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Gaming headphones: Your most friendly buying guide

  • By Quantum Hi-Tech

We all want to think about a game being visually stunning notwithstanding console-based or PC. For example, you’d prefer to have a 4K ultra-wide TV or monitor to enhance your gaming experience. Similarly is the case for sound. Even in sound, you either want to have the immersive 7.1 channel surround sound or a pair of perfect headsets for a more personalised setup. Speaking of the latter, headsets have become an inseparable part of gaming. The quality of audio has certainly improved over the years. Gaming headsets provide you with pragmatic solutions to your audio necessities while gaming. Moreover, playing sans headsets can be a challenge as the loud, booming sounds may not be pleasing to someone else’s ears. However, there’s another challenge and it’s quite ubiquitous in the field of technology. With so many brilliant options, which one should you root for? That’s why we present you with an easy-to-buy guide for gaming headphones:

Pursuit for Comfort

Your headphones may have an extraordinary sound setup and a great mic, but if it’s not comfortable, the game is lost. Comfort is everything. Bad eyes, neck pain, headaches and earache are a few of the problems that can come with ill-fitted headphones. The problem is not what materials have been used to create the pair, it’s more than that. But let’s talk about that first. You may find headsets made out of crude materials like cheap plastic or poor quality metal or wire. Also, the rubber/leather materials used can be weary (or it may get after some time). Beware of such stuff. Let’s talk about other pivotal factors. 

The fitting has become a major factor among headset lovers, despite their superior quality, design and brand. The headphones should be properly clasped over the years. It could cover your ears in entirety or cover a good portion. Those who wear glasses should take special care of this. It shouldn’t be causing pain in your temples. When it comes to earcups, people prefer leather earcups as they make the headphones look quite voguish. But it’s a fact that if you’re prone to sweating, this could turn out to be a thumbs down. That’s why sponge cups are a safer bet. Ensure the headbands are flexible and relaxing comfortably over your head. The non-flexible ones can give a crushing sensation. 

Next is the weight. Going by the pictures, the weighty ones always appear to be the better options. Even if they (might) be, do not necessarily fall for it. What happens is that heavy gaming headphones donned for longer durations, especially gaming, can cause minor pain in your neck, if not detrimental. That’s why the safer bet is always on their lightweight counterparts. But don’t strictly conform to this.

Pursuit for Comfort

For what it is— Sound

The most critical aspect of a headphone is the sound. During gameplay, headphones with high-quality sounds make a lot of difference. Every soft and loud sound matters during in-game. Let’s say if you’re playing PUBG, you need to be aware of the explosions as well as approaching footsteps. Gunfire— if it’s coming from the left or the right, the sound of grenades, etc. There can be many aspects to consider while discussing sound but here we’ll be discussing mainly two- Surround Sound and Stereo. 

Surround Sound

Surround Sound lets you enjoy a true audio experience with the sound coming off from all directions. But this is in the case of a theatrical setup. The concept of surround sound in headphones is relatively new and not equally impactful. The said technology has secured a ‘compromised fit’ among gaming headsets due to space constraints. The virtual surround sound may somewhat help you to experience it but abysmal sound manipulation mars the audio quality.  

Surround Sound

There’s a second type to this as well which has designated speakers for each audio channel. This makes the audio positional, paving the way for a more systemised surround sound experience. You almost get the exact vibe of the surround sound making the experience theatrical. However, there’s one drawback. Due to the requirements to fit more speakers, the audio is not that exceptional. 

The latter is a good choice for FPS pros as it has the preferable positional audio system. This makes your gaming more lifelike as you can feel the direction from where a particular sound is coming from.

Stereo

Stereo sound technology has come of age. If you’re not looking for surround sound, then this is undoubtedly the best. The sound quality is marvellous. The speakers are large, the sound is unblemished and the quality is clear. This helps you pay more attention to minor sounds while you're at the game. 

While preference is one’s personal choice, for games like PUBG, Fortnite, CoD Multiplayer, Apex Legends, the Surround Sound is a better option as it’s easier to determine the direction of the sound. For games like GTA, Assassin’s Creed, Last of Us, FIFA, stereo can be a better option. But if you want to pursue online streaming for YouTube, Facebook or Twitch, you have to be very careful while choosing sound type in your pair of headphones as audio quality, in that case, should never be compromised.

Isolation— This too is mandatory

Isolation is another key factor which you need to think about. In the comfort section, you read how big your headphones should be to make you free from any irritating factors. But don’t forget to be mindful of the isolation factor. Without proper isolation, the sound you receive can be deceiving as it can be very different from what you (actually) intend to hear. Gaming demands that you be attentive to directional audio cues and missing them can be very embarrassing if you’re a streamer. 

The size and material play a significant role in this regard. If the foam padding doesn’t trap the ambient noise around, there can be a snag in accuracy. If you have long ears with lobes, then the idea is to go for bigger ear cups. Velour pads are recommended for people with glasses. Not just the comfort aspect, but if you’re using one, you won’t miss out on the bass.

Although you can argue that Noise Cancellation will filter out external noises, some noises can still be disturbing if your ears aren’t properly isolated. 

Mic— Have or have not

Preferably, have. Gaming headsets with microphones makes it easier to communicate with your mates or interact with fellow streamers and audiences. Whatever time and money you invest in spending on researching the above points, donate the same to select the microphone. 

The most amazing results are to be known with fellow gamers who have equally amazing headphones with noise cancellation and a great mic. 

Not necessarily a thumb rule but if you can, get a gaming headphone with detachable mic so that you can attach/detach as per your wish. This can be useful while watching movies, listening to music or carrying the headphones from one place to another.

To Wire or Not to Wire

Again a matter of preference. Both have their fair share of pros and cons over one another; it’s just what makes you feel friendlier in usage. Wired headphones do not have the issue of running out of power and you can use it for as long as you can. What can irk you is the wire itself. The first is manoeuvrability in usage. Your movements are a bit restricted as you can make limited movements with your headphones attached via a jack. Though not as much as earphones, the wire has the probability of getting tangled (science is still searching how that magically happens the moment you remove them) and undoing it becomes a challenge.

To Wire or Not to Wire

With wireless gaming headphones, the movement is maximum, it has a range wherein you can move your head without being pulled from the other end. This is best for console gaming where you need animated movements like jumping, ducking, swerving, etc. The most concerning factor is the power factor. Since it’s battery operated, there may be a chance that you may forget to charge it and they may stop mid-game. 

The cost factor is another factor to consider. Wireless headphones are comparatively more expensive than their wired counterparts so choose your investments wisely. 

While most points covering the apt ways to buy a pair of gaming headphones reiterate that it’s a matter of choice, the above elements do give you a primer on what’s what and how’s how. The form factor, set of features, connectivity, durability and feasibility all come into the picture so do purchase post performing a brief market research. You can check out Quantum’s range of wearable audio devices which offer you a wide range of choices (including gaming earphones and headphones) to look from. Do go through some reviews and unboxing clips of headgears on YouTube just to be acquainted with the product you’re finna buy.  So go get ‘em and become the death incarnate (virtual only plox).

FAQs

Does a USB headset need a sound card?

Headsets that have internal sound cards won’t be affected by the external one. What you can do is configure a few apps that can use a discrete sound card but the sound will ultimately emerge from the audio output of the speakers plugged into the built-in soundcard.  It all comes down to whether any app in particular lets you select the output device.

How do I connect my USB headset to my ps4?

It’s quite easy.

  • Click on Settings and go to Sound and Screen
  • In Audio Output Settings change Primary output Port to HDMI Out

Once connected, you need to configure the Mic setup:

  • Go to Settings
  • Click on Devices
  • Select Audio Devices
  • Choose your audio input device
Which is better, headphones or headsets for gaming?

Tough call indeed but let’s put this categorically. If you’re the sole player then go for headphones unquestionably. If you’re up for streaming or group playing then headsets could be a better option. The latter has a mic which makes conversion comparatively clearer as you’re talking directly into an audio device. Headphones make the gaming experience more immersive with exceptional sound. There are multiple audio channels which help to focus on different noises. In contrast, headsets provide a holistic setup with a reduced quality in terms of sound quality. They may have more bass but they usually provide less isolation.


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