Can you hear me now?
In the first post in this series I went into detail on what to look for when buying a computer, and the types of computer owners. In this one I’m going to drill down on the different brands of headsets and what all goes into deciding on one. There is a huge amount of choices out there, and it is not always easy to make a final decision on what one best fits your needs. I myself have owned a handful of different brands and can hopefully use that knowledge to help others decide on a brand and model.
A little back story on my troubles when deciding on a headset
Though what I go through is not technically called obsessive compulsive, it feels like it when I’m flipping through browser pages and videos on microphone tests for days. I always have this overly optimistic belief that I will find a headset which grades out as a 10 out of 10 in all the categories I think are most important. These important qualities for me are: microphone quality, speaker quality, battery life, and comfort; in that order. Sadly with nearly every headset they sacrifice one of these for the other. A great microphone is the hardest to find, good battery life is the next hardest, then comfort. With most every major headset brand you are going to have good sound, I haven’t owned or used a true gaming headset with shitty sound in 5 years or so, as long as it is a major brand you shouldn’t have to worry about speaker sound quality.
When it comes to microphones, there is good reason they don’t have to spend much time working on developing their quality. Most online games lower the quality of the microphone so much the starting point does not matter that much. With nearly every headset in my past my final decision came down to what microphone sounded the least shitty. That was until I found my current headset; exceptional microphone, amazing battery life, super comfortable, great speaker sound, and accessible drivers to top it all off. Before I start expressing my love for my latest head appendage, I’ll get into why you need a headset and some of the different brands and their different models, along with what is good about them and what is bad. Again this is just from my personal experience and the experience of those I know enough to trust, and who’s opinion I can trust.
I don’t need a gaming headset, ear buds, external speakers or a normal pair of headphones are perfectly fine
First off, no, just simply no. If you are not able to obtain a gaming headset for whatever reason, that is understandable. That being said, if you think there is no difference between something made for gaming and something handed out for free with a phone or Walkman from the 90s you are simply crazy. Ear buds are good if you are at a gym working out, but not for gaming. External speakers are fine for listening to music at a party. Neither of these are good for gaming, thinking they are is being delusional. Will they work, yes they will work, UT being good for something is completely different than something working. Now I’ve gotten that out of the way, now we can get into actual gaming headsets. If you fall into this category you should not continue reading on, and you should also schedule an appointment at your local hospital to check your brain for tumors.
The major brands, what they are known for and some of their models
This is just my experience, and the experience I have had with talking to others. I am not basing this on any in depth research into manufacturers and their processes. The hope is that this first hand experiences is more helpful than reading some sponsored reviews or company description made to convince you to buy their product, everyone can read those on any product page on their own. All my information comes from what I have owned and what others have owned, nothing more, and my opinions after using and seeing a variety of gaming headsets.
This is probably the most common brand you see all over with prices from super cheap to fairly expensive. I’ve owned 3 of these ranging from stupidly cheap to at the time their best headset.
The thing about Logitech is they are like the McDonalds of gaming headsets. you are not really going to get anything special, even their most expensive headset is nice yes, but it is nothing to write home about. I’ll break down some of their more common choices.
non gaming wired
yeah people still buy these, why I have no clue but it is a thing. One time I had to buy a cheap back up so I got a clear chat, and it is probably the worst piece of crap I’ve ever owned. terrible sound, terrible mic, and it fitted like a giant mutant praying mantis was squeezing my head. If you have to buy something, don’t buy one of these. It isn’t worth the $10 you’ll spend on them, not even close.
H600 & H800
These are actually used by allot of audio gamers, and they are at least better than nothing. That’s pretty much the best you can say about them however. If you are on a really tight budget, but want a wireless headset, then this is your way to go. The H800 is a newer model of the H600 and is slightly better. It has some media controls on the ear cup, and sounds from the speakers tend to not bleed through into the mic as much. Both models have pretty terrible battery life ranging from 4 to 6 hours, and are not very comfortable, being an on ear design. The mic quality is acceptable but not good, and the same can be said for the speakers. They are more just a wireless pair of headphones, not for gaming, because of this you aren’t going to get anything special, just something that works. If you want to finally get something wireless that will work this is your way to go.
The one snafu you might run into is with windows 10 and sometimes with windows 7 and 8 the drivers won’t plug and play. To get the headset to work you need to download the Logitech pairing utility, and it is not accessible. If you have some working vision you can run the program with a magnifier and high contrast, but it is a bit of a pain in the ass. After it is ran you are all set. The only other issue I’ve seen personally and online on forums is with windows 10 sometimes the speakers will show up as a default device, but the mic does not show up in control panel as a device, or it will show up but you cannot set it as default. Most the time this is only a 1 time occurrence, and it can be fixed by uninstalling the drivers in device manager and re-running the pairing utility afterwards. Also don’t get fooled by thinking you can use it with your phone because it is blue tooth. I’ve tried multiple times and so have others, but even after a phone connection the microphone will never work, only the speakers. I’ve owned 3 or 4 of the h600s in the past and still currently have one somewhere, it is a basic travel headset that folds up, but it is nothing special, it is much more worth it to spend some more and get something not blue tooth and better.
H600 on Amazon
H800 on Amazon
The Logitech Gaming series, G930, G430, G933, G433, and g233:
g233 and g433
Though I have not used either of these specifically, they are essentially the same, the main difference being that you will pay $20 more for the g433 to have DTS virtual surround, more color choices, and an extra pair of ear pads. They are both wired and you can expect a standard Logitech microphone. One thing about Logitech, they all have the same sub par mics, they are not bad, they are just utilitarian, they do what they need to and that’s about it. Also with the new Series by Logitech with the models ending in 33 and 30, the Logitech gaming software is completely un accessible, so you can’t perform any of the build in fancy tricks. I’ve listened to allot of reviews and microphone tests on these headsets and the mic is nothing to get excited about, really it is just a microphone, nothing else really to be said.
g233 on Amazon
G433 on Amazon
This is the flag ship of their new 33 line, I also have not owned this but I do own a G930 the previous model. This one is essentially the same as a g433, only it is wireless, which means you will also pay more. again, the Logitech gaming software is not accessible however so you lose allot of function ability sighted owners get with the headset. I cannot tell you much, just that the mic is what you would expect from Logitech, it works but is nothing special. The sound is probably really good, not specifically for audio games but just in general.
G933 on Amazon
Logitech g430 and G930
These are identical headsets, the only difference being that the G430 is wired, and the g930 is wireless. I currently own my second G930, the first broke due to a freak accident that wasn’t the headset’s fault. It is not a headset I use anymore but it is nevertheless something I still hold onto. It’s big and heavy but super comfortable, mic is standard Logitech, but the speaker sound is really good, just Not for audio games. it really sucks allot for gaming, there is a centering issue that is common with the G930 where everything is off center with allot of the headsets, and I got unlucky enough to get one of the messed up ones. It was great for music and movies however with a hardware switch to toggle between surround and stereo. Over all I would not suggest buying it just for the sound as you can get something comparable that is usable with audio games. The g930 also had a big issue with getting disconnected randomly at the worst possible points.
G430 on Amazon?
G930 on Amazon
This headset is actually designed for Play station and XBox, but it works with a PC as well. I have not personally owned it but Amine does and I hear him talking on it constantly on Team Talk. According to Amine, it is a standard reliable headset. It is true wireless, with no sound delay or speaker issues. As with all Logitech mics, the microphone is something that works, but nothing special. It also does have a beep others can hear through your microphone when muting and un muting. The battery life is good with a max of 14 hours, and it is over the ear design like every current gaming headset should be. The one thing worth mentioning is it is not a good headset for a laptop. It has a station you have to both plug into your PC and plug into a wall outlet for power. This would not be beneficial for a laptop user, but for desktop use it is an affordable option.
F540 on Amazon
These headsets are not as common as Logitech but still they have tried making a gaming series to get their foot in the door. This is pure speculation on my part, and pure failure on their part. I don’t have much to say about Plantronics,, I’ve owned 2 of the old 955 which by far had the best headset microphone I have used until my current headset. Hannibal has owned one of their gaming series but prefers a different headset, so I think that just about says it all. They charge allot and it really is not worth what you are getting. Some of their older models don’t even let you charge and use the headset at the same time, a major deal breaker for me. There are allot of better options out there to choose from.
This was actually one of my first attempts at purchasing a decent headset, and for the time I loved it. This was however before I knew there were real options out there that didn’t suck. The comfort was so terrible, it was like a mini over the ear design, but so small that it just awkwardly fit on your ears and mashed them into the side of your head. The microphone, well I still have wet dreams thinking about the mic. To this day it is still the best Headset microphone I’ve ever owned. All the other bad things outweighed the good though, it was so old you couldn’t even charge it while using it and 4 hours was a good charge. so the short of it, if you see this headset somewhere don’t buy it.
Plantronics game com 818
I have not used this headset personally but have spent allot of time talking to Kierra who owns one. The first thing I will say is the microphone is good, as is the case for all Plantronics, but for some reason the mic always sounded muffled. It seems to really not like to pick up higher sounds, and that might of been the reason she always sounded muffled when using it. According to Kierra The only other drawback was the weight of the headset and it causing headaches. The battery life was 9 to 10 hours depending on use, and speaker quality was what someone would expect from any other gaming headset.
818 on Amazon
Plantronics game com 780
Hannibal owns one of these along with his razor kraken. The only thing I really have to say about it is he uses the razor instead. According to him the only time he switches back to the Plantronics is when the surround sound on the razor makes something difficult,, but other than that it is simply a back up headset.
780 on Amazon
I know some people have Plantronics headsets, that is fine, good for all those people. They just aren’t the best product you can get for the money. You are better off getting something better for gaming and that can perform better. my experience with Plantronics is not even bad, it is just a 0, just nothing special to make me want to buy more of their products. In general they do have good mics, but nothing amazing. If the low bar is Logitech they are at least above that, but this is not saying much. Not bad but nothing to get excited about either, but if a microphone is important then they do tend to have mics that are above average.
Let me start out by saying I have not owned a Razor personally, but I’ve done plenty of research on them while shopping around. It also so happens that the blog’s own Hannibal owns a Razor kraken. It is well known that Razor has a reputation of well made and reliable headsets. If you want to spend the money on something that will last and will do everything you ask of it, you can’t really go wrong with Razor. Overall if you want to get a Razor there is no reason not too, I just prefer the Turtle Beach gaming PC series myself. They are a very trusted brand, and used by plenty of pro main stream gamers which says allot for their quality.
As I said above Hannibal owns one of these personally, so I had to pick his brain a bit on his feelings. I even made sure to catch him early in the morning so he was probably sober, well the chance is higher in the morning but nothing is a for sure with him. The first thing I can say is the Microphone is a few notches above a standard headset mic, definitely above Logitech and a bit more clear than most Plantronics I’ve heard. It is still clearly a headset mic with almost no base, but very clear and understandable. Hannibal said the audio quality of the headset is “fantastic”, keeping in mind he also owns a Plantronics, so he has another modern headset to compare it to. This is to be expected with anything Razor though. His is wired so there is no battery life numbers, but the man O’ war is listed as having 14 hour battery life which is pretty damn good.
According to Hannibal the only negative thing, which is not even a fully bad thing, but more something to be expected is that the surround sound is not fully accessible. The parts you need are accessible, but the fancier bits are not. This is fully expected however, whenever buying a headset, or any gaming external, If you base it on accessibility of software for the device you will have a very short list of stuff you can purchase. Again thanks to Hannibal for helping out, any miss information is completely and 100% his fault, anything correct I take full credit for.
Kraken on Amazon
Anyone who plays games of any sort, audio or main stream has heard of Turtle Beach. They are one of the most common brands out there for every gaming platform. I’ve talked to allot of people back in my day who used some of the older Turtle Beaches, even back then I was surprised at how good the microphone quality was on their headsets. I do not know why,, but for the longest time I shied away from buying Turtle Beach, but I finally bought my first one and I don’t think I could ever switch brands now. They are super trusted as one of the largest manufacturers out there, and they are known for putting out solid products used by lots of pro gamers.
Turtle Beach Ear force Stealth 450
So this is my current headset, and I have a love love relationship with it, which so far has not been consummated, but not because of lack of trying. Okay, well no, but this headset really is the best one I’ve owned. Let me just give a run down of the different things I like so much about it. Wireless with no delay and no distortion or other wireless interference. Battery life of at least 13 hours, and this is on the low end, it is very common to get 17 hours plus out of a charge. Sound is amazing, it has 4 presets, bass boost, base and treble boost, natural sound, and vocal boost, each with their own use, though I just leave mine mainly on base and treble boost as it sounds the best to me personally. Microphone that is head and shoulders above most headset mics, it is nothing like a studio mic, but for a headset it is so much better than anything out there on the market. Light weight, It weighs nearly nothing with a mat plastic construction, and the ear cups are over the ear and mesh so they breathe really easy. DTS Surround sound with completely accessible drivers, after they are installed they show up right in your standard control panel settings for the headset. From there you can choose default stereo, game mode surround, movie mode, music mode, or to use super human hearing. Super human hearing takes all the bass out of the headset but it really does amplify every little background noise and allows you to hear everything possible. Oh yeah, and it talks to you via voice to let you know what mode you are on, if it is charging, and when the battery is running low. On top of it the headset has a line-in 3mmm jack to use with your phone or to plug directly into a PC, but surround sound does not work when wired in with 3mm. This also allows you to use it with your PC connected wirelessly and with your phone connected with a 3m jack.
I’ve owned it for about half a year without any issues what so ever. Again I am completely bias, but it is only because I’ve had this for awhile now and it has done everything properly with no issues. If you are someone who thinks wireless is still bad, well simply you are wrong, and I have nothing further to say to you. If you think there is a noticeable delay with wireless vs wired, sorry but our human brains are not developed enough to tell the difference between a wired gaming headset and a wireless one. This is a matter of single digit milliseconds. Overall if you have $80 or so to spend and you need a headset, this is the best bang for your money. However, it can be difficult to find on amazon, it is constantly being listed as out of stock, and because of that sometimes it says discontinued by manufacturer. It is the latest pure PC gaming headset by turtle beach though, so why it would actually be discontinued I do not know.
Stealth450 on Amazon
Turtle Beach 520
This headset is nearly identical to the 450. The only difference is the software drivers and the microphone. The mic is slightly below the 450 in it’s quality, but not far behind. Also it was made for play station so the drivers are a bit different, but it does work on a standard Windows PC, and you can change your DTS surround sound settings from the default headset properties in the control panel, like with the 450. Both the 450 and 520 are completely plug and play, but if you want the surround sound you need to install the actual Turtle Beach drivers. But I can say, even without the surround sound the 50mm speakers are pretty bad ass in both of these headsets.
Stealth520 on Amazon
There are actually allot of different headset brands I didn’t go into much here. steel series and ?Astros probably being the biggest 2 gaming headset brands. I’ve never owned these and also do not know anyone who has, so I don’t know enough to write about them in detail. I have listened to microphone tests and in depth reviews on all of their models however, and with steel they are very bad, with Astros being a bit above that. To make up for the poor mics, they are said to have really good sound, but I cannot tell you from first hand experience. There is always a chance you run into something off brand that actually sounds and works good, but in my experience it is not worth the money spent. I’ve heard allot of people talk about how great this or that headset is, but when listening to mic tests on them, either these people are high, or they simply are special. Overall it is all about what you want in your headset, and how much price, mic, speakers, fit, battery life, and accessibility weighs in your decision. It would of been pointless to cover these in this post not having or knowing anyone with experiences using them. The only information I would of been able to give was copying product pages or previous reviews which anyone can look up on their own.
Steel Series on Amazon
Astro on Amazon
The most important thing is to get yourself a damn headset. Even if it is something cheap like a h800, or something a little more high end like a turtle Beach or Razor, it is well worth it. The gaming experience just is not the same without a real gaming headset. If you can’t afford it whatever, but if you think it isn’t worth the money spent you are just simply wrong, there is no argument. If you think so you can post in the comments but I cannot even formulate an argument as to why. I started with ear buds, but after about 1 week I realized this shit ain’t gonna last and bought my first gaming headset. Since then I have not looked back, and now I cannot imagine a day without my turtle beaches. If you are on the fence get off it before you split your balls, and come down on the side of good. Go get a headset.
The next post will be on keyboards, the most important thing after a headset, something that can actually make you better at a game while increasing your gaming experience.