Gaming headsets can make all the difference in your gameplay experience. A high-quality headset can mean the difference between having a complete understanding of the game’s sound effects, music, and team members’ voices, and missing out on crucial audio elements. In a review of 11 gaming headsets, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless was chosen as the best overall gaming headset, while the Razer BlackShark V2 was named the best value gaming headset. Beyond audio quality, there are many other factors to consider when purchasing a gaming headset, such as comfort for long hours of wear and an excellent microphone for communicating with other gamers.
According to Connor Barry, a market analyst at Gap Intelligence, “a great universal gaming headset will be one that accounts for design, sound quality, and microphone clarity.” In particular, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless headset stands out for its versatility across gaming systems and connection types, excellent sound quality, and comfortable design. The Xbox model, which works with both Xbox and PlayStation, was tested, and while it lacks support for PlayStation’s Sidetone, it has Microsoft’s required security chip and supports the ChatMix volume dial, making it a better choice for those who game on both consoles.
The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless headset also supports Bluetooth 5.0 and 2.4 GHz wireless from multiple sources and has a wired 3.5mm connection. Even better, you can connect to both wireless sources at the same time, making it easier to switch between devices. The headset’s base station has two USB-C inputs and a line input for an analog connection.
In terms of design, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless has a sleek, functional, and stylish appearance. It lacks the bright colors or RGB highlights of some competitors but features a retractable microphone that blends seamlessly with the left ear cup. The left ear cup has a volume wheel and a power button that is easy to distinguish by touch, while the right ear cup has a Bluetooth button.
The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless headset is also very comfortable to wear for long gaming sessions, thanks to its lightweight, elastic headband that fits any head size or shape and over-ear ear cups with plush padding and a soft-touch faux-leather covering. Although the ear cups can get slightly warm after extended gaming sessions, it is not uncomfortable.
While the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is not the single best-sounding gaming headset tested, it produces excellent frequency response, with good bass and clarity and detail in the high end to provide an excellent gaming experience. The Master & Dynamic MG20 delivers a little extra sparkle in the high frequencies, but the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless comes very close.
The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless and HyperX Cloud Alpha both have good microphone quality for in-game chat, but are not suitable for recording podcasts. The microphone on the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is not as good as the cheaper SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1X or the HyperX Cloud Alpha. The noise cancellation on the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is effective, but not as good as everyday headphones such as the Apple AirPods Max and Sony WH-1000XM5. The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless has a hot-swappable battery, a rare feature in headsets, and works with the SteelSeries GG software, which offers comprehensive audio control options. It has versatile connectivity and excellent audio handling, making it the best overall gaming headset.
For those on a budget, the Razer BlackShark V2 is the best value gaming headset among the 11 headsets tested. It has a sleek design with green highlights, a lightweight frame, plush padding, and soft-touch faux-leather coverings, making it one of the most comfortable headphones tested. It produces powerful bass, well-tuned mids, and has detail and clarity in the high-end, making for an exciting, precise sound.
The Razer BlackShark V2 comes with a USB-C sound card, making it THX-certified on a PC for a more immersive experience while playing THX-certified games and watching THX-certified movies. The detachable microphone is adequate, and the on-headset controls do not include the ability to tweak chat mixes like on the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless.
Other Gaming Headsets Tested
The author tested several gaming headsets and has shared the information on some that didn’t make it to their top picks. The Astro A10 is one of the least expensive headsets that the author tested, but they found the construction and design felt a little low-end. The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1X has a slightly more premium feel than the Astro A10, but its audio still sounded muted compared to other options.
The Corsair HS60 Pro offered a mostly comfortable fit and its audio output sounded faithful, but the microphone didn’t sound great. The HyperX Cloud Alpha Wired Headset is an excellent option in its price range with a sturdy build, but the highs weren’t as detailed as the Razer BlackShark V2.
The Logitech G Pro X Wireless offers a classic design, but it felt a little heavy and uncomfortable on the head, and the microphone captured shrill audio with a heavy emphasis on the high mids. The HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless is one of the author’s favorite headsets, but it doesn’t work with Xbox and the microphone sounded too sharp and grating. The Turtle Beach Stealth 700 Gen 2 Max is a solid headset, but it was less comfortable for extended wear and its bass extension lacked the oomph to give things like explosions more body.
Lastly, the Master & Dynamic MG20 was one of the best-sounding gaming headsets that the author tested with incredibly detailed high frequencies and a deep, round bass, but it got slightly uncomfortable after a few hours of playing and didn’t warrant the extra $100, even with its impressive microphone and built-in surround sound.
As a lifelong gamer, I have extensive experience with various gaming devices and consoles, having owned and played on them since childhood. I currently enjoy playing on a Sony PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch, as well as a Microsoft Xbox Series S.
What sets me apart from other tech reporters is my background in audio, having earned a bachelor’s degree in music technology, specializing in music production. This knowledge and expertise has allowed me to combine my passion for gaming with my audio expertise, making me uniquely qualified to review and evaluate gaming headsets. For this article, I have also consulted with three experts in the gaming industry, including professional gamers, to provide a comprehensive analysis of the best gaming headsets available.
How I Tested The Best Gaming Headsets
I started by researching and selecting gaming headsets from reputable manufacturers such as SteelSeries, HyperX, Logitech, Bang & Olufsen, and Master & Dynamic. I considered the headsets’ features, compatibility with different gaming systems, and prices, narrowing down the options to the most rounded set of features. To ensure maximum compatibility, I also looked for headsets that offered versions for both Microsoft Xbox and Sony PlayStation since not all wireless headsets are compatible with both.
After making my selection, I tested the comfort level of each headset during hours of gameplay. I also evaluated the audio quality while gaming, listening to music, and watching TV, noting how well each headset maintained its wireless connection. I used Call of Duty: Warzone as my primary test game because it has excellent sound design, including various audio effects and cinematic music. I also played Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and God of War Ragnarök to get a broader sense of each headset’s audio quality. For music testing, I used “Can’t Stop” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, a track I know well since my childhood. For TV testing, I watched The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.
To evaluate comfort, I wore each headset for three hours, judging its comfort level after the first hour and at the end. Finally, I recorded a sample from each microphone and compared them side by side to assess their quality.
How To Pick A Gaming Headset
Here are some tips to consider when buying a gaming headset:
Design: When choosing a gaming headset, it is important to select one with an attractive look and a functional approach. Consider access controls and whether the headset’s construction is sturdy enough to withstand daily use.
Comfort: Comfort is paramount when buying a gaming headset, especially if you plan on using it for long gaming sessions. A comfortable headset will be lightweight, have a good weight balance on the head, and offer a breathable ear cup material that won’t get too hot. Over-ear headsets tend to be the most comfortable.
Audio Quality: A great gaming headset needs to sound fantastic to immerse you in the soundstage of the game’s world. Look for a headset that balances bass, mids, and highs to make for more realistic and immersive listening.
Surround Sound: Some headsets support surround sound formats, but this can be a fragmented industry. Generally, it sounds unrealistic and may make music sound less detailed and clear.
Connectivity: You can connect a gaming headset to a console, computer, or mobile device in various ways, either wired or wireless. Some gaming headsets connect via a 3.5mm headphone jack connection or USB-C connection. Wireless gaming headsets usually connect via a 2.4 GHz wireless network formed between the headset and a USB dongle that you plug into your console or PC. Some headsets also come with a Bluetooth radio.
Microphone Quality: Choose a headset with a good microphone quality to ensure that you can communicate clearly with your teammates during gameplay.
According to the writer, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is the best gaming headset due to its compatibility, audio quality, and comfort level. However, they acknowledge that different needs may require different headsets, and they found the Razer BlackShark V2 to be the best value headset for those who don’t want to spend as much as the SteelSeries model. Other quality options include the HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless, Astro, and more.
When it comes to the best gaming headset brand, the writer’s top pick is SteelSeries, but they also recommend other brands such as HyperX, Logitech, Turtle Beach, Astro, and Corsair.
Regarding the cost of a good headset, it depends on individual preferences and budget. While the $350 SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is a high-priced option with all the best features and extra bells and whistles, the Razer BlackShark V2 is a great-sounding audio option that saves money by being wired and offering fewer features.