By Petar Vukobrat
November 10, 2018
Every competitive gamer has their own headset, but which is generally the right headset For esports? When it comes to gaming, we’ve gone over computers, laptops, gaming mice, keyboards, and monitors. The only thing left, and it may or may not be an integral part of the gaming experience (depending on your personal preference), is a solid headset.
In the end, it’s all subjective. I prefer a solid surround sound system to a headset, but I can understand people who don’t. At the same time, I’ve needed high-end audio equipment to have a fantastic time. The default Apple EarPods are more than enough for me to have a great audio experience.
But that’s probably just me.
No matter how you look at it, good headphones are an integral part of the competitive gaming experience. Depending on the game you’re playing, sound may or may not be a huge factor. If you’re a Dota 2 player, you really don’t need the latest and greatest headphones to be competitive. It’s not going to hurt, of course, but you can get by with a pretty basic headset.
If, on the other hand, you’re trying to climb the ranks of Fortnite or Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, having that extra high fidelity could give you an upper hand in competitive matches. Hearing someone seconds before seeing them could be the difference between victory and defeat.
Now, much like every other element of your set-up, headsets differ. For this article, we’ll be focusing on finding the right balance between price and features. Finding the right headset can be a complex journey, but once you focus on the right aspects, it becomes a lot easier.
If you already invested in a better computer, display, mouse, and keyboard, then you’re probably not looking to dish out a ton of money. You’re looking to get the best bang for your buck. Fortunately, you won’t have to sell a kidney to get good audio quality.
First up, we need to set up our criteria. I’ll be looking at four elements: Structure, audio quality, usability, and price. My suggestions won’t exceed $100.
Having good sound is important when looking for the best esports headset, but sturdiness is a big element as well.
At some point, you’ll probably be throwing your headset across the room, or at least putting them in a backpack. You’re going to want a build that will stand the test of time.
I know, I know. This one is a no-brainer. Unfortunately, not all headsets will have the same audio quality, even at the same price point. There are a lot of B-tier products out there. Don’t focus so much on name recognition alone (Beats), but rather brands synonymous with high-quality audio equipment. Think of companies like Sennheiser, Bose, JBL, Audio-Technica, and Sony.
You really can’t go wrong if you go with a trusted brand, especially for $100. To ease the process a bit, there are a couple of really good headphones listed below. They’re going to be a serious step-up when it comes to audio quality, especially when compared to basic speakers or earbuds.
Once you experience true stereo sound (and even surround sound to a certain extent), it’s tough to go back. When you’re able to hear every nuanced detail thanks to a fantastic headset, new horizons open up — that’s especially true for high-quality music and rich, immersive environments.
When that crisp, multi-directional audio slithers into your ear, you’ll never want to go back to earbuds. That’s basic human nature, and it applies to gaming and technology as well.
When searching for that perfect headset, don’t forget that you’ll be using them as your daily driver for more than just gaming. They need to be usable regardless if you’re listening to the latest Prodigy album or cleaning out a dungeon in Diablo III.
They need to be well-built, they need to sound good, and being well designed doesn’t hurt either. If you feel any stiffness or discomfort while trying on a headset, just imagine how it will feel 100 hours from now. Don’t get carried away and focus just on gaming because, in reality, you’ll probably be using them more for your day-to-day stuff, especially when real life obligations kick in.
In general, you shouldn’t be investing much money in a solid headset. While they’re an integral part of the gaming experience, you can get with mediocre ones and never feel the need to upgrade. While graphics are always improving, sound has arguably plateaued.
If you really want to heighten your senses, you can get a really solid headset (with a microphone included) for around $100, if not less.
Above a certain price, there comes a point of diminishing returns. You’re going to be investing more money, but you won’t be getting any additional utility. Don’t fall for the bells and whistles — manufacturers often raise the price tag without really giving you an improved experience. More often than not, you’re paying more just because of the brand and logo — that’s just the world we live in.
One of the best bang-for-the-buck options on the market right now. They’re durable; they have plush memory foam on the inside for maximum comfort as well as adjustable ear cups. They also come with a very solid, removable microphone, so that’s a plus.
They’re well-built, they have a metal frame but also a few plastic parts. Most importantly, they feel really good, and you don’t get the notion that they’re going to break easily. They’re also pretty flexible, which is great if you’re on the go.
They’re also on the “Best Sellers” list on Amazon for a good reason and can be picked up for as low as $44.99 at the time of this writing.
They’re fairly clean in design, fully black, no RGB lighting, only the metallic Corsair logo on the sides which is reflective and not that visually obtrusive. They’re not that “gamery,” unless you go for the optional stand (which will bring the price up to $100.00). I personally really dislike the RGB craze and the less a product channels the gamer aesthetic, the better.
I am a gamer, but I don’t want to be fully illuminated in over-the-top RGB lighting, especially not if I go outside with a headset. But that’s just me. Maybe you like having an electric light show dancing around your ears. I don’t.
You don’t get a lot in the box, just a splitter cable, but for the money, you’re paying there’s really no room for complaining. The fact that you can pay so little and get so much is astonishing, and you’re really not losing out anything when you compare the HS50 with other alternatives, even the ones that are listed below. Also, this headset is Discord certified.
When it comes to audio quality, Sennheiser is synonymous with the best sound you can get.
The GSP 302 has memory foam ear pads and provide ample noise isolation and comfort for those long grinds and gaming sessions. Sennheiser provides “best-in-class” sound quality as you’d expect, and they’re fully plastic. That’s where personal preference kicks in.
If you need a highly flexible headset that isn’t cheap and doesn’t break easily, the GSP 302 is a great choice for sure. If, on the other hand, you prefer to a high-quality headset that feels sturdy, this might not be your best option.
There’s volume control on the right ear and a good microphone that can be automatically muted by raising the boom arm. Not that important, but those small touches make the overall experience that much better.
They also have fantastic noise cancellation. If you want to be fully immersed in your game, this is a great choice. You can never really go wrong with Sennheiser.
You want surround sound, but don’t want to break the bank? Well, then Corsair HS70 SE Wireless has you covered. There’s a lot of similarity between this headset and the HS50 above, and that’s a very positive thing overall.
Much like its wired lower-priced brethren, the HS70 SE has very comfortable memory foam ear cups for added comfort, a metal and plastic design, and an attachable microphone that sounds better than you’d expect for this price point.
The HS70 has a range of 40 feet and up to 16 hours of battery life. While charging might be a hassle, having that extra freedom when it comes to head, movement could greatly improve your overall experience.
The most important thing is that you get incredible audio quality even though they’re wireless and fortunately, that’s still the case. Much like the HS50, these are incredibly comfortable headphones that are almost universally adored for their quality and price.
When it comes to peripherals, sometimes it’s better to hop on the bus and go to your local tech store. Searching online is great and all but looking at professional headset reviews can feel like a fool’s errand. Reviewers go into painstaking detail, but you don’t need all the nitty-gritty. You want a simple headset that’s comfortable, sounds good, and gets the job done.
Even if it’s not the best thing money can buy, that doesn’t mean it isn’t perfect for you.
In the end, buying a headset might not be that important, but if you can spare the money, getting some solid sound quality and enhancing the immersion will seriously improve your gaming experience.