Kotaku Gift Guide: Gaming Headsets [Update]

Gaming headsets are funny. You could almost literally spend all the money you have on a pair, just for slightly better audio. You could totally do that. You could also spend less for a slightly inferior sound experience and your eardrums would still be caressed, and made love to, by delightful soundwaves. So yeah, it's a tricky business headphones.

At one point in my life I was pretty obsessed by sound and getting levels correct, etc, but now I care a little bit less. So I was quite intimidated by the task of selecting some suggestions for a gaming headset buyers guide.

These are just some of my suggestions. If you think I'm deaf/dumb/stupid feel free to suggest better alternatives in the comments below!

UPDATE: Looks like I made a boo boo. I meant the Turtle Beach Ear Force X-11s, not the PX5s. I've updated the story. My mistake, sorry to everyone affected!

Going A Little Bit Cheaper

Turtle Beach do some pretty good headsets, particularly when it comes to the more niche console headset market. Some aren't fans of the brand, but for a cheapish, high quality experience I think the Turtle Beach Ear Force X11 is a worth while purchase. You should be able to pick up a pair online for around $100.

Cranking It Up A Notch

Logitech are a good mid-range brand. Of course Logitech do super expensive headsets, and cheap alternatives, but the Logitech G930 is a great mid-range headset for those looking at a headset under $200. There are also a bunch of Sennheisers that do the job in this department also such as the PC350 or the HD558 if you're willing to go up to $250.

Money To Burn

You have an indiscriminate pile of disposable cash in your trousers pockets. What headset do you go for? Well, as mentioned in the intro, you can spend as much money as you want on a headset, but if you're going to outlay all that cash, you want to be buying a reliable product — you want to play it safe. This is the reason why, for our premium selection, I'm going to suggest the Astro A40s. Typically they'll set you back $360, but they are a trusted model from a trusted brand. If you feel like spending a lot of money on headset, the Astro A40s are a safe bet.

What say you? Have I got it completely wrong? Any other headset suggestions?


    I've been looking at the Corsair Vengeance series, newly released, the 1300 and 1500 look awesome, definitely think I'll pick up a pair around Christmas!

    i bought turtle beach earforce px21 for 60 dollars earlier in the year, no a bad headset, served me well and I use it everyday.

    This is what i am talking about. Gaming headsets are a ripoff AD700+Clip on mic is the best you can get perfect sound direction and feels like a feather.
    For $150

    Gaming headsets are a gimick

      Ive jsut got concerns about the clip-on bit: wouldnt your voice waver as the mic moves about? And pick up when it brushes up against your clothes? As I've also heard the same about this combo, just I know how annoying it is when people are on wired phone headsets and their voice keeps fading in and out and generally all over the place

      Also have the AD700 + Clip-on mic. Was great until the mic broke after a year and a half, so I replaced it with the Logitech Desktop USB mic.

      The AD700's are BY FAR some of the most comfortable headphones I've ever had the pleasure of using, and their sound quality is just as enjoyable!

      reporting in!
      mater race

      Just joining in the Audio Technica + clip-on mic love. Got my self a set of A900's a while back, and like the 700's, they blow away any of the "gaming/surround sound" headphones in both sound, quality and weight (despite being freaking huge, they're featherweight).

        Don't normally reply here but 2 friends recommended me the AD700s, bought them and a logitech desktop mic and i've never been happier.

    PX5's for $100? Where?

      My exact thoughts!

      I am currently looking at the PX5's and even online (eg. Amazon) they still come in around the $250 mark. Even on ebay they sit around the $250 mark when shipping is factored in They retail here in AU for $298 minimum. So Mark, please tell me where in cyberspace I can get these for $100!

        Already have a pair, I mainly use then for gaming, and watching movies/tv shows while others are asleep. Apart from the fact that I must sound like a giggling retard when other people can't hear what I'm laughing at, they are super comfy and have fantastic sound.

        Also the dual bluetooth pairing is awesome, as I can stream my iPhone through them, and answer phonecalls while still playing a game.

          Yeah, the Bluetooth feature does sound appealing. Did you find the set-up reasonably painless? Also, do you have it hooked up to a PS3 or Xbox?

            I'm aware your comment wasn't aimed at me, but I hope my two cents can be of value anyway. Set up was easy, but I use a Mac and the software used to make custom presets isn't available for my OS. The defaults do fine though and I think the sound quality is acceptable.

            I do have a couple of complaints however; with bluetooth on they chew through batteries. Quickly enough to make me go out and buy a rechargeable set. I feel the battery should have been built in and rechargeable.
            I've also had the sound distort more than a few times (in the form of crackling). I'm certain it wasn't interference and it's only been on sounds that were probably louder than i needed them anyway.

            Back on the bluetooth note, I stream music to them from my phone sometimes, not out and about, but if i'm at home and can't use the speakers. They play this role so well, I find them almost worth the money on that front alone.

            Good luck!

              Thank you Michael. Most insightful of you.

            ^ I use ps3, fyi

    I recently went through a fair amount of drama trying to get a new pair of headphones for my laptop.

    I originally had some Microsoft LiveChat MX 3000s. Good, serviceable but not the best quality. When they died on me, I thought I'd try upgrading to a pair of Razer Banshees.

    That was a terrible mistake. The microphone would produce loud static (even when I removed the microphone) and the voice quality was shaky at best.

    They went back and were replaced with some Plantronics 777. When plugged into my PC with the speaker/microphone cables, they were just dandy. When plugged in to anything using the USB cord (it was a little card that enabled '7.1" sound) the microphone quality would quickly deteriorate.

    Considering that it effectively didn't work through USB and the main device I was using them on was USB only, this wouldn't do.

    Back to the store they went.

    I replaced them with another set of Microsoft LiveChat 3000s.

    Of course, we're talking about actual gaming headsets and not just something to plug into the laptop so you can be on TeamSpeak or watch stuff without the rest of the house hearing but it is important to make sure that huge defects like this aren't common with the headset you're buying.

      I've had MX3000's for years. They're fantastic, and the Dick Smith at which I used to work has a 12month replacement warranty for them, so if they wore out (happened to the first pair), I got them swapped for a new pair.

    FACE PALM!!! You guys never learn do you.
    PX5s for $100.On what planet, even in the US which is obviously where this article comes from they are still $220 on Amazon; and similar on a bunch of US web sellers.

    If you are just going to recycle the US articles, at least put a comment that it is, and the prices claimed represent that.

      No, I wrote this. It was a mistake. It must have been another pair of Turtle Beach headsets. Currently checking.

    Considering on amazon the PX5 is $212 I doubt you will ever find one in the $100 region, where did you get that figure from?

    I have Astros and they're amazing.

      Also, they will not set you back 350 dollars. I paid 250 dollars for the headset and Mixamp bundle, and 50 dollars for shipping. That means about 250 all up if you don't want the Mixamp.

      If I was a console gamer, I'd totally buy a set of the Astros to replace my Tritton AX-Pros. Only because I have a rather large head and the Trittons squeeze my head enough to give me a headache.

      Also, I'm thinking he's including the Mixamp, as thats one of the best parts of the Astros.

    So get the ASUS ROG Vulcan ANC headset, 150AUD and a great product.

    Stop whining btw!

    I recently picked up the Sony Wireless Stereo Headset for $99 from Ozgameshop. I was tossing between the px5's and these but chose them purely from a bang-for-buck perspective.

    Firstly, they look rediculous when on but i'm not planning on going out into public with them on so thats not a problem. The sound quality is reasonable and the Virtual 7.1 is reasonable too, quite comparable to the dolby virtual 7.1 which I have on the g35's. Overall, $100 for a wireless comfy headset, with virtual 7.1 and charges via usb? bargain.

    I own the Turtle Beach X41's. Love them. Though I only get 2 or 3 days of BF3 in before the batteries need replacing - usually mid game. Going to upgrade to the new, fully wireless, XP500's as soon as I can find a way to break my old ones and make it look like an accident.

      Play some Dark Souls it will all come naturally

    currently got a pair of Turtle Beach Ear Force X11 and they are great, although, I do have 2 xbox360's, that'll be for my Elite model and getting a pair of X12's for my Halo Reach console for $75 @ GameTraders Blacktown. Turtle Beach make some great console headsets for the price! can highly recommend them!

    Most of my headphones have been Sennheisers and never had an experience that has let me down yet. I've found Sonys tend to fall apart under even a little bit of abuse so I'd advise against them if your not the most careful person around.

    I use to have the X95 Gamecons they worked great except everytime the battery was low it would screech static in my ear, I'm using those MW3 XP500's ATM.

    I can't remember which turtle beach models came with my copy of dead island, or what they cost in the real world, but I've been very happy with them since I received them and are very useful for midnight game sessions when people are trying to sleep.
    No static and only uncomfortable when wearing glasses, but that's kind of inevitable with headphones.

      you would have the X12's then, can't wait to get my pair!

    I've got a plantronics gamecom 367 headset. It's pretty good, and it only costs ~$40.

    I have a set of wireless Sennheiser headphones that I got as a present about 8 years ago, and have never once had a problem with them. Pro-tip: If you're getting wireless headphones, make sure they have a charging dock (haven't needed to replace the batteries in these once).

    I also recently got gifted a set of Gamecom 777's from work for 'testing' purposes, which have replaced my Senns in my gaming setup. They're not quite as comfortable as the old ones, and the cables are annoying (going from wireless to wired takes some adjustments - walking off with them still on my head is no longer an option :P). That being said tho, for my upcomming travelling needs, they're a lot more portable then the wireless ones are.

    ALL of those cost more than any of my current-gen consoles!

    I have a set of Turtle Beach wireless headphones for Xbox 360. The sound is great, but I have a lot of problems with the mic and voice chat, it's really echoey and drops out a lot... went back to my old 360 headset and no more echos or problems. Any ideas?

    Also vouch for the Plantronic 777 headset, available for bugger all from any number of online retailers. Solid 5.1 pretend sound from 2 channel sources for FPS/Racing, and decent stereo sound also (though they're awful for pure music though). Mic works a treat too.

    Where to buy astros in australia?
    Only online?

    For console gaming, I'd go the Astro Mixamp + Audio Technica ATH-AD700. I also use this for my PC but there might be better options.

    Do you guys realise that every time you publish a shitty article like this, that your creditability gets hurt?

      I think our 'creditability' [sic] will be just fine.

      Updated the story.

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