Gaming headsets are the cornerstones of hardcore gamers, as well as the saviors of the casual. Hardcore gamers will love owning a headset because it puts the gamer closer to the action. The excitement is brought right up to the ear, and the microphone is only an inch away making it easy to communicate with guild members and teammates. Casual gamers will love owning a gaming headset because it allows a gamer to be part of the action without waking the kids up.
There is a large gap between the best and the worst gaming headsets, however, so it is wise to not buy the first thing found at the local Best Buy. The following three gaming headsets are good bets which covers a variety of price ranges, but you’ll have to buy online to find the best deals.
Ironically, it is the headset placed on the lowest end of the price spectrum which carries the most prestigious brand name. Sennheisser’s headphones are well respected as being good mid-range offers for a number of tasks, and that experience has of course carried over to their gaming headsets. The PC151 offers clear, crisp sound, particularly when it comes to voice.
The audio performance is less admirable. That is not to say it is poor. Those who have not previously owned expensive headphones or home theater systems will likely find the audio quality to be somewhat above average in games and movies, but music performance is certainly below what one would expect from a normal pair of headphones. Then again, you get what you pay for. The PC151 only costs $50 at many online retailers, and it blows most similarly priced headsets out of the water.
SteelSeries 5H v2
By moving up the food chain about $35 dollars one will come across the highly praised SteelSeries 5H v2 (complete review), a set of circumaural headphones which usually retails for a little under $90 bucks. The SteelSeries 5H v2 offer very respectable sound quality for both games and other purposes. The bass is impressive, a feature which for many will justify the price difference over the PC151. The mid-range is less impressive at higher volumes but is still more than adequate for gaming.
The microphone is also better than what will be found in many gaming headsets and is set apart from some others because it can be retracted almost fully into the headset. This makes it much easier to use the SteelSeries 5H v2 both as a headset and a pair of general-purpose headphones, something which is certainly possible thanks to the respectable overall sound quality.
Astro A40 Audio System
If the Astro A40 was a video game weapon, it would be a BFG. It is, to be frank, more than most gamers will ever need. A quick glance at the Astro A40 would make it easy to to mistake the unit as a pair of non gaming, high-quality headphones aimed at audiophiles. It is a mistake that would be hardly rectified by using them, as the Astro A40 has sound quality far superior to almost every other gaming headset available. The Astro A40 even comes with small amp(called a MixAmp) capable of Dolby decoding. And get this - if you use the MixAmp with the Xbox 360 it will automatically mix the audio and voice channels, overcoming a handicap that keeps many cheaper headsets from working properly with the 360.
In other words, the Astro A40 is by far the most bad-ass headset one can buy. But it costs $250 dollars. That is a lot for a gaming headset. It is money well spent, as the Astro A40 is a truly high-quality product. It easily outpaces the other two headsets recommended here in every category. That said, those who are aren’t overly excited about audio quality, or spending more on headphones than they did their graphics card, may be better off with the Steelseries 5H v2.