How to Choose Gaming Headphones

Choosing the right pair of gaming headphones is a must these days if you want to stay ahead of the competition. Owning a pair of gaming headphones is essential for certain titles like Battlefield or Call of Duty as you need to know where the enemy is to gain the upper hand.

Julie Santos · 26th May 2017

Choosing the right pair of gaming headphones is a must these days if you want to stay ahead of the competition. Owning a pair of gaming headphones is essential for certain titles like Battlefield or Call of Duty as you need to know where the enemy is to gain the upper hand.

The right set of gaming headphones will allow you to hear even the quietest of footsteps coming down the stairs behind you. And let’s face it – there is nothing worse than some 14-year-old from the States giving you a swift melee to the back of the head, leaving you shouting at the monitor in utter humiliation, despair and anger.

But it’s not just the importance of hearing where the other players are – it’s also the full immersive experience gaming headphones have to offer these days that make them a must. However, there are lots of considerations worth noting before you add a pair to your virtual shopping basket.

OS Compatible

Your first consideration when choosing your new headphones is the platform they will be used on. Not every headset will support PC, PS4, Xbox and other platforms, so check the specs before you buy.

It may also be worth searching a few forums to see if anyone has had any problems with Windows 8 or 10. Issues with compatibility are not usually stated and can only be found by reading reviews and checking to see if the same problem seems to be occurring far too frequently to consider them reliable.

Weight

If you’re playing for prolonged periods of time, comfort is going to be high on your list of must-have features. In particular, a light headset will ensure you do not experience neck strain, headaches or earache.

It is easy to find the exact weight of the headset you’re looking at – however, if this doesn’t mean a lot to you and you’re not used to wearing gaming headphones, consider reading reviews and see how everyone else finds them.

Style

There are essentially three types of headphone styles to choose from – in ear (ear buds), on the ear (overhead) or around the ear. Each has its benefits and disadvantages and your choice is likely to be based on personal taste.

However, consider that on-the-ear headphones will be a little heavier and can be harder to wear for prolonged periods. Additionally, more open gaming headsets allow you to hear what’s going on around you while you’re gaming and keep your ears cooler, whilst closed gaming (over the ear) headsets block out more noise from the room, ensuring that you aren’t distracted from your game.

Noise cancelling headphones (that cover the entire ear) are great if you game in a loud environment. They allow you uninterrupted play even if others are using the room to watch TV or chat. They obviously offer the best experience as they allow you to not only block out external noise, but also provide a better in-game sound experience.

Connection Type

Gaming headphones are either USB or analogue (analogue headphones plug into a headphone jack). You can get away with analogue if you have a high-end sound card – otherwise, USB might be your best option as there will be a built-in sound card in the headset itself.

If, for example, you have a low-end sound card in your PC, then you may struggle to get a decent quality of sound for high-end games. USB headphones tend to provide a more balanced option as you can instantly get 7.1 surround sound (if the headset offers it) without the need for an expensive sound card.

Microphone

Some types of game play require that you communicate with your team mates and a built-in microphone is a must. The best way to chat with the other players is to buy a set of headphones that have a microphone attached to one of the ears (typically the left one).

A microphone that slides up and down is also a great feature to have, as you can pull it down in front of your mouth when you’re using it to speak, and then push it back up out of the way when not.

Another great feature to look out for is remote buttons attached to the wire that allow you to turn the microphone on and off, as well as volume control and other features – like bass etc.

Quality of Sound

Whether you’re taking part competitively or just playing casually at home, you’ll improve your gaming if you can hear all the in-game sounds clearly. Whether it’s footsteps behind you, gunfire or other scenario indicators, gaming headphones that deliver superior sound quality with directional audio will give you a competitive edge.

You can pay a little more for real 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound which is achieved by putting a number of small speakers in the ears to deliver depth of field. Whilst this sounds like a dream, you’ll notice the sound can sometimes be a little worse compared with normal headphones. The size of the speaker can affect sound quality, so if surround sound isn’t needed for the game (e.g. MMOs or RTS), then a normal headset will be a better choice than a 5.1 or 7.1 headset. However, in FPS games 5.1 or 7.1 is a must for that all important directional audio.

Wired or Wireless

Wireless allows less restriction of movement but you do need to remember to recharge. It’s also incredibly frustrating if your battery dies mid-way through a game. A further negative is that wireless headphones can sometimes experience interference from other wireless devices.

On the other hand, if you choose wired headphones you’ll have to put up with a cord that can be cumbersome – and equally frustrating if a flatmate, child or pet manages to pull it out.

Durability

Whilst it won’t be difficult to convince you that it’s worth investing in quality, a high price doesn’t always equate to durability. Choose headphones that use the best quality materials and are built to last.

Spares

Having put your money into a decent pair of gaming headphones, it’s good to know that quality spares such as ear pads are available to prolong the life of your model. If you are unsure, don’t hesitate to contact the seller directly to find out how easy it is to get replacement parts, and how expensive it may be.

Price

Price is always a factor, both from the perspective of staying within your budget and purchasing a quality item that will last for life. However, don’t take price as an indication of quality – sometimes a £500 headset can perform just the same as a £100 headset.

One of the best ways to find out is to read the reviews and get a feel for how other users are finding them. Did someone recommend the higher spec model because you get more for your money? Or did the cheaper version do just the same?

Top 3 picks

Your choice of model will depend on all the above preferences, but some models really stand out above the rest and are especially worthy of your consideration. These include:

MB Pro 2 ML by Sennheiser £143.50 exc. VAT – Sennheiser brand quality with HD sound, ultra noise cancellation and a comfortable leatherette ear pad.

RIG 500E  £99.99 exc VAT  –   surround sound E-Sports edition, engineered for the intensity of E-SPORTS

Evolve 80 pro stereo headset  by Jabra £177.00 exc. VAT

If none of these take your fancy, the go2telecom store is full of great models for everyone from casual gamers to esports champs.

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