Gaming Headset Buyer's Guide & Roundup

Article Index

Round-up Summary & Conclusion

Round-up Summary
We've checked out six very different headsets and headphones in this article, each with their own strengths, weaknesses and unique features. The best set of cans for your gaming sessions will depend on your specific needs, but here is our take on which product had the best value and sound quality.

In terms of overall value, it is a tie between the Creative Arena Surround USB and the Turtle Beach Ear Force HPA2. Both of these headsets are purpose-built for gaming and they do their job very well. Both headsets offer impressive surround sound, though through different methods. Both headsets also cost about the same and are capable of solid bass reproduction. In the end, the tie breaker will largely come down to which input method works best for your setup. The Creative Arena Surround offers an excellent all-in-one USB solution that includes a built-in sound card while the Turtle Beach has 5.1 channel inputs and works with your existing surround sound audio adapter.

Creative Arena Sound and Turtle Beach Ear Force HPA2

In terms of sound quality and sonic clarity, we thought the Sennheiser HD 595 and Ultrasone HFI 780 were head and shoulders above the rest. These two headphones delivered the most detail and the most balanced sound. However they are also the two most expensive products we've looked at and they both lack essential features like microphones, in-line controls and surround sound capability. While you can add the missing features separately, this drives the prices even higher. If you think the extra sound clarity is worth the high cost, these might be the right choices for you.

Sennheiser HD 595 and Ultrasone HFI 780

Unfortunately the two Razer headsets we listened to didn't quite come ahead in either overall value or sound quality. However they are still excellent products. Between the two, the Carcharias is the better value but it lacks the feature set of the Creative Arena Surround USB or the Turtle Beach Ear Force HPA2. The Megalodon has one of the best feature sets in this round-up but its over aggressive up-mixing algorithm means it only sounds its best with native surround sound sources or in stereo mode.

A Final Word
Any of the products we checked out in this round-up can be an excellent choice for a gaming headphone or headset. There are also other headphones and headsets we didn't highlight in this article that may be worth your consideration as well, obviously. When choosing your ideal gaming headset or headphone, make sure it meets your unique needs. Make a point to evaluate and weigh the product's price, sound quality, design and build quality, input method and last but perhaps most importantly, how comfortable it is to wear. Always try to listen to any potential sound equipment before purchasing it, although this is often not possible. And lastly, remember that there is no single best choice when it comes to sound quality, there is only the right choice for you.

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