The best gaming headsets are the Kingston HyperX Cloud Alpha and the Arctis Pro GameDAC from Steelseries. It's a crowded market, but these two gaming headsets shine through among the rest—for very different reasons.
There's a significant price difference between the two, and that's reflected in their breadths of features. The Arctis Pro GameDAC offers high-res sound and RGB lighting; the Cloud Alpha does not. But ultimately it's the sheer sound quality, dependable construction and comfort levels of the Cloud Alpha that win out overall. It does the fundamentals perfectly, and that's what really matters.
If you do want a little more from your headset though—and particularly if you have a Tidal subscription—the Arctis Pro GameDAC's additional features deserve your attention. Although it interfaces via USB like the Cloud Alpha, the GameDAC itself sits between your headset and PC in the signal chain to handle audio processing and work as a preamp. Of all the high-res audio gaming headsets we've tested so far, this one produces the clearest benefits and highest comfort levels.
In the process of testing each headset, we compare its sound in gaming and musical applications to our trusty reference cans: the BeyerDynamic DT770 (80-Ohm) studio monitors. We certainly haven't abandoned the empirical testing approach, though. We used $50,000 of audio equipment to quantify the differences between a huge range of recent models, and at the earliest opportunity we'll be putting the latest models through that same process.
We recently put more than 60 different headset units through a $50,000 testing setup to produce empirical data we could use to quantify our picks. We'll endeavor to make use of that HATS setup again in future, but we haven't given up on good old-fashioned testing by ear.
Wach headset that we test we use daily for at least a week. We record a sample of our voice in Audacity and compare it to previous recordings from other models, then head to Discord to get some feedback from our friends on how we're sounding.
During that week, we aim to test each headset in a number of different game genres—shooters, battle royales, and racing games make for particularly good testing scenarios, since the former tends to test the low-end and reveal muddiness and distortion, while PUBG et al are great for positional audio tracking. Finally, good racing sims feature a very particular mix designed to help you hear brake lock-up and tyres losing traction. It's often in Project CARS 2 where great headsets are separated from merely good.
It's not just about gaming, though: we wear the headsets while we work, listen to music, watch distracting YouTube videos people send us, and everything else that crops up while we're at our desk. Finally, we compare a few lossless music tracks by listening through our BeyerDynamic DT770s and then the test sample. The 770s have a really flat EQ that makes them great for music production and critical listening applications—hearing another headset immediately after them really brings EQ peaks and dips into focus.
The wired headset market is broader than ever, with super-competitive budget models juking it out at one end and RGB-lit high-res compatible luxury offerings at the other. We test headsets from the full range of the spectrum, although pricing and value for money inform our overall picks considerably.
Roccat Khan Pro AIMO
Fantastic high-res sound from German manufacturer Roccat, but the Khan Pro AIMO is let down just slightly by its prosaic looks and functional construction.
Kingston HyperX Cloud Revolver S
Like our favourite Cloud Alpha, the Cloud Revolver has a lot going for it including comfort and overall sound quality. We prefer the design of the Alpha aesthetically and ergonomically however, and the Revolver S's mic is a bit fiddlier to use.
Logitech G Pro
Its unusual look is quite divisive, but the design's justified by great comfort levels in the long term. Its EQ is weighted slightly too much towards the low end for our tastes, though.
Creative Sound Blaster X H7
Really impressive build quality from Creative, who look to topple HyperX's dominant models in the sub-$100 space with this Sound Blaster X H7. It certainly delivers the goods when it comes to construction materials and ergonomics, but the sound lacks a touch of sparkle in the high mids and highs that you'll hear from the Cloud Alpha.
A truly impressive package for under $60—beefy 50mm drivers, a nice wide stereo spread and the sophisticated and subdued visuals you'd expect from Corsair. While it's a very strong contender for best overall pick, we'd advocate spending slightly more for the Cloud Alpha's elevated sound and comfort levels.
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