Sound is one of the most important and underrated aspects of a good gaming experience, which makes a good gaming headphone recommendation crucial. You should treat a good pair of ear pads right, as the best gaming headset picks can be expensive, but worth it. The gaming headset is one of the most important accessories you can buy, right up there with a gaming mouse and gaming keyboard. Thankfully, there are a lot of different options out there, whether you’re looking for surround sound, noise isolation, an excellent mic, or just plain-and-simple great sound quality matched a comfortable ear cup build. And it doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a wired or wireless gaming headset because there are fantastic options for both from a lot of different companies.
Some of the best headset makers out there include HyperX, Sennheiser, and Turtle Beach, but there are a number of other manufacturers that do a great job as well. Creative, Razer, and Astro are among those that impressed us as well. Thankfully, whether you’re looking at the HyperX Cloud Alpha or Sennheiser GSP series (or anything in between), then you’re going to get yourself a great headset.
It can still be a difficult decision choosing the right gaming headset for you, especially when you can’t try them for yourself–how comfortable the ear cups are is a big question many have. Thankfully, we’ve tested a large number of headsets and poured over every single important detail, from surround sound and audio quality to comfortability and whether the headset is wireless or wired. We’ve chosen a select few that stand above the rest: the best gaming headsets you can buy in 2020.
Please note that all of the prices listed below do not reflect any current discounts or fluctuations. Each headset is listed alongside its regular price, so you may be able to get your favourite pair for even cheaper than is listed here. Retailers like Amazon discount prices regularly, so keep an eye on them by adding to your cart and clicking “Save For Later.”
If you’re looking for other accessories to round out your gaming setup, make sure to check out our picks for the best gaming mice, best gaming keyboards, and, if you’re a Nintendo fan, the best Nintendo Switch accessories you can buy right now to go along with your console or PC gaming headset. And speaking of headsets, make sure to check out the best deals on a fancy new VR headset so you can play games like Half-Life: Alyx when they release. Also, make sure to keep up with all of GameSpot’s headset deals. And while you’re at it, check out some of the best VPN services to make your online experience safer.
Quick look: Best Gaming Headsets
- Lightweight, minimal, and comfortable
- Competent audio quality
- Wired 3.5mm jack option is handy
- Works on PC and Switch too
- Not exceptionally durable, somewhat on the flimsy side
- PS4 sound profiles are very limited
If you’re looking for an affordable wireless stereo gaming headset, the Sony Interactive Entertainment-branded Gold Wireless Headset is an easy choice. Its audio quality is competent and should be enough for all but the pickiest audio enthusiasts. The fact it includes virtual 7.1 surround sound is a great inclusion at this price point, too. And while it’s a Sony-branded headset, it’s also compatible with PC and Switch.
This pair of headphones is incredibly lightweight, easy to wear for long periods, which make it great to use in conjunction with PlayStation VR. That comes at the cost of the build quality feeling a little on the flimsy side–I’m always afraid of breaking the hinge that connects the ear cups to the band when adjusting them, and the control buttons feel brittle. It should also work with PS5.
PlayStation also has game-specific sound profiles designed by the developers of said games, which you activate with the dedicated Headset App for PS4. However, these options are incredibly limited–only 12 are available at the time of writing. Three of them are MLB: The Show games.
These flaws don’t stop the Gold Headset from being a great budget gaming headset, and there are other little perks too–using it as a surround sound gaming headset (through a virtual surround sound mode) on PC and Nintendo Switch works without extra setup or drivers as well, and it also features a 3.5mm audio jack to let you use the headset in its wired form (cables included). This balance of cost and feature set means that I’m usually sizing up other headsets in comparison to what the Gold Headset offers.
- Price: $100 USD // $130 AUD
- Works On: PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch (Docked)
- Great, hard-wearing build quality and design
- Exceptional audio quality and dynamic range
- Unprecedented 100-hour battery life
- The volume dial is incredibly satisfying to use
- Comprehensive software
- Lacks some small common conveniences
Sennheiser has a storied reputation in the audiophile space, so it’s unsurprising the company’s entries into the headphone space, including the GSP 370, feature top-tier audio quality with great clarity and punchy low frequencies. But on first blush, it’s surprising to see what the mid-range GSP 370 wireless gaming headphones lack compared to models from gaming-focused brands. There are few physical buttons, meaning no chat volume control, no sound mode toggles–just a power switch and a volume wheel. You need to check the colored LED just to see if you’ve turned it on, for example.
However, the GSP 370 is an exceptionally-built piece of hardware. Its adjustable hard-plastic shell feels incredibly durable and cleverly weighted to put zero pressure on the headband when resting on a surface. The foam pads and headband padding feel snug and comfortable for long durations and help block out background noise (as is the case with most closed high-end closed headphones nowadays). Special mention needs to be given to the large volume knob on the side of the right earcup, which is exceptionally satisfying to use. The overall design is wonderfully minimal–almost industrial–looking and feeling like something a Mechwarrior pilot would be wearing.
Its battery life is also downright astounding–it was more than two weeks before I had to plug them in for a charge. And while the lack of physical buttons means you’re required to use Sennheiser’s Gaming Suite software to adjust things like surround settings (which can be annoying if you need to Alt-Tab out of a PC game) it also gives you easy access to a bunch of comprehensive options like equalization sliders, presets, sound tests, microphone enhancements, and firmware updates.
- Price: $200 USD // $300 AUD
- Works On: PC, PS4, Switch (Docked)
- Incredible surround-sound audio quality enhances experiences
- Comfortable ear cup fit makes long gaming sessions easy
- Excellent microphone makes you sound great
- Connects via USB-C
- RGB lighting
Virtual surround sound isn’t always the best way to enjoy your favourite games, especially since so many effectively utilize in-game directional audio through stereo headphones. Of course, it’s hard to deny the immersion true, pro wireless surround sound offers. Creative’s Super X-Fi technology attempts to bridge the gap between headphones and a surround sound system. In simple terms, Super X-Fi makes it sound like you’re listening to speakers outside of the headset and does so successfully without sacrificing the quality and noise cancellation of your audio, which tends to be a problem with virtual surround sound. This effect makes the SXFI Gamer an impressive headset when you’re listening to music or watching movies, but I found it particularly enhanced every game I played.
The Hiss’s droning chants in Control, operators crashing through windows in Rainbow Six Siege, and even someone sneaking up on me as I snipe enemies in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare are crystal clear, pronounced, and sound like they’re coming from speakers situated around me. This makes gameplay sessions a lot more exciting, but it’s also given me an edge in first-person shooters. Not only is it easier to pinpoint which direction a noise is coming from, but the audio quality is excellent. Hearing someone to your left is enough to tell you the direction in which a sound is travelling, but being able to clearly hear that your enemy is walking on wood with some slight reverb tells you that they’re running through the container to your left. This has proven endlessly useful, especially in modes like battle royale or Modern Warfare’s Gunfight, where getting the upper hand on an enemy before they flank you can win you the match.
The audio quality is incredible, and thankfully, so is the microphone. The SXFI Gamer improves on the SXFI Theater’s microphone immensely. The SXFI Theater’s microphone made your voice sound compressed, but the SXFI Gamer delivers clean, crisp audio of your voice. It’s not as good as a dedicated USB microphone, but it’s definitely a huge step-up from the SXFI Theater.
The SXFI Gamer is one of my favourite gaming headsets out there today. The Super X-Fi surround-sound technology is the stand-out feature and has made the Gamer my go-to headset for all of my gaming sessions. If you’re looking for a stereo headset with great sound via 3D audio to deliver an immersive experience while playing games on your PC or gaming console and don’t care too much about mic quality, the SXFI Gamer will not disappoint.
- Price: $130 USD
- Works On: PS4, PC, Mac, and Nintendo Switch
- Extremely comfortable ear cushions and flexible build
- Easy drop-in charging dock
- Includes 2-year license for Dolby Atmos Surround Sound
- Robust EQ settings in Astro Command Center on PC
- Minimal accessories/cable at this price range
- Limited volume range leaves a little to be desired
Astro has a reputation for making some of the most comfortable gaming headsets around, and the A50s are no exception. The latest version of this flashy wireless surround sound headset is very well-padded, both around the ear cups and underneath the head strap, making for a plush fit that’s borderline luxurious. This is coming from an editor with an unusually large dome, so trust me: the A50s are one of the most comfortable gaming headsets I’ve worn, and though the padding plays a large part in that, so too does the flexible rubberized plastic used for the headband.
In addition to feeling good in action, the A50s also have an unusually slick charging method: a simple drop-in charging dock. Though you can charge the headset directly using a Micro-USB cable, the dock is way more convenient and it has a display on the front to indicate how far along your charge is. Once it’s fully charged, expect roughly 15 hours of use. The dock also shows you which of the three EQ settings you’re currently using, and whether or not the virtual surround sound mode is active. The standard EQ options are fairly basic, but if you connect the dock’s USB cable to your PC–where the headset itself is also supported–you can use the Astro Command Center to tinker with the EQ profiles to your heart’s desire. While the A50s sound very good out of the box, a little time spent in the Command Center is necessary to get the most out of these cans.
Any entry in the headphone market that costs $300 will come under great scrutiny, especially when it comes to sound quality. For all of its high-end materials, the considered design of the headset, and the impressive (and useful) charging dock, the A50s feel like a premium product–but there’s still some room for improvement. The volume level gets reasonably high, but if you value cranking the volume beyond the point of reason, you’ll be left wanting with the A50s. In terms of pack-ins, the included cables (one Micro-USB and one optical cable) are adequate, but with optical passthrough, auxiliary analog input (3.5mm stereo), and an additional USB port for charging, it would have been great to see a few more cables thrown in to ensure you’re ready to roll, no matter your setup. That said, the A50s are still an impressive set that will almost assuredly be an upgrade for your console (and PC) gaming experience. Just make sure you pick the right one, as there are individual models for the PS4 and Xbox headsets. All around, this is a pair of headphones perfect for wireless gaming.
- Price: $300 USD // $500 AUD
- Works on: PS4 and PC, or Xbox One and PC
- Low-latency gaming mode works as advertised
- Surprisingly strong bass response
- Robust gesture controls
- Case charges via USB-C
- Battery life falls short of current standards
Razer’s Hammerhead True Wireless earbuds are compact and well-priced against Apple’s comparable Air Pods ($159.00), and thanks to some pre-emptive work by Razer, they are also better suited for gaming. To combat the small-but-noticeable lag that tends to plague Bluetooth headphones, Razer has introduced a game-specific mode for the Hammerheads that actually does a great job of eliminating the issue, making them well worth considering if you’re interested in a portable alternative to the standard wireless gaming headset.
Gaming mode is activated via an iOS or Android app that also serves to configure the Hammerheads’ gesture-control inputs. The Razer logo on the exterior has a touch sensor that supports numerous tap and gesture commands.
While they can’t compare to more robust headsets, the Hammerheads sound very good for their form factor, with strong bass response being the standout quality. The buds’ batteries last close to three hours of use on a single charge, and the included case provides four full recharges on a single charge of its own.
It’s also great to see both an exterior charging light and a USB-C connection on the case. These features help round out an already great product that feels like its outperforming its price tag. If you value flexibility and are looking for something compact to make your next on-the-go gaming session great, odds are you’ll be happy with Razer’s first stab at wireless gaming earbuds.
- Price: $100 USD // $140 AUD
- Works on: PC, PS4, Mobile
- Solid, flexible build with its aluminum frame
- Great comfort with plush earpads and headband
- Top-notch stereo sound quality
- Good feature-set: detachable microphone, on-hand bass adjustment, audio mixer
- Virtual 7.1 surround still isn’t worth using in most cases
HyperX has a whole roster of PC-based peripherals; it even has a line of SSDs and storage drives. However, its surround sound gaming headsets stand out. While HyperX offers choice in multiple price tiers and different feature sets, the flagship wired model, the Cloud Alpha S, is the best in its class. The Cloud Alpha S is an updated version of the original Cloud Alpha that adds a number of quality-of-life features for audio customization and virtual 7.1 surround sound, making it a better experience overall.
While those added features sure are nice, the basics are what make the Cloud Alpha S worth its asking price. Its firm, solid build makes it so that the headset never feels like it’ll come apart, regardless of how you’re handling it, which can be attributed to the strong aluminum frame. This makes it easy to flex when putting them on or taking them off. The stitched upholstery looks neat, and the cushioning underneath provides comfort atop your head. And when it comes to comfort, the plushy leather-like memory foam pads provide much-needed comfort for those long PC gaming sessions (the ear cups also provide a secure fit on your head, which helps with sound isolation to get rid of background noise). Its mic features noise isolation, too, which means the sound of your voice will come in nice and clear, even if you happen to have ambient noise, like your first-person shooter of choice blaring on your speakers as well as your headset (shame on you!).
Of course, we wouldn’t recommend this as one of the best gaming headsets if it didn’t sound good. Both games and music come through clear with mids, highs and bass never sounding muddled. Even at high volumes, any distortion was largely unnoticeable. The bass adjustment slider is a nice option to have on hand as well as a chat/game audio mixer. Since this is a wired headset, you can use it on any device that has a 3.5mm audio port, though you will need to use the packaged USB DAC if you want to get 7.1 and audio mixing features on PC. Virtual 7.1 surround still isn’t all that great, as it sounds a bit artificial, and the same holds true here. One thing to note for those who really want to tweak their EQ levels: there currently isn’t any software to mix audio.
With so many wireless options on the market, recommending a wired headset can be tough, but this HyperX headset ticks almost every box when it comes to things you’d expect from one. And since it uses a standard 3.5mm jack, it has pretty widespread compatibility, too, making it both a great PS5 and PC gaming headset with a good mic.
- Price: $130 USD // $229 AUD
- Works on: PC (USB and 3.5mm), any device with a 3.5mm jack