Best Gaming Headphones in 2019September 27, 2019
With the rise of Streaming and notable figures like Ninja, TimTheTatman, and DrDisrespect, gaming is bigger than ever. Everybody wants to Stream or be a Professional Gamer. This year has seen a ridiculous amount of gamer-centric hardware released because of this. When it comes to Gaming Headphones, there are a lot of choices in 2019. By the end of this article, my aim is to help you see the forest through the trees and crown the Best Gaming Headphones in 2019.
In this article, I will break down what makes a decent set of gaming headphones. Believe me when I say “A lot of manufacturers just make cool looking headphones that are useless”. The Gamer aesthetic is really cool, but If I’m playing an FPS, I’d rather be able to hear the opponent’s footsteps before they can hear mine. That being said, let’s get to it.
What Makes a Good Gaming Headphone?
Sound is extremely subjective, what sounds good to you might sound average to me. Here are a few things that determine how a gaming headphone will sound and perform.
Frequency response is measured in Hertz or HZ. It’s the range of Lows (Bass), Mids, and Highs (Treble) that a headphone can produce. Most headphones have a range of 20 – 20,000HZ. When the first number is below 20 it can produce bass that is felt not heard. When the second number is higher than 20,000HZ it will produce treble that the human ear can’t hear. A higher frequency range doesn’t necessarily equate to a better listening experience, but its good to know what the numbers mean.
Drivers in headphones are usually between 20mm and 50mm in diameter. Generally speaking, the bigger the driver the louder the headphone. The bass is also cleaner with a bigger driver but the treble will suffer because of this. In a gaming headphone, you want more of a balanced sound and slightly more treble, so bigger isn’t always better. If you like more bass go for it, but you will find it harder to hear interactions in the game.
Type of Driver
There are 4 types of drivers that are commonplace in the market. Dynamic Drivers, Armature Drivers, Planar Magnetic Drivers, and Electrostatic Drivers. Dynamic Drivers are usually found in cheaper headphones and Electrostatic are found in High-End audiophile gear. A few manufacturers make their own style of the driver, but they are usually a combination of what I mentioned. Most often than not you will find Dynamic and Planar Magnetic drivers in most decent gaming headphones
There are a few different Surround Sound standards available in 2019. Look for a set of headphones that have 7.1 Surround Sound support and/or Dolby Atmos. Trust me, if you want to hear everything accurately, you need to have 7.1 Surround Sound on your Gaming Headphones.
Open-Back or Closed-Back
Open-Back Headphones allow the drivers to vent air pressure out the back and Closed-Back doesn’t allow that pressure to vent. Both have distinctly different sound profiles, Open-Back is usually used for critical or high-end audio, and Closed is used for casual listening. Most gamers use Closed-Back headphones because that is what is marketed to them 99% of the time. In actual fact, Open-Back would create a much wider and richer soundstage that would be more beneficial in gaming. If you game behind closed doors and not in public like an E-Sport pro, go with Open-Back.
When I game, I game for hours. There is nothing worse than uncomfortable headphones. When choosing headphones, make sure that they will fit your head, and that the material used on the ear cups is premium. Keep an eye out for leather or pleather ear cups, they are good for short sessions but doesn’t allow heat to escape very well. My go-to material is memory foam.
One thing that doesn’t affect the way a headphone will sound but does affect the overall gaming experience, is the Microphone. Not all microphones are created equally, so when choosing a Microphone on a headset make sure it has Noise-canceling capabilities and can be muted on the fly. Noise-canceling being the most important feature to have, the last thing you want is background noise in a party chat.
Wired or Wireless
Wireless technology has come a long way over the years. Gone are the days of terrible delay between gameplay and sound. You get what you pay for with Wireless headphones and they are almost always more expensive than their wireless counterparts. If you have the budget, go Wireless, if you’re a bit more conservative, go Wired.
Gaming Headphone Options
I have put together a quick list of Gaming Headphones that fulfill most of the desirable features listed above.
Plantronics RIG 800LX
Entry Level Wireless Gaming Headphones
The RIG 800LX has been my go-to Gaming Headphones for most of 2019. For me, they are very comfortable and light, I have had a few all-day sessions without any head or ear fatigue. You get 20 – 20,000Hz and 40mm Dynamic Drivers. 7.1 Surround Sound is present and you also get a License for Dolby Atmos, which has to be heard to be believed. It is a closed-back design but Plantronics has gone to a lot of effort to refine the drivers and the listening experience is superb.
You have 4 audio profiles that you can switch on the fly, and each one is a noticeable difference. The Mic is Noise Cancelling and all you have to do to Mute it is raise the Mic arm, it takes some getting used to but it works well. Wireless functionality is where this really shines, it has a USB dongle you can fit into your Xbox or PC (The PS4 Version of these headphones is the RIG 800HS). This allows for a 10m range and lag-free audio, you also get a whopping 24 hours from a single full charge.
Sennheiser GSP 500
Open-Back Gaming Headphones
The Sennheiser GSP 550 is an open-back gaming beast. Sennheiser has always made fantastic audio gear and has been playing in the gaming industry for a few years now. One thing you can always count on with Seinheiser is incredible build quality, you can really tell they think about everything that goes into a headphone. You get 10 – 30,000Hz and 7.1 Surround sound out the box. One thing Seinheiser doesn’t like disclosing is the size of their drivers. All we know is they are Dynamic Drivers.
The Open-Back set up creates that wide soundstage that is truly immersive. When you hear something behind you it’s like it’s in the room with you. If you have your own space and no other noise sources close by, these will shine. You can tell this set of headphones was designed by Germans, build quality is amazing and all up it weighs 358 grams. It has a noise-canceling microphone in the lift to mute boom arm setup. These headphones will work with PC and all consoles that have a 3.5 mm jack and there is also a PS4 adapter.
Astro A50 Gen 4 – Best Gaming Headphones in 2019
The King of Wireless Gaming Headphones
Last year I wrote an article on some of the Best Gaming Headphones of 2018, the A50 Gen 3 was crowned my winner and that hasn’t changed. When it comes to gaming peripherals Astro knocks it out the box every time. The Gen 4 refines and improves on everything that made the Gen 3 great. 20 – 20,000Hz frequency response and 7.1 surround sound with a separate app for fully customizing how these sound. It has 40mm Neodynium Magnet Drivers that have been tuned to perfection. You will get 15 hours on a charge and have a 10m range from the base station. The Base Station acts as an amplifier and transmitter for low-latency voice communications, it is also a charge station for the Headphones
The A50 is closed back with a large soundstage, this is because Astro designs their products with hardcore gamers in mind. These are designed for E-Sport competitions with thousands of people present. The Gamer aesthetic is present but the colors available this Gen are more stealthy than the fluorescent colors from last Gen. It has a noise-canceling and voice isolating microphone on a lift to mute boom arm. The earcups it comes with are really comfortable, but you can purchase Memory Foam earcups from Astro as well. These Headphones are compatible with Xbox and PC out the box, you will need to buy a separate base station to use on a PS4.
The Astro A50 Gen 4 does fetch a premium, and I only recommend the A50 if you absolutely must have the best Wireless Headphones for Gaming. You can pick them up on Amazon for around $297 USD.
Summary – Best Gaming Headphones in 2019
I’m always hesitant to recommend Audio equipment of any kind because people hear things differently. Personally, I have been through the gauntlet of researching and purchasing multiple Gaming Headphones over the years. In my opinion, I find it hard to go past a good set of Wireless Gaming Headphones. You all know I would wireless all the things if I could. My choice for the Best Gaming Headphones in 2019 is the Astro A50 Gen 4, if the price is too high, the Runner Up is the Plantronics RIG 800LX.
If you have any questions about Gaming Headphones feel free to comment below and I will do my best to answer them.
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