We tested 23 mainstream gaming headsets to find the best

SteelSeries Siberia 350

SteelSeries Siberia 350

 Design: closed-back
- Interface: analog or digital
- Audio: 7.5/10
- Microphone clarity: 9/10
- Comfort: 7/10
- Detachable cable: yes
- Extras: DTS sound module, in-line volume/mic control
- Price: $120

Someone at SteelSeries understands headphones. The company’s entire range of Siberia headsets, from the 200 all the way to the 800, sound really good. For the $120 Siberia 350, you get a lot of audio goodness for the money.

Latest prices on SteelSeries Siberia 350

There’s good balance of sound in the whole frequency range. Bass is tight and musical, although the headphones will perform better with a different headband. The headband is auto adjusting and has a tendency to pull upwards, thereby lifting the bottom seal of the ear pads. Sealed properly however, and the Siberia 350 can compete with hi-fi headphones.

Soundstage is good on the 350, even without DTS modes turned on. Like the Turtle Beach Earforce Z60, the Siberia 350 comes with DTS Headphone X, which has different modes for gaming and music. And, like the Z60, you’re better off leaving those modes turned completely off—the soundstage of the Siberia 350 is already well defined.

Tonally, the Siberia 350 is warm, in a good way. The bass, mid-range, and high frequencies work well together to produce a pleasing sound without harshness. In other words, the headset has good depth. Resolution is also good, and I was able to clearly hear all the small nuances in the test tracks.

SteelSeries marks the Siberia as being able to respond to 28kHz. While that may be true, the onboard DAC only supports up to a 48kHz sampling rate, which would put its real world output at 24kHz only, which is the Nyquist cut-off for a 48kHz sampling rate. (The Nyquist theorem states that to reproduce a given frequency, the sample rate must be at least twice that frequency.) While posting big numbers in the specs seems desirable at first, it’d be better if SteelSeries just used the actual frequency response.

SteelSeries Siberia 200

SteelSeries Siberia 200

200 < 350?

- Design: closed-back
- Interface: analog
- Audio: 7/10
- Microphone clarity: 9/10
- Comfort: 4/10
- Detachable cable: yes
- Extras: in-line mic mute switch
- Price: $80

Like the Siberia 350, the 200 also performs well in the audio department. I would say that both have the same sound signature, but the 200 is slightly less detailed on the high-end. That being said, there’s still a good amount of resolution and detail. Both Siberia headsets have a warm tone to them and I find that pleasing. It’s not overly colorful, and the headset performs well in both games and music.

Frequency response

Distortion

Left/right driver balance

Latest prices on SteelSeries Siberia 200

For SteelSeries, this is 2-for-2 already. Both headsets perform well and rank among the best in terms of audio quality. Both the SIberia 200 and 350 are highly recommended if you want a gaming headset that can double as music headphones.

Comfort wise, the Siberia 200 isn’t quite as good as the 350. It’s self adjusting headphone band pulls more and consequently feels tight above the ears. Fortunately, this shouldn’t be a problem on small heads, but my head is on the larger side and it became uncomfortable to wear the Siberia 200 after even just an hour despite it being featherweight.

SteelSeries also uses excellent mics on its headsets and compare well to Turtle Beach's excellent mics, but unfortunately you can't replace the ones on the Siberias.

Corsair Void collection

Corsair Void

They're all virtually the same.

Corsair Void Stereo

- Design: closed-back
- Interface: analog
- Audio: 3/10
- Microphone clarity: 7/10
- Comfort: 7.5/10
- Detachable cable: yes
- Extras: in-line mic mute switch
- Price: $70

Corsair Void RGB USB

- Design: closed-back
- Interface: digital
- Audio: 3/10
- Microphone clarity: 7/10
- Comfort: 7.5/10
- Detachable cable: yes
- Extras: LED lighting
- Price: $100

Corsair Void Surround

- Design: closed-back
- Interface: analog or digital
- Audio: 3/10
- Microphone clarity: 7/10
- Comfort: 7.5/10
- Detachable cable: yes
- Extras: Dolby 7.1 USB adaptor
- Price: $100

Corsair Void RGB Wireless

- Design: closed-back
- Interface: digital
- Audio: 3/10
- Microphone clarity: 7/10
- Comfort: 7.5/10
- Detachable cable: yes
- Extras: wireless
- Price: $130

I’m going to cover Corsair’s entire range of Void headsets in one shot, because they only differ from each other in terms of extra features: wireless or analog, RGB lighting, and simulated surround sound. From a driver and sound perspective, all four units perform the same.

In terms of performance, Corsair’s entire Void lineup is a wash. Music and games sound congested and even muffled most of the time. There’s a complete lack of resolution and detail, and the entire mid-range is unclear. In fact, there are details in tracks that the Voids completely miss out on; I couldn’t  hear them at all on the Voids.

Frequency response

Distortion

Left/right driver balance

Latest prices on Corsair Void Stereo

Latest prices on Corsair Void RGB USB

Latest prices on Corsair Void Surround

Latest prices on Corsair Void RGB Wireless

Bass lacks extension and upper bass sounds distorted and uncontrolled. The distortion in the Void is audible and plays havoc on the entire tonal signature. The Voids are easily the worst performers of this entire lot. 

All four units are comfortable to wear, are constructed well, and seal well. Unfortunately, the comfort doesn’t make up for the awful sound quality. Corsair’s Void lineup needs to be seriously revamped before I recommend anyone look at them.

Creative Labs Sound BlasterX H5

Creative Labs Sound BlasterX H5

I'm still standing....

- Design: closed-back
- Interface: analog
- Audio: 7/10
- Microphone clarity: 5/10
- Comfort: 7.5/10
- Detachable cable: yes
- Extras: in-line volume control and mic mute, detachable mic
- Price: $130

Creative Labs is also a company that’s no stranger to audio, and it shows in the company’s H5 headset. The H5’s design is well constructed, lightweight, and comfortable around the ears with a good seal. But the positives continue.

Latest prices on Creative Labs Sound BlasterX H5

The H5 performs well in audio performance, as one might expect. Sound is clear, balanced, with a slight boost in bass without being boomy. Details are finely resolved and there’s a good amount of resolution. The H5, no doubt, can be used for listening to both music and games. There’s an odd sudden dip at around 80Hz, which can be heard as a small reduction in bass slam, but good overall bass is still present. At no time did music sound fatiguing or shrill, and the H5 does a good job at rendering soundstage thanks to good, but slightly subdued, high frequencies—there’s gradual drop between 100Hz and 2kHz, where the H5 evens out and then climbs up again at 5kHz.

Comfort wise, the H5 is lightweight and has good construction. Its headband is comfortable and the headset clamp is comfortable for many hours of use. The earpads also feel soft and seal around the ears nicely. While the H5 completely covers my ears, some with larger ears may find that the H5 sits somewhere between superaural and circumaural headsets.

I do have one major complaint with Creative Labs’ H-series, and that the packaging they come in is terrible. They’re difficult to open and just a nuisance overall. Please creative, go with a normal box.