The Best Gaming Headsets in 2021


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Everybody loves to talk about video game visuals. Graphics cards, high refresh rate displays, resolution… and, yeah, they’re all important. But just as important as sight is sound – and we think it’s absolutely vital that you have the right audio setup for the best gaming experience.

While we all love a good speaker, sound bar, or surround sound setup, it’s fair to say that a lot of video gaming happens in the confines of a headset. They work for online play and communication, and of course for late-night sessions where you don’t want to wake your neighbours, family, or housemates. They’re vital. That’s where this page comes in; over time, we’re going to test as many gaming headsets as we can and list some of our piks for ones that are worth your time and – more importantly – money.

Rather than do separate ‘best headset’ guides for every single platform, we’re instead going to test broadly – and we note in the mini review text for each headset which platforms it’s compatible with. That means on this page you’ll find headset suggestions for PlayStation, Xbox, PC, Nintendo Switch, and even mobile compatibility. Many headsets are cross-compatible across multiple platforms, ideal for the multi-console household.

What we have done, however, is break this article into two categories: the Best Wired Headsets, and the Best Wireless Headsets. If one of those appeals more, hit the relevant link. Otherwise, here’s our best gaming headset picks in full:

Best Wired Headsets for Gaming

SteelSeries Arctis 5

$99.99 / £89.99

While this might not be the hottest headset in certain categories of raw specs and isn’t as focused on some of the gaming bells and whistles as others, the SteelSeries Arctis 5 is a lovely gaming headset that also doubles well as a less over-the-top headset that can be used in other situations – and that makes it the headset I currently use most often.

The slightly more simple design of the SteelSeries Arctis 5 is just at home as a headset to take out and about or use for work-related Zoom calls without a Christmas tree’s worth of lighting going off about your ears. Because it’s not your average bulky gaming headset, it has a streamlined, lightweight design that is most comfortable in all of these different scenarios.

Despite the more modest earcups, it’s a good-sounding headset with strong performance across the board, be that for music, film, or gaming. It’s probably weakest at the low end, but it’s still decent. The headset comes with a “USB ChatMix Dial”, which is basically a single-knob mixer that lets you choose the volume balance between your game and chat audio on the fly. The headset itself also features master volume and mic mute functionality.

In general, I feel this headset is at its best in terms of its design – light, sturdy, and just more modest than most other games headsets. One touch I love is that the mic detracts into the left earcup, meaning you can fold it away easily without having to actually disconnect it. In its price bracket, I actually think it might be one of the best available.

Razer Blackshark V2

$99.99 / £79.99

Razer is of course a staple of PC gaming equipment – and they’ve got skin in the headset game with a decent range of products. In the wired category they come up particularly well with the Blackshark V2, a comfortable, relatively minimalist headset with strong sound, including a 7.1 surround sound option – which isn’t guaranteed at this sort of price point.

The Blackshark V2 features one of my favourite headset designs on this whole list; it’s just soft and inviting, with plush ear pads and a similarly lovely strap over your head. It’s easy to wear for a long time, but the soft nature of the ear cups also means that it has great noise containing and cancelling properties – meaning you won’t hear the rest of your household, and they won’t have to contend with gunshots or what have you leaking from your earcups to bother them, either.

If you want all of the gamers’ bells and whistles, the BlackShark is a little more modest than you might expect – it doesn’t have any RGB lighting, for instance. For many that might be a plus, however – it’s just understated enough to not feel like a stereotypical gaming headset while still carrying all of the features you’d actually want. It primarily connects via USB, which is how you get the 7.1 surround on PC, but you can also use single or dual 3.5mm jacks – which means it’s ocmpatible with all the consoles and mobile, too. On top of that, there’s non-7.1 and wireless variants of this headset, if you want to go a step further.

Turtle Beach Recon 500

$79.99 / £69.99

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Turtle Beach has been one of the major players in the gaming headset market for an age – and around for almost as long is the Recon range – which has evolved and improved over time – and it’s the years of evolution and experience that works to make this one of the best wired headset picks, especially given that it comes in a little cheaper than some of our other wired headset picks.

If I had to describe what you get in exchange for that slight price reduction, it’s a product that feels more minimalist – but that’s no bad thing. For one, this is a safe, simple headset in design terms, staying away from the more expensive and flashy designs common in the gaming space. At first glance, in fact, its rather traditional design looks more like the sort you’d use for entry-level home music production, at least when its microphone is detached.

It’s comfortable and has a simple elegance, but the real place this headset does particularly well is in its sound, the category where Turtle Beach is most practiced. It’s puchy for its class, with a great midrange thanks to all-new, oversized drivers that are pushing the sound out from the earcups. There’s a surprising oomph for the size and price, even if it lacks some of the X-Factor that more blinged-out high-end headsets can often have.

It’s all about the sound, in fact. I’m less of a fan of the construction compared to others in this class; in particular, I find the memory foam ear cups a little warmer than others after a while on despite the fact that they also don’t provide the greatest isolation from the noises of the outside world. With the volume cranked up that matters less, though, as the Recon 500 really nails its sound at all levels including with the microphone, which uses a feature called ‘TruSpeak technology’ to enhance your voice output to ensure it’s clear when it reaches your teammates.

With a simple 3.5mm headphone jack, this is also a great cross-platform headset – it’ll work with pretty much everything out there via the controller headset jacks. For a strong option that won’t break the bank, this is a natural recommendation.

HyperX Cloud Alpha / Cloud Alpha S

$99.99 / £69.99 (Alpha S: $129.99 / £119.99)

With a bulky black design with red accents, the HyperX Cloud Alpha offers a more traditional ‘gaming headset’ look – but with the extra heft comes extreme comfort for the price – it’s the sort of headset that feels as though it hugs your ears and head firmly – but in a comfortable manner. That creates a pretty solid ‘seal’, too, meaning you’re truly enveloped in the sound the headset kicks out. The real world just disappears with them on, which goes a way to making the most of the quality of sound this headset’s drivers can produce. It might get a bit warm, though.

This might be the most ‘traditional’ gaming headset in the wired section of the list, however, leaning hard into the gaming design tropes. It feels sturdy and strong as a result – like it’s been built with the idea that it needs to survive being thrown across the room as part of a rage quit as a key point of functionality.

The cable features an in-line volume control and a microphone mute. The mic unfortunately can’t be retracted, only removed – but like the rest of the headset it feels like it’s of a build quality that it can take a little bit of a beating without issue. The mic is on the weaker side but is decent enough, by the way. This isn’t something you’d want to use for recording a podcast or whatever. For game chat and discord hangouts it’s more than sufficient, however.

All of this also applies to the Cloud Alpha S, a slightly improved version of the headset that comes in a better-looking all-black configuration. It comes with wonderfully clicky customizable bass vents to adjust the output (a brilliant addition), and instead of a simple volume control it has a USB-powered audio control unit with bells and whistles like virtual 7.1 surround sound. I find the surround stuff far less useful, and it’s no good for consoles as it requires specific PC software – but it’s an alright upgrade for the price.

Cooler Master MH650

$89.99 / £84.99

Do you want surround sound and quality spatial awareness while you’re gaming? For those sorts of features and under $100, Cooler Master’s MH650 wired RGB gaming headset might be your best bet – though it’s a strictly PC-based affair.

To be clear, I’m not generally a massive fan of ‘virtual’ surround sound, as I often find that these sorts of features can do more hard to the audio experience than good. Usually finding an exception to that rule requires splashing some serious cash – but I was quite impressed by the MH650’s performance in its 7.1 virtual surround sound mode. Part of the joy is in that it’s highly customizable in an easy-to-understand software suite – so you can fine tune it to your tastes. In films in particular it’s a joy to use – but I also found it worked pretty damn well while gaming, too. Getting stuck into this stuff requires you to download Cooler Master’s proprietary software, of course.

In raw sound quality terms, it’s a decent performer even with the surround option turned off. If you head on into the settings and toy with the individual ranges, it showcases the headset’s strengths and weaknesses – the bass certainly its best, the handling of mids the worst. However, you can adjust these individual areas without muddying the others – again a winner in software terms.

It’s a hefty headset with that typical bulky gaming design – but it’s comfortable, fits well, and has some decent isolation. The biggest shortcoming is probably its omnidirectional mic – functional but also a little on the quiet side. It just feels like a basic effort, especially when compared to the rest of the headset, which is packed with bells and whistles. The rest is easy to love, though – solid build quality, good sound, great software, and some neat bonus features.

If you like the look of this headset but want an even bigger, better version, consider the Cooler Master MH752 – which is an all-around better version of this headset but at a moderately more expensive price.

Turtle Beach Recon 70

$39.99 / £29.99

We have to give an honorable mention in this category to the Turtle Beach Recon 70. If you’re looking for a headset for a younger gamer, are on a tight budget, or perhaps have a habit of breaking and mistreating headsets and don’t want to break the bank… this is absolutely the bargain basement entry-level headset you should go for.

Cheap, cheerful and yet surprisingly powerful, the Recon 70 is… well, it’s decent. Decent sound, decent construction… an actually surprisingly good mic. Naturally, on cheaper cans the first thing to go is often the bass performance – and that’s the case here – but it’s still decent for some bargain late-night playing without waking the neighbors. As well as the sound quality generally taking a dip, it’s fair to say that this headset is a little less flimsy – though it’s reasonably sturdy for the price.

The next nearest headsets up the range from this are generally at least double the price – so this headset, which comes in Switch, Xbox, and PlayStation variants, is sort of in a class of its own. It’s not extravagant, but it gets the job done.

Best Wireless Headset Options

The Official Xbox Wireless Headset

$99.99 / £89.99

We absolutely love this headset. Back in our review when it was newly on the market, we described it as a “best-in-class offering for the price” – and it remains that. If you’re on Xbox, it’s a very simple sync-and-go affair, as easy to hook up to your machine as a controller.

What do we love about it? Well, it’s a bespoke, quality headset experience for Xbox. Because it syncs right into the Xbox operating system just like a wireless controller, you can boot into a settings app and significantly tweak the headset’s utility, right down to equalizer options. These settings, and a generally great build quality, elevate this headset above where it’d otherwise be with the sound quality and sound drivers that it has.

This headset isn’t technically Xbox only – as a Bluetooth headset, you can use it with your phone, PC, or any other bluetooth device. The dual connectivity is even smart enough to dim the volume of your Xbox game so you can take a bluetooth phone call while playing – which is pretty rad.

This is no revolutionary, top-of-the-line set of cans, but it is an extremely attractive headset, of a high build quality, priced well, and easy for anyone to use in multiple scenarios. For Xbox fans, it’s a fantastic recommendation – and we’d recommend it first to all Xbox fans except for hardcore audiophiles who really want a top-tier audio experience – in which instance, you’ll likely be spending at least twice this set’s RRP anyway.

Turtle Beach Stealth 700 PS5 Gen 2

$149.99 / £129.99

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When you’re looking at a wireless headset, the equation obviously changes somewhat. You’re looking not just at sound and aesthetics, but also a crucial new factor, battery life. The Turtle Beach Stealth 700’s PS5-compatible Gen 2 hits all of those main points decently, offering a well-rounded headset at a reasonable price.

If you read our comments on some of the wired Turtle Beach offerings above, much of the same is borne out here: decent sound including a quality microphone, a comfortable fit, strong battery life, and a design that’s sturdy and of a good quality without breaking the bank or trending too far into the over-designed.

One thing to note about this headset is that it’s PS5-first. That means that while its 2.4 GHz USB dongle can be plugged into other devices and bluetooth can be used for phones and the like, it is decidedly PS5-focused. The biggest ‘victim’ of this is in the virtual surround sound that headsets like this often include – it’s left out here, but on PS5 it is compatible with Sony’s ‘3D Audio’, the same as what you get on their official headset. That implementation is lovely, but that also means you won’t have surround options on other formats.

It’s a good headset all the same, though, especially if the PS5 is your primary console. In fact, we sort of prefer it to the official PS5 Pulse 3D headset, primarily because we think it betters Sony’s offering in build quality – even if it isn’t quite as snazzy to look at.

Roccat ELO 7.1 Air

$99.99 / £89.99

Do you want to get in on the Wireless Audio game without breaking the bank – without going over $100, even? If your two biggest priorities are wireless connectivity and keeping the price down, the Roccat ELO 7.1 Air might be one of your best bets, especially for PC players – even if the headset has other shortcomings.

With a striking, slick design, pulsing LEDs, surround sound, and 2.4 GHz wireless, this looks and feels like a gamers’ headset first and foremost. It’s not necessarily a design you’d want to toss in a backpack to rattle around where it might get damaged, nor is it something you’d necessarily want to wear outside the house even if you could (you can’t; it’s USB dongle only, no bluetooth) – but if it’s going to sit at your desk, this is a good budget option.

It certainly isn’t our favourite of the bunch here by any means. I sometimes found it to get comfortable with my glasses on, which is a pain – and some of the controls on the side of the headset’s ear-cup are too similar, meaning you’ll toggle the wrong thing from time to time.

Where it doesn’t scrimp so much is in the sound; everything is pretty damn decent, accurate and punchy. On PS4 and PC you can get surround sound, but there’s broader stereo compatibility beyond that, too. On PC, you can install the Roccat Swarm app to get even greater control of things, including a dumb-but-fun voice changer.

Cooler Master MH670

$119.99 / £99.99

Remember the Cooler Master MH650 further up this list, way back in the wired headset section? Well, the MH670 is a wireless equivalent – featuring many of the same benefits and compromises through its design. In the case of the MH670, probably my favourite single element is the physical design of the headset itself – slick, simple, and set in a black blastic shell that’s nevertheless sturdy, there’s a simplicity here that can be appreciated.

The headset feels durable, but also has enough give that it feels built to survive being dropped or accidentally sat on. The ear cups are soft, if a little warm in extended sessions. The mic can detatch, meaning the slick design makes this feel like a headset you could wear elsewhere – which is made possible thanks to a detachable 3.5mm audio jack with a great twist lock function that stops you from accidentially yanking it out in a stressful situation.

The main function of the headset, and why you spend the extra money, is the wireless functionality. It’s simple enough to get going. You plug a USB dongle into your PC, PS4, or Xbox – and away you go. I found the wireless solution to be lag-free and of a good range. On PC, there’s also an extensive software package you can install which allows you to customize EQ and other base settings. Beyond that, all of your controls are in-line on the headset itself.

And the sound? Well, it’s arguably the spot where this headset is let down just a little – but we’re getting granular and talking a hair of difference between this and its similar competitors. The MH670 particularly benefits from surround sound being turned on – and it’s a set of cans that definitely feel more at home delviering video gaming. Playing music through them, for instance, tends to more clearly expose the set’s shortcomings. It’s a great gaming-first headset, mind, and offers good wireless at a very reasonable price.

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