Top Pick for
Overall wired headset
The gaming headset market has exploded in recent years for obvious reasons. Technically, you can just use any wired pair of headphones as a gaming headset. But good, proper gaming headsets will be tuned for an emphasis on bass, feature controls and have a boom microphone for easy communication.
Trying to pick the perfect gaming headset can be a difficult task, because there's so much to consider: which consoles do you want to use it on? Will you also be using it for video conferencing? Do you prefer wired or wireless? Which style do you find most comfortable? What's your budget? What aesthetics do you gravitate towards?
Taking all these questions into consideration, as well as audio quality, ease of set up, comfort, durability and battery life, we tested more than 30 headsets over four months to bring you the most comprehensive gaming headset buyer's guide in Australia. The price range for headsets tested for this guide was from $89 to $850, and while there were several margin calls where the choice wasn't obvious, we're confident that this guide should have something for everyone.
Normally, I would be suspicious about a headset made by a laptop company. They usually come out as mere cheap add-ons that cannot be recommended. Shockingly, though, the Lenovo H500 7.1 isn't just super comfortable, but it also sounds great.
The bonus of a wired headset is that you can easily use it with any console, and it was a good companion in both my Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 tests, but where it really shined was on PC. It's got a little audio control box that allows you to switch between 7.1 simulated surround sound and adjust the EQ using the software. Those are features I'd normally expect to see on much more expensive headphones.
The metal headband feels really premium, but the holes prevent it from being too heavy. The microphone could be a little clearer, but it's good enough for game chat and Zoom meetings, just not for podcasts or radio. The pleather covered memory foam ear cups are very soft (though, it would have been better if they were made out of a more durable and planet-friendly material), and they had enough padding that it was comfortable with my glasses and earrings for hours of use.
BeyerDynamic MMX150 was an extremely close second, and would be my pick for console, but Lenovo got the extra half point for having 7.1 surround on PC and having a customisable EQ."
This was probably the hardest category to pick a winner in, because there are just so many amazing wireless headsets out there, each catering to a different need. Almost all the headsets I tried in this category came really close to being named the winner. However, it was impossible to go past the Rig 800 Pro HX because it had the same quality, fidelity and features as some other much more expensive headsets.
Like most wireless gaming headsets, there are three different flavours of the Rig 800 Pro HX: PC, PS4/5 and Xbox. This is the Xbox model, but most Xbox wireless headsets that also work with PC will also work with PlayStation. It's just the PlayStation ones that might not be friends with Xbox. So, if you have multiple consoles, the Xbox version is the way to go.
While the aesthetics of the Rig 800 Pro HX leave a lot to be desired, they're just so soft and comfortable. The ear cups don't get too hot, they breathe nicely, the emphasis on bass is there, it's easy to connect, 24 hours of battery life is more than enough, and the mic sounds great. The audio quality is easily on par with some other headsets I tried that were $200 more expensive.
Included with the Xbox version is also a subscription to Dolby Atmos for the console, which you normally have to buy separately, so that's a nice bonus.
The base station makes for easy charging between uses, the little sling means your head won't get too fatigued if you wear it for hours at a time and it's generally very good at a good price for all it is and does. The only thing it's missing is Bluetooth connectivity, which is a shame.
HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless came so close to getting the top spot, if only for the 300-hour battery life (which is not a typo, just ridiculous). However, it's not quite as comfortable as the Rig and is a bit more expensive. If you only want to charge once a month, though, it's a good option."
The main criteria for best budget wired headset was that it had to be under $150, sound good and be comfortable. There were two under $90 that I strongly considered, but with continued use of one, the plug kept coming loose, and the other completely lacked bass. There was another for $109 that sounded pretty good, but got uncomfortable with extended use and yet another that smelled so bad out of the box that I could barely stand keeping it on my head.
In the end, it came down to two that were hard to separate. The Rig 500 Pro HC Gen 2 marginally came out on top because it was a bit cheaper, and I found it stayed a bit cooler longer.
For consoles, the 500 Pro HC Gen 2 was excellent. It lacked the bass response of more expensive headsets (which is to be expected), but was extremely comfortable to wear for long periods of time. The cable length was perfect for consoles when plugged into the controller, but I found I needed a bit more length when using it with a desktop PC (it was fine on a laptop), so that's something to keep in mind.
I really liked the controls on the ear cups, making it easy to adjust volume. Too many headsets were focussing on aesthetics and minimalism rather than function. While this headset looks like a relic from 2012, it's designed to be used, not looked at, and it serves its purpose well.
As with all Rig headsets, there are different letter combos. HC is the one I tried, but there is also an HX which is exactly the same, but comes with an Xbox Dolby Atmos subscription, so if you have an Xbox, get that one. It costs the same.
The BeyerDynamic MMX100 was so close to getting the top spot, but in the budget category, price was more heavily weighted than aesthetics. However, if you want a good, wired headset that looks nice, it's $149."
"Budget wireless headset" used to be either an oxymoron or straight up terrible. But, as long as you're not wanting to use it with Xbox, there is now actually a genuine contender worth owning.
The Razer Barracuda X is a no-frills headset that focuses on sounding as good as it can without breaking the bank. It has an RRP the same as the budget wired headset (almost unheard of), but is frequently found on sale under $100.
At that price point, the audio quality is very impressive. There is a little white noise at the edges, and the sounds aren't as defined as you'd get on a more premium headset, but it does the job and does it well.
It works with a 2.4GHz wireless connection to a USB-C receiver, so the wireless connection is stable, but won't work with an Xbox. However, there is a 3.5mm cable in the box, so it can easily be converted into a wired headset for your cross platform needs.
The plastic construction is quite nice. It doesn't have an aesthetic that screams to be looked at, but rather it blends into the background. I do question how durable it will be, but just try not to sit on it, I guess.
The controls on the ear cup are easy to use, the microphone sounds perfectly fine, and you can use it wirelessly with USB-C Android phones, PlayStation 5, PC and wired with everything else.
If you're a single console type of person, the Official Xbox Wireless headset and PlayStation Pulse 3D are other really good options. They didn't win, however, because of the limitation of only being compatible with their respective consoles."
In my review of this headset I called it the most comfortable headset I've ever worn. After trying dozens more since, that claim still stands.
It is a little pricey for only being compatible with one console, but by gum is it good. The audio quality is just excellent. It sounds so good and feels so comfortable that it has me playing more and longer, which is terrible for my social life, but a good endorsement of the headset.
They've got the bonus of being able to be used as just regular Bluetooth headphones, if you don't mind headphones that have a nipple (the recessed microphone is not as recessed as it thinks it is). More likely, you can use them to play music from your phone via Bluetooth while enjoying your game.
With an RRP of $389, it is definitely an investment. But if money isn't a concern and you just want a really good Xbox headset, this is that headset.
Is INZONE a very dumb name for a line of headsets? Yes. But we can forgive that because they're really good. You know how all tech reviewers are obsessed with how good the Sony XM5/XM4 noise cancelling headphones are? These are those, if it was a gaming headset that looked like something Astro the robot from Astro's Playroom would wear.
They're super pricey, at $449, but they have much of the same technology as the Sony XM3s, which were truly excellent headphones. The spatial audio sounds much better than the Pulse 3D headset (which you'd expect, but the Pulse 3D headset was made by the people who made the console, rather than people from the headphones division).
There are other INZONE headsets in the line that don't cost an arm and a leg, but the H9 had the kitchen sink thrown at it (and also it's the only headset from the line that I've been able to try). It's got active noise cancelling (which is the best in the business), 32 hours of battery, wireless (2.4GHz) and Bluetooth.
At this price, it would have been nice if they also doubled as walking around headphones, but I guess Sony didn't want to cannibalise the XM5 market. The design with the non-removable boom mic and big plastic ear cups is hardly aesthetic, and feels a bit cheap, but it aids them in sounding good, which is really the most important thing when you're gaming home, alone.
The audio quality is top notch, and they sound sublime. The default EQ is perhaps a little low on bass, but you can tweak that on PC with the detailed software. Easily the best PlayStation 4/5 and PC only headset I tried for this guide. If you're a PS4/5 only player and your budget stretches this far, this is the one to buy.
If you don't want to outlay that much cash, the PlayStation Pulse 3D is still quite good at almost 1/3rd the price."
If you have a kid that is hardcore about their gaming, and it's time to get them something a bit more premium that will actually fit their head (or you just have a smaller head and want something to fit you), then the Logitech G435 is the way to go.
It's a bold choice to make a child-focussed gaming headset this expensive at RRP (though, I have seen it widely discounted), but it justifies the price by sounding excellent, being comfortable, and broadly being compatible with everything.
The Logitech G435 is extremely light and the ear cups are soft, so they won't become too heavy after a full day of distance education/work/gaming. They're quite durable (I have dropped them more times than I would care to admit over the last almost year that I've had them), and they just sound really good with pretty clear bass and mid tones.
I also really like the range of colours that they come in. There's something fun for kids who enjoy colour, and there's black with a green accent for the emos. Truly something for everyone.
If you're looking for a headset for a very fancy child, or someone else with a smaller head, then the Logitech G735 Wireless Gaming headset has a much better microphone, better audio quality, and looks a bit more sophisticated in pastel colours instead of bright colours. It also costs $399.95."
There are a few things that I always wish for when I'm reviewing expensive headphones, but almost never get: removable batteries are the main one. The first thing to die in wireless headphones is almost always the battery, and in most headphones you can't fix it. You just have to buy a new pair.
For headsets, the next request is a fully retractable boom mic that you wouldn't know was a boom when it was back in its house. The third is a nice DAC to make the audio quality better and give more control over the balance.
The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless has all of that, and I love it. If money is no object, this is the headset you need. It sounds incredible for a gaming headset. So much so that I frequently use them as regular headphones. The easily swappable battery makes it perfect for long-haul flights.
On Xbox and PlayStation, it sounds great while also letting you pump in your own music over Bluetooth.
On PC it has software that tunes out your background sounds (like your keyboard clacking) so you can get work done during a meeting without anyone else on the call knowing, even if you're not muted.
Having also reviewed the $849 Bang and Olufsen Portal for this story, I can confidently say that even despite the high price for the SteelSeries, it punches above its price bracket.
Out of more than 30 sets of headsets, plus the dozens of headsets I've tried in my career, the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless X is by far the most versatile and my favourite.
I spent around four months playing a variety of games, including Horizon Forbidden West, Forza Horizon 5, Fall Guys, Mario Kart, Forza Motorsport 7, Spider-Man, Roller Champions, and The Quarry on Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch and PC. I made a big spreadsheet with notes and categories, played with each headset for at least an hour, tested the favourites longterm, and then did side-by-side comparisons after making a shortlist for each category.
I sourced these headsets from both my personal collection and approaching PR companies for all the big brands and asking them to nominate 1-4 of the headsets they were most confident in, as well as requesting specific headsets I had heard good things about.
I have been a games and technology journalist with a particular interest in headphones and headsets for almost 16 years. I personally have an extremely large headphone and headset collection that I use for reference.
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Quality gaming headsets not only make your time playing more enjoyable, but they can also improve your in-game performance. Whether you're using a stereo headset that employs digital modelling or a true 7.1 surround sound device, you'll be better able to locate sounds like encroaching footsteps or the whizz of a bullet flying past in the game world. That's not to mention the added bonus of being able to play at full volume without irritating the neighbours or waking a sleeping baby.
The main two types of headsets are wired and wireless. The first step when choosing a gaming headset is determining exactly what you'll be using it for.
If your headset is for PC gaming, we recommend opting for a wired headset. They're more reliable, won't occasionally cut out with Bluetooth interference and won't need charging. Given you'll most likely be sitting at a desk near your PC, one more short cord isn't much of a downside.
Conversely, if you'll be console gaming on a TV from the couch, wireless is your best option. None of the benefits of a wired headset outweigh the irritation (and potential trip hazard) of having long cords dragged all over your living room floor.
If there's one area not to skimp on, it's audio quality. You want to feel the low-end rumble of explosions, understand every word of dialogue, and locate that pesky hidden sniper using the in-game audio cues designers spend years crafting. Check reviews and remember that if you're tossing up between two otherwise equal headsets, audio quality should be the clincher.
The design of the headset can also affect the audio. Closed headsets completely encircle your ears, shielding you from external noise – great if you're playing near a busy road or construction site but not so good if you need to regularly attend to the whims of children, pets and spouses. Open headsets typically have a more natural sound profile but they also allow more external sound in (and more game sound out). The extra ventilation means they're more breathable so you won't get as sweaty and uncomfortable during muggy weather.
Stereo headsets house a single driver in both earpads, whereas 7.1 surround sound headsets cram four into each. There are benefits to both approaches.
With the extra drivers in a 7.1 headset you're able to experience true surround sound, which makes locating the source of a noise in a game easier. If you're going to be playing a lot of competitive shooters like Call of Duty, this is the way to go.
Stereo headsets are able to use larger drivers because there's only one per ear; some audiophiles believe this results in better, purer sound quality. If you're playing games like League of Legends where positional audio doesn't really matter, a stereo headset is a good option. That said, some stereo headsets use digital modelling to achieve a surround sound effect; it's not as accurate as true surround sound but at its best it can be remarkably effective.
Heads come in different shapes and sizes, so it's hard to know exactly what you'll find comfortable based on other people's recommendations. If possible, go into a store and try on a few different headsets to test for fit. Keep in mind, though, that what you find comfy after a minute or two and after a few hours can be very different.
Generally, the lighter the headset the better. Heavy headsets put pressure on your neck and shoulders and after a lengthy session, you'll be feeling hunched and sore. Leather earpads are generally more comfortable than cheaper materials, but they're also more likely to make you sweat on hot days.
Microphones attached to gaming headsets are often pretty average, resulting in tinny, muffled chat audio. If you don't plan on using it much, or just want to utter the odd command to your squad, that's probably fine. But if you're planning on streaming to an audience on Twitch, Mixer or YouTube, you'll need to seriously consider this factor. Either opt for the rare headset with a reputation for having a good microphone, or get a standalone mic (and a headset without one). Your audience will thank you.
It's for when you really hate charging headsets.
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