20 Nov Best Gaming Headset 2017 – Buyer’s Guide
Find the best gaming headset for you, whether you’re a casual or serious gamer. In combat games you need to pinpoint enemy positions by the sound of gunfire, and be able to hear the guy who’s rushing up to you to try and knife you and steal your dog tags!
But which headset should you buy? There are so many on the market with a variety of features that it’s a lot to wade through. That’s why we’ve made this list of gaming headsets, from cheap ones that ‘do the job’, to some of the most expensive ones on the market with great features and audio fidelity.
I’m an avid PC gamer myself so you can be sure i’m giving you the best advice here by offering a range of choices for you and going into the pros and cons of each gaming headset.
Best Gaming Headset
Check the table below to quickly see transmission, connections and platform for each gaming headset, click on the model name to read the full review.
|SteelSeries Arctis 5||Wired||USB/3.5mm Stereo Jack||XBox/PS4/PC/Mac||Check price|
|HyperX Cloud 2||Wired||3.5mm Stereo Jack||XBox/PS4/PC/Mac||Check price|
|Razer Kraken 7.1||Wired||USB||XBox/PS4/PC/Mac||Check price|
|HyperX Cloud||Wired||3.5mm Stereo Jack||XBox/PS4/PC/Mac||Check price|
|SteelSeries Siberia 800||Wireless||Base Station||XBox/PS4/PC/Mac||Check price|
|Astro Gaming A50||Wireless||Base Station||PS4/PC/Mac||Check price|
|Corsair Void||Wired||3.5mm Stereo Jack||XBox/PS4/PC||Check price|
|Astro Gaming A40TR||Wired||3.5mm Stereo Jack||PC||Check price|
|Turtle beach stealth 450||Wireless||3.5mm Stereo Jack||PC||Check price|
|Razer Kraken USB||Wired||USB||PS4/PC||Check price|
SteelSeries Arctis 5
The Arctis 5 gaming headset has a very fuss-free design, with clean lines and none of the bulkiness that we so often see in modern headphones. This lack of bulk contributes to the headset’s comfort too. In a barely-glossy black finish with orange detailing the Arctis looks smart and stylish without being gaudy. It has well-padded and smoothly-textured ear-cups as well as a flexible headband made from Velcro, which makes adjustable fitting easy.
It’s a moderately large headset but due to it’s sleek design this isn’t readily-apparent to the observer or the wearer, meaning you wouldn’t feel like a freak wearing these outside! Some thought has obviously gone into the placement of the microphone, which is flexible and extendable, and the volume dial and mute button which are both at the rear and easy to find, even in the middle of a firefight.
Because the Arctis 5 has been designed to work well on any gaming platform, it necessarily comes with a lot of cabling as well as an amplifier for your desktop. So though it does work with any platform, it can make for a cluttered desktop, but this is a small price to pay for the connection flexibility the headset offers.
SteelSeries are known for their comfortable headsets and the Arctis 5 continues this tradition. The flexible headband seems to magically shape itself to your head, and if you need further adjustments then simply alter the Velcro straps to suit. The ear-cups feel quite luxurious and won’t be sweaty after a marathon gaming-session, they are nice and firm without feeling too tight.
When it comes to gaming configuration, the Arctis 5 has a lot of options. This is good because you can tweak almost everything, but not so good if you just want to plug-and-play and can’t be bothered with lots of options. Luckily there are preset configs for those of us that don’t like too many choices.
In-game sound is absolutely fantastic, richly-detailed and highly-positional. Far Cry Primal really comes to life with this headset, the sounds of the jungle seeming to be all around you and not just to your left and right. On some older games the surround-sound doesn’t quite do the job, ending up sounding a little muddy at times, but they still sounded amazing with surround-sound disabled.
When it comes to listening to music, the Arctis 5 puts in a good performance, but it won’t be replacing your Bose or your Sennheiser headphones. Music sounds good from all sources, whether HiFi or television, if a little muddy sometimes when playing bass-heavy music.
With it’s retractable microphone, on-ear volume control and mute button SteelSeries have made the Arctis 5 easy to operate. The mic sound quality is very good, making this an excellent headset for voice-work, though the lack of a pop-shield means you need a little more distance between you and the mic than normal.
Running on the usual SteelSeries Engine software, there are plenty of options for your listening pleasure, especially when it comes to the microphone. There may be too many options for some people but it’s better than having too few.
The headset also comes with RGB-lighting, something i’m not a big fan of but if it’s the kind of thing you’re into then you’ll be pleased with the RGB customisation options on offer.
The Final Word
SteelSeries have another fantastic product in the Arctis 5. With incredible gaming sound, great musical performance and great voice capabilities it really isn’t lacking as a specialised gaming headset or a good all-rounder. It’s smart, no-nonsense design offers simplicity, ease of use and unrivalled comfort. The software is well-designed and offers many options. The only thing letting the headset down is the multitude of wires, and this is a small gripe really for a product that is outstanding in so many areas.
Highly-configurable on PC
Compatible with many devices
Features such as surround sound don’t work with consoles
Too much cabling for some
Kingston Hyper X Cloud II
The Hyper X Cloud II gaming headset has that low-key, music-studio headphones look, with a traditional curved headband and well-padded, rotatable ear cups as well as adjustable metal forks which have about an inch of play in either direction.
The modular design features a detachable microphone with an extendable, bendy coil which enables accurate positioning of the large foam tip.
Available in faux leather black with a choice of discreet gun metal grey or funky red detailing, the Hyper X Cloud II is as stylish as they come. The brushed-metal forks and subtle, embroidered logo on the top of the headband add to an overall classy and stylish look, while the faux leather ear cups give it a luxurious feel.
The microphone is easily detachable, transforming the Hyper X Cloud II from a gaming headset into a pair of headphones which are attractive and discreet enough to wear out and about.
Kingston has put a lot of thought into comfort. As well as being incredibly lightweight, the headset features memory foam ear cups, which fit snugly around your ears without feeling too tight, making the Cloud II a great choice for those who like to game for hours on end.
There are two types of interchangeable ear cups included in the price: faux leather and soft velour. Add to that the memory foam, and it’s hard to find a more comfortable gaming headset on the market today.
The overall sound quality is good, both for gaming and listening to music. The 7.1 surround sound helps distinguish subtle sounds such as the swish of a blade or footsteps, and you can easily hear where the enemies are coming from. It’s easy to turn the surround sound on and off, which is handy when you just want to listen to music.
Bear in mind though that surround sound only works with PCs and Macs, not with consoles. However, the sound quality is still good so it doesn’t detract too much from the overall experience.
The mic quality is quite impressive and works well during games and Skype calls, although you can’t monitor your own voice, so be careful not to talk too loudly, especially during late night gaming sessions.
The Hyper X Cloud II doesn’t come with accompanying software, so you can’t tweak the treble and bass, which is a pity because the bass could do with a little more oomph. However, it makes life simpler for those who just want to plug-in and play.
Unlike many headsets, the volume and surround sound controls are on a separate USB dongle, so you’re not fiddling around with the headset or risk accidentally pressing the wrong button. It may lack software configuration, but it’s far more user-friendly than more sophisticated models.
For a gaming headset under £100, the thoughtful extras included in the price are a pleasant surprise. The Hyper X comes with an extra set of ear cups, an airplane headphone adaptor and a mesh carry bag.
Another handy feature is the 4 pin 3.5 mm jack used for the USB adapter, which also fits many smartphones, so you can make calls and listen to music on your phone too.
The detachable microphone which allows you to go from gaming headset to simple headphones is another plus point which adds to the Hyper X’s versatility.
The Final Word
The Hyper X Cloud II is a stylish, well-designed, attractive, good-all-rounder. But the three things that set it apart from its rivals are its versatility, added extras, and above all, extreme comfort. Considering how many features you’re getting for your money, it’s a definite winner for those looking for a reasonably priced, good all round gaming headset.
Very light and comfortable
Interchangeable ear cups
Impressive mic quality
Seperate USB dongle
Surround-sound doesn't work on consoles
No software for configuration
Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma
As the name would suggest, the Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma is a sturdy, tough-looking beast. The compact and stylish design features large, well-padded black faux leather ear pads and a thick headband with a retractable pencil-thin microphone that extends and retracts easily.
The bright green Razer name is emblazoned on the top of the headband, and the centre of the mesh grille on the outer side of the ear cups feature the distinctive, triple-headed snake logo of the Esports elite.
But the head turner of this gaming headset is the LED lighting that comes as standard. Once you plug the headset in, the Razer logos on the ear cups light up. There’s a choice of customisable lighting effects and an inexhaustible range of colour spectrum’s to choose from; 16.8 million to be exact!
Some gamers may find the bright green Razer name and lighting a bit gaudy and off-putting, whereas younger gamers and die-hard Razer fans should find them particularly appealing.
With all that padding, you’d expect the Razer Kraken to be comfortable. The headband certainly stretches wide enough for the biggest heads while fitting snugly around smaller heads. However, that ‘snugness’ could start to feel heavy and tight after a couple of hours, so they may not be ideal for long playing sessions.
The sound quality is impressive and nicely balanced with a deep and full bass. The surround sound is helpful for picking up the tiniest of footsteps, while the headset does a top rate job in cutting out background noise for a truly immersive experience.
The Razer Synapse 2.0 software, included in the price, has a range of features including equalisers and LED colour customisations, so you can tweak each game for exceptional sound quality. The one year software warranty is an added bonus.
On a negative note, the software doesn’t let you set individual profile options and you have to repeatedly fine tune the software for each game to get an optimum, customised experience. However, if you can’t be bothered with all that tweaking and are not that pedantic, the presets are pretty good in their own right.
The ability to adjust the bass and treble via the software, or simply using the presets, makes the headset particularly pleasant for listening to music. While not quite at the level of Sennheiser headphones, the Kraken still does a pretty impressive job.
The microphone works well and cuts background noise to a minimum, and you can be heard clearly enough without sounding too mechanical. The white LED light on the mic can be distracting though, and can only be turned off when the microphone is muted, which is a bit annoying.
The digital microphone isn’t detachable but retracts neatly into the left ear cup which keeps it safe when travelling.
The colourful lighting, for those who like this function, is included in the price; an added feature that’s not usually offered as standard on similar headsets.
The Razer Synapse software is also included in the price, and the one year warranty is a definite plus point.
The headset also comes with a long, 2 metre cable which allows you to easily reach the other side of the room without having to remove the headset.
The Final Word
The Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma certainly lives up to its name both in terms of design and sound quality. A few niggles hold it back; long playing comfort being its main let down. But for the price range, it’s a good-looking, sturdy headset that will make a cool and welcome present for gamers and Razer fans who want illumination features with a decent sound quality.
Highly configurable software
RGB LED Feature
Slightly tight after a few hours
No game-specific profiles
Kingston HyperX Cloud – White
However, if you’re after good looks, great sound quality and exceptional comfort, the original HyperX Cloud is still a fantastic choice at a more affordable price.
Colour wise, you can choose between a traditional black or silver detailing, or a more stylish and interesting white version; a colour option not available in the Cloud II model. The white stitching around the headband and HX logo on the outer ear cups add a nice, stylistic touch.
The Cloud comes with a choice of faux leather over-ear cups for a luxurious feel, or soft, velour cups for optimal comfort.
The solid design is built with durability in mind and can withstand a few knocks without damaging the headset, so are a good choice for more heavy handed users. The detachable microphone is a handy feature and coupled with the sleek, slimline look, makes the Cloud ideal for wearing out and about as a simple pair of headphones.
The Cloud ear cups come with the signature HyperX™ memory foam which is nothing short of heavenly! In terms of comfort, the Cloud certainly lives up to its name and won’t cause that typical hot, achy ear feeling after hours of gaming or listening to music.
The large ear cups hug gently around the ears, while allowing enough space for those who wear glasses too. And considering they weigh 350 g, they feel extremely lightweight, once on.
The HyperX Cloud doesn’t have any software to configure, so it’s ideal for those who just want to plug in and play. The stereo output is impressive and strong enough to pick up small details in games such as footsteps, while the deep and rich bass makes listening to music and watching videos a particularly enjoyable experience.
Although the lack of surround sound won’t give you that ‘fully’ immersive feeling you get with the HyperX Cloud II version, the original Cloud still offers a high quality sound experience, while the ear cups, especially the faux leather ones, do a good job of blocking out exterior noise.
On the down side, the HyperX Cloud has a couple of annoying niggles. The cables tend to get tangled far more easily than other models, and the in-line audio controls are a long way down the cable, almost out of reach, which is a pain when you need to react quickly.
The detachable microphone is adequate, if not spectacular, and the bendy coil helps you easily customise the position of the black foam tip. But although you can be heard clearly enough, the effect is a bit ‘nasal’ and makes you sound like you’ve got a cold.
A major thumbs up for the amount of generous extras included in the price. The HyperX Cloud comes with mobile and aeroplane adapters, USB and analogue extension, Y splitter cable, an extra pair of velour ear cups and a handy carry bag.
The detachable microphone is a handy feature, so if you’re not into multiplayer games, or just want to listen to music, you can easily remove it.
The Final Word
The HyperX Cloud is the ideal headset for casual gaming, single-player games, listening to music, watching movies and making the odd Skype call. The extra accessories included in the price are an added bonus.
If a high performing microphone isn’t your top priority, but you still want a simple-to-use, durable, comfortable headset with good sound quality at an affordable price, then the HyperX Cloud definitely ticks all the boxes.
Very comfortable memory-foam
Lots of adapters
Choice of ear cups
SteelSeries Siberia 800 Wireless Gaming Headset with 7.1 Surround Sound
The SteelSeries Siberia 800 is in the higher priced end of the gaming headset market for a good reason. It’s an excellent all-rounder, compatible with all PCs and consoles, with a choice of wireless or wired connectivity, making it one of the most versatile models around.
Looks wise, it’s nothing out of the ordinary; sturdy, black and understated, however, the glossy, black finish on the ear cups and the faux leather inner pads add a touch of class and style.
The left ear cup features a fully retractable microphone with a handy red light to indicate if the mic is live or muted.
The right ear cup has a volume adjuster/console controller, a power/mute button and two sockets for Xbox and smartphone jack plugs.
The Siberia 800 isn’t the lightest of headsets and does feel heavy at first. But the memory foam around the ear cups and the inner headband fit snugly on the head, and there’s no excessive pressure so it feels surprisingly comfortable, even for long gaming sessions. The headband stretches generously and can be easily adapted for big headed gamers.
The main reason for the Siberia 800’s hefty price tag is versatility. But to justify the cost, it needs to be consistently good across all platforms. In terms of sound quality, it doesn’t disappoint. From high action games, to listening to music and watching movies, the Siberia 800 gives an excellent performance.
Thanks to the frequency hopper, there’s no lag and virtually no latency issues to worry about.
Directional sound isn’t 100% accurate, but only the most fastidious and pedantic gamers would have something to complain about.
Although there are a myriad of wires to connect to individual platforms, set-up is fairly straightforward, and there’s a good selection of presets to choose from.
The transmitter lets you customise the equaliser settings and voice balance easily, and the bass can be tweaked for maximum effect. The virtual surround sound works well and nicely separates different sounds, creating tension and atmosphere, although the volume is limited, so it may disappoint those who like to push it to the extremes.
The microphone is fine for in-game chatting and Skype calls, but you’d need something better for recording podcasts or YouTube videos.
The Siberia 800 comes with a transmitter, 6 cables for individual platforms, two batteries and a power adapter.
The batteries are a definite plus point. Not only do they last around 20 hours, more than enough for all-day gaming, but they’re also easy to swap over and charge; you just slot them in and out of the transmitter that doubles up as a charger.
The transmitter also features Chat Mix and Live Mix that can be used to adjust the volume balance between the game and chat audio, so you can lower or increase the volume level of other players in relation to the game sounds.
The Siberia 800 also features a handy sound share port so you can share the experience with a friend.
The Final Word
If you want just one headset that’s compatible with all platforms, and are happy to pay for its versatility, then the Siberia 800 is a good choice. The sound quality is consistent across the board and the retractable microphone is adequate enough for chatting.
It may be a jack of all trades, and yes, you will find better sound quality and customisation with other headsets in this price bracket, but if you want a decent headset for an enjoyable gaming and music experience with the added convenience of multi-platform compatibility, then the Siberia 800 should more than satisfy your needs.
Versatile connection options
Wired and wireless
Separate voice/game volume control
Average voice quality
Astro Gaming A50 Wireless Headset (PS4/Mac OS/PC)
But it’s got to be said, the A50 has a great deal going for it to justify the hefty price tag, and you’ll find it on the wish list of many a serious gamer or music purist.
Platform compatibility is defined by the headset colours. The black model with electric blue side supports is compatible with PS4, Mac OS and PC, whereas the bright green model is compatible with Xbox, however, individual base stations for added Xbox/PS4 compatibility are now available at an additional cost.
The blue supports on the PS4 model look a bit like snorkelling tubes or organ pipes, but they do add to the overall eye-catching design. The main frame is made from durable, black plastic and the headband can be raised, lowered and stretched to fit all head sizes. The ear cup pads come in a soft, grey fabric and swivel 90 degrees so the headset can be folded neatly away.
The microphone is attached to the left ear cup, and can be flipped up when not in use, while the right ear cup is the control centre with power, dolby surround sound, equaliser slider and volume controls. At the back of the right ear cup you’ll find a switch for game and voice balance.
The look may not suit all tastes, but the comfort level most certainly will. The fit is snug, but not uncomfortable, and lightweight enough to wear for long gaming sessions without feeling heavy. The ear cups are covered in a soft, grey, breathable fabric, so your ears won’t feel sweaty after prolonged use. They also do a good job of cancelling out exterior noise, although not as much as the faux leather ones (available at an extra cost with the ‘mod kit’).
The A50 was built for a truly immersive gaming experience. There’s good separation between voice chat and game sounds and the combination of rich bass and crisp highs deliver accurate and detailed sound when you’re in the thick of the game. In terms of surround sound, it’s one of the best headsets around.
The A50 comes with 3 EQ modes which can be customised even further via the Astro Command Centre app, then synced to the headset. The Astro delivers a well-balanced sound, while the Pro pumps up the bass, and the Studio mode increases the treble.
Like most gaming headsets, the microphone is adequate, but nothing special, although it does allow you to monitor your own voice in real time.
The battery lasts around 15 hours and the wireless range is around 30 ft offering a fair bit of movement without loss of signal.
One of the best features of the updated A50 headset is the base station which also acts as a charging dock and wireless transmitter. When the headset is not in use, it sits magnetically on the dock and starts charging. This clever addition makes the charging and storing issues seamless and easy.
The A50 is also equipped with a motion sensor, so if you place it down on the desk, it automatically shuts off after 30 seconds. Pick it up, and it immediately syncs with the base station and is ready to use again.
The Final Word
The A50 isn’t cheap, mainly thanks to the wireless capabilities which admittedly, work very well. The base station is a convenient and welcome feature that makes the A50 particularly easy to use. If you want a dedicated wireless headset for heavy gaming, and you’re happy to pay the hefty price tag, then the A50 is, without a doubt, one of best on the market.
Separate voice/game volume control
Average voice quality
Corsair Gaming VOID Stereo Carbon Analog Headset
The look is understated: compact, simple and straightforward. The wired stereo version is black with yellow detailing on the outer ear logo and the rubber brackets that protect the long cable from subsequent wear and tear. It’s subtle enough to wear out and about, although the cable is pretty long and might be cumbersome when you’re away from the desktop or console.
The ear cup and headband padding features a soft memory foam for prolonged gaming sessions, and the headset controls are easy to locate and use. The mute button is big and can be easily reached at the back of the left ear cup, while the volume wheel is found just below.
A major plus point is the VOID Stereo’s versatility. It’s compatible with PC/Mac, PS4 and mobile devices that support a 3.5 mm jack.
The microfibre ear cups are large and more ‘ear-shaped’ than the traditional oval shape of most gaming headsets. They do feel a bit odd at first, but once you get used to them they’re actually very comfortable. The headband expands and retracts either side with numbered bars which click into place for different head sizes.
Unlike other headsets, the VOID stereo doesn’t clamp down on your head, so you can spend hours wearing them without feeling overwhelming pressure. However, the lack of grip does mean that the ear cups don’t seal in the noise as much as they should. If you want to pump up the volume while riding the Tube, be prepared for some disapproving looks from fellow passengers.
Usability is ideal for those who can’t be bothered with complex software configurations. There isn’t even a mute/volume dongle. Everything you need is positioned clearly on the headset itself.
Thanks to the 50 mm drivers, the sound quality is more than satisfactory for casual gamers who don’t want to lose out on the action.
Listening to music isn’t too bad either. Okay, these are never going to be Sennheiser and Bose quality, but you can’t expect them to be at this price. However, musical notes come through well with a nice, deep bass and clear sounding highs.
The microphone is the type that flips down, then up when not needed; simple enough, however, it’s not that flexible to position and very sensitive, so you may get complaints of heavy breathing from your game buddies or during Skype calls.
The headset comes with a long cable with a 3.5 mm jack, so is compatible with PS4 and most mobiles devices. There’s also a Y adapter so you can plug it into your PC or Mac. There’s also an additional adapter available for Xbox, that you can buy separately.
The Final Word
Not at all bad for a budget to mid-range headset. If you’re a casual gamer and want a versatile headset that you can use on all platforms, without having to pay a fortune, then you’ll be more than satisfied with the Corsair VOID Stereo. The microphone could be more flexible with better sound quality, but even with some of the more expensive models that’s an issue. For those who want an affordable, comfortable headset specifically for gaming, or even as a backup pair, the VOID Stereo shouldn’t disappoint.
Micro-fibre ear cups
Wired and wireless
Awkward design for some
No surround-sound on consoles
Astro Gaming Headset A40TR (PC)
Available in a sturdy, black plastic coating with well-padded ear cups and headband, the A40TR is stylish, sleek and big.
But its biggest feature is that it’s totally customisable, so you can buy a range of additional extras to change the look and style completely.
The outer ear cup panels also known as ‘tags’ are held in place magnetically, and can be easily removed to mix and match with different colours and styles, available in packs which can be bought separately. There’s a space behind the back panels which allows air to pass through, preventing overheating during long gaming sessions. However this also causes sound leakage, so if you prefer a better seal, closed-back faux leather cups are available with the ‘mod kit’ which is sold separately.
The microphone is removable and snaps on and off the headset with ease. This too can be replaced with a noise cancelling version at an extra cost.
The A40TR is large, so although it feels tough and sturdy, it may feel a little too obtrusive to wear out in public.
It’s also heavier than most headsets. But thanks to the generous padding and the side support sliding mechanisms, the headband can be adjusted for the perfect fit. Once you get used to the weight, it feels comfortable enough to wear for long sessions.
The sound quality is well balanced and impressive. It’s consistently good for games, music and movies. It’s powerful and clear enough to deliver an immersive gaming experience, even without surround sound, and the well-rounded bass gives you that headphone quality that makes listening to music a pure pleasure.
The snap on/snap off microphone is easy to position and delivers a clear sounding voice without static. It’s certainly a better sounding mic than many of its rivals and is more than acceptable for gaming chats and Skype calls.
The A40TR can be purchased as a stand-alone headset or with a range of additional features that can be bought separately, although naturally, this will add to the original cost. The ‘mod kit’ includes a noise cancellation microphone and ear pads, closed-back speaker ‘tags’ and an extra padded headband.
If you don’t mind spending a bit more, the A40TR headset can also be bought together with a ‘mix amp pro’, which allows you to customise the sound with a range of controls and configurations as well as voice chat/game balance and Dolby surround sound. The mix amp pro can also be used with software for advanced mixing options for those who want a more customised sound experience.
The Final Word
The Astro A40TR isn’t the cheapest headset on the market, and although it’s great having so many additional feature options, it does bump up the price even further. However, the sound quality is nothing short of spectacular for a gaming headset and that alone justifies the price tag.
If you want a robust, well-designed gaming headset with headphone sound quality and a choice of customisable features, then the Astro A40TR should have enough options to keep you satisfied.
Great sound quality
7.1 sound costs extra
Turtle Beach Stealth 450 Wireless Gaming Headset DTS Headphone : X 7.1 Surround Sound (PC)
The controls are positioned towards the back so there’s less risk of accidentally adjusting anything.
The microphone is easily removable and there’s also a basic 3.5 mm jack cable for mobiles and tablets so you can also listen to music on your smartphone.
The logos on the ear cups glow white when the headset is in use, and red when it’s charging, so you can continue to play even when the headset’s in charge mode. The ear cups swivel and fold flat, so can be packed away easily for travelling.
The Stealth 450 isn’t the most comfortable headset around. It’s a very tight fit at first, so big headed gamers may struggle. It does give after a while, but remains on the extreme side of snug.
The mesh padded ear cups don’t have memory foam, so they don’t feel as luxurious or as cosy as other brands in the same price range. The lack of memory foam also means a degree of sound leakage.
However, the frame itself is lightweight, and that coupled with the 100% wireless feature does give you a good sense of freedom and portability.
Set up is straightforward and easy. Just plug the small, stick-like transmitter into your PC’s USB port, wait for the computer to recognise the output sound , and away you go.
Surround sound 7.1 can be set up via the Turtle Beach installation tool which configures with Windows. There are 3 presets: Game, Movie and Music which can be switched on or off via the buttons on the actual headset, which is handy.
The DTS:X decoder delivers a clear and crisp surround sound that picks up the most subtle sounds for a truly immersive experience.
But the icing on the cake has got to be the unique ‘Superhuman Hearing’ setting which sounds a bit over the top, but really does help you to distinguish footsteps from other sounds so you can hear your enemies approaching before you can even see them.
The sound quality for listening to music is excellent, with an impressive bass and clear mids and highs. The 3.5 mm lets you listen to music on your mobile, although the absence of in-line controls is annoying.
The microphone works well, output is loud and clear both for games and Skype calls. It also has a voice monitoring feature, whereby you can hear the actual volume of your own voice when talking, so you won’t get into trouble for shouting, although the sound leakage from the ear cups may annoy those around you if the volume’s high.
The biggest plus point however, is the wireless range. The frequency hopper cuts out any interference and you can walk to another room or even another floor level without losing the signal, which makes it really handy if you want to make a cuppa without removing the headset.
The removable microphone is flexible and easy to remove, allowing you to wear the Stealth 450 as a simple pair of headphones.
The added ‘Superhuman Hearing’ will particularly appeal to the more serious gamers, while the fantastic wireless frequency range gives you freedom and movement without being tied to the spot; ideal if you want to do other things while listening to music.
The Final Word
Turtle Beach could have worked harder on the comfort levels of the Stealth 450, and the ear cups could be better quality, but the sound quality and wireless range certainly make up for the design failings. You’d be hard pushed to find a better wireless gaming headset anywhere else in this price range.
Excellent music audio
A tight fit for some
Razer Kraken USB Surround Sound Gaming Headset (PC/Mac/PS4)
The USB model comes with a bright green, 2 metre long USB cable that can be plugged into your PC or Mac. It’s also compatible with PS4.
The simple black design is enhanced by the three-headed snake Razer logos on the ear cups which light up when the headset is plugged in.
It has an analog microphone which flips up, out of the way, when not needed. The ear cups are fixed and can’t be folded away for travelling and the microphone is not detachable so the headset may not be suitable to wear out and about for some. The USB cable also limits the versatility of the headset as there’s no 3.5 mm jack to use with mobile devices.
The Kraken USB is fairly bulky and takes a bit of getting used to. Although the headband is adjustable, it feels rigid and tight at first and can be rather uncomfortable for bigger headed gamers. But over time it becomes more flexible. You need to break it in, a bit like a new pair of shoes.
The closed ear cups completely cover the ears and are well padded, while the faux leather material does a good job of sealing in sound.
The Kraken USB isn’t the most versatile headset around, but it is one of the most simple to use. You just plug in and play. This will give you a fairly decent stereo sound quality that’s more than adequate for casual use.
The USB cable doesn’t create that annoying hissing interference you sometimes get with a PC’s analog inputs and outputs, so this also helps with the sound quality.
However, to fully appreciate the surround sound capabilities of the Kraken USB, you need to, as Razer says, “Unleash the beast within”. This is done by installing Razer’s 7.1 surround sound calibration software – Synapse.
And what a beast! What the Kraken USB lacks in versatility and portability, it certainly makes up for in an amazing and immersive surround sound experience. From gunfire to raindrops, the position of every sound and movement is so accurate, it’s unnerving.
The Kraken USB together with the Synapse software creates a pleasurable and satisfactory music experience, but it’s games and movies where it really excels.
The microphone is never going to be free-standing quality, but for a gaming headset mic it’s not bad at all, with clear and natural sounding output. The microphone sensitivity can be tweaked even further with the Synapse software.
One niggle is the lack of controls on the headset itself. To control the volume you need to do it via the software or your PC.
The Synapse software is easy to use, even for beginners. The initial configurations are great, so if you prefer to, you can just stick with them. But the software is straightforward and easy to understand, so even the most technophobic user can easily continue to fine tune the sound for a more customised experience.
The Final Word
If you want a versatile and portable gaming headset that can double up as headphones when you’re out and about, the Razer Kraken USB is not for you. But if you want a ‘stay-at-home’ USB headset with easy to use software, that delivers a fantastic surround sound experience for games and movies, this beast will not disappoint.
Not suitable for outdoor wear
Too bulky for some