With one of the best gaming headsets for the PS4 or Xbox One attached to your cranium, you can experience a whole new level of immersive audio: it's not quite the same as a huge surround system and a floor-shaking subwoofer, but it's getting there.
If you want top-quality, satisfying audio for your gaming but you don't want to wake the neighbors, then a headset is a must. These devices, unlike mere headphones, let you communicate with others across multi-player games – especially useful on consoles, where a mouse and keyboard aren't available for communication.
When shopping for the top gaming headsets, look for a premium level of sound quality when it comes to both listening and speaking: there's no point in talking to your team members if no one can understand what you’re saying anyway.
Also keep in mind that while the PS4 includes a headset (unlike the Xbox One), it really only offers the bare minimum, and the sound quality isn’t quite up to par with the headsets we'll cover in this buyer's guide. What's more, for a little extra cash, you can get features like wireless operation and noise cancellation too.
Best gaming headset: what to look for
When buying a headset, you've got a few factors to consider, like: what types of games do you play? If, say, you're predominantly a fan of massively multiplayer online games, comfort should be your number one priority as you'll typically be wearing your headset for long periods. In such a situation a wireless headset, with finite battery life, isn't so suitable.
Meanwhile, if you're a serious fast-twitch ninja with pro-gaming aspirations, you could gain an edge with a high-end, surround sound headset – able to, for example, enhance the noise made by the footsteps of approaching rival players.
Your playing environment is important, too: if you want to remain aware of what's going around you while you're playing, opt for an open-backed gaming headset. If you like to play co-operatively in a noisy environment, on the other hand, a headset with a noise-canceling microphone is a must.
To help you select the best gaming headset for PS4 or Xbox One, we’ve compiled this guide spanning the very best wireless, wired, high-end and budget examples currently on sale. Since it focuses on console rather than PC games, we've presumed that you're more likely to use your headset for playing mainstream co-operative and competitive action games, rather than massively multiplayer games.
It's also worth bearing in mind that both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have design quirks which can complicate the process of setting up gaming headsets to work with them. The Xbox One forces you to connect a gaming headset to its controller, and the older Xbox One controllers, annoyingly, don't have 3.5mm headphone jacks, forcing you to buy an extra Stereo Headset Adapter (which the headset manufacturers rarely bundle with their products).
On the PS4, headsets can initially sound quiet, as the headset output level is set to half its full amount by default, which necessitates delving around in its system settings.
Once you get any of the following gaming headsets set up to your satisfaction though, you'll find they're great pieces of kit which also make great headphones for listening to music on the go, or TV and movies when you don’t want to disturb other members of your household.
Best overall PlayStation 4 headset
HyperX Cloud Revolver S
Fantastic performance at a reasonable price
HyperX has developed a sizeable following among the pro-gaming community over the years. Its newest headset, the Cloud Revolver S, adds Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound to the blueprint offered by the hugely popular Cloud Revolver, without requiring you to take out a second mortgage.
Quite simply, the Cloud Revolver S sounds astonishingly good, especially at the price. You will marvel in particular at the dynamics of its sound: deep, rumbling bass and crisp, never shrieky treble that lets you hear every sound effect and totally immerses you in the ambience created by in-game music.
It's pretty well made, comfortable and classily finished, and Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound is the cherry on top, allowing you to pinpoint incoming enemies in first-person shooters – particularly if you explore the preset equalisation modes into which pro-gamers had lots of input. A truly high-end-sounding headset at a mid-range price.
Best overall Xbox One headset
Turtle Beach Elite Pro with Tactical Audio Adapter
Built like a tank with sound to match
Turtle Beach is the longest established specialist gaming headset manufacturer, and it has a fanatical following among pro-gamers – and when you unbox its top-of-the-range Elite Pro, you can see why. It simply oozes no-expense-spared design, and sports all manner of neat touches born from decades of pro-gaming experience.
But more importantly than that, it sounds spectacular, with huge bass and crystal-clear treble adding up to a sound which will allow you to get deeply immersed into whatever game you're playing. Comfort-wise, it's exemplary, with big, thick earpads that eliminate all ambient noise, and can be easily adjusted to fit all head-sizes. A neat feature lets you add spacing to the earpads to accommodate a pair of glasses.
On an Xbox One, we'd recommend teaming it up with piece of kit called the Tactical Audio Adapter, which clips into the Xbox One controller and operates as an amplifier, adding some of the extra sound-control features which come in a separate graphic equaliser-style box called the Tactical Audio Controller (which is pricey but adds Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound).
Those features include Turtle Beach’s Superhuman Hearing, which enhances the sound of incoming players' footsteps and is great for hardcore first-person shooter fans, and Dynamic Chat Boost, which keeps chat-levels audible even when background noise rises. Plus, it lets you independently adjust game and chat volumes.
Add tank-like build-quality to the equation and you have a headset which has become something of a status symbol for those who take their gaming seriously.
Best wireless Xbox One headset
A wireless headset without the compromises
LucidSound is a newcomer to the world of gaming headsets, but it has certainly made a splash – that's thanks mainly to its LS40 headset, which has a specification to die for, and build-quality and audio fidelity to match. It looks great too: the LS40 is so well finished, with plenty of red stitching, that you would happily wear it in public.
Wireless headsets often suffer from sound-quality which is inferior to that of wired headsets, but the LS40 has no such problems, with a big, bold sound which should satisfy any gamer. Its wireless seems unburstable, too. What's more, it boasts DTS Headphone: X 7.1 surround-sound that offers startlingly precise pinpointing of incoming sounds – a big advantage if you’re a hardcore gamer.
Comfort-wise it's spot-on too, and a USB wireless dongle makes it as easy to set up as any wireless headset (inevitably a trickier process than for a wired headset). The 15-hour battery life is as good as you will find, though its chat and overall volume controls, hidden in each earcup, do take a bit of getting used to. As with all wireless headsets, you still have to attach one wire to your Xbox One controller, but we think the LucidSound LS40 is the headset that pretty much has it all.
Best PlayStation 4 headset for audio quality
SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC
The SteelSeries Arctis Pro is one of the best-sounding headsets you can buy. As such, it's doubly worth considering if you use your PlayStation 4 to watch films and listen to music as well as play games.
Clarity and audio balance are much better than most of the other sets here. Both the Arctic Pro Wireless and GameDAC versions will work with a PlayStation 4 console, but the vanilla wired version is just for PC – so make sure you pick the right set before buying.
The GameDAC model has an outboard box with top quality Hi-Res audio converters. It needs to be wired in though, so this may not be the best choice if you play 3-4m away from your PS4. The wireless version may be a better choice.
All versions have LEDs around the cups. It may be made for audio perfectionists, but it's still a gamer headset.
Read the full review: SteelSeries Arctis Pro
Best wireless PlayStation 4 headset
PlayStation Platinum Wireless Headset
Easy to set up with an excellent sound
It might not look like much, but the PlayStation Platinum Wireless is a really solid headset with an exceptional level of audio quality.
As well as being ludicrously simple to set up, the headset sounds great and is comfortable to wear to boot.
The sound quality is balanced, offering a decent mix of low and high frequencies, and people on the other end of the line reported that its microphone delivered a decent level of audio quality.
Our one reservation is regarding the headset's "3D Audio", which fell down slightly compared to what's offered by the competition; but this is made up for the headset's very reasonable price tag.
Read the full review: PlayStation Platinum Wireless headset
Best budget PlayStation 4 headset
Turtle Beach EarForce PX24
A budget price for acceptable compromises
Being strapped for cash doesn’t necessarily mean having to settle for an inferior gaming headset, and Turtle Beach’s EarForce PX24 does a pretty decent job of embarrassing plenty of its more expensive rivals. Sure, it makes more extensive use of plastic than headsets which are twice the price, but it still looks and feels sufficiently robust, and its overall lightness renders it pretty comfortable for prolonged use.
And in the areas that really matter – sound and configurability – the Ear Force PX24 is way better than it has any right to be at the price. While it doesn’t have the bass extension you'll find in a more premium headset, and its treble is a bit dry in comparison with other options at this price level, it still sounds remarkably good – and thanks to an amplifier which clips between the headset and the PS4 controller, you can boost the bass, engage Superhuman Hearing mode for first-person shooters, and even fiddle around with a virtual surround sound effect.
Finding such features, and very decent sound indeed, is a revelation for such a cheap headset. You could quibble about the EarForce PX24's slightly plasticky overall finish, but in our opinion, that's a small price to pay for a great headset at a decent cost.
Best budget Xbox One headset
A budget headset that really doesn't look it
The old stereotype about gamers being geeky, style-blind types is hopelessly outdated now that gaming has fully entered the mainstream, and LucidSound’s LS20 gaming headset is squarely aimed at the style-conscious. It looks fabulous, with a sleek design reminiscent of Beats headphones (although with much better sound at a fraction of the price), and has also been designed for use as a general on-the-go headphone – it comes with a rubber cover for the boom mic-socket.
Sound-wise, it's great for the price, with clear, well-balanced characteristics across the frequency spectrum, and a bass-boost should you require it. The reason why it punches above its weight in terms of sound-quality is that it contains an amplifier of its own – the downside of that is that even though it’s a wired headset, you still have to charge it, and (unsurprisingly given the price) it doesn’t come with a charging cradle. But battery life is an impressive 20 hours, and it still works (albeit with inferior sonic characteristics) when the battery runs out.
If you’re a keen gamer without any pro-gaming aspirations, and seek a gaming headset which will also function as an excellent iPod or phone set of headphones, LucidSound’s LS20 will do the trick with aplomb.
- Converting to PC gaming? Here are the best PC gaming headsets