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How to choose a gaming headset

Turtle Beach Ear Force X12 headset

Need to choose a good gaming headset? Agent Peter Johnson is here to help! Whether your main concern is budget or features, Agent Johnson will assist you in finding the right headset for your Call of Duty matches or Borderlands 2 co-op plays.

How to choose a gaming headset

As a committed gamer both on Console and PC having a good headset is important to me. As I need to be able to talk to team/clan mates while still being able to hear prompts, alerts or noise in the game so that I know what is happening and if I am being sneaked up on by someone.

Now when it comes to gaming headsets if you are mainly a PC gamer you will probably already have something to suit your needs by one of the main brands in Gaming Peripherals of those the main ones are:

  • Razer gaming headsets

  • Steelseries gaming headsets

  • Logitech gaming headsets

  • Creative gaming headsets

These four manufacturers have been around longer than anyone else in this market, and have been making great products for a long time - my first headset was a low cost Logitech, which I bought 10 years ago for £20. Currently I am using a headset by Steelseries called the "Siberia", which is their flagship model. My personal one has been with me for 5 years now and is still going strong, despite a lot of abuse that it gets being thrown off if I'm angry or being kicked because I left it on the floor.

Which gaming headset is right for me?

When it comes to buying a headset there are lots of questions you need to ask youself. Wth the prices for a halfway decent gaming headset starting at around £50, you want to choose one that will suit your needs for a long time.

The main questions to ask are:

  • Steelseries Sibera headset
    USB or 3.5mm Jack? (USB would allow you to control what you hear more accurately, you can set it so that music comes through your PC speakers, while VoIP E.G teamspeak or skype comes clearly through the headphones. With 3.5mm it's all or nothing essentially
  • Do you want to use it with other devices e.g. PS3 and Xbox 360? The more expensive headsets now work on all your gaming systems, which is always a good thing if you play games on consoles as well as on a PC. I think the standard Xbox live headset is God-awful, and if I could use my headset with it I would in a heartbeat.
  • Sound - the more expensive headsets offer real 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound by putting several small speakers in the ears to give you depth of field. This is a good feature but sound can suffer over all compared to normal, because simply the size of the speaker affects the sound quality, so a normal headset with a 50mm driver will sound better than a 5.1 or 7.1 set if surround sound isn't needed. In my eyes if you play an FPS where you need to be aware of your surroundings then 5.1 or 7.1 will help but games like RTS games or MMO’s don’t need it so can happily use normal speakers.
  • Colour and comfort (ergonomics) - I put this one last because it's the hardest thing to really know before you buy the headset, simply due to the lack of places where you can try the headsets out. Colour is an easy one but fit isn't. Most of the high end sets will have adjustable headbands or ear cups etc to make sure the fit is just right for you, but some of the cheaper ones will not and this can significantly affect your gaming experience, so reading reviews will definitely be helpful. There are LOTS of reviews of these items on the web.
Astro Gaming Headset

In recent years the market for gaming peripherals has grown in a huge way, with most companies offering everything from mice, keyboards and headsets to mouse mats, gaming glasses and everything in between. This has also lead to the creation of even more companies offering things specifically for gaming. One of the most popular companies for headsets currently from what I have seen in retailers and forums is Turtle Beach. They make headsets for PC and console gaming in fun designs, themed around your favourite games.

Another such company to make headsets that has appeared in the past few years is a company called Astro Gaming. They are a high-end company catering more for the serious and professional gamers. With their base headset starting at £149.00 and their flagship costing £249.00, they are not for the feint of heart but their products are so good they are the main equipment sponsor for the Major League of Gaming series of events. They work on all platforms (Xbox, PS3 and PC), and if you're serious about gaming and comfort, they are one of the best around at the moment.

Hints and tips on choosing a headset

Overall I don't expect you all out there to want to spend that much money on a headset, as for the casual gamer £60 is usually more than the most they want to spend. The best companies I think offering headsets that will cater for the masses are Steelseries, with the Siberia V2 (£65) Razer with the Orce (£55) or for you console nuts the Turtle Beach X12 (£50).

Razer Orca headset

If you want to spend a bit more on something that can do it all, I would recommend the Astro A40 with the music system (£190), it is the headset I will be going for next to replace my Siberia, unless I need to replace it sooner than I plan, in which case I will just get another Siberia.

Final thoughts on gaming headsets

I hope this article has answered a few questions you might have had about gaming headsets and maybe even shown you that there is a lot of choice out there. There are so many different retailers making these products that it can be hard to choose based on price alone, but the way I found my Steelseries 5 years ago was simply by seeing who was the sponsor of one of my favourite gaming teams then using what they did. There is a reason that the pro’s endorse them (despite not paying for them).

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