Buyers Guide: Headphones

In my experience in dabbling around the audio world, I have realized that there are tons of gamers out there who fall prey to gaming headphones and some marketing strategies (or perhaps flashing RGB lights).

In order to make your next spend a little more worthwhile, we are going to take a look at some respectable headphones and alternatives if you are looking to dive into the crystal clear world of good quality audio.

Image courtesy of HardwareCanucks.

Before we dive into the actual recommendations it needs to be pointed out that although gaming headphones are often cheaper than other headphones, they often offer poor quality audio in both microphone and sound. The difference is summed up quite nicely in the below video courtesy of Dmitry from HardwareCanucks:

Audio is often overlooked when people build their computers but having a good headset can really change the quality of use. Whether you are looking to immerse yourself in a game or relax while watching movies, there will be something for everybody’s price range.

Surround Sound: You may have heard about the amazing 7.1 surround sound gaming headset but in all honesty that’s just another gamer-focused marketing scheme. A good pair of REAL (non-gaming) headsets with only two drivers will offer you a much better experience than any 7.1 shenanigans thrown around. Game engines are extremely advanced now days and all the surround features are game side and not hardware focused.

For comparison sake, we will be looking at Evetech (who offer a wide variety of gaming headsets) while for others we will simply take a look at Amazon.

Open vs. Closed : Closed headphones often have a narrow soundstage but are able to cancel out background noise, which is key when gaming. For the best experience you would be going with Open Back headphones but, for gaming in loud environments (at home or lan), you will want closed.

The budget gaming quality king:

HyperX Cloud Stinger – Probably one of the most refined and audio focused budget headphones on the market. Local stores have yet to really receive stock so it will set you back $73 (including shipping). For anybody not willing to spend over R1,000 for a great gaming headset, this will be the best you can do.

Other headphones such as the Corsair VOID, SteelSeries Siberia 200 and Razer Kraken Pro V2 are on my do-not-recommend list. While the headsets themselves are somewhat decent in terms of build quality, the audio in both mic and in-game sound are extremely mushy and, for the price, are just not good enough.

Simply looking at the budget range is chaotic as the “budget” range for a decent pair is already R1000, which will cause many to feel scared about jumping into the mid range audio world.

The Mid-High end acceptable Gaming Headsets:

These are all acceptable and have good sound qualities, ranging from average to above-average microphone levels. They will still not be the pinnacle of the audio world, but they will definitely sound the best of the gaming headset bunch.

Sennheiser Game One – The flagship in my recommendation headset for gamers who want to have the high-end audio, similar to the Sennheiser 598’s but with a high-quality microphone.

Audio-Technica ATH-PDG1 – The kings of cheap but amazing sound quality headphones, for anybody who wants to experience clear sounds and step into the audio world, this is my go-to favorite.

HyperX Cloud II – Sitting at R1,800 is what I would call my recommendation for anybody who still wants a generic gaming headset. The build quality is great, the sound is above most other gaming headsets and the microphone is audible, which is a bonus.

Logitech G633 Artemis Spectrum – These had to be pointed out as another great pair, currently on special at Amazon for $99 (plus $32 shipping). These are a great overall headset for gamers who still wish to have those flashy LEDs with some decent quality sound.

Audio-Technica ATH-ADG1X – Anybody who wants to spend over R4,000 for “GAMING” orientated headphones probably needs a good audiophile lesson. However, if you have the budget, and only want gaming stuff then this is your go to for high-end audio.

The Self Attached Microphone:

One of the best ways to get into high-end audio is to find yourself an audiophile grade headset, which never come with microphones. Once you pick out a good pair, strap a mod-mic on, which will set you back around R600-700( although you are welcome to use other microphones that you find). and experience a bit of both worlds. Heck, you could even duct-tape a R29 Genius microphone your desk to save a few bucks.

You could grab yourself a pair of Audio Technica M40x and a mod mic for a total of around R2000 (and it will sound over ten times better than all those gaming options that retailers are trying to sell you).

For those willing to dive into the higher end of the audio world, you can comment below and I will give you some suggestions to guide you along your path to hearing a new world (totally not an audiophile cult).

Posted in Gaming, Opinion and tagged , .
  • Craig “CrAiGiSh” Dodd
    • anonymauz

      The Corsaid VOID headset actually came a close 2nd to my top recommendation of the Steelseries Siberia 200 in the top 3 budget options I was comparing for a friend. The Cloud II was a close contender, but ranked lower in terms of actual quality (especially mic quality) than the VOID. Glad to hear from someone who owns the VOID that all is well (Dolby is king!). 🙂

    • Shadow

      Have the wireless H2100 7.1 – Couldn’t ask for more 🙂

  • |_ReTaiNed_|

    Would love to know how he/they tested the various sets? (the author, not dmitry)

    • anonymauz

      I was actually using some of Dmitry’s mic quality sound tests in helping a friend decide to rather go with the Steelseries Siberia 200 over the Kingston Hype(rX) Cloud II. 🙂 Definitely agree, no idea what kickback the author is getting to promote less cost-effective options (Steelseries Siberia 200, V3, V3 Prism all selling cheaper than Kingston HyperX Cloud II – check BidorBuy).

      • |_ReTaiNed_|

        I’m on a set of G633’s atm and I’m very happy, but I had to search my backside off to find actual technical reviews that were conducted with proper audio testing devices in controlled environments. The reason I was wondering is because there are so many useless opinion pieces out. Exactly as you mentioned with “kickbacks” or just plain biased opinions. This article is like a lost fart. I might be a bit hard on him, but surely a quick google would have given us 100’s of other opinions.

        • Im extremely harsh when it comes to gaming headsets and personally you will only know if you test yourself. Everybody has different taste and a different set of ears.

          I even knew somebody who enjoyed the old version of the beats, people like that exist? who knew.

          In the future I hope to get some proper testing equipment and will do a technical only review.

    • I tested multiple sets over the course of LANs and events a while ago. Most of this was going off of memory, but will start doing actual headphone specific reviews if I am able to get some of these in my hands again.

      I wan’t to do some proper technical sounds tests similar to what Z-Reviews does but more gamer focused.


  • Matthew Holliday

    My Siberia V3s have good enough audio and didnt cost me an arm and a leg.
    only downside is that stupid dual mic 3.5 jack…
    “audio enthusiasts” can go suck lemons.

    • anonymauz

      +1 to you, good sir.

      The Siberia 200 and V3 / V3 Prism are currently pricing BELOW the Kingston Hype(rX) Cloud II … and quality, I will place all my bets, hands-down on Steelseries Siberia. No question about it. Absolutely no contest.

      (I’m personally getting Sennheiser GSP 300’s soon; glorious audio quality! Prices slightly closer to 2k but absolutely splendid).

      • Matthew Holliday

        I have both the V3s and the 150s, and i only bought the 150 because it had USB.
        sounds a little less premium, especially when it comes to bass, but the mic quality is actually better than the V3, and for R900, easy choice.

        Whoever, in all these companies, razer, steelseries etc decided these optical mic/audio single jack things, were the right idea, should be shot.

    • I would love to get the V3’s in my hands for a review as they are a great competition to the Clouds and Voids.

  • anonymauz

    No mention of the SteelSeries Siberia headsets? Not even the 200? Disappointed it didn’t feature.. The Kingston Hype(rX) series appears to be more “hype(r)” than performance.

    Sennheiser, yes, absolutely (the GSP 300 / 350 are amazing). The mic quality on Sennheiser is gold vs. the distorted garbage coming through on the HyperX Cloud II -> listen to some audio samples on YouTube where they speak through the mics.

    So…… thanks for trying, but a friend bought the Steelseries Siberia 200 yesterday on my highest recommendation, and I’m buying the Sennheiser GSP 300 by the weekend. #kthxbai

    • Hi, I personally haven’t had a good time when testing the Siberia 200. I was only able to grab a few minutes with it at rAge and personally wasn’t fond of it. I know plenty of people who have it, but the quality for the price just shocks me every time.

      When something like the HyperX Cloud Stinger exists I just can’t recommend it.