What Headset Should I Get?

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.

 

16 thoughts on “What Headset Should I Get?

  • September 7, 2018 at 11:22 am
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    Oh wow! I never knew there were so many options from my “come with iphone ear buds” that I have been using for years! Thanks for all this info. I am hearing impaired in one ear, so a proper headset may be beneficial to me! thanks – this is something I will definitely look in to!

    Reply
  • September 7, 2018 at 2:28 pm
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    Hi!

    Funny enough back when cell phones were first really getting traction in the late 90’s, I refused to buy one for years because I was sure they would cause some kind of health issue like brain tumors. Everyone treated me like I was crazy but sure enough, that study proves my concerns.

    I usually opt for wired headsets and the like for the same practical reason (battery life) but now seeing that study, I’ve got another reason to stay away from them.

    And I agree, when it comes to some things like headsets, there’s a certain range where you get what you pay for like buying a headset around $100 but buying a headset for $300, it’d better give me a neck massage too.

    Thanks for sharing this information!

    Reply
  • September 7, 2018 at 2:33 pm
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    Fantastic article. There is so much you need to learn when buying a headset for gaming. My daughter is a gamer and we want to get her a new set for Christmas. Definitely going to stay away from the bluetooth devices. I showed my daughter your article to show her you don’t have to empty your wallet to get a good headset you just need to know what your looking for. With your very informative article I’m confident I will have no problem.
    Again thank you so much for the great article.
    David

    Reply
  • September 7, 2018 at 4:33 pm
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    I am bookmarking this page for my son, he is the gamer in my household. As a musician, unfortunately, my hearing has suffered but I should get it tested that would be good to know how much it has been affected (I know family members would appreciate knowing!).

    But I am glad to also uncover the potential health risks of not only blue tooth headsets but mobile phones – goodness and we all use them so much – good points to consider.

    I am probably getting different aspects from your article than your intended audience, I found it fascinating in your words ‘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’ maybe that is the key to long-term success in a relationship we can no longer hear each other!

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  • September 7, 2018 at 5:40 pm
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    I’ve always wondered that about bluetooth being safe or not, i didn’t realize how deep it can penetrate the tissues holy cow! Thanks for sharing an informing us

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  • September 7, 2018 at 7:08 pm
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    Great Review! My friend loves everything that has to so with music; making, listening and also singing.
    I wanted to get him a gift and this is perfect. Your review really helped me decide.
    Thanks!

    Reply
  • September 7, 2018 at 7:30 pm
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    Well that is a big eye opener for me and I’m super glad I don’t use a wireless headphone! I use wired but do leave my phone in my pocket all the time. According to your chart, this CAN cause problems down the line and I might have to stop doing this. Thanks for all your help my friend!

    Reply
  • September 7, 2018 at 10:04 pm
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    Great article! I spent many years of my life buried in video games and have gone through my fair share of headsets over the years. I have found that comfort is one of the most important things to make sure you get right when you purchase a headset. An uncomfortable headset will made your head hurt after a certain amount of time. Thanks again

    Reply
  • September 7, 2018 at 10:17 pm
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    Whoa, I don’t think I want a Blue tooth headset anymore, lol. I have a Turtle beach headset now, but its a few years old, and i was thinking of upgrading it. I did not expect a blue tooth headset would cause all of that. I appreciate it You just saved my hearing!

    Reply
  • September 8, 2018 at 2:35 am
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    woohooo I am no gamer but I listen a lot to audio books and live feeds and I had no idea the technology behind a set of what I thought standard head phones. love the details you have shared ! thanks a million.

    Reply
  • September 8, 2018 at 4:59 am
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    Great Info Dave, thank you! It made me realise I actually do need a new head set! I’m going to have a look into it. Regarding the woman losing their lower frequencies and man losing the higher frequencies and man having a lower voice and woman a higher voice, it made me laugh, cause now I know why men and women don’t understand each other, lol!

    Reply
  • September 8, 2018 at 5:21 am
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    Well Dave, you certainly opened a lot of eyes here in this article even for those who aren’t looking for gaming headsets. I never knew wireless devices could cause male infertility, miscarriages, brain tumours, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s, and Leukemia!! That makes me worry a little about using my cell phone as my only phone.
    You have really dug deep in this well written research. Thanks for sharing such “need to know” information. Your thoroughness and honesty in your writing will go a long ways in today’s society. It is hard to find genuine people anymore.
    Well done! I will definitely pass this along to my friends and family.
    Best wishes,
    Devara

    Reply
    • September 8, 2018 at 3:39 pm
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      Glad you found it useful. Keep in mind the recommendation is to not have a electromagnetic device (headset, smartphone, tablet) anywhere near your body for longer than an hour a day. So sitting there with it on your lap? Not good. Putting your phone in your pants pocket? Not good. Having a headset on for multiple hours per day/every day? Not good.

      Reply
  • September 8, 2018 at 6:14 am
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    What an excellent post Dave. I really find it useful and it have given me a criteria that I can follow when buying a new sets of headsets in the future. Keep up the good work man.

    Reply
  • September 8, 2018 at 11:18 am
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    Very interesting article that reveals how safe or dangerous wireless devices and specifically headsets can be and if it worth it compared to wired ones.Battery is also a concern as I am tired to recharge so many devices all the time. Great read!!!

    Reply
  • September 13, 2018 at 11:11 am
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    Wow Dave, thank you for this informative post. It scares me to think of the health risk that comes with wireless devices we are so attached to. My laptop is always on my lap for hours at a time and then there is the headset which I use just as often, had I known this information sooner I would really try to limit the time I spent using these devices. Thank you for your honest review its really been an eye opener.

    Reply

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