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How do you choose a gaming headset?

From shooters and racing games to simulators and RPGs, sound is very important to immerse yourself in games. But what makes a gaming headset good? In this article, we'll explain how to choose the right gaming headset.

Choosing a gaming headset

Man views gaming headset in Coolblue store

Gaming headsets come in all shapes and sizes. It's important that you choose a headset that suits your needs. Ask yourself the following:

  • Which gaming platform are you going to use the headset for?
  • Do you prefer wired or wireless?
  • How comfortable is the headset with longterm use?
  • What are the sound output options?
  • What functions does the microphone have?

Determine your platform

Determine your platform

The very first thing you have to ask yourself when purchasing a gaming headset, is which gaming platform you play on. Headsets with a 3.5mm connector are almost always suitable for all consoles on your PC. Keep in mind that consoles don't always support all functions because they're software dependent. Virtual surround sound is the most common example of this.

Wired or Wireless

Manufacturers often launch a wireless version of their most important headsets or gaming headphones nowadays. Is a wireless gaming headset worth the higher price? We made a list of pros and cons for you.

Connection

Play with a wireless headset

Wireless

A wireless headset usually connects to a (charging) station. This base station is connected to your PC or console. The connection usually runs via the 2.5Ghz band or via Bluetooth.

  • Getting something to drink from the kitchen while you keep talking to your teammates can easily be done.
  • The included receiver often functions as a stand, both stylish and functional.
  • You're dependent on the battery life of the gaming headset.
  • Wireless headsets are often platform-specific. Keep this in mind.
a wired headset connected to a PS4 controller

Wired

You guessed it, a wired headset has a connector. It's usually a USB or 3.5mm connector for your microphone and headset.

  • You connect the headset and you're ready to play.
  • Wired headsets are a lot lighter than wireless headsets, generally speaking.
  • The length of the cable. It's not possible to quickly get a drink.
  • Cables are sensitive to wear and wire breakage over time.

Choose a comfortable headset

Let's be honest, one hour of gaming isn't enough for you. It's of great importance that the headset is just as comfortable to wear for one hour as it is for a longer time period. There are a few elements to consider when deciding.

Comfortable gaming

The self-adjusting headband from Steelseries

Headband

The headband of the headset is one of the most important factors when choosing a headset. The weight of the headset rests on your head through the headband, so it's important that it's not only sturdy, but that it's also sufficiently adjustable and doesn't press your ears or crown. A sign of a good headset is that you don't notice you're wearing it anymore.

Spacious, oval ears with artificial leather finish.

Ear cups

When choosing a headset, there are three things to keep in mind for the ear cups, which are the shape, the material, and the open or closed design. If you have small ears and you're looking for a compact gaming headset, round on-ear ear cups are an excellent choice. For gamers with a larger head and prominent ears, the larger, oval over-ear ear cups are a big plus.

Material

The material also plays a role when it comes to the comfort of your gaming headset. The ear cups are often covered with fabrics or (fake)leather materials. The advantage of fabric ear cups is that they breathe better, but leather materials have better isolation and don't wear out as fast. In the more expensive models, the ear cups are often filled with memory foam so they shape to your head.

Weight

Weight

Gaming headsets are made of different materials. From bulky plastic headsets with notable designs to minimalistic headsets with lightweight aluminum parts. Generally speaking, a qualitative, lighter model is a lot more expensive. If you use a headset for a longer time period, it's worth it to consider the investment.

Type of Earcup

A headset with open ear cups

Open design

An open design means that the ear cup isn't closed off entirely. In some cases, this improves the acoustics, which is more comfortable when gaming in warmer weather.

  • Breathable, comfortable for gaming during the summer.
  • Open ear cups change the acoustics, which causes some sounds to sound more natural.
  • Open ear cups leak sounds, which means that your surroundings can enjoy your gaming as well.
A closed earcup does not leak sound

Closed ear cups

Closed ear cups have a closed design. This cuts you off from the outside world, but can also mean that the bass can be dominant. The ear cups can heat up quickly when playing an intense game.

  • Passive noise canceling allows you to shut yourself off from the outside world for maximum concentration and immersion.
  • The closed design enhances the bass.
  • When you play in a warm environment, the headset may feel damp.

Sound reproduction

For a gaming headset it is important that it sounds like you're in the middle of trenches, but how do you know without listening to whether a gaming headset produces good sound? For example, by paying attention to the drivers and the sound reproduction.

Display options

Stereo

Stereo

A stereo headset is relatively simple, as it distributes sound over only 2 audio channels. In 99% of the cases, stereo headsets have a simple 3.5mm connector. Almost all games and multimedia can be tuned to a stereo headset.

  • The 3.5mm connector makes these headsets suitable for all consoles and platforms.
  • Stereo headphones are more suitable for music and entertainment.
  • It's harder to identify where sounds and opponents come from, so you react less quickly.
Virtual Surround sound

Virtual Surround sound

A gaming headset with 7.1 virtual surround-sound uses software and algorithms to simulate 7 sound channels. This means you can identify the direction of sounds much more precisely.

  • Surround sound gives you a realistic sense of spaciousness and warns you which angle opponents come from.
  • Via software, you switch to the desired audio settings for each game.
  • Due to the required software and the USB connector, surround sound headsets don't always work on every console.

Dimensional sound

In addition to stereo and virtual surround-sound, dimensional sound is also emerging. Techniques such as Dolby Atmos (paid) and Windows Sonic (free for Windows and Xbox) use volume and frequency to identify the place of sounds in the room. So it's easier to identify if someone is above or below you.

  • Dimensional sound is even more precise than surround sound.
  • Not every game supports this new technology yet.

Communicate with your team

Communicate with your team

You can also use a gaming headset to clearly communicate with your friends and teammates. These functions are almost a must:

Noise Canceling: with this, your voice is loud and clear, and your teammates won't hear anything of your mechanical keyboard.

Mute functions: thanks to the button on the ear cup, or by flipping up your microphone, you can deactivate the microphone to answer a call or to talk to somebody in person.

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