If you’ve been lucky enough to get your hands on a PS5, Xbox Series X or Series S, you’re going to want one of the best gaming headsets for a fully optimised next-gen experience.
The three consoles were released in November last year and, unsurprisingly, launching new hardware in the middle of a global pandemic has proved a logistical nightmare for both Sony and Microsoft. A shortage of the AMD chips powering the consoles has meant there simply aren’t enough units being produced to quell consumers’ insatiable appetite for next-gen gaming.
With demand massively exceeding supply, it’s nigh-on impossible to find the consoles in-stock online and when retailers do have devices available, they sell out almost instantly. Demand has spiked for the best gaming headsets, too, though most are still available if you do a bit of searching around.
For those that have managed to get hold of a PS5 or Xbox Series X, the new consoles offer unprecedented power and deliver 4K resolution gaming, rapid load times, Ray Tracing and most relevant to this article, 3D audio.
Sony’s PS5 delivers 3D audio via its Tempest Engine, and you can take advantage of it by using any wired or wireless headset as long as it’s enabled in the audio settings of your console. Microsoft’s consoles handle things slightly differently, with three forms of spatial audio to choose from: Microsoft Sonic, Dolby Atmos and DTS Headphone:X. Again, you can utilise spatial audio on any stereo headset (though some will implement it better than others) so you have hundreds of options to choose from.
That’s where this guide comes in. We’ve tested a huge range of products and compiled a list of the very best gaming headsets across a range of categories and price points. We’ve not only included headsets designed specifically for PS5 or Xbox Series X, though. With millions of gamers yet to upgrade from their PS4 or Xbox One and portable gaming on Switch more popular than ever, we’ve included the best gaming headsets for every platform.
Below, you’ll find mini reviews of each headset along with their key specifications to help you choose one that is most suitable for your needs. Before we jump into the list of entries, there’s a comprehensive buying guide breaking down all the things you should consider before splashing out on one of the best gaming headsets.
This one comes down to your personal preference and your budget. Most wireless headsets cost a premium as the technology costs more to manufacture. The benefit of having a wireless headset is that you can sit on your sofa, without having to worry about being plugged into your headset or console. It’s worth remembering, though, that if you’re using a DualSense, DualShock 4 one of the newer Xbox controllers, these have a 3.5mm headset socket built-in so you don’t need cables stretching across the room.
The advantage of a wireless headset is that it gives you complete freedom to move around, along with – in some cases – 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound. The big downside is that a wireless headset needs to be recharged – be it through the built-in lithium-ion battery or via swappable rechargeable batteries. Some gaming headsets are now capable of being charged wirelessly, though you’ll have to fork out for a Qi charger separately.
As for wired headsets, there are advantages over their wireless counterparts. These generally give you clearer audio quality, although the difference nowadays is minimal.
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Is it worth investing in 5.1 or 7.1 headsets?
Some gaming headsets offer a virtual surround-sound mode that can be toggled on or off – it’s present in those that have the 5.1, 7.1 or Dolby logo on them. As for the benefits, they’re dubious. We often find headsets with virtual surround sound can crush the sound quality or make it less accurate for positional cues (such as footsteps). In fact, many competitive games find themselves turning the feature off. Still, it’s at your disposal if you choose to use it.
With the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S incorporating 3D and spatial audio respectively, you can now experience some of the benefits of virtual surround sound without needing to buy a headset with 5.1 or 7.1 support. That doesn’t make such headsets entirely redundant but means you shouldn’t worry if you can’t afford a pricier headset packed with fancy audio options.
If I spend more money on a headset, will I have a better experience?
Generally speaking, the more you pay for a gaming headset, the more features you’ll get. Of course, there are some brands that charge a premium simply for having their name on the products – but sometimes this premium is for a good reason. Sound quality and comfort are important traits to all, so if you seek out the most comfortable, best sounding headset with the most features (such as wireless technology or Bluetooth), expect to pay more for it.
That’s not to say a cheaper set is bad – far from it, as some offer exceptional value for money. But, as with anything, setting yourself a budget is important. Once you’ve set your maximum price, go about finding the best headset you can get for what you’re willing to pay. We’re sure you’ll find one in our top picks below.
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Does driver size matter?
There are headsets with all sorts of different characteristics, but often you’ll overlook the driver size, the size of the tiny speaker that generates the sound. Size doesn’t always matter, but as a general rule of thumb, the bigger the diameter of the driver, the more space it’ll have to reproduce sound. Consequently, you’ll most likely get a better sound quality from a bigger driver or have a wider soundstage – which makes a difference when you’re gaming.
Is a noise-cancelling microphone needed?
Noise-cancelling microphones aren’t a must, but if you play in a noisy environment, you’ll find having a mic that only captures your voice will result in a better experience for those who are listening to you in-game.
Should I buy an officially licensed headset?
Ultimately, licensed headsets only provide a few extra functionalities. Examples include a bundled adapter for plugging into one of the first-generation Xbox One controllers or in-game sound optimisations. We wouldn’t necessarily recommend seeking a licensed product, but they’re not without their advantages.
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The best gaming headsets for PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch
1. Sony Pulse 3D: The best gaming headset for PS5
Price: £85 | Buy now from Amazon
The Pulse 3D headset launched alongside the PS5 and is a natural companion for the much sought-after console. It operates wirelessly via a dongle that slots into your PS5 but can also be connected to your DualSense controller via a 3.5mm audio jack. Though predominantly comprised of plastic, it’s well made and is comfortable to wear for long gaming sessions.
Audio quality is impressive for a wireless headset costing under £100 and 3D audio works particularly well with it, which is to be expected given the headset was designed with Sony’s new Tempest engine in mind. The Pulse 3D does have a couple of weaknesses, however. The lack of a boom mic will appeal to those that want a more pared-down aesthetic but the quality of the two in-built mics leaves a fair bit to be desired. And although the audio/party chat audio mix adjuster is a very welcome inclusion, the cup-mounted controls aren’t the most intuitive to navigate your way around.
Read our Sony Pulse 3D review for more details
Key specs – Platforms: PS4, PS5, PC, Nintendo Switch, mobile; Driver size: 40mm; Connection: Wireless (via USB-C dongle), 3.5mm; Surround sound: No; Noise-cancelling mic: Yes; Amp/remote: N/A