Gaming has been — and continues to be — a much-needed escape for many people throughout the coronavirus pandemic. It’s also been a way for us to connect with friends and other gamers while maintaining social distancing. If you’re using your gaming time to socialize with friends, it might be time to update your rig with a new pair of gaming headphones. A good set of headphones not only let you hear your game better, they also help you communicate with your party and catch up with your buds.
Yes, most standard wired headphones with microphones technically work as headsets for the(you simply plug the headphone into the 3.5mm jack on your controller), but having a dedicated “gaming” headset ensures an optimized experience. Noise isolation can block out background noise and a decent mic ensures others can hear you clearly when you’re in the middle of a long gaming session. Seriously, when you’re going head-to-head with another squad, mic quality matters.
Many people with a PlayStation 4 choose to go with a wired headset simply because it can be plugged into the already wireless controller. It’s also worth noting that many, if not most, wired PS4 headphones also work just fine with the, and S, , Windows PCs, Macs and the .
But what if you don’t want to be tied down by wires? If you want to eliminate the cord that goes from the controller to your headphones, there are plenty of wireless headset options. Just be aware that these PS4 headsets all include — and require — a low-latency wireless dongle that plugs into the USB port on your PS4 (there should be no audio delay). Note, too, that almost no PS4 wireless gaming headsets will also work with the Xbox One. The Switch, meanwhile, requires a USB-C wireless dongle for wireless headset connectivity (though some of the USB dongles do work via the Switch’s dock).
Some midrange and high-end PS4 gaming headset models — both wired and wireless — feature 7.1 virtual surround sound. To be clear, this isn’t real surround sound but it can help with the sound quality to create a richer, more immersive audio experience. It also gives you a better sense of spatial awareness with certain games where that can be an advantage. When looking for the best PS4 headsets, we also took mic quality into consideration, because that’s especially important if your gaming session requires group coordination. If you can’t be heard, you can’t strategize!
With those basics established, let’s talk about the best PS4 headset. These are the results of our own home-based testing — we thought about everything from noise cancellation to the comfiness of the ear cushions. This list is updated periodically and includes some options suggested in GameSpot’s list of best gaming headsets.
After I try a headset, I often hand it over to my 14-year-old son, who plays pretty much exclusively on PS4. I have several gaming headsets lying around and he always returns to the HyperX Cloud Alpha. It’s just very solidly built, has good sound with strong microphone performance and most importantly, it’s comfortable to wear for long gaming sessions.
For about $30 more you can get the HyperX Cloud Alpha 7.1, which has a nearly identical design but supports virtual surround sound audio — only for PCs, though. This PS4 headset is stereo-only for PS4.
Read our HyperX Cloud Alpha preview.
Sony’s PlayStation Gold Wireless Headset has been around for awhile and was last updated in 2018. It remains arguably the best budget gaming headset for PS4 gamers, particularly those looking for a cord-free PS4 headset model for VR games. You’ll have to use the included USB dongle to connect wirelessly. This wireless headset features 7.1 virtual surround sound for games that support that sound quality feature.
Sennheiser’s GSP 370 is not only really well built, but it features excellent sound, comfort, microphone performance (there’s superb noise reduction) and monster battery life — up to 100 hours but expect to get a little less than that. An included USB dongle allows you to connect wirelessly to your PS4 and the microphone can be muted by flipping the boom up. The GSP 370 is also compatible with PCs.
Our friends at our sister site GameSpot noted that this wireless gaming headset is a relatively low-frills model for its midrange price, with few physical buttons (no chat volume control, no sound mode toggles) except for a power switch and a large volume wheel that operates very smoothly. I found it to be one of the most comfortable headsets and it also works well for listening to music.
Some say the Arctis Pro Wireless ($330) is the headset that provides the best all-around gaming experience for PS4 and PCs. It was designed for those two platforms and features high-end audio, a comfortable fit and loads of features, including a swappable battery. Two batteries are included and each provides enough juice to power the headset for 10 hours, according to SteelCase.
With a wireless transmitter about the size of an Apple TV that connects to your PS4 (or your PC), it’s a little cumbersome to set up and operate (you access the settings on the transmitter). It’s one of the few wireless headphones beyond Sony models, however, that offers virtual surround. It also has Bluetooth wireless connectivity so you can connect it to smartphones.
The Arctis Pro came out in early 2018, so it’s probably due for a refresh, but it remains a top PS4 (and PC) headset if you can afford it. See below for its sibling, the Arctis 1, which you can snag for less than a third of the price.
The $200 Quantum 800 isn’t the top-of-the-line gaming headset from JBL, which is a newcomer to the gaming headset market, but has long been in the audio game. That would be the $300 Quantum One, but that’s a wired headset and also overkill for the PS4. The Quantum 800 is wireless and includes a dongle that works with your PS4 and Windows PC. It also features noise canceling and sounds excellent not just for games, but music and movies too. It’s slightly heavy, but is comfortable to wear.
Its microphone performance is middle of the pack and probably not quite as good as it should be at this price. It’s also worth noting that the microphone isn’t detachable (it is on the Quantum One) but does flip up to mute. It’d be nice if it was detachable because its Bluetooth connectivity could be used on the go with your smartphone. Battery life is rated at up to 14 hours with the lights turned off, but expect to get a little less than that if you keep the volume fairly high.
On the PC side, JBL needs to work out some kinks with the software but everything is more straightforward with the PS4. This is the headset to consider if you want a model that’s versatile, has good sound quality and works with multiple devices, including as a PS4 headset.
As we mentioned above, the Arctis Pro Wireless is a monster — but it costs more than $300. If you want a much more affordable alternative, check out the Arctis 1, a well-designed (but less swanky) wireless model that sells for about $100. It’s a great value and is compatible (in wireless mode) with PS4 and PC, as well as the Nintendo Switch, thanks to an included USB-C dongle. The Discord-certified microphone is detachable and battery life is rated at up to 20 hours, which is pretty decent.
The Quantum 100 is the entry-level model in JBL’s new line of Quantum gaming headsets, which run from $40 to $300. There’s nothing fancy about this model, but it’s pretty lightweight and comfortable with nicely padded ear cups, plus it has a detachable boom microphone. On the left ear cup there’s a volume control dial along with a microphone mute button. It also works with other game consoles and is pretty decent for music, though it’s a touch bright.
While some of JBL’s higher-end models feature wireless connectivity and even noise canceling, the Quantum 100 is just a basic gaming headphone that will appeal to more casual gamers on a tight budget.