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    Best gaming headsets in 2021


    If you’re shopping for a gaming headset, you have a lot of options. While there are some great ones out there, it’s easy to pay too much, to accidentally purchase a headset that doesn’t work with your desired console or platform, or to get one that’s just uncomfortable. Knowing a thing or two about headphones might aid in your search, but gaming headsets have only gotten more complicated to shop for — especially the wireless ones.

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    For instance, wireless headsets made for Xbox operate without a dongle via Microsoft’s proprietary wireless protocol. They’ll only work on Xbox consoles or a PC that has one of Microsoft’s Xbox Wireless Adapters plugged in, in most cases. Conversely, if you get a multiplatform wireless headset that includes a 2.4GHz wireless dongle, it’ll likely work on the likes of the PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch (when plugged into the console’s TV dock), and PC — but not Xbox. It’s best to buy the headset that mentions support for your preferred platform(s) explicitly, or else there’s a good chance you’ll run into some compatibility issues. Of course, you can eliminate most of the guesswork by buying a wired gaming headset instead.

    This guide focuses on newer options that you’re more likely to encounter at stores as opposed to older models that, while possibly still being worthy of your money, are often tougher to find affordably and easily online. Also, just to mention it at the top, I have a large-ish head and that factor obviously played a major role in how I judge the comfort of these headsets.

    You’ll find a few categories below, including the best multiplatform wireless headsets that are compatible with PC, PS4, PS5, and Nintendo Switch via its dock, the best Xbox wireless gaming headsets, the best PlayStation wireless gaming headsets, and the best wired gaming headsets that support the widest variety of platforms, from console controllers to phones, tablets, and VR headsets that feature a 3.5mm headphone jack.

    Best multiplatform wireless gaming headset: HyperX Cloud II Wireless ($150)

    Compatible with PC, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch (via its dock)

    Photo by Cameron Faulkner / The Verge

    The HyperX Cloud II Wireless makes an excellent first impression before even turning it on for the first time. Its headband expands to fit a range of head sizes, and the ear cups rest gently around my ears without nary a pinching feeling around my cranium. The cups can be stretched even further than my head requires, which gives me faith that they’ll be a durable pick for years to come. This is the downfall of many otherwise good gaming headsets. HyperX nailed the fit, and it also aced a lot of other winning elements with the Cloud II.

    The Cloud II Wireless boasts a balanced sound that delivers just enough gusto for every scenario. It’s not the right choice if you want bass to rattle your head, but it’s good if you want your headset to be just as enjoyable to use for gaming as it is for music and voice chats. I also like that the Cloud II Wireless has USB-C charging, and its battery life is long-lasting. HyperX claims 30 hours of battery per charge, and the headset lived up to that mark during my testing. The wireless range of the headset and the included 2.4GHz wireless receiver are also great, suffering no drops anywhere in my apartment. It even remained stable when I stood on the other side of a wall or window, each being about 25 feet away from the receiver.


    HyperX Cloud II Wireless

    The best multiplatform wireless gaming headset. It’s compatible with PC, PS4, and Nintendo Switch (when plugged into the dock).

    Compared to competitors in this price range, the Cloud II plays it simple when it comes to the buttons, and the result is that it’s easy to learn how to master the layout. And if all the functions you require are a volume dial, power button, and a microphone mute button, this will suit you better than other headsets that try to fit too many buttons onto ear cups. On the other hand, it’s missing a game and chat audio mix dial that easily lets you fine-tune your game audio with your pals chatting on Discord or while streaming. You can do this manually by clicking a few windows, but other headsets mentioned below make this easier to do. This headset also makes it easy to turn on mic monitoring to hear yourself talk (and hear things happening around you) by simply holding the mute button to activate.

    The Cloud II Wireless doesn’t have an overwhelming lead over the major players in the space, like Logitech, SteelSeries, and Razer. In fact, it may get the boot if a similarly priced and comparably cozy model with wired 3.5mm connectivity and Bluetooth support comes along. But since that has yet to happen, HyperX’s flagship wireless headset is the easy choice for PC, PlayStation, and Switch gamers.


    Compatible with PC, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch (the console as well as its dock)

    Razer Barracuda X

    Photo by Cameron Faulkner / The Verge

    HyperX’s Cloud II Wireless is still the headset I’d recommend to most people, but Razer’s Barracuda X comes very close to beating it in terms of value. The Barracuda X costs $50 less and presents fewer roadblocks for getting great audio from a myriad of the latest platforms, thanks to its compatibility with USB-C and USB-A ports. It works on everything except for Xbox platforms.

    In case you’re wondering where the Barracuda X fits in Razer’s vast lineup of headsets, it’s actually the start of a brand-new line. It borrows some design elements from Razer’s Opus consumer headphones, but the Barracuda X focuses more on gaming. Its left ear cup hosts all of the controls and ports, including a power button, mute button, and a volume dial. It supports USB-C charging and has a 3.5mm jack for wired listening. There’s also a port for its microphone to plug into.

    Its design and USB-C charging make it stand out from Razer’s other headsets, as does the included USB-C wireless transmitter that can plug directly into a Nintendo Switch, the front of a PS5, or any PC device. Razer doesn’t list support for macOS on its site, but I’ve had no issues using the Barracuda X with music and video calls with its USB-C adapter plugged into a MacBook Pro.


    Razer Barracuda X

    Razer’s latest gaming headset, the Barracuda X, costs $100 and ships with a USB-C audio transmitter. This makes it an easy choice if you game primarily on the go with a Nintendo Switch or if you have a PS5. It’s compatible with other platforms with its USB-A adapter.

    For those who don’t have USB-C ports on their devices, the Barracuda X also ships with a USB-A dongle. Unlike the Astro A20 Gen 2 below, there’s no possibility for Xbox compatibility here, unless you plug in a 3.5mm cable into your controller. SteelSeries’ $150 Arctis 7X ships with a USB-C audio transmitter that’s capable of Xbox Wireless and the 2.4GHz standard for other platforms, including PlayStation. But that model isn’t easy to find in stock right now, and I don’t think it’s worth a $50 premium.

    The Barracuda X is comfortable with its soft, breathable ear pads, and its headband doesn’t push down on my large-sized head. The ear cups can swivel 90 degrees, but when worn correctly, they only do so in a way that makes the padding face away from your chest. It’s a little puzzling but not a deal-breaker. The headset is well-designed overall, but its plastic build makes it feel more budget-level than the top pick above.

    Razer Barracuda X

    Photo by Cameron Faulkner / The Verge

    Importantly, the sound quality is great for the price. These use Razer’s TriForce drivers originally found in the BlackShark V2, but they’re a little smaller here (40mm versus 50mm in the BlackShark V2). Games and music with bass still have an appropriate amount of thump, and they’re good as a headphones replacement, so long as you aren’t expecting stellar sound quality that can rival headphones that cost hundreds more.

    A few features missing from the Barracuda X that could have made it better are a game and chat audio dial and Bluetooth support. If that’s a big deal to you, the runner-up below, Astro’s A20 Gen 2, features a game and chat audio dial but not Bluetooth. A few recommended Xbox and PC-specific headsets further down the page have pulled off including both features, including Microsoft’s $100 Xbox Wireless headset and the $150 Razer Kaira Pro.


    Multiplatform but requires an extra $20 adapter to work with both PS and Xbox

    Image: Astro

    Astro’s new A20 for the PS5 and Xbox Series X / S consoles is unique in that it’s one of the few cross-platform wireless headsets out there. Buying just one of them (in either the PlayStation blue / white colorway or the Xbox green / white) can let you connect to either system. However, there’s a small catch: you’ll need to buy an additional $20 wireless adapter to let it connect to the console opposite of your headset’s color styling (each headset includes one adapter). Despite the string attached, this functionality makes it an appealing option for people who will be getting both the PS5 and Xbox Series X or S consoles.

    Whichever platform you’ll use with this headset, Astro’s A20 Gen 2 is packed with more buttons and features than the Cloud II Wireless above. On the ear cups, Astro managed to also fit in a dedicated button for switching the equalizer to your liking to add or subtract bass and vocal clarity. There’s also a game and chat audio mixing dial to help you find the right balance of sounds between your apps. I love this feature, and I also dig that it has a good amount of mic monitoring, so you can hear a little bit of the outside world. This headset’s microphone doesn’t detach. Instead, you’ll just move it up to mute it, which gets it out of your face.


    Astro A20 Gen 2

    The runner-up choice for a multiplatform wireless gaming headset. It’s compatible with PC and Nintendo Switch (when plugged into the dock). Each headset includes a USB wireless receiver for either the PS4 and PS5 or the Xbox Series X / S and Xbox One. You can purchase the other USB receiver here.

    Astro’s latest headset checks a lot of boxes considering its $120 price. The A20 Gen 2 doesn’t quite reach the comfort of HyperX’s model above, as it hangs most of its weight at the top of your head. It doesn’t get painful as the ear cups don’t pinch, but it can result in some fatigue after a while (on top of some very bad headset hair). Also, while I appreciated the EQ button that cycles between sound profiles, the sound quality on the whole isn’t as balanced and punchy as the Cloud II Wireless.

    But speaking on its features alone, it’s a more affordable runner-up choice if you want better console compatibility (even though it comes at a $20 cost to have both Xbox and PlayStation support), and a headset that has a physical game and chat mixing dial. The wireless range of the A20 Gen 2 and its included wireless receiver are quite good: My studio apartment is about 40 feet long and 15 feet wide, the headset kept a solid connection throughout. I was even able to run some trash outside without a drop. Astro claims up to 15 meters of range.


    The USB-C dongle that ships with the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless makes it an alluring choice for Switch gamers.
    Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

    Other good options

    The amount of wireless gaming headsets is blossoming, and I expect to make an update to this section on a regular basis — perhaps more regularly than the sections below. As such, there are plenty of other options that didn’t quite make the cut as the “best” but are still pretty good in a few ways.

    Logitech’s G733 ($129) came very close to being the runner-up headset. It’s comfortable with breathable ear cups, it has good sound for the price, and the vertical strips of LEDs actually look sharp. It misses the mark by not allowing a wired listening mode and for not having a game-chat audio mix dial.

    The G Pro X Lightspeed ($179), also from Logitech, nails the basics of having good build quality, USB-C charging, and punchy sound quality. It goes a step beyond the G733 with better noise isolation. However, its heavy build wore uncomfortably on my head after a few hours and I don’t think it offers enough features to justify the cost.

    The Audeze Penrose ($299) has incredible sound quality, along with a plethora of features, like Bluetooth support for connecting a phone and console simultaneously, USB-C for charging, and a 3.5mm port for wired listening. However, considering its high price, it’s not nearly comfortable enough for my head size — it is heavy and too tight — and I think it is likely to wear heavily on other heads, too.

    If you’re mostly into playing games on the Nintendo Switch, SteelSeries’ Arctis 1 Wireless is one of the best choices out there when it comes to ease of use. It isn’t a super comfortable headset, as it lacks the company’s ski band-style headband that distributes weight gently on your head. But it ships with a USB-C wireless receiver that can plug directly into the Switch or Switch Lite. Connectivity is strong, and audio quality is quite good given the headset’s $79 price tag.

    My first impressions of Roccat’s $150 Syn Pro Air wireless gaming headset were good. It excels in terms of sound quality and nice-to-have features like a mic sidetone dial and USB-C charging. For a company more known for its keyboards and mice, this is a surprisingly competent headset, but I was met with some major connectivity issues during testing. Namely, it sometimes takes 30 seconds or more to connect despite being near the audio transmitter. Sometimes power cycling the headset worked, but I got used to just leaving it sit there for a minute while it figured itself out. So it’s not a great headset to rely on if you need to hop in a meeting at a moment’s notice. Also, its companion software, Roccat Neon, still needs some polish. Occasionally, settings I had set in Neon didn’t take effect on the headset.


    Compatible with Xbox Series X / S, Xbox One, Bluetooth-ready devices, and PC if you have an adapter

    Xbox Wireless headset

    Photo by Cameron Faulkner / The Verge

    Microsoft’s Xbox Wireless headset is surprisingly good for $100. It has all of the same features as our previous top pick, Razer’s Kaira Pro, but knocks $50 off the price and has a better design. Like the Surface Headphones, this headset features twistable dials on the outside of its earcups, and it simplifies making quick adjustments, like turning up the volume on the right side, or tweaking the game / chat audio mix on the left.

    This headset operates on the Xbox Wireless protocol, letting it connect effortlessly to a modern Xbox console with a push of its pairing button (it pairs just like a controller). It supports a concurrent Bluetooth connection, too, so you can be paired to your phone and console at the same time.


    Xbox Wireless headset

    Microsoft’s wireless headset for Xbox consoles and PC connects easily like a controller and also supports a concurrent Bluetooth connections for phones or other devices. Its twistable dials for volume and chat controls make adjustments simple. At eBay, these include a month of Game Pass Ultimate for half off.

    Battery life is fine, but not spectacular at around 15 hours per charge. While I really like the Bluetooth feature, this headset lacks a multifunction button for controlling, say, phone calls or playing / pausing music or podcasts coming from your phone or tablet that might be connected. Razer’s Kaira Pro makes this easier. Another fault is that this model lacks a 3.5mm headphone jack, but that might not be a big deal for you.

    Microsoft’s headset doesn’t break new ground, it just does a lot right for a reasonable price. There are other options that offer noise cancellation and more hearty sound quality than this model. But if you don’t want to spend more than $100, most people should be very happy with what the Xbox Wireless headset offers.


    Compatible with Xbox Series X / S, Xbox One, Bluetooth-ready devices, and PC if you have an adapter

    Razer Kaira Pro

    Image: Razer

    Razer’s new Kaira Pro for Xbox consoles and PC is one of the company’s most impressive headsets yet. It narrowly loses the matchup to the HS75 XB listed below when it comes to sound quality, but it leaps ahead with more features. It includes the option to connect to devices via Bluetooth so you can listen to music, podcasts, or take calls while you game on Xbox or PC. The Kaira Pro also has other features I expect to have in a wireless gaming headset, like USB-C charging and a handy game and chat dial for a customized audio mix.

    A particularly cool feature here is the built-in microphones that kick in when you’re connected to a device over Bluetooth. While the Kaira Pro includes a detachable boom mic for use with gaming on your console, these additional microphones are useful for on-the-go voice calls when you don’t want to be seen using the bigger microphone.


    Razer Kaira Pro

    A great Xbox-specific wireless gaming headset. It’s compatible natively with the Xbox Series X / S and Xbox One. Its Bluetooth function makes it easy to connect to your phone, tablet, or PC.

    As I mentioned before, the Kaira Pro sounds great, but it’s not quite as robust when put up against the Corsair model below. If you’re a stickler for crisp sound quality and better positional audio, opt for the runner-up since they’re open-back and not closed like Razer’s headset.

    Razer’s headset looks and fits mostly like your average set of over-ear headphones, which is ideal since you can easily use it in that fashion with its Bluetooth function. The Kaira Pro’s build quality is better than I expected, particularly when it comes to comfort. It places equal pressure on the top of your head and around your ears, feeling just tight enough to keep the sound in.


    Compatible with Xbox Series X / S, Xbox One, and PC if you have an adapter

    Photo by Cameron Faulkner / The Verge

    If you’re locked to team Xbox or find yourself switching between PC (with Microsoft’s Xbox wireless adapter) and your console, Corsair’s HS75 XB Wireless is currently the headset that I recommend if you want superb audio quality. It’s a $150 model that surprised me with impressive sound and styling that looks like a set of premium open-back headphones. In addition to a bombastic sound that, at least for a moment, made me forget that I wasn’t using my Sony WH-1000XM3 wireless headphones, it’s comfortable to wear for hours. These look far heavier in images than they feel on my head, and I was delighted that they didn’t give off much of a pinching sensation.

    It’s usually the small details that win me over in a headset, and in the HS75 XB, it’s the symmetrical button layout. Thus, the learning curve for mastering the buttons is low, and this model has everything I need in a pinch, including a game and chat audio dial, volume dial, and an easy way to mute the microphone.

    Corsair’s 20-hour battery life claims for the HS75 XB are a tad lower than competing models. But its USB-C charging at least makes recharging faster and more simple to do than plugging in via Micro USB.

    I mentioned this with the Razer Kaira Pro, but wireless range is an issue here. Your living arrangement might yield different results, but breaking line of sight with the Xbox Wireless Adapter plugged into my PC or straying more than 15 or so feet away made the audio begin to crackle. I think I’d prefer if Corsair simply made its own dongle that was compatible with Xbox than going this route. Still, this is a great headset.


    Other good options

    The options above deliver the best experience for the money, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other solid options out there. We tested other wireless gaming headsets, though, there was usually one or more deal-breakers about each model.

    The LucidSound LS15X ($85), Nacon RIG 700 PRO HX ($119), and the SteelSeries Arctis 7X Wireless ($150) are good in some ways, but not good enough that I suggest you seek them out over the others above. All three offer satisfying comfort and passable sound quality, but they’re relatively light on extra features and they each charge via Micro USB, which is just inconvenient.


    Best PlayStation-specific wireless gaming headset: Sony Pulse 3D ($100)

    Compatible with PS5, PS4

    Sony Pulse 3D headset

    The Sony Pulse 3D gaming headset
    Sony

    Sony’s $99 Pulse 3D wireless headset for the PS4 and PS5 is a surprisingly feature-packed headset that’s also one of the most comfortable options on this list. I’m a sucker for well-fitting headsets, and the bungie-style headband Sony supplies is fantastic. Instead of having a hard plastic band pulling down on the top of your head, this headset hangs its weight on a silicone band. It gives the headset a near-weightless feel when it’s on my head. Just a note: the ear cups are on the smaller side, and while mine fit just fine, folks with larger ears might not find them all that comfortable.

    The Pulse 3D’s headline feature, though, is its ability to serve up 3D audio from the PS5’s Tempest sound engine. Actually, Sony says most headphones can push out the 3D effect, but this headset was made to really show it off. Support for 3D audio varies from game to game, but I found the PS5’s Demon’s Souls to be a great showcase for it. In that game, everything from the highs that ring out from swords clashing to daunting fire-breathing dragons that push out medium- and low-frequency sounds were a delight to hear. For a more relaxing experience, Astro’s Playroom and Returnal sound great, too. There are little sounds coming from everywhere, it seems. Games that don’t support 3D audio still sound good but are not quite as enthralling.

    For a $99 headset, the positional audio quality is better than I expected, as is the sound balance. There’s not an overwhelming amount of bass or tinny highs — everything is delivered delicately. I like that because it helps prevent fatigue during long play sessions.


    Sony Pulse 3D headset

    Sony’s own wireless gaming headset, made to showcase the PS5’s 3D Audio effect, also works on the PS4.

    Almost everything else about this headset is impressive for the price as well. The controls are a little more intuitively laid-out than Sony’s previous model for the PS4. The Pulse 3D features a tactile rocker that lets you balance game audio with your chat, and there are separate buttons just for adjusting volume. I like that there’s a dedicated switch for turning on mic monitoring, which helps to funnel in just a little bit of outside sound (including your own voice) through its built-in pinhole microphones, so you’re not totally isolated while wearing them.

    Speaking of mic quality, these kinds of mics are certainly not as good as what you’d get with most boom microphones. For instance, some “s” and “f” sounds are often muddled. But on the whole, it’s serviceable. We’ll be on the lookout for PlayStation-specific headsets that offer up good mic quality — many console-exclusive headsets have been released for Xbox so far.

    The Pulse 3D supports listening via an included 3.5mm cable or wirelessly when paired up to the 2.4GHz receiver. What’s new here is support for USB-C charging. Sony is by no means the only company putting USB-C in headsets these days, but it’s nevertheless nice to use the same cord that charges your DualSense to recharge this headset.

    Sony claims 13 hours of wireless performance per charge. The headset actually landed between about 10 and 12 hours during my testing, which is an underwhelming result. Of course, this is less of an issue if you’re connecting it to a power source each time you stop gaming for the day.


    Compatible with any device with an available 3.5mm jack

    Bose quiet comfort 35 II gaming headset

    Image: Bose

    Bose’s QC 35 II gaming headset offers the most features, but at the highest cost of any other headset featured in this guide. Despite costing more than an Xbox Series S or Nintendo Switch, this set delivers on value. It comes with the QC 35 II wireless noise-canceling headphones that can be used on the go with Bluetooth and wired 3.5mm connectivity. There are no other options I’ve listed that have a noise cancellation feature and support for voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant. It’s also among the most comfortable, lightweight options on this list. You’ll know when the QC 35 II is on your head, but it doesn’t pinch or press hard against your ears.

    Used as a gaming headset, either connected via USB through its included desktop controller or via 3.5mm, the QC 35 II makes for a lightweight, comfortable option with a microphone attachment that’s easy to use. This model offers the best noise isolation (even without the battery-draining noise cancellation feature switched on) in any headset I’ve tested. Noise isolation is usually something most headsets fumble, but with this one you’ll be able to better hear footsteps and other crucial noises that might decide the match. With noise cancellation switched on, it really does make everything around you very quiet — perfect for boosting the immersion in your games. The desktop controller I mentioned above adds more features, including a nice volume dial and button that adjusts the intensity of mic monitoring.


    Bose QC 35 II gaming headset

    The best wired gaming headset. An included USB volume controller is compatible with PC, and the headset can be plugged into any console or controller that has a 3.5mm headphone jack or via Bluetooth if your platform supports it.

    The $329 price is high, but if you value noise cancellation and want to have a headset you can easily take on the road (and that has ear cups that can swivel and fold into a compact size), check this out. It’s worth noting that current owners of the QC 35 II headphones unfortunately won’t be able to easily acquire the microphone attachment, as Bose isn’t selling it separately.


    Compatible with any device with an available 3.5mm jack

    Razer BlackShark V2

    Image: Razer

    Razer’s updated BlackShark headset is my runner-up choice for a wired headset you can buy. It’s $100, yet it features a similar design and general feature set to Razer’s $200 wireless V2 Pro model. That also means it’s just as comfortable, with a plush headband and breathable ear cups that don’t apply too much pressure.

    This model’s build materials are a step above the $59 BlackShark V2 X when it comes to being breathable, and it includes a USB sound card, into which the headset’s 3.5mm end plugs. With it, you’ll get slightly better sound quality. Also, using the sound card allows you to use THX spatial sound in Razer’s Synapse 3 software, which I found to be a nice value add but not particularly alluring in practice. Razer says it’s adding spatial audio profiles for popular games moving forward, so you’ll have plenty of ways to utilize the sound card, if this feature strikes your interest. Regardless of your interest, you’ll also be able to plug the headset’s 3.5mm end into a variety of controllers and the Nintendo Switch.


    Razer BlackShark V2

    The best runner-up wired gaming headset. It’s compatible with PC via 3.5mm or the included USB sound card, as well as consoles and controllers that feature a 3.5mm headphone jack.

    Something that stood out to me during testing is that finding a comfortable fit took almost no effort. And while many headsets are comfortable enough to wear for hours, I didn’t want to take the BlackShark V2 off my head. Another nice touch is its volume knob, which affords fine-tune adjustments that dials don’t usually provide.


    Other good options

    If you’re committed to getting a wired headset, there are some interesting options out there — amid a lot of models you should skip outright. I got to test a few other headsets that, while not as good as the models above, might be a smarter buy for your needs or budget.

    For something less expensive than Bose’s headset that still sounds good and provides a lot of comfort, I suggest checking out SteelSeries’ Arctis Prime. It’s $100, like Razer’s BlackShark V2 above, and it offers a similar amount of features (which is to say, it’s light on them, featuring a volume wheel, a mute button, and a 3.5mm jack to share audio with a nearby teammate). While Razer’s model offers slightly deeper bass and depth, the Arctis Prime’s delivery is balanced and I don’t think you’ll feel fatigued by the sound after long-term use. That goes for the comfort, too. This headset has SteelSeries’ signature bungee-style headband that keeps the plastic frame off of your head, feeling very lightweight as a result. It also upgraded the ear pads to feel more deluxe and soft. I thought Razer’s model was just a bit more comfortable to wear over long periods of time, but it’s close enough that you should just buy whichever has a design that you prefer.

    HyperX’s Cloud Revolver 7.1 wired headset for a PC ($150) might be worth checking out, particularly if you’re looking for something comfortable. This model is just as comfy to wear as the Cloud II Wireless, my top wireless pick at the top of this article. Sound quality isn’t at the same level, though, and I’d recommend holding off on any purchases until the price drops, as the package here is fairly light on features.

    Creative Audio’s SXFI Air Gamer ($150) is a USB-C / 3.5mm wired headset that offers a baffling amount of features for the price (including Bluetooth support for phones, touch controls, and even a microSD card slot for listening to stuff locally on-device). Like the previous model we checked out, the design is simplistic and the SXFI sound profile is fantastic to listen to for games, voice chat, or music. It’s disappointing that its sizing adjustments still don’t hold very well, and its button layout takes effort to learn and feels somewhat cobbled together. Those flaws might be worth overlooking for some people, though.



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    Best gaming headsets in 2021


    If you’re shopping for a gaming headset, you have a lot of options. While there are some great ones out there, it’s easy to pay too much, to accidentally purchase a headset that doesn’t work with your desired console or platform, or to get one that’s just uncomfortable. Knowing a thing or two about headphones might aid in your search, but gaming headsets have only gotten more complicated to shop for — especially the wireless ones.

    For instance, wireless headsets made for Xbox operate without a dongle via Microsoft’s proprietary wireless protocol. They’ll only work on Xbox consoles or a PC that has one of Microsoft’s Xbox Wireless Adapters plugged in, in most cases. Conversely, if you get a multiplatform wireless headset that includes a 2.4GHz wireless dongle, it’ll likely work on the likes of the PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch (when plugged into the console’s TV dock), and PC — but not Xbox. It’s best to buy the headset that mentions support for your preferred platform(s) explicitly, or else there’s a good chance you’ll run into some compatibility issues. Of course, you can eliminate most of the guesswork by buying a wired gaming headset instead.

    This guide focuses on newer options that you’re more likely to encounter at stores as opposed to older models that, while possibly still being worthy of your money, are often tougher to find affordably and easily online. Also, just to mention it at the top, I have a large-ish head and that factor obviously played a major role in how I judge the comfort of these headsets.

    You’ll find a few categories below, including the best multiplatform wireless headsets that are compatible with PC, PS4, PS5, and Nintendo Switch via its dock, the best Xbox wireless gaming headsets, the best PlayStation wireless gaming headsets, and the best wired gaming headsets that support the widest variety of platforms, from console controllers to phones, tablets, and VR headsets that feature a 3.5mm headphone jack.

    Best multiplatform wireless gaming headset: HyperX Cloud II Wireless ($150)

    Compatible with PC, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch (via its dock)

    Photo by Cameron Faulkner / The Verge

    The HyperX Cloud II Wireless makes an excellent first impression before even turning it on for the first time. Its headband expands to fit a range of head sizes, and the ear cups rest gently around my ears without nary a pinching feeling around my cranium. The cups can be stretched even further than my head requires, which gives me faith that they’ll be a durable pick for years to come. This is the downfall of many otherwise good gaming headsets. HyperX nailed the fit, and it also aced a lot of other winning elements with the Cloud II.

    The Cloud II Wireless boasts a balanced sound that delivers just enough gusto for every scenario. It’s not the right choice if you want bass to rattle your head, but it’s good if you want your headset to be just as enjoyable to use for gaming as it is for music and voice chats. I also like that the Cloud II Wireless has USB-C charging, and its battery life is long-lasting. HyperX claims 30 hours of battery per charge, and the headset lived up to that mark during my testing. The wireless range of the headset and the included 2.4GHz wireless receiver are also great, suffering no drops anywhere in my apartment. It even remained stable when I stood on the other side of a wall or window, each being about 25 feet away from the receiver.


    HyperX Cloud II Wireless

    The best multiplatform wireless gaming headset. It’s compatible with PC, PS4, and Nintendo Switch (when plugged into the dock).

    Compared to competitors in this price range, the Cloud II plays it simple when it comes to the buttons, and the result is that it’s easy to learn how to master the layout. And if all the functions you require are a volume dial, power button, and a microphone mute button, this will suit you better than other headsets that try to fit too many buttons onto ear cups. On the other hand, it’s missing a game and chat audio mix dial that easily lets you fine-tune your game audio with your pals chatting on Discord or while streaming. You can do this manually by clicking a few windows, but other headsets mentioned below make this easier to do. This headset also makes it easy to turn on mic monitoring to hear yourself talk (and hear things happening around you) by simply holding the mute button to activate.

    The Cloud II Wireless doesn’t have an overwhelming lead over the major players in the space, like Logitech, SteelSeries, and Razer. In fact, it may get the boot if a similarly priced and comparably cozy model with wired 3.5mm connectivity and Bluetooth support comes along. But since that has yet to happen, HyperX’s flagship wireless headset is the easy choice for PC, PlayStation, and Switch gamers.


    Compatible with PC, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch (the console as well as its dock)

    Razer Barracuda X

    Photo by Cameron Faulkner / The Verge

    HyperX’s Cloud II Wireless is still the headset I’d recommend to most people, but Razer’s Barracuda X comes very close to beating it in terms of value. The Barracuda X costs $50 less and presents fewer roadblocks for getting great audio from a myriad of the latest platforms, thanks to its compatibility with USB-C and USB-A ports. It works on everything except for Xbox platforms.

    In case you’re wondering where the Barracuda X fits in Razer’s vast lineup of headsets, it’s actually the start of a brand-new line. It borrows some design elements from Razer’s Opus consumer headphones, but the Barracuda X focuses more on gaming. Its left ear cup hosts all of the controls and ports, including a power button, mute button, and a volume dial. It supports USB-C charging and has a 3.5mm jack for wired listening. There’s also a port for its microphone to plug into.

    Its design and USB-C charging make it stand out from Razer’s other headsets, as does the included USB-C wireless transmitter that can plug directly into a Nintendo Switch, the front of a PS5, or any PC device. Razer doesn’t list support for macOS on its site, but I’ve had no issues using the Barracuda X with music and video calls with its USB-C adapter plugged into a MacBook Pro.


    Razer Barracuda X

    Razer’s latest gaming headset, the Barracuda X, costs $100 and ships with a USB-C audio transmitter. This makes it an easy choice if you game primarily on the go with a Nintendo Switch or if you have a PS5. It’s compatible with other platforms with its USB-A adapter.

    For those who don’t have USB-C ports on their devices, the Barracuda X also ships with a USB-A dongle. Unlike the Astro A20 Gen 2 below, there’s no possibility for Xbox compatibility here, unless you plug in a 3.5mm cable into your controller. SteelSeries’ $150 Arctis 7X ships with a USB-C audio transmitter that’s capable of Xbox Wireless and the 2.4GHz standard for other platforms, including PlayStation. But that model isn’t easy to find in stock right now, and I don’t think it’s worth a $50 premium.

    The Barracuda X is comfortable with its soft, breathable ear pads, and its headband doesn’t push down on my large-sized head. The ear cups can swivel 90 degrees, but when worn correctly, they only do so in a way that makes the padding face away from your chest. It’s a little puzzling but not a deal-breaker. The headset is well-designed overall, but its plastic build makes it feel more budget-level than the top pick above.

    Razer Barracuda X

    Photo by Cameron Faulkner / The Verge

    Importantly, the sound quality is great for the price. These use Razer’s TriForce drivers originally found in the BlackShark V2, but they’re a little smaller here (40mm versus 50mm in the BlackShark V2). Games and music with bass still have an appropriate amount of thump, and they’re good as a headphones replacement, so long as you aren’t expecting stellar sound quality that can rival headphones that cost hundreds more.

    A few features missing from the Barracuda X that could have made it better are a game and chat audio dial and Bluetooth support. If that’s a big deal to you, the runner-up below, Astro’s A20 Gen 2, features a game and chat audio dial but not Bluetooth. A few recommended Xbox and PC-specific headsets further down the page have pulled off including both features, including Microsoft’s $100 Xbox Wireless headset and the $150 Razer Kaira Pro.


    Multiplatform but requires an extra $20 adapter to work with both PS and Xbox

    Image: Astro

    Astro’s new A20 for the PS5 and Xbox Series X / S consoles is unique in that it’s one of the few cross-platform wireless headsets out there. Buying just one of them (in either the PlayStation blue / white colorway or the Xbox green / white) can let you connect to either system. However, there’s a small catch: you’ll need to buy an additional $20 wireless adapter to let it connect to the console opposite of your headset’s color styling (each headset includes one adapter). Despite the string attached, this functionality makes it an appealing option for people who will be getting both the PS5 and Xbox Series X or S consoles.

    Whichever platform you’ll use with this headset, Astro’s A20 Gen 2 is packed with more buttons and features than the Cloud II Wireless above. On the ear cups, Astro managed to also fit in a dedicated button for switching the equalizer to your liking to add or subtract bass and vocal clarity. There’s also a game and chat audio mixing dial to help you find the right balance of sounds between your apps. I love this feature, and I also dig that it has a good amount of mic monitoring, so you can hear a little bit of the outside world. This headset’s microphone doesn’t detach. Instead, you’ll just move it up to mute it, which gets it out of your face.