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Gaming headsets are a necessary tool in the toolset of any gamer. A gaming headset can save you a lot of trouble, heartache, quarrels and embarrassment. Except you are living alone or you are otherwise playing your games in a sound-proof room, you will definitely experience challenges whenever you try to play your games after sunset. Your only option is to get a gaming headset, and the sooner you do this, the better off you will be. As an added benefit, you also get to immerse yourself more in your games; you will now be able to hear people trying to sneak up on you in an FPS game, you will also hear subtle sounds you never got to hear on your normal speakers, and you will also experience the joys of positional audio, just to name a few.
There is a large variety of gaming headsets in the market, but I would like to group them into three categories for the purpose of this article, namely; budget, mid-range, and high-end. Budget headsets should go for less than $60, mid-range headsets will go for between $60 and $200, while high-end headsets will cost more than $200. Without further ado let us sample the various gaming headsets on offer.
See all 6 photos Earforce X12 Turtle Beach Ear Force X12 Gaming Headset and Amplified Stereo SoundAmazon Price: $46.26
List Price: $59.99Budget (Less than $60) Are you on a tight budget? These headsets will make you smile.
Ear Force X12 Amplified Stereo Headset with chat The Turtle Beach Earforce X12 is an update to the extremely popular X11. The X12 is sturdy and feels strong enough to withstand some abuse and it has big, comfortable ear cups. The microphone is good and has an appreciable level of sensitivity although it uses a 3.5mm connector, and there is a microphone monitoring feature which enables you to hear what you say into the microphone. There is an inline amplifier which sports controls for; chat volume, game volume, bass boost and microphone mute. Audio output is also top notch for this price, making this headset a fantastic update to the X11.
Variable Bass control
Only 3.5mm microphone connector
See all 6 photos Creative Sound Blaster Tactic 3D Sigma Creative Sound Blaster Tactic3D Rage USB Gaming HeadsetAmazon Price: Too low to display
List Price: $79.99Creative Soundblaster Tactic 3D Sigma USB Gaming Headset Creative are well known for their stellar sound blaster cards so it is no wonder that they also have some nice headsets. The 3D sigma headset has a good build; it has a steel core headband, swivel ear cups, and unlike many other headsets it has a ribbon cord (which easily prevents knotting). The microphone is of the noise-cancelling variety, is detachable, and is quite good for this price point. Connectivity is achieved either through the 3.5mm connectors or through the included USB adapter. The 3D sigma outputs high quality, 3D audio which even rivals the surround sound output from more expensive headsets. The headset is also comfortable and has inline volume and microphone controls, the only let down is some slight issues with some versions of Windows 7.
Option of USB or analog connectors
Detachable noise cancelling microphone
Swivel ear cups
Voice morphing application
Might have issues with some versions of Windows 7
See all 6 photos Logitech G35 Logitech G35 7.1-Channel Surround Sound HeadsetAmazon Price: $91.70
List Price: $129.99Mid-range (between $60 and $200) If you want to up the ante but have a budget ceiling of $200, then this is your spot.
Logitech G35 7.1-Channel Surround Sound Headset The G35 is a surround sound headset from Logitech, the popular accessory manufacturer. It is well built, although I have to admit it does look a wee bit geeky and futuristic. All the headset’s controls are conveniently located on the ear cups; microphone mute, volume controls, surround sound adjustment, and three programmable G keys. Ear cups are of the ear enclosing variety and are comfortable, you also get three changeable headband pads for added customization. The microphone is a noise-cancelling type and can be muted by raising the boom arm, the tip of the boom arm also has a mute indicator to let you know when you have muted the microphone. Audio output is 7.1 channel, Dolby powered, surround sound and is of a very high quality. Topping off the design is a 10ft braided cable and a USB connector.
Dolby powered 7.1 ch surround sound
Three changeable headband pads
Audio controls on ear cup
Noise cancelling microphone
Microphone Mute light
Voice morphing software
See all 6 photos Tritton TRIAX-720 AX 720 Mad Catz AX 720 7.1 Surround Sound Gaming HeadsetAmazon Price: $119.99
List Price: $129.99Tritton TRIAX-720 AX 720 Dolby Digital Surround Sound The Tritton AX 720 is a mid-range gaming headset that retails for just over $100. For this price you get a headset with a decent build, and replaceable ear pads. There is dolby digital 5.1 audio, although it is emulated 5.1 channel surround sound it does a good emulation in both games and movies. There is an inline controller and it has a master volume control, master volume control mute, chat volume control, and microphone mute switch. The inline controller is also detachable. The microphone is decent enough and is detachable. Apart from the inline controller there is also a digital audio control box which has a host of ports (like optical input) for devices like your PS3 and Xbox360. All in all a decent mid-range gaming headset.
Dolby powered 5.1 ch surround sound (simulated)
Separate game and chat volume controls
Optical connecion available
Also compatible with PS3 and Xbox360
Not optimal for music
So many cables
See all 6 photos Beyerdynamic MMX 300 Beyerdynamic 715565 PC Gaming Premium Digital Headset with MicrophoneAmazon Price: $397.79
List Price: $459.00High-end (above $200) For professional gamers only. Spending more than $200 on a gaming headset is no mean feat, and It is for this reason that I have listed the following headsets; get one of these and you will be satisfied.
Beyerdynamic MMX 300 PC Gaming Premium Digital Headset with Microphone
The Beyerdynamic MMX 300 is a top notch gaming headset and it is my top pick. The MMX 300 is based on Beyerdynamic’s HS 300 aviation headset and it provides excellent sound isolation. The headband is flexible and feels comfortable on the head while the ear pads completely cover your ears. The attached microphone is adjustable and also very sensitive, you might need to reduce the sensitivity a bit. The two connectors on the headset are the standard 3.5mm connectors, but Beyerdynamic have thoughtfully included a USB converter for those who would rather connect through their USB ports. To top it off there is a mute button, a volume control, and it comes with a carrying bag.
Nice sound isolation
Quality sound output
Choice of analog or USB connectors
Might require a headphone amplifier
See all 6 photos Sennheiser PC 360 Sennheiser PC 360 Headset for Pro GamingAmazon Price: $166.60
List Price: $249.95Sennheiser PC 360 Headset for Pro Gaming
My second choice is the Sennheiser PC 360, a decent alternative to the the Beyerdynamic. The PC 360 has a good build with velvet ear pads and a cushioned headband, the volume control is ingeniously located on the the ear cup for easy access. The microphone is an adjustable, noise cancelling microphone and it is quite good, even reportedly better than the one on the beyerdynamic; in a touch of brilliance, raising the microphone boom all the way up will mute the microphone. There is no sound isolation as this headset is of the open air variety, although this will prevent you from having sweaty ears when you go on marathon gaming sessions.
Noise cancelling microphone with boom arm acting as mute switch
Accessible volume control on ear cup
Quality sound output
Open air design
No sound isolation
Might need a headphone amplifier
Summary You can not go wrong with any of the headsets I have highlighted above because they are some of the best headsets in their class, and there are also numerous customer reviews attesting to their quality. Most users have also reported improvements in their gaming sessions because of the new range of sounds they can now hear, if you want to hone your gaming skills and you also want to engage in extended gaming sessions; I would seriously consider getting one of these headsets.