Having proper headsets may not mean much for casual gamers, but if you’re committed to the cause, they’re a must-have accessory.
Gaming headsets help to create the immersive experience that we all love by adding a sense of realism to a game that the speakers on a PC or TV simply can’t achieve. They also give you the opportunity to interact, strategize and talk smack with other players online.
However, as with all consumer products, not all headsets are great. Without the right approach, you may end up wasting your money on a pair that won’t do you any good. The key to shopping for a gaming headset is to determine what you want in your headset and then match a product to these needs.
Below are some questions you should answer before buying a gaming headset.
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1. Will the headset be compatible with your gaming system?
There is no point to buying a gaming headset if it’s incompatible with the platform you will be using. Before reaching for your wallet, check whether your intended pair will work on your gaming machine, be it a Windows PC, Mac, PlayStation, or Xbox.
The more expensive headsets are typically designed for multi-platform use, which is great because you won’t need to buy a second pair when you decide to shift from one system to another.
2. Is the headset comfortable enough for long-hour gaming?
Many headsets, especially in the under $100 price range, will be dreadfully uncomfortable to wear for even a few minutes.
Because you’ll be plowing through your favorite games for hours on end, you will want to find a headset that feels pleasant and stress-free when on your head. Things like tight squeezes on the ears, a terrible fit, and poor sound are just not acceptable.
The easiest way to know if a headset will be comfortable for gaming is to check reviews online. Important factors of a comfortable headset include soft and thick padding, sizeable ear-cups, a flexible headband and weight.
3. Is the headset durable?
Gaming won’t be too rough on your headsets, but you still want to get a pair that will last a while. Remember, gaming is an ongoing activity, that can’t afford the interruptions inflicted by something like a faulty headset.
The price of a headset is often a fair representation of its durability, but you should also read reviews online. A good quality pair from a reputable manufacturer will be made of rigid materials, complete with reinforced joints and thick cables. On the other hand, cheap gaming headsets are usually flimsy and easy to break, with tiny screws and delicate plastic.
4. How good is the sound quality?
Competitive and home gaming heavily relies on being able to pick up on interactive in-game sounds and react as quickly as possible. It, therefore, goes without saying that the headset you choose must be able to offer high-quality sound.
While it’s easy to distinguish between good and bad sound, gamers tend to have different preferences, which mostly depend on the games they play. If you’re a fan of first-person shooter titles, for example, you’ll probably want a headset that can deliver powerful bass to bring to life sounds of gunfire and explosions.
Some high-end gaming headsets offer surround sound by placing several small speakers in the ears instead of just one. If the games you intend to play will require a great sense of awareness, then surround system will be very useful.
Another handy feature to look for is noise cancellation. Some gaming headsets will use the external microphone to cancel any background noise, allowing you to play away regardless of the chaos going on around you.
5. Wait, what about the microphone?
The gaming headset you buy must come with a microphone. Playing online is a huge aspect of gaming nowadays, and it’s crucial that your headset gives you the ability to communicate with other gamers.
Check online to see if any user reviews for the headset you intend to buy have mentioned the microphone. A good mic will be able to distinguish between your voice and background noise so that your online friends won’t hear an open mic when you’re not talking.
6. Wired or wireless?
Few gamers would buy a wired headset when they have the option of going wireless. However, although this question is a no-brainer, wireless isn’t always as full-proof as you may think.
Because a wireless headset connects to a gaming platform via Bluetooth and wireless networks, there will always be a small possibility of interference.
Nevertheless, the convenience of never having to deal with cables cannot be understated. If you’re a VR gamer, for instance, the last thing you need is another set of cables to lug around.
7. How much should you spend on a gaming headset?
The price structure of gaming headsets is remarkably wide. If you’ve just spent top-dollar on a high-end gaming PC, don’t sweat. You could get a decent headset for under $100. Just be sure to do as much research as possible to find the best headset in your price range.
However, the price tag will, in most cases, give you an indication of the level of quality to expect. Investing hundreds of dollars in a gaming headset may seem a little ludicrous, but you will very likely be getting a comfortable, high-quality headset that will stand the test of time.
It’s really no different than dropping a bunch of money on a great PS4 gaming chair that’ll keep you comfortable for several hours while you game.
Serious gamers always take pride in having the hardware and software necessary for a great gaming experience, and this includes quality headsets. Let the tips above be your guide to picking up a gaming headset that will be perfect for your needs.
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