Best Gaming Headsets 2015 – From $50 to $200
|Plantronics GameCom 780||Dolby Surround
Durable, Long Life
|SteelSeries Siberia V2||Larger Drivers
Durable Suspension Band
|HyperX Cloud II||Dolby Surround
High Durability for travel
Ear Cup Options Included
|Corsair VOID Wireless SE||Dolby Surround
Wireless w/ range extender
13-17 hours battery
|Logitech G633 Artemis Spectrum||Dolby Surround
DTS Headphone X
On-Ear G Keys
|Audio Technica ATH ADG1||Open or Closed Back Options
Ultra High-Quality Mic
Advanced Headband Design
53mm Bobbin-wound CCAW Drivers
Plantronics GameCom 780 ($50): We can't review a headset without mentioning the GameCom 780 and 788 (its refreshed, identical cousin). Our review of the GameCom 788 called the headset the most durable, highest-quality $50 headset we've ever worked with. We've got about three years of use on the 780, which is used on one of our production rigs, and it's still going strong. Definitely a durable, affordable option. The GameCom 780 is found for about $50 right now, making it an instant winner in the budget price class. Its high-quality audio output, relative to its price-adjacent competition, is only further bolstered by entry-level streamer quality mic input.
Of course, jumping up to the next price categories will yield headsets that vastly outperform the 780 & 788 for overall sound quality – but money tends to work that way. Sometimes.
One thing – we'd generally recommend disabling Dolby Digital Surround with certain games (like Counter-Strike, as it tends to bring out undesired FX and obfuscate footsteps) and some music genres. To reduce confusion, the GameCom 788 is the same as the GameCom 780, just more expensive (+$20) and with some color changes.
SteelSeries Siberia V2 ($68): This is another long-standing headset, though its price has dropped since initial launch. The Siberia V2 is best-known for its suspension headband design.
The Siberia V2 sees a lot of use in LAN environments and, probably as a result, comes in several colors – blue, black, white, “orange heat” (LEDs in the ear cups), red, and more. We like the matte white and black options the best, but the LED-illuminated version can be found for $83 here.
SteelSeries' Siberia V2 deploys a suspension headband design for a comfortable, floaty fit with minimal hair pulling – and I say that as an expert. SteelSeries uses large drivers, 50mm in diameter, and plugs-in via 3.5mm jack. An in-line volume roller is present, but no virtual surround technologies see inclusion in the V2. The main selling point here is comfort and affordability, with a focus on FPS games for single-plane audio. The V2 will excel in games like CSGO or COD, where movement is primarily horizontal to the player, something that the simple stereo output of the V2 handles best. For gamers seeking more surround immersion, it's worth looking at the alternatives in this list.
Different from the above and below headsets, the Siberia V2 is an open-back design that allows some sound to escape. This grants the user a less isolating environment for better awareness and a more “open” output.
HyperX Cloud II ($100): HyperX is Kingston's gaming brand. The HyperX group has slowly expanded Kingston's traditional memory business into the space of headsets and mouse pads, with more standard SSDs and memory kits seeing gamer-oriented heatsinks and badges. The first Cloud headset is one that I still use for travel – because it's durable and compatible with most devices – but it's not particularly impressive for audio. Not bad, but not something that makes the shortlist. The Cloud II is a different story.
We found the Cloud II to retain its predecessors versatility and durability while improving upon the audio quality, primarily by adding a 7.1 Dolby switch in-line. The Cloud II has a detachable mic for less dorky use with phones or MP3 players in travel, so you're not “that guy” with the folding mic on the plane, and this aids in portability without risk of damage. Overall travel-readiness makes the headset an excellent option for LAN, eSports, or traveling gamers, though it's still a perfectly viable stay-home solution with its amped-up sound quality.
The Cloud II was made in collaboration with supplier Q-PAD, but received design input from the HyperX group. The closed-back design with vinyl/leatherette ear cups make for a significantly noise-isolated fit, ideal for use in loud environments. There is effectively no sound leakage from the earphones.
Corsair VOID Wireless SE ($150): The VOID Wireless SE is presently undergoing some final tests prior to review publication, but I can spoil that the headset is now our go-to recommendation in its price bracket. If the $150 tag is too much, there's a $130 version without the yellow badging and wireless range extender – but it's otherwise identical. Both versions are closed-back headphones.
There are a few models of the VOID, but the more expensive options are wireless – the main selling point, clearly – and have phenomenal range. We're able to get about 60-70 feet of line-of-sight wireless transmission, which translates to about two rooms of distance in our lab (your walls may vary, but a lot of power is lost going through building materials).
Gaming audio quality is superb, rivaling the G633 (though we haven't yet done a direct comparison), and offers the usual Dolby Surround for users favoring more bombastic immersion. For the CSGO and FPS players among us, the tech is easily disabled for a more “legacy” soundscape, focusing on the noises critical to competition.
The VOID is now my favorite headset for press conferences and Skype calls, since I can wander around the lab and mute the mic (with an on-ear button) while the call drones on. At this price range, it's the best wireless headset currently available.
Logitech G633 Artemis Spectrum ($150): The G633 is Logitech's wired version of its “Artemis Spectrum” headset lineup, with the $250 G933 standing as the wireless alternative. The G633's execution of DTS Headphone X creates one of the most spatially-accurate sound experiences we've encountered in-game, making it a fierce contender in RPG and MMO use cases. The headset has a number of on-ear buttons – more useful on the wireless model as push-to-talk buttons – for G-key macro programming.
The RGB LEDs (also found on the VOID above) afford some level of customization and 'bling' for more showy users. As always with Logitech, they can also be completely disabled.
We experienced a few pitfalls with the G633 and detailed them in depth over here. If those are surmountable, it's a worthwhile consideration for $150.
Audio Technica ATH ADG1 ($223): Audio Technica's closest competition is the G4ME Zero by Sennheiser, two audio industry powerhouses when compared against some of the other brands in this article. Audio Technica and Sennheiser are both known for pro-audio equipment – we use a number of both companies' microphones and monitors for video production – and have both ventured into the gaming space. For the most part, this means throwing microphones onto existing high-quality audio solutions, though drivers and software have come a long way.
The Audio Technica G1 has a significantly lower impedance than the G4ME Zero (38Ω vs. 50Ω, respectively), meaning the G4ME Zero is best utilized in coordination with an external amp to reach higher dBA output levels. If you've already got a high-quality amp setup, it's worth looking more closely at Sennheiser's high-end competitor.
As for the Audio Technica G1, the two models of the headset offer both open- and closed-back designs, depending on preference, and both deploy massive, 53mm drivers. A high-quality condenser microphone with stowaway rotation and a bendy stem enables input quality that would be ideal for a streamer or YouTuber hoping to avoid purchasing a desk mic.
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- Steve “Lelldorianx” Burke.