Welcome to T3's guide to the very best gaming headsets of 2021. We've curated our picks in this guide from the finest gaming headsets on the market today, and we've also hunted out the best prices on them, too.
After extensive testing – we love our job sometimes – we've curated the very best gaming headphones for every kind of gamer, every genre of game and every platform: PlayStation (PS5 and PS4), Xbox (Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Xbox One), Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite or PC.
No matter what kind of gaming setup you have, what gaming headset features you need or how much money you want to spend, you'll find the perfect pair in our guide.
Whether you're looking for the best gaming headset for the PS5, the best gaming headset for the Xbox Series X or S, the best gaming headset for Steam, or the best gaming headset for an older device, we've got you covered with some top-tier options here.
Before we begin, let's talk about money. Price is important, of course, but the difference between the best gaming headphones and lesser models isn't just about cash. Playing with a sub-standard gaming headset is rather like playing with a really rubbish monitor: you're getting a two-star experience instead of a five-star one. And yet we see lots of gamers who'll spend hundreds or even thousands on the best gaming monitor, a top-rated gaming mouse and a superb gaming keyboard, and then they top it all with a cheap and nasty set of cans. Don't do it!
A gaming headset that delivers high-quality gaming audio is a crucial part of your gaming setup, and making sure you get the best gaming headphones you can afford will make as much difference to your gaming experience 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, so don't settle for a headset that isn't brilliant.
There are lots of different headsets here but they all have one thing in common: high-quality sound. That's because game audio isn't just about hearing the big bangs. It's also about hearing the little details that tell you what's coming your way. Whether it's birds singing or planets exploding, these headsets will put your ears right in the middle of the action.
Underneath our list of top gaming headphones, we've also included some useful advice on what to look for if you're shopping for a new gaming headset, wireless or otherwise, which you can apply no matter what your situation.
The 10 best gaming headsets you can buy today
The best wireless gaming headset on the market today, the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless, is an awesome piece of kit, delivering a best-in-class audio experience 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 aluminum construction, and swappable dual-battery power system complete a superb all-round package.
Simply put, T3.com hasn't heard better from a wireless gaming headset in 2021, and if you are shopping for a pair of PS5 gaming headphones right now with a high-end budget, then 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.
LucidSound is one T3's favorite gaming headset makers thanks to 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.
The Turtle Beach Elite Atlas Aero should be one of the very first gaming headsets PC gamers consider when shopping for an upgrade. The reason for this is not just the hardware package the headset delivers, which partners a future-industrial, understated and mature aesthetic with high-end build quality and top-rate audio reproduction, but the fact that it then allows audiophile-level customization through the Turtle Beach Control Studio Windows application.
The Turtle Beach Control Studio aesthetically looks a bit old-fashioned (it reminded T3 of Hi-Fi software from the turn of the century), with sliders, buttons and toggles left, right and center, along with tabs, settings and more. However, the control it grants over the Elite Atlas Aero is truly first-rate, with everything from treble, bass and dialogue levels, through mic variables, noise and volume, and onto high-level features like Superhuman Hearing and 3D Audio tweakable.
Go into audio settings and the software even lets you start setting values in equalizer profiles, including Game, Chat and Microphone EQ. Rumbles, explosions, vocals, atmospheric effects like wind and leaves, or in-game effects from vehicle engines and more can be prioritized or downplayed as desired. Throw in macro creation, game preset importing and exporting, and 3D audio personalization and it is a quite simply staggering control system at the user's disposal.
Connectivity to the PC comes courtesy of a small, flat USB dongle, while charging takes place via MicroUSB to USB cable. The Elite Atlas Aero can also be connected via a standard 3.5mm audio jack, too, which means that at least superficially this set could also be used with a games console such as Nintendo Switch. However, it is the wireless PC functionality that you really ring these up for. A small detachable mic completes the package.
In terms of the headset cups themselves, the Elite Atlas Aero delivers serious punch, and a chunky depth means that they feel dense and well made both in the hand and on the head. Adjustments for size come from cups sliding up and down the frame arms, while there is a padded, floating headband that sits underneath the metal frame top that makes wearing the headphones comfortable for sizeable gaming sessions.
There are plenty of quality PC gaming headsets on the market today (the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless above delivers an incredible package that technically delivers even more in terms of audio features, though that costs twice this set), however, for the price, which is firmly mid-range, we feel these deliver everything a PC gamer could want in one package and at a very approachable price point.
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.
Logitech can usually be relied upon to produce solid pieces of equipment, 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 onboard the headset itself, and compatibility with PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch... what more could you want?
The headset is really comfy and snug to wear, and 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 customize 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, 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 – one of the best gaming headsets in the business actually, which is why it earns a spot on our list.
Razer produces a fair few gaming headsets but for our money here at T3 the 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 lightweight 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 customize 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.
To discover more, read our full Blackshark V2 review
The Astro A50 Gen 3 was an excellent gaming headset and the 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 headphones, 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.
Want to know more? Read our full Astro A50 Gen 3 review.
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 a 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.
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 prioritize 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 color 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 headphones 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.
The best of the rest
HyperX is one of T3's favorite 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 headsets 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 aluminum frame wrapped with a plush, soft-touch headband securely carrying memory foam-clad ear cups. Everything is 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.
Learn more in our full HyperX Cloud Mix review
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 headphones 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 comes with Bluetooth connectivity as well as Xbox Wireless connectivity, so you can hook up laptops and phones as well – and music and movie performance are 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.
Find out more in our full Turtle Beach Stealth 700 Gen 3 review.
HyperX's first attempt at a wireless gaming headset has produced a versatile and robust set of headphones for playing games or streaming on other platforms.
With 30 or so hours of battery life on a single charge, you won't have to worry about the Cloud Flight running out of juice, either, and its bass is something to be reckoned with, with a meaty punch that is right up there with the best sets on the market.
It comes with a pair of rather handy 90-degree rotating ear cups, too, and even adds in some LED lighting effects for good measure. A very attractive and competitively priced gaming headset for PC and PS4 gamers.
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 canceling to RGB lighting that you can customize using the supplied Windows software. Absolutely one of the best gaming headsets around right now.
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 for if you want one of the best gaming headsets of the moment.
It starts with the excellent design and build quality, with aluminum, 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 display 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 headset gives 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 headphones 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 favorite audio configuration, you can save it as a preset.
SteelSeries' Arctis range is probably the closest thing the gaming headset market will come to works of art, thanks to a design that makes the various models feel more like something a pro DJ would use in the studio than a gamer in front of their console or PC.
And the SteelSeries Arctis 7 is one of the best gaming headsets available today, offering a stainless steel finish and balanced 7.1 Dolby Surround Sound that delivers powerful bidirectional sound and reliable noise cancellation. And its wireless connection is one of the clearest we've ever tested with not a moment's lag, too.
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 onboard 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 headphones 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 envision 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 headphones are a great choice.
The Sennheiser PC 373D is among the most comfortable professional headsets we've ever tested, with zero pinch and a lightweight design that never weighs on your neck.
The sound quality is killer, too – the 7.1 Dolby surround sound turns every game we tested it with into a cinematic theatre of immersion, with individual sounds kept clean and clear without being washed out by the bass. It's the sort of quality you want from one of the best gaming headsets on the market.
There's also a companion app for adjusting audio levels and tweaking profiles, which is ideal if you're partial to multiple gaming sessions.
There's plenty to like about the HyperX Cloud Stinger S headset, one of many different models in this series. This is the one to go for if you're after wired connectivity to a Windows PC, though with the 3.5mm audio cable you can in fact attach these cans to any device with a headphone port.
You are, however, limited to Windows use only if you want to take advantage of the headset's virtual 7.1 surround sound capabilities – this requires the bundled USB dongle, and HyperX software that you can download for free, which does an impressive job of making sounds appear as though they're happening all around you in a variety of games.
As for the audio quality, it's impressively good for the price you're paying for the Cloud Stinger S, whether that's in the deeper bass or the higher treble. The headset is well built and comfortable to wear too, despite a slightly cheap feel, and it's definitely worth a place on our best gaming headsets list.
Corsair may be known more for its prolific PC peripheral ranges, but that hasn't stopped it from making waves in the world of gaming audio as well. Its latest model, the Void Pro RGB Wireless, might have a weighty asking price, but it's packed with all the features you’d want from a premium set of headphones.
The 7.1 audio really brings your game audio and chat to life, with deep bass and clear treble, while its wireless signal holds true, however long your session might be.
That eye-catching design also includes RGB lighting, which can be synchronized with other Corsair products for your very own desk-based light show.
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 colors 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 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 lightweight, 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 through 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 excellent across the audio spectrum – including volume levels – the SXFI Gamer is well worth considering.
Discover more in our full Creative SXFI Gamer review.
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 recognizable 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 Pro Wireless is T3.com's top choice of the models on sale at the moment. For PS4 and PC users, it is a dream gaming headset that's going to serve you well for years.
The SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless is one of the most stylish and best-sounding headsets we've ever tested, with its Hi-Res capable speaker drivers, lightweight aluminum alloy and steel construction, and swappable dual-battery system 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.
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-canceling technology and/or surround sound built-in. On-ear headphones on the other hand have cups that sit on top of 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 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-canceling 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 canceling tech, with active the more desirable. In basic terms, active noise canceling 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 quiet 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.