focused multiplayer recreations like Fortnite, which require clear voice correspondence and positional sound, and the ascent of the Nintendo Switch, which has average inside speakers, have supported the computer game headset showcase. In any case, the sheer assortment of choices can be scary. We’re here to help.First, a note about my determination criteria. The objective was to locate the best earphones to coordinate the novel capacities of every stage. For the present age comforts from Sony and Microsoft, the objective was to locate a remote arrangement that matched well with the frameworks’ remote controllers. For Switch, I distinguished headsets good with that stage’s special versatile application based visit highlights. On PC, I chosen for the current year to concentrate consideration on the new type of advanced to-simple converters.
1 KINGSTON HYPERX CLOUD ALPHA
Sennheiser’s GSX 1000, on the other hand, has more in common with audiophile-grade preamps than it does with anything in the gaming space that’s come before. The closest approximation is a dedicated internal sound card, but those require you to crack open the case of your computer and aren’t compatible with modern gaming laptops. The bottom line is that you can connect virtually any pair of headphones to the GSX 1000, and experience high-quality 7.1 surround sound on your Mac or Windows PC.
Of all the headsets I tested, the GSX 1000 provided the very best listening experience on the PC. Even compared to the runner-up, which also uses a dedicated DAC, the difference is night and day.
The sound stage presented in Battlefield 5, for instance, is deeper, richer and wider than what I thought was possible. Sennheiser’s virtual 7.1 mix and EA DICE’s own, custom 3D binaural audio mix for headphones both sound incredible. But it’s not just AAA games that benefit from the capabilities of the GSX 1000. The soon-to-be-released indie platformer Gris, with its stirring soundtrack from composer Marco Albano, sounds like a million bucks in stereo.
The other benefit of the GSX 1000 is that it removes the need to regularly wade into your computer’s dedicated sound settings. Once you set it up, the included OLED touchscreen provides access to all the options that you need. It’s also motion-sensing, with a built-in dimmer that responds when you hover your finger over the control surface. The four LED lights at the corners aren’t for show. Each one is a hotkey for a different custom programmable preset. It also includes a 3.5 mm output, so you can easily toggle between a headset and a pair of stereo speakers.
The GSX 1000 isn’t perfect. It could use a proper equalizer, rather than the presets it comes with. Many users have complained in online forums that it compresses microphone audio a bit more than they would like, while others bemoan that it simply isn’t powerful enough to drive audiophile-grade nongaming headphones. But as far as the depth and richness of the sound and the acuity of the positional audio, I haven’t found anything in the gaming space that even comes close.
Paired with the virtually bulletproof and obscenely comfortable Kingston HyperX Cloud Alphas, which are known for their lack of distortion at higher volumes, you can’t go wrong.
2 STEELSERIES ARCTIS PRO + GAMEDAC
The SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC features virtually the exact same headset as the wireless option included as my pick for the best PS4 headset above, with one exception. This $249.99 kit includes a stand-alone DAC.
As described above, a dedicated DAC does the heavy lifting of converting your computer’s ones and zeros into an analog signal, taking some of the strain off your CPU and adding richness to the audio. But the GameDAC is special. It’s the first ever dedicated gaming DAC to support high-definition audio, defined as 96 kHz, 24-bit sound. That allows you to listen to better than CD-quality audio in games that support it, like Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus.
The GameDAC goes a step further by including the ESS Sabre 9018 chip in its design, a much sought-after piece of tech among audiophiles. I’m not a huge music fan myself, but if that’s something you’re into, then the GameDAC should be at the top of your list.
As far as sound quality, the Arctis Pro + GameDAC provide excellent positional audio for gaming. My only complaint is that the cables feel a little cheap. They could also be a heck of a lot longer. Here’s hoping that gets improved in the next iteration but, for now, it’s a small compromise for such excellent sound quality.
3 PLANTRONICS RIG 800LX
The Plantronics Rig 800LX remains our top pick this year for the Xbox One. We already showered the Plantronics Rig 800HS for the PS4 with praise above, thanks to its expansive sound and long battery life. The deal is even sweeter on Xbox One, since this model comes with a free code to unlock Dolby Atmos, a defining audio feature of Microsoft’s console.
In fact, the Xbox One is the only console that supports Dolby Atmos, which takes the traditional 5.1 and 7.1 audio formats and adds a height layer. Now, instead of hearing other players to your left or right, you can actually tell if they’re above or below you as well. It’s effective in games like Overwatch, but the list of compatible games is very limited.
The Rig 800LX is always ready to go. The battery lasts an extraordinarily long time: In the past month I’ve only had to charge mine up once. What’s more, it tends to hold that charge much better than the other headsets I’ve tested. I put the Rig 800LX aside for several months over the summer, and was astounded to find that when I fired it back up, it was still fully charged. It’s a remarkable feat for a device that is so small and so incredibly light.
One drawback with the Rig 800LX, as I mentioned with the Rig 800HS above, is its durability. Instead of a traditional sliding mechanism to adjust the fit, this one’s a little more fiddly; it involves taking it apart and putting it all back together again. You could easily shred the cables and destroy it. But if you take your time and read the instructions, you should be good to go.
The Rig 800LX is compatible with the Xbox One, Xbox One S and Xbox One X, and requires only a single USB connection. In fact, it’s the exact same model that we reviewed last year. In the interim, Plantronics has focused its attention on a series of new wired solutions, which are also excellent devices by any measure. But if your controller is wireless, why shouldn’t your headphones be as well? Here’s hoping Plantronics dedicates more resources to the wireless side of the house, and that the 800LX and 800HS both get a refresh for next year.
The Rig attaches to the Xbox One via a matchbook-sized dongle. As a bonus for dual-console households, the headset that comes with the Rig 800LX is also compatible with the dongle from the Rig 800HS that Plantronics makes for the PS4. So, if you want to pick up both, you can platoon your two pairs of headphones between both consoles.