You’re walking on a beach, closing in on your designated target. It’s dark. Suddenly, you hear a *SNAP* in the forest behind you. Someone is on your six. You’re able to swing around just in time to stop an ambush from the opposing team, winning the game for the good guys. But, what if you weren’t able to hear that sound of a broken twig? What if you had no audible warning that the enemy was close? The importance of fantastic, high-quality headphones for gaming cannot be overstated. Win/loss ratios all over the world would be heavy skewed towards the latter if we didn’t have access to great, deep, and detailed sound.
But which headphones are right for you? Today, we will explore four different types of headphones, highlighting their features and functions so you can be completely immersed in your next online match.
The original headphones. The grandparent of sound. Wired headphones were born out of the United Kingdom in the late 1800s through a company called Electrophone, which helped customers hear live opera performances from the comfort of their own homes. And yes, it would have taken a lot of wire to connect those headphones to performance locations. Today, wired headphones are still a standard component of everyday carries across the country. But what makes wired headphones great for gaming? First, because they are hooked up right to your PC or console system, they have unlimited battery life. Well, actually, there is no battery. The headphones use their cabling to draw power directly into their electronics. Second, wired headphones have generally been shown to have a more stable connection in comparison to their wireless counterparts, simply by virtue of not being susceptible to common forms of electronic interference. Third, because most wired headphones avoid the challenge of data compression essential to Bluetooth connections, they will have better sound quality overall. For wired headphones, our recommendation is the Sennheiser PC 363D, equipped with 7.1 Dolby surround sound and a high quality voice mic.
Although the first wireless Bluetooth headphone set was shipped just after the turn of the millennium in 2000, the same year as the world’s debut Bluetooth capable cellphone, the first true wireless ear buds only came into being around 2015. Since 2000, however, wireless technology has dramatically improved, to the point where cordless is becoming king. In the gaming world, wireless is also starting to muscle its way into a popular preference towards wired headphones, consistently ranking in top 10 lists of best available sound products. Wireless headphones are comfy, well styled, have dramatically longer battery lives than years prior and can operate at distances far greater than their wired cousins. They have the benefit of having immediate connections over the air, rather than forcing you to take time to untangle cords and find the right plug behind your PC tower. Wireless headphones are extra mobile as well! How many times have we all dropped our controller while trying to do kitchen gymnastics in a fruitless attempt to grab a snack while continuing a conversation with our buddies online. Too many things at once! And of course, as more and more companies start taking out the AUX inputs in their devices, wireless and Bluetooth headsets will be the only way forward, making them a strong decision for future proofing all your listening need. In this family, we highly recommend the SteelSeries Siberia 800, which comes with more than 20 hours of battery life per charge and a lag-free range of up to 40 feet.
Yes, we can pretty much lay all credit for the genius of earbuds with Steve Jobs and Apple. Although they didn’t invent the design, they certainly popularized them, generously moving us away from a decade filled with wrap around the neck headphones. Today, earbuds continue to be one of the largest market segments for headphone sales, both in wired and wireless formats, thanks again to the entry of the Apple AirPods. But why should you consider earbuds for gaming? First and foremost, earbud type headphones are incredibly light. With corded, over-the-ear headphones averaging about half a pound or 10 ounces, wearing them for hours on end can get extremely tiring. This is especially true with some of the more heavy-duty, gaming intended headphones out there. Second, if you’ve ever worn over-the-ear headphones on for a long period of time, you know that your ears can get grossly sweaty, distracting and detracting from your gaming experience. Avoid all of this with a pair of lightweight earbuds. And, of course, you can use your earbuds in a range of other places and activities, thanks to their discrete profile. In this category, we’d recommend the VAVA MOOV 14, which Business Insider called “perfect for playing games,” and Venture Beat argues deliver powerful bass without sacrificing on comfort or affordability.
The last entrant into our headphone competition is the classic over-the-ear style units. These puppies have been extremely popular with noise reducing and cancelling headphone providers, for they allow for the isolation of the ear away from the world around them. Less sound getting in means a better listening experience. And while they may be a bit more clunky than their earbud counterparts, over-the-ear headphones bring features that are hard to match. As mentioned, they are more immersive, ensuring that your ears only hear what’s happening in your game, rather than cars on the street outside, neighbors moving around, or other distractions. Their inclusion of ear cushions also means improved, long term comfort. Over-the-ear headphones’ bigger size also allows for the inclusion of other tech on the inside. They can incorporate much larger batteries, meaning for those of us with wireless versions can game for longer periods without charging. You also have room for more drivers, the secret ingredient for delivering top notch sound. In this category, we’d recommend the Razer ManO’War, equipped with outstanding sound isolation and 50mm drivers.
At the end of the day, headphones are about personal preference and each of us will be different. That’s why it’s important to know how the competition stacks up, their benefits and drawbacks. For gaming especially, the right headphones can be the dividing line between a win and a loss.
What type of gaming headset do you use? Tell us in the comments below!