There is perhaps nothing more personal than a headset when it comes to your computer. What works for one person may not work for another and vice-versa. No matter what your personal preference is, however, there is no denying that headsets have come a long way.
I hadn’t really paid too much attention to what headsets could do for the longest time because I had always tried to take the approach of the bigger the boomer in the room, the better. Certainly when I hooked up my receiver to a sub-woofer and experienced the movie “Independence Day” with the sound cranked up, it was an experience close to what you get at the movies. It blew my mind.
Why use a headset?
Then I discovered that headsets could make a big difference in the smallest of ways. Back on the Commodore Amiga computer (circa 1988 or so) there was a game called Dungeon Master that featured stereo sound and the concept of enemies creeping up on you only via sound. Labelled “3D sound” for the time, it was the first game for the Amiga to feature the concept. People that listened to the game on a standard monitor or even stereo output were missing out on something that could only be heard and discretely discerned by using a headset.
There are actually games available now that use sound as a primary game mechanic. Titles like Ear Monsters, and Papa Sangre are almost impossible to play without headphones or a headset, and these give you a true appreciation for sound design and what is possible with that sense that we often take for granted, especially playing games.
It can be so difficult to make a good choice for what works best for you, but the first thing I like to do is decide how I’ll use the headset and that narrows the choices a little bit. For example, when I am looking for a headset for a gaming console, I tend to focus more on one that is simply sound without a microphone. For myself, I’m not really as big into online multiplayer and when I am I can use the microphone array in my gaming camera if I really need to. Choices like the PlayStation 4 Limited Edition Uncharted 4 Wireless Gaming Headset fit the bill perfectly, although they do bring up another point.
You are likely going to also decide whether or not your choice will be wireless or wired. Each has positives and negatives. Wireless headsets can be prone to outside interference (for example, don’t try to use the microwave nearby at the same time and not expect some distortion) and they need to be charged. They do however give you that freedom from wires you likely crave, if you can handle the different options for hookup. Some headsets allow for input from an RCA source, an optical audio cable or a proprietary connection. You just need to be careful it will work out how you expect.
Headsets with STYLE
You are likely going to want to have some style while you’re gaming too. The Skullcandy Xbox One SLYR Gaming Headset with Microphone certainly fits this bill. Not only does it have some cool designs on it, it has a pretty awesome colour scheme as well that will make sure you look the part of an elite gamer while you are taking on enemies or being stealthy or even racking up some incredible combos in Bejeweled.
You might be wondering what makes up the true price difference between a thirty dollar set and a three hundred dollar “masterpiece.” The truth is that price is made up of many factors. Headsets are one of those things that, in some instances, are assembled by hand and can contain better parts or cheaper parts. Sometimes the price is influenced by the brand and design alone, while other times the technology inside is the true deciding factor on price. The rule I tend to use is functionality first, followed by price and design going together hand-in-hand. It can often be a difficult choice but ultimately for me I tend to get the best ones I can afford.
Looking back at the history of headphones and headsets you might be surprised to learn that the first ones were used by telephone operators and often weighed in at around ten pounds. If you think whatever ones you have right now are heavy, think again—they are likely a dream compared to the original ones. Arguably the first ones designed with style in mind came out in 1949 from AKG and while the quality of the sound has changed drastically, the style is strikingly similar to what is available today.
On the high end, I have enjoyed experiencing the Sennheiser GAME ZERO Gaming Headset with Microphone and I have to admit, they are the most comfortable I have ever used. The surround sound quality is beyond anything else I have ever experienced, and they look natural whether I am using them with my PC or connected to something a little more mobile like my iPad. The two year warranty certainly smells of confidence on Sennheiser’s part and they have enough credibility in the industry to feel that way. The one thing that might surprise you is that they use the 3.5 mm audio jacks for audio and the microphone only – no USB. While this may limit some of the devices you can connect them to, using these jacks ensures the best possible quality which is why USB is not being used.
Headsets have become something that in many cases are necessary (to provide peace to those around us while we game) to something necessary for an ultimate gaming experience. If you don’t want to miss out on all the hard work the sound designers have put into their titles, upgrading your headset is definitely a smart idea. They can even give you an advantage in certain games and with so many options on the market to make you look stylish too, the only limits are your budget.