When you buy a gaming headset, you look at a lot of things. The usuals include build quality, sound quality, and wireless or wired connectivity. However, it’s those extra bundles of features that make them gaming headsets.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my Sennheiser HD 820. The sound quality is crisp with perfect balance on the high and mid-ranges, just the way I like it. However, I don’t use it for gaming since it lacks those extra features and a mic.
Sidetone or mic monitoring is one such coveted feature in gaming headsets. This feature lets you hear a small amount of your own voice while you speak to your team. Without this audio feedback, your senses would be dulled with the game sound and noise-canceling feature. You end up shouting while you speak to your team and that’s very annoying for anyone on the other side.
I’ve been banned plenty of times before I discovered this feature. With mic monitoring, I can gauge my speaking volume and adjust it accordingly. It also helps during video calls. You know exactly what you sound like and adjust your pitch, enunciation, and other factors when you want to make a solid impression during an interview.
Unfortunately, most manufacturers don’t bother to market or list this important feature in their specifications. So, if you want this feature you’re usually shooting blind while buying a gaming headset. To protect you from a bad investment, I’ve listed and reviewed some of the best gaming headsets with sidetone.
However, before reading further into the article, the table below should give you an overall view of the headsets:
|Headsets||ASTRO Gaming A50 Wireless Headset + Base Station Gen 4||Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless SE Gaming Headset||Steelseries Arctis Pro Wireless Gaming Headset||Turtle Beach Elite Pro 2 + SuperAmp||JBL Quantum 400||Xbox Wireless Headset|
|Price||Check price on Amazon||Check price on Amazon||Check price on Amazon||Check price on Amazon||Check price on Amazon||Check price on Amazon|
|Weight||0.83 lbs||0.82 lbs||1.51 lbs||2.09 pounds||0.60 lbs||1.53 pounds|
|Frequency Response Range||20Hz to 20,000Hz||20Hz to 40,000Hz||10 to 40,000Hz||12 to 20,000Hz||20 to 20,000Hz||20 to 20,000Hz|
|Impedance||48 ohms||32 ohms||32 ohms||–||32 ohms||32 ohms|
|Battery Life||15 hours||20 hours||10 hours on each battery||–||–||15 hours|
ASTRO Gaming A50 Wireless Headset + Base Station Gen 4 (Best for PlayStation)
Astro headsets have been my go-to wireless gaming headsets for the PS4. So, when I got my hands on the PS5, I had to check out the new Astro A50 Gen4. Let’s get the first thing out of the way, sound quality. Sound is as important as the visuals when you’re playing video games and the Astro A50 delivers.
While it doesn’t sound anything like an audiophile headphone, it doesn’t need to. The Astro headset isn’t exactly cheap, but those professional headphones with high impedance are very expensive, impractical, and need other things like amps jacked up to it.
It has surround sound and the Xbox version of this headphone also supports Dolby Atmos. There are no distortions on the lows, highs, and mids, and comes with presets out of the box to tune the headphones for different game genres. For instance, while playing music, film, or cinematic games like God of War or TLOS, you can choose the warm-sounding studio preset.
When it comes to features, it has all of them except Active Noise Cancellation. Advanced users can download the Command Center software on PC or Mac and adjust the sound profiles, EQ settings, sidetone, and other features. When you connect it to your Playstation and toggle the switch from PC to PS5, the sidetone settings and all other changes are retained.
While PC and Xbox users have always enjoyed the sidetone feature without any problem, PlayStation always did a bad job implementing it on their consoles. I experienced many issues with the sidetone volume on most headsets connected to my PS4 and unfortunately, the same holds for PS5.
The Astro A50 is the only exception and combined with its digital audio pass-through and the charging base station that also acts as a connectivity hub, it makes this gaming headset the ideal choice for Playstation owners.
- Crisp, balanced sound quality
- Immersive surround sound experience
- Sidetone setting works flawlessly on the PS5
- Strong and reliable wireless connection with a long-range
- Extremely tight fit not suitable for people with larger heads
- Steep pricing for a gaming headset
- Needs additional HDMI converter adapter for PS5
Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless SE Gaming Headset (Stellar Build Quality with Elegant Design)
The Corsair Virtuoso was a great headset and tech reviewers and gamers couldn’t get enough of it. That’s why I was excited about the redesigned and upgraded Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless SE. As soon as you pick up this headset, you’ll feel how gorgeous and premium it looks and feels.
No tacky “gamer” aesthetics on this one. Machined aluminum cans, high-quality plastic, and nice and plush leather material on the ear cushions and headband. It’s a headset that I wouldn’t be embarrassed of using in public with the lighting turned off. You can always turn on the RGB lighting on the headset in your gaming dungeon.
The fit and finish are also excellent with extra attention to comfort. The earcups swivel 180 degrees, the microphone can be detached and the headband is adjustable and highly flexible to accommodate any size.
Its sound quality is also incredible. Even though it’s a wireless headset, it sounds best when plugged in. When I plugged it into my PC via USB and played high-resolution audio formats, there was a noticeable difference. The soundstage is also very pronounced and lets you know where the players are coming from so that you can point your gun in the direction.
The headset also features an accelerometer that turns off the headset to save battery when you put it down. Pick it up and rest it on your head and it’s on again. I found this feature incredibly helpful since I often forget to turn off my gadgets after using them.
When it comes to the microphone, Corsair has a few tricks up its sleeves. Unlike other models, this headset has a detachable microphone that connects to the headset via USB which allows it to do more complex functions when paired with the iCue app. Switching side tones is also very easy. Hold the mute button and mic monitoring is turned off. However, I had to use the iCue app to change the sidetone volume.
- Advanced Microphone
- Long Battery Life
- Premium Build Quality
- Elegant Design
- Heat Build-Up
- Shallow ear cushions make your ears touch the drivers
Steelseries Arctis Pro Wireless Gaming Headset (High-End and Feature-Rich)
If you’ve ever owned a SteelSeries headset, you’re very familiar with this design. The Steelseries Arctis Pro Wireless Gaming Headset is no different. It comes in black or white with a thick ski goggle headband that helps when I’m in front of the PC or PS5 for long hours of gaming sessions. The build quality is also fantastic with a mix of metal, high-end plastic, and silicone that seems to justify the steep price tag.
One of the most outstanding features of this headset is its swappable batteries, or at least it would be half a decade ago. All my gaming headsets have at least more than 15 hours of battery life and that’s more than enough for the longest gaming session I’ve been on. I don’t want to go through the hassle of swapping out batteries even if it takes a few seconds.
Apart from build quality, the sound quality is also amazing enough to command a steep price. It supports a frequency response range of 10Hz to 40,000Hz and allows you to listen to lossless uncompressed audio for games, movies, and songs. However, it lacks bass and that wouldn’t bother me if this wasn’t a gaming headset.
However, when it comes to sidetone, the default volume on the headset is too low, and muting the mic also turns off sidetone. So, I had to dial the volume all the way up and cover the microphone if I wanted to talk to my family members. The SteelSeries Engine 3 software does allow me to control the software, but muting the mic overrides any setting.
The software also has other features that let you control surround sound, mess with the equalizer settings, and switch between sound profiles. The wireless headset also comes with the base station that has plenty of wired connectivity options and an OLED display that shows you various settings.
- Feature-rich base station
- Premium build quality
- Lossless Audio Support
- 7.1 Surround sound
- Lacks Bass
- Base Station is needed for charging
- Very Expensive
Turtle Beach Elite Pro 2 + SuperAmp (Most Comfortable)
Even though it has been a few years since the Turtle Beach Elite Pro 2 + SuperAmp made its debut, it’s still impressive enough to make this list. The headset has mostly metal and plastic parts. It’s a high-quality plastic mold that won’t break easily. It also looks and feels like a regular gaming headset for its price and usability is mostly decided by how you act with the SuperAmp that comes with it. The SuperAmp acts as an AMP/DAC unit that sits between your headset and your PC or console. I was able to use the SuperAMP unit with other 3.5mm port headsets.
Turtle Beach makes separate versions of these headsets for Xbox and PlayStation and both of them work on PC. PC Master Race? Either way, most of the controls except the mute button are moved to the SuperAmp unit and that means you need to keep it in front of you while using the headset at all times. It took me quite a while to get used to this since most headsets I’ve used have all the buttons on the headset itself.
Apart from the high-quality sound and thick foam cushions, I liked the modularity of this headset. You can detach the ear cup plate on the side and swap it with a custom plate sold by Turtle Beach. The earpad cushions are also detachable and make a magnetic connection with the headset. It also has a pull tab that creates a channel for your glasses to rest on. So, you don’t need to remove the glasses every time you wear the headset.
I liked that they paid so much attention to ergonomics and user comfort. Even when you get past the “50mm NanoClear Drivers” marketing terminology, the headset sounds incredibly detailed without any muffling. I even found the variable mic monitoring to be very impressive and is loud enough with the default setting.
- Very Comfortable
- Great sound
- Complimentary DAC/AMP
- Buggy software
- Bad positioning of the control buttons
JBL Quantum 400 (Best Budget)
Weighing just over half a pound, the JBL Quantum 400 is a headset that is both lightweight and light on the price tag. It’s the king of budget headsets with the sidetone feature and a bunch of other cool features. JBL was able to keep this headset incredibly light by using mostly plastic. I don’t expect anything more on a budget headset that comes with this many features and is sturdy enough for regular gamers.
You won’t confuse the earcups ever since they are marked with a giant “L” and “R” on the inside. While the earpads are comfy, the leatherette material makes it very hot and I started sweating at the ears within an hour. Replacing them with a breathable and angled velour, suede, or sheepskin ear pad may be necessary for daily use and long gaming sessions.
The headsets have a bass-heavy sound profile with pronounced lows and clear mids. The highs could be better. However, the price shuts me up every time I have a complaint. Even though the microphone isn’t detachable, it has decent quality and I was able to adjust the EQ, RGB, and sidetone settings from the JBL Quantum app. JBL also learned from their mistakes with the JBL Quantum 800 and have nailed the clamping force on this one.
I was very disappointed with the cable provided with this headset. Yes, it’s a high-quality braided cable. However, it has a weird sticky texture and would always get stuck to my sweatshirt while I was gaming. Every time it came in contact with my clothes, it sent a scratchy noise that wasn’t pleasant, to say the least. So I ended up swapping the USB cable.
- High value for money
- Graphic EQ on the companion software
- Extremely lightweight
- The listening experience is significantly different depending on the fit
- Stock cables aren’t optimal for use
Xbox Wireless Headset (Best for Xbox)
While the Astro headsets win out in this list for PlayStation, Sony’s Pulse headsets aren’t too bad either. They would probably secure a place in this list if their sidetone feature worked. However, Microsoft has its console gamers covered with the Xbox Wireless Headset. For the price, Microsoft has made a highly practical gaming headset that would garner praises from both Xbox and PC gamers.
In terms of design, the headset has user-friendly rotating control dials on each earcup, a thick comfy headband, and large earpads that do a splendid job at noise isolation. The dials also have green trims that look cool on the stealthy black headset and create a unified look when it sits near my Xbox Series X. Unfortunately there is a small amount of play on the ear cups and that means it’s not going to be compatible for a lot of people with different head and ear shapes.
Microsoft prioritized design in this headset and that was noticeable throughout the little details on the headset. For instance, the pairing button doubles as the power button. So, when I unpair the headset, it turns off to save battery. Even the software control for this headset is phenomenally better than the PlayStation. You can control all the settings including sidetone and it works without a hiccup.
While the headset doesn’t sound like an audiophile-grade headset, it does its job well. The spatial audio is very good and when you’re using it with the Xbox, Dolby Atmos makes the game audio come alive. It also lets you pair multiple devices, a feature I found very useful for switching between my PC and Xbox. Overall it’s a great headset for Xbox owners.
Choosing a gaming headset isn’t easy when the market has so many options. It becomes especially difficult when you also need the sidetone feature. I hope this article was able to help you make the right decision and choose the best gaming headset that fits your preference.