The 10 Best Gaming Headsets
10. Xbox One Stereo
9. LucidSound LS30
8. SteelSeries Siberia 800
7. Astro A40
6. HyperX Cloud Pro
5. Siberia 350
4. HyperX Cloud Stinger
3. Sennheiser Game One
2. HyperX Cloud Revolver S
1. SteelSeries Arctis 7
To See The Future, First, See The Past
Communications technology has come a long way since the Pony Express, and Game of Thrones-style homing pigeons. And while online video game conversations might not be the exemplar of successful communication between human beings, the rate of technology behind them certainly hasn't slowed down a bit.
The original non-gaming headset was invented in 1910 by a Stanford student named Nathaniel Baldwin and was, unfortunately, a bit of a failed design. The headset was a commercial failure, at least at first. Nobody could see why large numbers of people might want to buy them, mostly because there was little to no demand for them.
Then came the war, which flipped everything on a dime. World War I came into spotlight, and it was quickly realized that American fighter pilots had no means to communicate with one another. There was not a single headset among them. It wasn't until Uncle Sam ordered a bulk of them did Baldwin's brainchild get a chance to stand on two legs.
One of the oldest audio equipment makers, Plantronics, got their start selling headsets to pilots. Back then in the 1960s, they were extremely cumbersome to the point that no one wanted to wear them. It wasn't until a couple of astronauts got together to create a smaller, lightweight version.
But, if you stop to think about it, we're already in the future. It's hard to deny that the recent developments, and future possibilities in virtual reality technology are exciting. With big money from the likes of Facebook and Google now committed to the enterprise, virtual reality is suddenly becoming more than the pipe dream of some indie developer working out of a garage.
While virtual reality headsets mark how far headsets have come, one has to admit that such technologies still has a ways to go. Even despite the advances made since the computer flight simulators of the 1980s, it's likely that a few generations of tech will be necessary to, as they say, "work out all the bugs."
Virtual reality, of course, represents a new kind of headset–a headset with a component that simulates the visual field. The technological development comes at a cost, however: being immersed in such a headset can cause severe motion sickness. It perhaps gives pause to consider that such things were the science-fiction dreams of many who lived not more than fifty or a hundred years ago…though lightsabers are still forthcoming.
What Makes A Gaming Headset, A Gaming Headset?
In technical terms, a headset is a headphone attached to a microphone. Headsets can be a single-earpiece (mono) or a double-earpiece (mono/stereo). In the specific case of computer headsets, there are usually two connection types: 3.5 mm and USB. 3.5 mm. Headsets almost always come with two 3.5 mm connectors: one to the microphone jack of the computer and one to the headphone jack.
The headphones function to convert sound by way of a soundcard, from digital (computer) to analog (headset). USB headsets connect to the computer by way of USB, and so sound conversion occurs in the headphones themselves or in a control unit. Inside the ear cups is where the magic happens. This is where the drivers live, and drivers are to headsets as gasoline is to vehicles. The larger the driver, the better sound will be produced.
Many of the differences between gaming headsets have to deal with comfort, or cosmetics as opposed to function; and anyone looking for in-depth reviews is already past the point of merely looking for a general something to fulfill a general function. They want something specific, that does specific things very well. The point is that the base technology to communicate through video games, to immerse oneself in a virtual experience, and to do so simultaneously with remote players is already here.
Sacrifices That Come With Being On A Budget
There's nothing wrong with being on a budget. Some even say it's the wise approach to take. In the case of gaming headphones, it's better to invest, or else you're going to have to give up some aspects in order to spend less money. The biggest miss-out being, and arguably the most important, sound quality. Unless a headset in dipped in 14k gold, the reason the top-of-the-line contenders cost more than the rest, are because of their superior sound quality, usually.
Yes, there are some lower priced headsets with sound quality that rival brand names, and cost four times less. But I'll bet the material used to produce them is faulty, and unreliable past a few solid uses. Are there other sacrifices are you willing to make for the sake of saving money? Well, are the headphones you want wired, or wireless? Is the headset noise-cancelling, or sound-isolating? Do they offer surround sound? Does it have a microphone? If the answer is yes to all of these questions, the higher the price will be, but in turn, the better quality that headset should be.
The more features a headset offers, the more money they're going to cost. And if you're a gamer, those specs, or lack thereof, can be a game changer, pun intended. The morale of the story is, to truly improve your gaming experience, invest in a great pair of headsets. Cheap is not always better, and this is certainly the case here.