to low, medium or high. We found this was useful for hearing ourselves during hectic game sessions and preventing us from shouting as the earcups cancel out a fair bit of external noise.

Verdict

1/14Pocket-lint

The SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC is a combination to be reckoned with. You can buy the headset on its own, but if you want the high-fidelity, certified hi-res audio then you need the GameDAC too. This isn't a cheap gaming headset by any means, but then who would expect that from an audiophile-pleasing device?

This headset delivers superb audio, brilliantly subtle lighting customisation and a wealth of adjustable sound settings that anyone will love, but if you've got an ear for quality then this is certainly one for your shortlist.

We're big fans of the SteelSeries Arctis line-up. This design is comfortable, easy on the eye and a joy to wear for hours and hours. The SteelSeries Arctis Pro continues a trend of incredibly superb gaming headsets with a focus on tremendous audio and sublime comfort. With this new headset, SteelSeries is no doubt going to please a market of audiophile gamers looking for something to fill their needs.

All this quality comes at a price though and at $249.99/€249.99 you'll certainly need to weigh up your options first. If superior surround sound is more your bag then you might want to look elsewhere, but if high-fidelity audio is what you're after, then this headset oozes audio pleasure that's bound to please.


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Others to consider

1/6Pocket-lint

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Corsair VOID Pro RGB Wireless

  • Dolby 7.1 virtual surround sound via 50mm drivers
  • 20Hz - 20 kHz frequency response with 32k Ohms impedance
  • 40ft wireless range and 15-17 hours battery life
  • Unidirectional noise cancelling mic with 100Hz to 10kHz frequency response

If the other devices on this list don't tickle your fancy or are out of your budget then there are others worth considering too. The Corsair VOID PRO RGB Wireless is certainly a headset worth looking at. It's not as pricey as some other wireless surround sound headsets out there, yet manages to deliver an excellent experience that you'd expect from Corsair. 

We're happy to report that this headset is a great performer in all areas. The Corsair VOID PRO RGB Wireless is a virtual 7.1 surround sound headset with Dolby processing which allows it to deliver a pretty impressive surround sound experience. We found the audio quality to be immersive and superb when gaming, while music and movies were equally as enjoyable, making this a great all-round headset for daily use. 

As an alternative to the other wireless gaming headsets we've covered the Corsair VOID PRO RGB Wireless is certainly a viable option. It's a capable wireless surround sound gaming headset that delivers an excellent sound quality from a well built and durable design. 

At around £100/$100 the Corsair VOID PRO RGB Wireless is a fantastic option and considering it's backed by a two-year warranty, you can be sure you're getting value for money too. 


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1/8Pocket-lint

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Audio Technica ATH-ADG1x

  • Open-air ear cup design for comfort
  • 53mm stereo drivers with a 5 – 35,000 Hz frequency response
  • High-fidelity audio
  • Supercardioid condenser microphone

The Audio Technica ATH-ADG1x is an open-air, high-fidelity stereo gaming headset that's designed to deliver a comfortable gaming experience with light, open and natural sound delivered straight into your ears. 

This headset sports an interesting and unusual design. The large earcups sit under an all-metal honeycomb mesh, with velvet-style ear cushions that deliver a comfortable and cool gaming audio experience even after hours of play.

These large round ear cups are designed to be comfortable and pleasant to wear, but they also give space to house the large 53mm stereo drivers. These drivers are where the action happens. They're designed to deliver an audio experience that's unparalleled and indeed, we were impressed with the quality of the sound coming of these cans. They open your ears to new sounds you might not have otherwise noticed in games and music and we couldn't help but be impressed with the quality of the sound, no matter what we were doing.

If high-fidelity audio is important to you and you're after a high-end stereo gaming headset, then the Audio Technica ATH-ADG1x might be worth considering.

In the end, the Audio Technica ATH-ADG1x is certainly one to consider but only if you're willing to part with a lot of money for a 3.5mm powered stereo headset.


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1/10Pocket-lint

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Turtle Beach Elite Pro Professional (PC Edition)

  • 50mm Nanoclear drivers with 12Hz - 22kHz frequency response 
  • Asahi Spandex, leather & cooling gel-infused memory foam ear cushions and headband
  • Unique "Glasses Relief System" and ComforTec Fit System - tension controls for adjusting headband comfort
  • DTS Headphone:X 7.1 virtual surround sound

The first thing that strikes home about the Turtle Beach Elite Pro Professional headset is the build quality. There's a flex and bend here which allows it to fit nicely on your head. Incredibly deep leather earcups are supported by a large and comfortable headband which includes a tension adjustment system that allows you to tweak the way the headset hugs your head. 

These are some of the deepest and most comfortable earcups we've seen on any gaming headset we've tested. This design not only reduces the pressure on your ears from the drivers (as they're not resting on your ears) but allows delivery of a comfortable and all-encompassing sound as you game. These cups also include a cooling cloth on the inside which stops your ears from sweating and helps maintain that superb comfort. 

Another highlight of the design of the Turtle Beach Elite Pro Professional headset is the ProSpecs Glasses Relief System. This is a unique design we've not seen elsewhere, which allows you to adjust the fit of the earcups to create a small channel in the cushioning to account for the arms of your spectacles and reduce the pressure on your head as you game. A nice addition and an extra level of comfort. 

We liked a lot of things about this headset, one of which was the simple design of the audio connections. The Turtle Beach Elite Pro Professional headset boasts a long cable which made it comfortable to use. It connects to the headset via a micro-USB jack on the cable meaning that if the cable gets snagged on anything (your chair, for example) then it will simply disconnect itself rather than risking damaging the headset connection. This sort of simple design feature is very welcome in our opinion as it's not only comfortable, it's practical. 

All these little design features make for a comfortable and useful headset that is a pleasure to use. Gaming performance is superb and provides an immersive and comfortable experience throughout.

The Turtle Beach Elite Pro Professional is a gaming headset that offers superb quality surround sound audio, an excellent microphone and, most importantly, a comfortable gaming experience for a reasonable price. If you're a glasses wearer or a gamer that loves long gaming sessions and wants an encompassing and immersive sound that's as comfortable as it is enjoyable then this is the headset for you.


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