6

I'm on the hunt for a new pair of gaming headphones with a built-in microphone. I have a few hard requirements.

I need the 'internal' size of the cups to be at least 70mm (my current pair is that size and fits perfectly) and fit a larger head size (I am not sure how to measure that).

I'd like USB or a wireless dongle. Bluetooth would be OK, but I'd need to add Bluetooth to my system. A 3.5mm phone connector is kind of messy for my purposes.

Sound quality should be decent - I'm not expecting audiophile quality sound, but I'd not want my ears to bleed.

It needs to be padded in all the right places - my past few headphones have had completely padded headbands, with fabric rather than pleather in contact with my head, and it's comfortable. Likewise, pleather, not raw sponge ear cups.

I prefer closed cups over open cups. My parents have gotten into the habit of turning the lights off and on if they need my attention anyway.

My budget is about 300 SGD (~220 USD). Local availability in Singapore would be a plus.

6

My suggestion is the Corsair VOID headset.

Pros

The earcups are a departure from the ubiquitous circular/oval shapes - see the images in the link above. I find it to be an almost perfect fit around the ear without extra space. It's approx 70mm along the longer diagonal. They are circumaural (over-ear/closed cups).

enter image description here

It is very well padded along the headband and on the earcups, with a cloth/mesh covering. They seem fairly large, where I find most other headphones to be too tight.

The mic boom is long and flexible. Many other headsets I've tried have the mic a fair distance from the mouth (shorter, maybe straight only), which is a problem for people who speak softly.

The mic seems to be directional and does a decent job of avoiding most keyboard noise.

Cons

The biggest issue would probably be the CUE software - it has a habit of halving volumes of other programs over time until they hit 0. But the software doesn't really add much value unless you really want to use the macros or lighting controls - if you just want basic audio in/out, you won't need it, as it appears to use standard USB audio drivers. This seems to be fixed as of v 2.x.

It can be a bit heavy for extended listening, weighing in at 375g on the wireless model.

It sits well on the head when looking straight ahead, but can be loose/heavy enough to slip if looking straight down while moving your head.

Other

Sound quality, as always, is subjective. I find it perfectly fine for listening to music, and I've heard no complaints about the mic quality from others.

There are wired and wireless options available. I'm currently using the wireless one, which has decent range with no detectable quality loss or stuttering.

  • As for Singapore availability, 199 SGD @ Lazada: lazada.sg/…, and one forum post mentions 189 SGD @ CH Computers – Bob Aug 14 '16 at 9:59
4

I have a few alternatives, with different pros and cons. I have extensive first-hand experience with each of these products.

SteelSeries Siberia 800 / 840

First, a little history. SteelSeries launched the "H Wireless" headset a couple years ago. It's a wireless headset with a basestation, with a replaceable battery (two of them, in fact, with a charger in the base station), flexible boom mic, and many options for connectivity. It's over-ear, relatively comfortable, but weighs a ton. It depends on being within ~100m of the base station (it's a Class 1 2.4 GHz device) to get wireless functionality, though. You can still use it as normal headphones with a 3.5mm cable.

The Siberia 800 is basically the H Wireless, rebranded and with slight tweaks to the aesthetic.

The Siberia 840 is basically the Siberia 800, but with Bluetooth added as another option in addition to the standard wired connections (USB, 3.5mm and toslink). I emailed SteelSeries to get more details about exactly how their Bluetooth works (is it in the base station or the headset, for one), and will update you when I hear back. I'm betting the Bluetooth transceiver is in the base station, and lets you do things like stream music or calls from your phone to your base station to your headset.

My experience is solely with the H Wireless, but this product family is so incredibly similar to the original H Wireless that I basically have experience with the 840, minus the optional Bluetooth stuff.

Pros:

  • Two batteries - as long as you keep one charging, you'll never run out of juice. It takes about 5-10 seconds for an experienced user to swap batteries.

  • Sound quality - they seem to use an extremely low latency, lossless codec that's perfectly suitable for real-time gaming. Also, the sound never once dropped out or had any digital artifacts while I was using the H Wireless.

  • Over-ear and very large - the only possible issue you might have is that the headset feels a little heavy, and may press on your skull with an uncomfortable amount of force. Not sure if they've improved that at all with the new models. But it will definitely encompass your entire ear within the padded cup.

  • No special software is required to use them -- the 3.5mm / toslink / USB sound card options are all pretty standard. I think the Siberia 840 has some support for an EQ or something through SteelSeries' custom software, if you want. Meh.

Cons:

  • Battery life: Either the battery "fuel gauge" on the base station is wildly inaccurate, or the battery life on these Li-Ion cells deteriorates at a frightening pace with use. It was nice (around 18-20 hours) when first using the headset, but within 3-6 months it was around half that. I generally ran the batteries down to about 25% before recharging them but I never let them drain completely, so when I first got 'em, I was changing battery about once per day, and within 6 months I was changing battery about two to three times for a full day gaming session.

  • SteelSeries refused to sell replacement batteries for the H Wireless. Not sure if that has changed for the Siberia 800 / 840.

  • These cans are a bit pricier than Bob's suggestion (but, thankfully, not quite into the $400-500 price range).

  • Pending the result of my email to SteelSeries, even the 840 might be functionally useless as a wireless headset if you carry it away from the base station. Unless the Bluetooth codec is inside the headset itself, which would be awesome, as these could then double as Bluetooth headphones for music listening and taking calls while on travel (with a smartphone or laptop).

The next suggestion is for Bluetooth headphones with which I have extensive experience (yes, even for gaming) and represents my current personal setup.

Foreword: Whenever you're using Bluetooth in a gaming setup, it is important that both your transmitter and the headphones support AptX Low Latency. Just AptX will not be good enough. The reason is that AptX Low Latency is the only Bluetooth A2DP codec with a low enough latency to be suitable for gaming. Other codecs like AAC and "regular" AptX will sound nice, but the latency is too high for real-time gaming. You will notice the latency with any other codec, and it will drive you insane!

BeoPlay H8

These headphones are truly as wonderful to wear as the marketing says they are. The marketing is stunningly honest in the way that all of their claims have been very well substantiated by my personal experience with the headphones since May 2016 (over 3 months of daily use as of this writing).

However, there is no implementation of Bluetooth on the market that provides simultaneous, high-quality audio playback and microphone capture. The standard Bluetooth profiles simply do not have anything that would make this possible. The Hands Free Profile (HFP) provides for very low-quality duplex audio, and the A2DP profile provides for very high-quality playback only.

So, in order to build a perfect gaming setup that works with Bluetooth headphones, you're going to need to let go of the requirement to make use of the mic built into the headset, and use a mic on your desk. Some people simply won't be able to accept this, but I find it works extremely well for me.

Also, since I am not aware of any Bluetooth dongles for Windows that support AptX Low Latency (this codec would have to be added to the software Bluetooth stack on Windows), you will have to buy a separate "full stack" Bluetooth transceiver for this setup. Personally I use the Imperial BART 1, but the HomeSpot will work too (make sure to get the model that says AptX Low Latency; there are several different models of device under the same product page on Amazon).

Lastly, for a mic, I just use the Blue Yeti (with a third-party pop filter). The mic is more than sufficient for voice; it's actually suitable for recording indie-grade music (singing and instruments).

Now, on to the pros and cons of the actual BeoPlay H8 headset, keeping in mind my setup above...

Pros:

  • Quite good battery life, and it seems to be holding up well over time, at least after 3 months.

  • Never any dropouts with the Imperial BART 1 or the Homespot. They do drop out with Android phones, but that's a bug in Android I believe.

  • Truly awesome head feel, very lightweight, and feels extremely sturdy. The cups are on-ear, but the lightness of the headset prevents fatigue pain on the ears. The cups are among the most comfortable I've ever tried on.

  • Perfect, artifact-free active noise cancellation (SO great for immersion!). The passive noise cancellation is also fantastic.

  • Sound quality with AptX Low Latency is basically equivalent to a high-end wired setup, as far as I can hear. It's a combination of the high quality acoustics, the perfect ANC, the drivers, the (lack of) a biased EQ in the DSP (it's very flat) and the high bitrate and very good lossy compression of AptX Low Latency (I understand that it's comparable to at least MP3, possibly with compression ratios approaching AAC, and they use a very generous bitrate with Bluetooth 4.0 or later).

  • The touch controls seem weird at first, but you'll get used to them. Presents a nice, clean human interface without any buttons (except the on/off switch).

  • User-replaceable battery. BeoPlay sells replacement batteries for $50. These should last you a long time.

  • Bluetooth 4.2 -- supports the latest Bluetooth standard, which is good for reliability and range, because they've made some iterative improvements in 4.1 and 4.2 to minimize interference with other 2.4 GHz protocols and even 4G LTE.

  • Dual-purpose: you can stow these in a bag or around your neck and take them on the go with a smartphone, and they're great for making phone calls or listening to music. If you have a smartphone supporting AptX Low Latency (some do), they're even suitable for smartphone/tablet real-time gaming. No voice chat at the same time, though.

Cons:

  • Bluetooth limitation: no simultaneous A2DP and mic capture :( But this is not specific to this headset. Until the Bluetooth standards body introduces a proper duplex profile, we're stuck with this limitation.

  • Cost. They're definitely a luxury item, and a proper gaming setup requires the purchase of a mic and a Bluetooth AptX LL transceiver, which drives up the cost into the $600+ range ($500 + at least $50 for a decent mic + $50ish for a transceiver).

  • These headphones do have some sound reliability problems after a fairly small range gap between the transceiver and your headphones. I think the BT transceiver in the headset may be Class 2 (10 meters). I can walk into the next room, but sometimes if I try to go out into the hallway and there's a wall or two between me and the transceiver, it'll start to drop out. This is with distances that never caused any sound disruption with the SteelSeries H Wireless, so there are definitely wireless solutions that have longer range than the BeoPlay H8 (this could be a Bluetooth limitation, or it might be particular to these cans, not sure). However, if you have a direct line of sight to the transmitter, you shouldn't have any problems all the way out to 10 meters -- it's only when I put a wall or door between me and the BART 1 that I have any reliability problems.

Conclusion

I basically hate the physical construction of most wireless "gaming" headsets because they think it's cool to use some weird triangular or polygonal shape that doesn't fit my ears at all and leaves huge gaps for air to get in and reduces immersion. They also generally lack ANC, are too heavy, and don't really have audiophile-grade sound production.

Though I can recommend the Siberia 800/840 if you can get over some of these limitations, the real "audiophile gamer" setup in my mind is with the BeoPlay H8. It's just pretty expensive.

Oh, and I don't do wired stuff anymore. I refuse to be wired down. It's great to walk into the next room or go to the bathroom and never miss a beat (especially if you're listening to something live, like a Teamspeak room or a baseball game, and don't want to miss anything).

  • 3
    It's better if you split out multiple recommendations into multiple answers, so that each recommendation can be voted on individually. – ArtOfCode Aug 14 '16 at 18:58
3

I had a few other suggestions - Kingston was highly recommended, but it wasn't available at the mall I was checking out, and there were a few odd brands I've never seen elsewhere at my local store.

I ended up going with a Razer ManO'War. I admit, one of the reasons I got it is aesthetic - it fits my all black rig well ;p. It also seemed to have the right-sized headband.

Enter image description here

Let's start with the features I didn't mention in my original question (some of which are useless). I'm a bit of a Razer fan so the fact that the headset works with synapse is probably a feature. It supports (software emulated) 7.1 audio.

It has what I'm told are the standard on-headset volume controls with push to silence, and it integrates well with an on screen OS for both. The headset is retractable, and I'm told sound quality is acceptable. (Considering I used an SM 57 before, I wasn't expecting an improvement). Charging is over USB, and the ManO'War comes with a little 'dock' for your transmitter, and a USB charging cable, both of which are the standard 'soft' braided cable Razer uses.

I'm used to lesser audiophile/professional grade headsets. The ManO'War feels light, though the plastic seems sold. Most of the features are pretty standard I'm told. Sound quality is acceptable - it passes my usual quick tests. I'd have liked a little more padding on the headband, but that's a personal preference. It seems ok in normal use.

You can mute the microphone by pressing down on the volume button (which is handy), and that lights up a red light on the microphone tip to let you know that it's muted.

In use, it feels barely there. I use it at 'default' no extension and there's no cramp. It sits over my head comfortably, and the ear pieces fit well enough.

It seems to be an odd semi-open back design - I can hear what's happening around me, but I don't notice much leakage when I'm not wearing it.

It works well for the distances I need and pairs very quickly.

Stuff I don't like? Chroma seems pointless, unless I get a mirror over my screen like I keep threatening to, I can't really see it. Considering these are wireless, I just turn them off. There is a kind of weird rotation on the ear pieces; they turn 90 degrees one way, not the other.

The ability to check battery level without the synapse configurations application would have been nice, but I run this on windows, and use synapse for other things anyway.

I'd note these are quite literally on the edge of my budget at RRP.

  • -_- wish I could afford those, I am currently using a set of Turtle Beach DXL1's. meant for the Xbox 360, but hey optical in and virtual 5.1 surround... – NZKshatriya Oct 30 '16 at 15:55
  • My hardware shop told me the Man O' War only had 60mm inside space. You asked for 70mm. Which is correct? – Vincent Vancalbergh Feb 21 '17 at 17:26
1

I bought the Plantronics GameCom 788 as my first headset and every other headset I've tried after just felt and sounded terrible. It's the best audio-related purchase I ever made besides my studio monitors.

I can never go back to any other headset.

The sound quality is great, and the microphone quality is honestly astounding. I have a broadcast quality microphone and there is almost zero noticeable difference between them.

Also, the Dolby drivers that come with it just make everything sound so much better. I can't deal with it being off any more.

And just so you know, the GameCom 780 and 788 are the exact same. The only difference is design. I have owned both.

Technical Details:

  • Connects via USB cable (works with consoles too)
  • Open cups give a larger sound stage
  • Not sure what the ear and headband padding is made of but it's breathable and comfortable.
  • Very reasonable cost of between £30-50 GBP considering the quality
  • Licensed Dolby 7.1 surround sound tech that I don't understand but everything sounds way better with the option turned on

Official Product Page

  • This is a good answer. To make it even better, can you add a few more details to it please? How does it connect to the computer (USB, 3.5mm jacks, wireless, etc)? Is the padding covered in fabric? Are they open or closed cups? What about cost? The answers to these questions will greatly help out the OP, and maybe anyone else looking for something similar later. – Cfinley Aug 2 '17 at 3:22
  • Done and done ( ^_ ^)b – Pyroglyph Aug 2 '17 at 7:27

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