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.
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).