A question often asked on forums and in-game is “What headset should I get”? You’ll get all sorts of answers from players all over the world, mostly telling you to buy THEIR headset. Or, you’ve logged into Twitch and seen your favorite gamer live streaming wearing a headset and naturally, you think that’s the BEST headset. Funny thing is, these are all the wrong reasons to get a gaming headset.
Selection of a gaming headset needs to be based on the following key criteria:
Price – You need to know your budget. There’s no point in looking at $250 gaming headsets when you only have $100. But for your $100, you want to get the best possible headset, so you need to check out quality, unbiased reviews. I can’t stress this enough, as so many people buy headsets based on what they see others using or buying a headset that their friend has, without every knowing the real issues/features.
Frequency Response – The frequency response tells you the range of sound that your drivers (speakers) will deliver and is rated in hertz (Hz). Bass is the lower frequency with the high trebles in the upper end of the frequency. The average human can hear from 20Hz – 20,000Hz, yet the majority can hear beyond this. I’ve been tested and can hear from 14Hz – 27,000Hz and at my age, that’s the hearing capability of an 8 year old (very rare in an adult). As you age, frequencies drop out of your hearing spectrum – Men lose the higher frequencies and women lose the lower frequencies (interesting that men tend to talk deeper and it’s those frequencies that women lose and women talk higher and it’s those frequencies that men lose).
When looking at a gaming headset, it must have a bare-minimum frequency response that matches the human ear, otherwise don’t even bother looking at it.
Materials – All headsets are made of up different, yet similar components and materials. The materials used in a headset
- Drivers are your speakers within the ear cups and for the most part, utilize lightweight magnets to reduce the overall weight of the headset. The last thing you want is a headset that weighs a tonne and slides down your head or gives you a neck ache.
- Memory foam is used for the ear cushions, as well as the headband. Memory foam can either be hard and rigid with little give, or soft and flexible. If you find you have sensitive ears to pressure (squeeze), then you want ear cups that have a softer padding material. The memory foam is then wrapped with material which touches your head and ears and it’s this part that can make or break a headset and this is likely the most inexpensive part overall. Materials such as leather, leatherette (imitation leather), cloth and mesh are all fabrics used. When selecting a headset more care should be made to this material covering than most other components. Can it be wiped clean (leather and leatherette)? Does it soak up sweat and grease (cloth), does it breathe? These are all important questions that only you can answer.
What Headset Do The Pro’s Use?
For the most part, the top players on Twitch or YouTube that are streaming games are playing with high-end gaming headsets that cost between $300 – $500USD. Also (and this is the most important part), they don’t pay anything for these headsets. Why? One word – ADVERTISING.
You logged into Twitch and saw your favorite gamer wearing a headset and wanted to know what it was. You think it’s “the” headset to get – it must be, because he’s wearing it, right? Well, that’s what the manufacturer would like you to believe, so they in turn gift the top gamers and streamers headsets and gaming gear all the time. That way, when people like you see them, you see the headset on every video of them playing. Think of it as page views on a website and you’re page viewing their gaming stream. From a manufacturer’s perspective, they have a 100% completely captive audience. You didn’t accidentally land on Twitch or YouTube and watched their channel – you wanted to see it, you needed to see it, so you clicked on it. You’ve given the manufacturer everything they ever dreamed of and for this very reason, they’ve giving a few headsets to top players to play with and stream with. Are they any better than a headset that costs $100? Not really, for at the $100-$150 price point for a gaming headset, they all should have the most basic of features required for decent sound audio.
Are Wireless Headsets Worth It?
Maybe – maybe not. You’re paying a premium of at least $50-$100 more for the exact same headset, just wireless. At the end of the day, if you go with a premium manufacturer like HyperX, SteelSeries, Corsair, etc. then you can be guaranteed that the drivers will be solid and produce a frequency response that should be the basic industry standard of 20Hz – 20,000Hz. That’s the very basic – a quality headset that costs $100+ USD should exceed this and ideally push the bass to the 10-15Hz range. By doing so, it enables a 3D sound experience where the user feels the bass, along with hearing it.
The next and most significant issue with wireless headsets is battery life. There’s nothing worse than coming home after a hard day and wanting to unwind playing your favorite game, just to find out its batteries are dead. Worse yet is getting a wireless headset that has a useful battery life of 1-2 hours.
I had a choice when looking for my number one trusted gaming headset and although wireless was what I wanted, it came down to battery life. When I want to play a game, I want to play a game and not depend on batteries. Worse yet, I could immersed in a MMORPG taking down a raid boss and bzzzzzzzz goes the headset after an hour or two into the encounter. The thought of having to resort to typing instructions to my team – that’s just not going to cut it. For me, I opted for a quality wired connection for this very reason.
Are BlueTooth Headsets Safe?
Wireless technology works by having both a transmitter and receiver send and receive audio signals between two devices. With gaming headsets, the transmitter consists of a USB device plugged into your computer or gaming console that transmits a signal from 2400 Megahertz (MHz) to 2483.5 MHz. This is the same frequency range as cordless telephones (don’t think cell phones), which means if you go with a wireless headset, the main issue regarding transmission frequency is interference with other devices. The frequency that all wireless devices operate utilize electromagnet radiation which generates these frequencies.
In a 2016 study from the Department of Computer Science, Shah Abdul Latif University, discovered that wireless devices placed within proximity to the body generate ionizing radiation which has a direct link to male infertility, miscarriages, brain tumours, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s, and Leukemia. They found that frequencies that operate between just 4 MHz to 6000 MHz have the ability to penetrate body tissues as deep at 4-6cm and continuous exposure to these frequencies of an hour per day for 10 years will significantly increase your risk of cancer due to manipulation of human DNA.
Where someone places a wireless device (think a cell phone in your pocket, or a headset on your head), directly correlates to the areas of the body being directly affected. In a survey of 300 medical doctors, the depth of penetration from this ionizing radiation can result in effects on a fetus, leading to developmental and physical deformities. The chart below shows the effects of known wireless devices and the correlation of medical issues (you’ll note wireless headphones are on the list).
Gaming Headset Near Me
When looking for a quality gaming headset most people quickly turn to Google and look for a brick and mortar store near them that sells gaming headsets, however, you actually have a few options on where to purchase one, but it gets down to how badly/quickly you need one.
If you must have one within a day or two, then you want to find a retail shop near you like Best Buy, GameStop, or even Walmart. It’s important to know that for the convenience of picking up a headset today, you’ll usually pay a bit more and will likely have less options on what makes and models are available to you for purchase.
Ideally, you don’t want to find yourself in the above situation – If you can wait a couple of days, you can usually find a better deal online through Amazon or the individual headset manufacturers. While the headset manufacturers will have the latest and greatest models, you might find that they no longer carry last year’s models and they rarely put them on sale.
Additionally, Amazon runs promotions all the time, so if you’re patient, you might find a particular manufacturer is on-sale at Amazon, saving you a good 10-15%. Prime members on Amazon have the added bonus of having the item shipped to your house within a day or two at the very most.
If you’ve got the time and you’re researching which gaming headset is best for you, take a look at some of my reviews, so you don’t get stuck picking up a headset that’s either more than what you need, or a lemon in the industry.