Star Wars creator George Lucas once said: “Sound is 50% of the moviegoing experience.” He’s not wrong, and it also holds true for today’s video games.
Sound plays two huge roles in today’s online video gaming. The first is the sound effects. The weapons, explosions, character dialogue, and especially the music are all created to be as exciting and realistic as possible.
The second role is the ability to communicate with your teammates quickly and efficiently in real-time. Communication is especially important in the world of competitive eSports where team members need to be able to quickly communicate strategy with each other.
Besides the game system itself, the most important factor in producing high-quality sound to drive your epic gaming sessions is a gaming headset.
Looking for a great gaming headset to support you during those marathon gaming sessions? Here are some of the features that we recommend you look for to help you pick a good gaming headset.
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Why Is Choosing the Right Gaming Headset So Important?
A gaming headset is one of the most important peripherals in the world of gaming and eSports, and finding a good gaming headset should be done carefully. Here are just a few reasons why:
- Communicating with your buddies or teammates while online gaming is essential, and a gaming headset with a built-in microphone allows you to do this with ease and speed. In team-based first-person shooter games—like Overwatch, Fortnight, and a host of others—it’s critical to be in constant communication with your team to coordinate your activities.
- One of the most annoying aspects of gaming is distractions created by external sounds. Kids playing outside your window or your mom vacuuming in the next room can be enough for you to lose focus and prevent you from playing your best. Not only do the best gaming headsets block ambient noise, but some also even have active noise cancellation features.
- Because you wear a gaming headset right over your ears, you’ll get the highest quality audio, enabling you to hear audio cues in full stereo sound. This can be critical for some games in which listening for directional sounds, like approaching footsteps, can mean the difference between a kill and your demise.
Budget Is Always a Factor When It Comes to Gaming Peripherals
In the world of gaming, more features usually mean a higher price point. However, spending a few extra bucks on an upgraded headset that might last years and has features that can enhance your game play could be a great investment.
Take time to carefully research and read reviews to ensure that the headset you are considering has a great reputation, is compatible with your gaming platform, and has a solid warranty in case something breaks. A quick Google search can often turn up a lot of good information on gaming headsets and other gaming gear.
Elements of a Great Gaming Headset
Gaming headsets may look simple, but they have become sophisticated pieces of hardware. Let’s take a look at several features of gaming headsets you should focus on when deciding which headset is right for you.
Comfortable Ear Padding and Head Padding Is a Must for a Good Gaming Headset
When you’re several hours into a marathon gaming session, comfort is key. With this in mind, one of the most important aspects of gaming headset design is the earpads. An uncomfortable headset can be a nagging distraction from focusing on your game, and losing focus is a sure way to reduce your performance.
You might be asking, “What gaming headsets are comfortable?” The main design consideration when looking at earpad designs is the material. Here are the main three:
- Synthetic leather is the most common material, with high-quality ones feeling pleasant to the touch and having good durability. Cheaper synthetic leather feels plasticy and cracks sooner than the other materials. The drawback to synthetic leather is the lack of airflow, which can lead to sweaty ears.
- Real leather has a luxurious feel (and smell), but because it absorbs sweat and skin oil, it can start to smell. Leather must be cleaned and conditioned properly to avoid this. Real leather also has a higher price tag.
- Velour is the most comfortable and breathable of all materials, but because it doesn’t create as complete of a seal as the two materials listed above, it doesn’t always fully block ambient noise. Velour headseats are also the most difficult to maintain and keep clean.
Sound Quality Is Key When Choosing the Right Gaming Headphones
Gaming sound has advanced significantly since the days of Pac-Man or even Mario Kart. New games like Call of Duty and Valorant come with high-quality, often cinema-like stereo sound that significantly adds to the game play and overall gaming experience.
Additionally, as mentioned above, team communication has become vitally important in games like PUBG, League of Legends, and Rocket League. In team-based first-person shooters like these, ongoing communication can lead to a triumphant victory or a crushing loss.
When considering gaming headset sound quality, features like wide frequency response and stereo sound are absolute must-haves. If you want to upgrade your game to the next level and are willing to spend a bit more, look for features like 3D 360-degree spatial soundscape standards, such as Dolby Atmos, DTS:X 2, and Windows Sonic.
A Solid Microphone Can Make a Big Difference in Online Gaming
In online team gaming, a poor-quality microphone can lead to miscommunication, which can be deadly to you and your teammates. Any gaming headset you consider must have a microphone, preferably a high-quality one.
One consideration in headset microphones is mic type. Gaming headset microphones are mostly designed to pick up one source of audio (you) from about three inches away. This is so the mic doesn’t pick up sounds from the room around you.
Some headsets have an omnidirectional microphone, which typically picks up sounds from all directions. This type probably isn’t ideal if you’re just looking for something to wear sitting on your couch or at your computer.
Alternatively, some gamers prefer to use an external microphone like a Blue Snowball that ensures high-quality communication at all times. An external mic like this can add to your gaming hardware costs, but many gamers find it to be a good trade-off.
Choose a Headset With a Long Cord or Purchase a Headphone Extension Cable
While most gamers like to stay in one location while gaming, like a desk chair or couch, some prefer to move around a lot or lean back in their chair. If this is your gaming style, a long cable can ensure that your gaming headset doesn’t get pulled to one side or even off your head when you physically dodge that incoming attack or do your victory dance.
If you already have a gaming headset that you like, buying a 3.5 mm stereo audio extension cable is an affordable solution to the issue. Cable extenders like these are available in various lengths to suit the needs of your gaming setup.
For Those Who Hate Cords, a Wireless Gaming Headset Is Always an Option
Some gamers hate cords and will do anything to get rid of them. For those gamers, wireless headsets are available with great sound and comfort. However, wireless headsets often come at a higher price point.
Before buying a wireless gaming headset, be sure it’s compatible with your gaming platform of choice because not all headsets are compatible with all platforms. For example, the Razer Nari wireless gaming headset is only compatible with PC, PS4, and PS5 platforms.
If It Fits the Budget, Buy a Good Gaming Headphone Stand
An additional accessory for you to consider, if it’s within your budget, is a gaming headset stand. Storing your gaming headphones on a stand while not in use can keep the clutter down on your gaming desk.
For wireless headphones, a charging stand will ensure that your gaming headset is always ready to go when you are. The great news is that an elegant and useful headphone stand doesn’t have to cost a fortune, like this New Bee Earphone Stand.
I hope you’ve learned something about the most important elements of a good gaming headset. If you have additional thoughts or ideas about choosing a good gaming headset, post them in the comments below.