Welcome to our guide to the very best gaming headsets of 2021, as picked by T3's panel of expert gamers. We've analysed the finest gaming headsets you can buy to find out which ones are best for which kind of gamer, which kind of game and which kind of platform: PlayStation (PS5 and PS4), Xbox (Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Xbox One), Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite or PC.
You don't need to spend lots of money to get a brilliant gaming headset, and our guide to the best gaming headphones includes plenty of affordable options as well as premium products. But don't just scroll through looking for the lowest priced option: a headset that isn't right for you is a false economy. You wouldn't spend a ton of money on a gaming rig and then hook it up to the cheapest monitor around; and yet we've seen lots of gamers spend hundreds or even thousands on the best gaming monitor, a top-rated gaming mouse and a superb gaming keyboard, and then they drag it all down by listening through a cheap and nasty headset. That isn't just a false economy; it's a strategic mistake. In many games, good quality audio can literally mean the difference between life and death.
A high quality gaming headset is as important as investing in the best graphics card, the fastest SSDs and the most comfortable gaming chair. You're going to spend many hours with these headphones on, and any shortcomings will soon get on your nerves.
Although there are lots of different gaming headsets here they all have one crucial thing in common: they all deliver high quality sound. That's because game audio isn't just about hearing impressive explosions and ever-bigger bangs. It's also about hearing the little details that make the world feel real and warn you of danger. Whether it's birds singing or planets exploding, these headsets will put you right in the middle of the action.
Underneath our list of top gaming headphones, we've also included some expert advice on what to look for when you're shopping for a new gaming headset, wired or wireless, and we've also provided information on who we consider to be the best gaming headset makers. And we've also provided help for anyone who's found themselves lost in a headset specs list: a jargon buster to decode the puzzles of gaming headset marketing.
The best gaming headsets you can buy today
The best wireless gaming headset on the market today, the SteelSeries Arctis 7P Wireless, is an impressive piece of kit, delivering an excellent audio experience for the PlayStation 5.
Seriously versatile- this headset is compatible with both PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, so if you plan to make the transition over but haven't quite got there yet, this will be a great choice that will work with both. The USB-C dongle makes it quick to set up and means that this pair of headphones will also work with your PC, Nintendo Switch and Android.
The design of the headset makes complete sense, with a steel frame and easily adjustable elasticated strap to fit it perfectly to your head. It's so comfortable that you'll find yourself forgetting it's even there. The controls on the earcups are intuitively placed, giving you easy control over the sound and mic.
When it came to the audio quality, we were impressed. There's strong audio reproduction across the soundscape with punchy, crisp sound. Though admittedly lacking some clarity so not the best pair for listening to music, they will give gamers a fantastic experience and successfully emulate 360-degree audio to make you feel really immersed in the action.
All in all, this is an awesome headset designed for PlayStation users that is well-designed, sounds great and has long-lasting battery life. If you are looking for dual-wireless connectivity though, this headset doesn't have Bluetooth so you'll need to look elsewhere.
LucidSound is one T3's favourite gaming headset makers thanks its ability to deliver top-draw audio reproduction and stylish, comfortable builds at attractive price points – and the LS50X, which works with both the new-gen Xbox Series X and S consoles, as well as all Xbox One consoles, does nothing to knock that reputation.
The headset is a hugely impressive new entry as we enter the era of the next-gen consoles, with an all-round package – style, setup, audio – that's very difficult to beat. Build quality is first rate, the sound is superb, and as added bonus there's Bluetooth connectivity too, for attaching other devices.
The LucidSound LS50X will work with both your current Xbox One console and your new Xbox Series X or S, and you'll be up and gaming in 10 seconds, it really is that fast. There's a flexible, removable boom mic, with the ability to cancel out background noise and echoes, plus five EQ modes to pick from.
We played a variety of games on the Xbox One to test the LS50X – Forza Horizon 4, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, Rage 2, Fifa 20 and Halo 5 Guardians – and every time the audio was immersive and refined. That won't come as any surprise to anyone who has used LucidSound headsets in the past.
You can learn more about his headset, as well as see how it stacks up against another top product, in our LucidSound LS50X vs Logitech G635 7.1 comparison feature.
From gaming hardware veterans Asus comes the very impressive Asus ROG Delta S headset, which will work with just about every device out there – though the customisation and equaliser software is only available for Windows. This won't suit anyone who definitely wants a wireless set of headphones, but it's well worth considering for everyone else.
It works with a host of gadgets and gizmos via USB-C (or USB-A), from PCs to consoles, and it produces audio quality of the highest order – whether you're wanting to rock out to some tunes or you need to hear everything that's happening during intense gaming sessions.
The headset is comfortable to wear for extended periods of time, and is well put together too. Add in extras like simulated 7.1 surround sound and support for the high-resolution MQA audio format, and it's easy to see why this made it on to our best gaming headsets list.
SteelSeries has been one of, if not the, best gaming headset maker in the world for the past couple of years, and right here it reboots its very popular Arctis 7 headset for use on the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S – say hello to the SteelSeries Arctis 7X Wireless.
The headset, thanks to a versatile USB Type-C dongle, though, can connect to other systems such as the Nintendo Switch, smartphones, and Xbox One consoles. This makes it more of a refresh of the Arctis 7 with a renewed emphasis on the next-gen, rather than an out-and-out new product.
Regardless, though, it delivers really strong performance across the board, with nuanced audio reproduction across the soundscape, a comfortable design, and a quality Discord-certified ClearCast microphone. For gaming and streaming the Arctis 7X delivers a very compelling package.
It's not elite-tier in terms of non-gaming applications, and there's no doubting that it retails at the lower end of the high price bracket for gaming headsets, but with its robust build quality (stainless steel headband) and immersive audio, as well as 24-hour battery life on a single charge, this is a headset that will serve Xbox gamers very well for years to come.
A fantastic all-round round gaming headset, the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless delivers excellent audio for PS5 and PS4 gamers.
Yep, that's right – the Arctis Pro Wireless is Sony PlayStation 5 compatible, making it brilliantly future-proof as well as versatile. If you're a Sony gamer transitioning from PS4 to PS5, but intend to keep your old systems for some retro play, then this is a truly great option.
In terms of hardware and features, this headset not only features a dual-wireless audio system that allows for both 2.4G and Bluetooth connections simultaneously (meaning you can listen to music or chat while gaming), but it also comes packing Hi-Res capable speaker drivers and lossless audio, too.
A very impressive 40-feet range, well-built wireless transmitter, lightweight aluminium construction, and swappable dual-battery power system complete a superb all-round package.
Simply put, if you are shopping for a pair of PS5 gaming headphones right now with a high-end budget, then you need look no further.
And, when we said you needn't look much further, we were absolutely right, with the panel of judges in the T3 Awards 2020 bestowing the highly-desirable Best Gaming Headset award on the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless.
To find out more about this headset why not check out our SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless vs LucidSound LS50X comparison guide.
If you want a gaming headset to use with a PC or Mac but you don’t want to spend above the odds, you should consider the AOC GH300.
One of the brand's very first attempts at a gaming headset, the AOC GH300 delivers solid audio quality and ease of use. You’d be surprised at how much of a kick the sound has, you can hear everything around you during gameplay so it’s easy to tell when someone else is nearby. Admittedly, it wasn’t as effective as some of the other headsets on this list but you don’t really expect it to be for this price.
One problem was with the omnidirectional microphone which was quite muffled, the set also looked pretty bulky on the head so it won’t be a pair that you’d use as regular headphones as well. Despite that, for this price, this gaming headset is fantastic value for money.
Logitech can usually be relied upon to produce solid pieces of kit, and so it is with the wired G635 headset – 7.1 surround sound audio, Lightsync technology for illuminating your gameplay space, plenty of features and buttons on board the headset itself, and compatibility with PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch... what more could you want?
The headset produces crystal-clear audio, which is of course the main selling point: you can hear the faintest sound of enemy footsteps, and the headset doubles up as a fine way to listen to music too. The supplied Logitech software lets you customise the lighting if you're connecting it to Windows, and it's a breeze to use.
Ideally we'd like a bit more heft to the hinges on the headphones themselves, as well as a slightly looser fit, and the angular, black design won't be to everyone's taste, but really these are minor drawbacks on what is otherwise an excellent gaming headset for PC, if not so much for console gamers.
To see how this gaming headset compares to our number one gaming headset choice, be sure to scope out T3's SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless vs Logitech G635 7.1 LightSync comparison feature.
Razer produces a fair few gaming headsets but for our money here at T3 the Razer BlackShark V2 is its best overall for most gamers.
The sets of gaming cans is powered by Razer's Triforce Titanium 50mm Drivers, which have been designed to improve clarity across the spectrum, ranging from bass to treble.
There's noise cancellation tech delivered, too, by the on-ear cups, which elevates in-game immersion and improves sound isolation as well.
We're particularly fond of just how comfortable the BlackShark 2 is on the head as well thanks to Razer's Flowknit Memory Foam Ear Cushions and soft, padded adjustable headband. This comfort is no doubt aided by the headset's light weight 262-gram design.
You also get a detachable Hyperclear Cardioid Mic and USB sound card as well, which works with Razer Synapse to allow the wearer to customise features like Ambient Noise Reduction, Mic Equalizer and Voice Gate. Compatibility with THX Game Profiles also means custom-tuned profiles in-game.
Many of these features lean themselves towards to esports and streaming, however considering the BlackShark V2's firmly affordable price point, we think it fair to say that not only esports champions should apply.
Few other things: the BlackShark V2 is a wired gaming headset, so if you need wireless you need to upgrade to the BlackShark V2 Pro. Oh, and the BlackShark V2 also comes with an included carry case, which makes transporting them to gaming tournaments (or just using them as a pair of quality headphones) easy.
If the Razer BlackShark V2 is Razer’s best PC gaming headset, pound for pound, where does that leave the V2 Pro? We think the Pro is the better headset but it’s also more expensive – not hugely so in headset terms, but expensive enough to make the wired one a better buy for gamers on a tighter budget.
The Pro is very slightly heavier than the V2 but not uncomfortably so, and the reward is the lack of a cable. The wireless connection is solid and stable, delivering the same impressive audio as the wired version, and you can realistically expect around 24 hours of use between charges. It’s best suited to PC gaming where you can get the full benefit of its surround sound and THX Spatial Audio support. It's a very comfortable, capable headset with genuinely thrilling audio.
The Astro A50 Gen 3 was an excellent gaming headset and the Astro A50 Gen 4 improves on it: it has a more compact base station (the headphones themselves are wireless), the design is now more subtle and refined, and the same great sound is available through these cans, whether you're playing on PC, PlayStation or Xbox One (you do need to pick either Xbox One or PlayStation when you're buying, however).
The Astro A50 feels comfortable on the head, and brings rich and vibrant audio to your ears at any volume – bass, trebles and mids all come through clearly. The earpads are actually removable, so you can swap them out for a different pair if you're looking for a different feel.
You get pretty darn good noise cancellation, too, and the A50 headset packs a real punch in terms of audio reproduction across the board. From dialogue to music to sound effects, everything comes across crisply, and we'd have no reservations about adding this to our gaming setup. Astro is very much gaming headset royalty and this latest setup continues that lineage.
The Audio-Technica ATH-G1 are rather unique in this best gaming headset buying guide as they offer a very much no frills package aimed more at casual gamers and audiophiles.
This is a simple, stylish and comfortable pair of gaming headphones that deliver wide soundstage stereo audio. They sound great (thanks to their strong 45mm drivers) and, thanks to a removable mic and wired connection, can be easily used in other, non-gaming settings and applications.
These headphones do cost fair bit, though, and that's why any gamer should ask themselves what they really want from a gaming headset before pulling the trigger. If you want sophisticatedly tuned, top-class stereo audio from one of the world's foremost audio firms but very little in terms of extra frills and features, then the Audio-Technica ATH-G1 are perfect.
However, if you want more of a dedicated only-for-gaming headset, and one that delivers wireless functionality, surround sound and a software suite, then there are rival headsets that cost as much as the Audio-Technica ATH-G1 that deliver that.
What stands out first about the Audeze Penrose headset is its versatility: it can be used with a wired connection, over Bluetooth, or via the bundled 2.4GHz USB dongle, and you can connect it up to Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, the Nintendo Switch, PlayStations and Xboxes (if you want Xbox compatibility, go for the Audeze Penrose X model).
Despite the very reasonable price – these are expensive, but not really for what you get in return – the headphones feature top-tier 100 m planar magnetic drivers, which results in an excellent, rich sound whether you're watching movies on your laptop or gaming on your console.
Throw in a quality fit and finish as well, and you can see why we think this is one of the very best gaming headsets of the moment. Some more advanced features like surround sound would be welcome, but overall we can't fault the Audeze Penrose, especially in terms of audio quality.
The JBL Quantum One headset is up towards the more expensive end of the market, but you're actually still getting very decent value for money here – these headphones sound great, not just for gaming but also for watching movies and listening to music and everything else that you might want to do.
The headset works best with Windows PCs, but you can connect it to pretty much anything via a 3.5 mm headphone jack or USB: it works with game consoles, the Nintendo Switch, smartphones, tablets, and even VR headsets. No matter where you plug it in you're going to get some impressive audio fidelity.
You also get a whole host of features with this pair of headphones, covering everything from surround sound to active noise cancelling to RGB lighting that you can customise using the supplied Windows software. Absolutely one of the best gaming headsets around right now.
For those on a tight budget who don’t want to sacrifice too much on audio quality, the Aukey GH-X1 RGB Gaming Headset could be a good choice. The lightweight black headset is well-tuned for gaming and has an omnidirectional microphone on the left earcup. It’s not got the most robust build, and it isn’t the most comfortable headset out there, but for this price that’s kind of expected.
Giving a well-rounded, immersive experience, the Aukey GH-X1 RGB Gaming Headset impressed us with its sound quality, which is comparable to a much pricier headset. Plus, the microphone did a great job at isolating noise.
You won’t be able to wirelessly connect these to your console, PC or smartphone, so you’ll need to plug it in using the 3.5mm audio cable, but that does make it versatile. It would probably be best used on a PC because then you can power the RGB lights via USB without affecting your setup.
HyperX is one of T3's favourite gaming peripheral makers right now and, in the gaming headset market, it's been hitting nothing but home runs as of late with quality sets of cans such as the HyperX Cloud Flight and the HyperX Cloud Revolver S (both of which also feature in this best gaming headsets 2021 guide).
Its latest effort, the HyperX Cloud Mix, is for our money the best overall gaming headset the company has ever made, combining top-rate audio reproduction with premium build quality and understated modern design.
The latter two of these qualities hit you as soon as you unpack the headset, with a rigid and cool-to-the-touch aluminium frame wrapped with a plush, soft-touch headband securely carrying memory foam-clad ear cups. Everything is a finished in a delicious matte black coating, with the only notable detailing being HyperX's logo printed in silver. It's a fantastic overall look.
That premium headphone style is crucial, too, considering the big sell with the Cloud Mix – its Bluetooth functionality. This allows you to ditch the cabling and use the Mix as simply a very rich pair of regular headphones, which is ideal for portable gaming on the go, as well as listening to music and watching media, too.
The fact that the HyperX Cloud Mix can be used with PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Mac, Mobile and VR, as well as any other Bluetooth-enabled device or console, makes it one of the most versatile headsets on the market today, and a definite pick for our best gaming headphones 2021 list.
Crisp and balanced Hi-Red Audio, a long-lasting 20-hour battery life, detachable boom mic, lush braided cabling and an included carry bag complete a quality package that's hard to top.
The Kraken is a great gaming headset for every platform, but it’s at its best on PC where you can connect it via USB. That gives you in-line controls for mic muting and volume adjustment, and it also enables you to toggle THX Spatial Audio on and off. The in-line controller also includes a Game/Chat balance control that enables you to prioritise game or chat audio to suit your playing preference.
Whichever platform you play on, the Razer Kraken Tournament Edition delivers crisp, clear sound with plenty of punch. It’s a match for headsets that cost considerably more cash, delivering a good sound stage with plenty of detail to help your situational awareness. It’s also very comfortable to wear, even for fairly long sessions. The microphone isn’t as good as some more expensive headsets, but it’s clear enough. And if the neon green colour doesn’t do it for you, it’s also available in a more sober black finish.
Last, but definitely not least, this Razer is frequently discounted, so take a look at the deals we’ve listed just under the specifications.
The newest pair of SteelSeries cans in our list are also the cheapest: this is the budget offering from SteelSeries, giving you the option of getting some top-quality craftsmanship at a lower price than the rest of the range.
The Arctis 1 uses the same design, speaker drivers, cushions and noise-canceling microphone as the 3, 5, 7 and 9X models, so these headphones aren't cutting too many corners to reach that inexpensive price point.
SteelSeries has changed the headband design and there's no wireless option here, but it's an excellent choice if you want to get a superior gaming headset experience without breaking the bank.
There are a lot of reasons why the Speedlink Orios makes our best gaming headset list: the 7.1 surround sound, the RGB illumination effects (customisable via software), the comfortable fit and quality finish, and more besides.
Then you've got the price: you'll struggle to find a better value gaming headset in your shopping travels. If you want the best audio possible – whether talking to teammates or listening out for approaching enemies from all arounds – and yet want to ease the strain on your wallet, the Speedlink Orios headset is worth a look.
Other headsets offer a more stylish fit and a more subtle design, but we like the pricing and the performance of the Orios, and that's what counts most in the end. Of course it also makes sense if you already own other Orios products, as they'll all work seamlessly together.
You can pick up the Turtle Beach Stealth 700 Gen 2 for both Xbox and PlayStation, and both options will work with both current-gen and next-gen consoles. The Xbox version was the one we had in for review, and we were very impressed with the quality of the build and the sound these cans produced.
The earpads combine memory foam and cooling gel rather well, for a fit that's going to be comfortable across extended gaming sessions, and with the padded, metal-reinforced headband, you don't need to worry about these headphones sliding off.
Across a range of games, the audio was crisp, rich and detailed at all volume levels. As an added bonus, the Stealth 700 Gen 2 come with Bluetooth connectivity as well as Xbox Wireless connectivity, so you can hook up laptops and phones as well – and music and movie performance is great too.
Considering everything you're getting with this headset – including a flip-out mic – we'd say the Turtle Beach Stealth 700 Gen 2 represents excellent value for money, and this is definitely worth shortlisting whether you buy your consoles from Microsoft or Sony.
The Logitech G Pro X Wireless is only for Windows computers, and only works wirelessly, but if you're okay with that then this is a fantastic offering – something we've come to expect from Logitech kit. It's a little on the expensive side, but it's worth paying up if you want one of the best gaming headsets of the moment.
It starts with the excellent design and build quality, with aluminium, steel, faux leather and memory foam all combining for a truly polished – but understated – end result. These are the kind of headphones that you want to leave on show when you're not using them, that's how good they are.
Even more importantly, the audio is excellent too, whether that's movies or gaming or something you're trying to say through the microphone attachment. A custom 2.4GHz wireless connection ensures minimal lag, so you can get on with the important business of improving your gaming.
Sennheiser is an audio brand you can rely on and the powerful GSP 670 wireless cans give you excellent audio over Bluetooth. You can turn up the volume without worrying about any kind of distortion, whether you're listening to a pounding bass-heavy soundtrack, or trying to tiptoe through the quietest of enemy bases.
Not only is the audio great, but they're really comfortable to wear, with leatherette earpads that wrap nicely around the ears and a solid headband that's reinforced with metal. No matter how long your gaming session, the Sennheiser GSP 670 headphones will look after you.
These cans will work with PCs and PS4s, and you get a bunch of useful features as well – a flip-to-mute mic, low latency Bluetooth, around 20 hours of use between charges, and support for 7.1 surround sound. Once you've found your favourite audio configuration, you can save it as a preset.
If you're a PS4 gamer and have under £100 to spend on a new gaming headset then the 2nd-generation Turtle Beach Stealth 600 is a very appealing buy (we've featured the PS4 version here, but there's an Xbox One equivalent too).
Attach the bundled wireless adapter to your PS4 and you're good to go, with excellent performance in terms of both audio output and input – whether you're listening or talking, this is a headset that belies its very affordable price. As with the previous version of the Stealth headphones, you'll get 15 hours of battery life between charges.
While the materials and fit aren't quite as premium as some of the more expensive headsets we've seen, these headphones are well built enough for us to think they're going to last you a long, long time. From setup to on-board controls, everything is simple to configure.
If you're looking for a really good headset on a budget, then the Turtle Beach Stealth 600 Gen 2 is hard to beat. These should work with the PS5 (and Xbox Series X and S), but testing has yet to be completed, so we're waiting for confirmation on that.
Razer's premium 7.1 surround sound wireless cans deliver in terms of style, audio reproduction and, crucially for a cord-free gaming headset, a quality wireless connection.
The lag-free wireless audio connection is the real star and why we envisage a lot of gamers are going to ring these up (you're looking at a stable connection up to a 12 meter range), however a battery life that stretches up to 16 hours between charges is also something to write home about.
We're also a big fan of the fact that the Thresher comes with its own headphones stand, which looks suitably futuristic and cool, as well as the fact that it rocks a strong retractable unidirectional microphone and RGB lighting, too.
Yes, you have to pay the Razer tax on the Thresher Ultimate, which means there are definitely more affordable headphones in this best gaming headset buying guide, but if you want quality and have a large budget, these cans are a great choice.
Reasonably priced, comfortable to wear, and officially approved by Sony, the Trust GXT 488 Forze headset is an excellent choice for PS4 gaming – it brings with it just about everything you could want from such a device, and it definitely earns its place on our list of the best gaming headsets you can buy in 2021.
The audio from the 50mm active speaker units inside the cups is top notch, whether you're listening for enemies sneaking up behind you or just taking in the ambient noise in whatever virtual world you happen to be in. As the volume cranks up, the fidelity remains crisp and clear.
As for comfort, the Trust GTX 488 Forze scores highly here as well. Wearing anything on your head for hours at a time is going to start to bother you after a while, but the headset really impresses in terms of how well it cups your ears and how easily it rests on the head. We had several extended evening gaming sessions wearing this Trust headset, and didn't notice any major problems with how it felt.
The braided mic and the chunky, angular design all add up to a headset that looks good as well as feels good, and you've got three different colours to choose from (there are blue and grey camouflage options as well as the standard black). It's hard to fault.
There is a huge amount to like when it comes to the Eksa E900 headset, especially considering the low, low price you'll have to pay for it: it's comfortable, it's well built, and it delivers an audio experience that puts you right in the middle of whatever scene you're in. The device connects via a 3.5mm audio cable, and will work with Xbox, PlayStation, and PC platforms.
You get a generous cable that's over 1.8 metres (or close to 6 feet), you get 50mm neodymium speaker drivers to power the audio, you get a high sensitivity microphone that you can detach if you need to, and you even get a nice black carry pouch to hold your new headphones too.
The Eksa E900 is comfortable to wear, even for long periods, with its soft padding and protein foam earmuffs, and thanks to its light weight we barely even noticed we had it on. It's in the sound that the headset really excels though: from the smallest whispers to the loudest crashes, everything comes though clear and rich.
You don't get the option of wireless with the Creative SXFI Gamer gaming headset, but you get just about everything else. That includes excellent comfort, an unfussy but strong design, and of course superior audio, which is a requirement for entry on our best gaming headsets for 2021 list.
The headset works with Creative's SXFI tuning apps for mobile and desktop too. Using your phone you take a couple of photos of your ears (bear with us here), and a few clever algorithms then tune the sound coming out of the headphones to specifically match the shape of your head and ears. Based on the results we've experienced with the Creative SXFI Gamer, we'd say it works too.
The surround sound mixing works really well too, so you can hear enemies creeping up from behind you or enjoy immersive audio from your movies, as long as the source format supports 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound. For a comfortable pair of headphones that are brilliant across the audio spectrum – including volume levels – the SXFI Gamer is well worth considering.
How to choose the best gaming headset for you
There are a huge number of headsets and headphones out there for the keen gamer, with most manufacturers offering multiple products with only small variations. While it might be easy to just go with a certain model because of a recognisable brand, before you spend any of your hard-earned cash, it's worth weighing up exactly what you need from your next headset.
Do you want a great-sounding headset for gaming that can also do double duty as a regular pair of headphones, for example? If so, you need to go for a pair of on-ears and, for style and portability issues, one with a built-in or detachable mic.
Equally, if you are looking for a dedicated, heavy duty headset for streaming and super-long gaming sessions, you'll need a set with excellent battery life, a good boom mic, and an over-ear comfortable fit. Everyone's needs vary to some extent, and the best gaming headset of 2021 is going to be different for everyone.
What is the best gaming headset?
If you need a quick top pick for the best gaming headset right off the bat, then the SteelSeries Arctis 7P Wireless is T3.com's top choice of the models on sale at the moment. For PS4, PS5 and PC users, it is a dream gaming headset that's going to serve you well for years.
The SteelSeries Arctis 7P Wireless is stylish and one of the best-sounding headsets we've ever tested, with its Hi-Res capable speaker drivers, lightweight steel construction, and long-lasting battery delivering a super all-round gaming package.
To play top PC games and PS5 games with the audio quality they deserve, the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless is simply the best gaming headset going out of all the models we've put through their paces.
The best gaming headset is going to be different for everyone though, so we'd encourage you to spend plenty of time on your research, and to check out all the other options that we've listed in our guide above.
How we've curated our best gaming headset guide
So how have we made our choices? We've picked headphones from across the very best manufacturers in business today, so you're able to see what all the biggest brands offer and – crucially – how they differ. It's a fast-moving market, but we'll help you stay on top of the latest developments and products.
Every gaming headset might appear to offer the same functions and features at first glance, but in fact every device is unique: the build quality and the fit of it, the comfort of the ear cups and the connection method, the features you get as part of the package... the list goes on.
Whether you're looking for a top-of-the-range model or something just to dip your toes into the gaming audio market, we've got all the bases covered with this new and improved guide to the best gaming headsets for 2021 and beyond. We update this guide on a regular basis too, so check back often.
Who are the best gaming headset makers?
There are lots of gaming headset makers in business today in 2021. Some of these firms are specialist gaming headphone producers, who do nothing but that, and others are arms of much bigger companies, who produce a wide-range of gaming accessories and peripherals.
Equally, there are gaming headset makers who have decades of experience under their belt, as well as others who are more young, disruptive new challengers. Here at T3 we've found that while heritage does tend to indicated quality, that is not always the case, though, and often headsets from relatively new makers, such as LucidSound, can outperform similar products from more established producers.
Rating or not rating gaming headset makers is of course subjective, but here at T3 after decades of reviewing gaming headphones, we consider the best gaming headset makers to be:
5. Turtle Beach
This doesn't mean that headsets in this guide that are not from these makers are poor – far from it. These are just the top 10 companies that, based on empirical evidence, have consistently delivered great gaming headsets.
Gaming headset jargon explained
If you're new to the gaming headset market, or wearable audio products in general, then there's a fair bit of jargon that needs to be processed and understood. Right here T3 provides a small guide to some of the most important terms and phrases, in the aim to make it easier for each gamer to determine which headset will work for them, and which will not.
Type – There are multiple types of gaming headphone styles, but the two most common are over-ear and on-ear. Over-ear headphones have cups that fully encompass each year, and tend to be used on headphones with noise-cancelling technology and/or surround sound built in. On-ear headphones on the other hand have cups that sit on top the ears, and tend to be more compact and direct in terms of their audio delivery.
Drivers – The most important part of each gaming headset, drivers turn electrical signals into hearable sound pressure. In the simplest terms, the better and bigger the driver the better the sound quality will be. Drivers come in magnet, coil and diaphragm types, which determine how they work. Here at T3 we think, as a general rule, a good gaming headset should feature a 40mm or larger drivers.
Frequency response – This is important as it determines the entire range of audible sounds the gaming headset can produce. A wider range on paper indicates that the headset is probably more capable than one that has a smaller one, but it is not an indication of sound quality, just the potential of the headphones. Our top-rated gaming headset for PlayStation gamers, the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless, has a frequency range of 10–40,000 Hz.
Noise cancellation – Noise cancelling technology has developed rapidly over the past five years and is now offered on a fair few gaming headsets. There is both active and passive noise cancelling tech, with active the more desirable. In basic terms, active noise cancelling works by recording environmental sounds around the gamer and then creating an inverse sound wave to cancel them out within the headset. The result is exterior environmental noise is cut out making in-game audio clearer. Passive systems, on the other hand, just look to block out noise and don't actively try to cancel it out.
Sound pressure level – Finally, sound pressure level (SPL) is, in simple terms, a way of determining just how quite or loud a set of gaming headphones can go. SPL is often linked to decibels, so simply look for 'dB SPL' in gaming headphone spec sheets. Most gaming headphones will offer between 90 and 105 max dB SPL.
How we test gaming headsets
T3's testing procedure for gaming headsets is detailed and authoritative. Firstly, we examine the package contents and build quality of the headset itself from a fit and finish point of view. We look at this stage for deficiencies in the product and overall package, or things of particular note.
Next up we test out the headset purely from an ergonomic point of view. So we wear the headset and examine its ability to be adjusted for different head shapes and sizes. We wear the headset for a prolonged period to ensure we know how it feels during long gaming sessions.
Thirdly, we then move onto testing the headset's audio reproduction and mic quality. This is done by using the headset in a variety of game types, such as FPS, RPG and RTS, as well as out of game for applications such as Amazon Music Unlimited, Disney Plus, YouTube and Microsoft Teams.
Lastly, we consider the gaming headset in terms of everyday useability from an experiential point of view. This stage is particularly important for headsets that advertise themselves as general purpose headphones as well as a gaming headset, so we wear them while commuting or on trips out.
When these four stages are complete, we then judge the headset compared to its contemporaries on the market, both in terms of its quality and its price point. It is then here that we finally bestow a star score on a gaming headset, with 5 stars being the best score a product can achieve.
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