Best budget headset for gaming

So I had a crisis a few months back. Eager for the release of the Wipeout: Omega Collection for the PS4 I decided that my new main priority in life was getting a kickass pair of headphones to hear those techno beats pumped directly into my brain at an inhumanely loud volume. So I began scouring the web for lists of headsets that were the best bang for your buck. Not wanting to go too overboard I set my budget at around £60 and was determined to get the worlds best headset for that price range.

I actually ended up finding three headsets that fitted the bill and so obviously ended up buying all three. Just… don’t ask. I seem to have some weird pull towards trying and testing different things and so when my headsets arrived I promtly sat down like a kid at a candy store and proceeded to test each of them out with different games to see which one emerged victorious. (the missus clearly pitied me and helped out a lot too)

I used three games to base my tests on; Wipeout PS4, to see how it delt with them massive beats. The Witcher 3 for the clanging of Swords and Armour and hearing far off NPC conversations. And the third game was The Division, for the shooty blasty noises of the guns, also I was mildly obsessed with the game at the time and struggled to be away from it for long periods of time.

Which headsets did I purchase you ask?

Well after SO MUCH SEARCHING I found that there were three contenders for best audio within that £60 budget I set myself and those were… Drum roll please……

In no particular order we have the:

   Hyper X Cloud II @ £64.99            HyperX Cloud Stinger @ £47.00           Playstation Wireless Headset 2.0 @ £69

Now the first thing I’m going to get out of the way is this: They’re all good. Though depending on what you’re looking for certain ones are significantly better than others.

Hyper X Cloud II:

With the Cloud II, Hyper X have managed to make some very comfortable headphones, using memory foam for the headband and leatherette cushions for the ears. The cushions are shaped to your ear rather than being circular which I felt contributed to how comfortable they were although the leatherette cushions did get a little hot after long play sessions. The headset is slightly heavier than the other two options as Hyper X have gone for a metal frame that looks brilliant and likely increases their longevity but definitely weighs them down.

The audio quality in these was superb and probably the best audio of the bunch in terms of consistency. Gunshots sounded clear and loud and more nuanced audio aspects that I had not noticed using my surround sound system at home were apparent such as the slight sound the empty shell makes when hitting the ground after firing a rifle on The Division.

What sets these aside from typical headsets is the attached USB audio sound card that creates 7.1 virtual surround sound. This only works when plugged into a PC mind, so not so good for console gamers.

Hyper X Cloud Stinger:

Now from my extensive and enteriely unprofessional testing I could not determine a single difference between the audio from these headphones compared to the Cloud II’s. Honestly it seems like they simply took away the 7.1 adaptor, changed the design a bit and released them at a cheaper price. The re-design has definitely lost some of its visual flair but the plastic design as opposed to the metal makes them much lighter and therefore considerably more comfortable. They also have a mic that is not detachable but can be rotated upwards away from your mouth which automatically mutes it. There’s also a nifty volume slider on one ear cup.

Sony Wireless Headset 2.0:

Now these are clearly designed with the PS4 in mind as they wirelessly connect to it via a little USB dongle. However you can use these via a 3.5mm cable and so I wanted to try them with not just my PS4, but also with the Xbox One and PC.

First I tried with my PS4 and the virtual surround sound is excellent. Playing Witcher 3 became a whole new experience as I heard NPC conversations fade in an out depending of where Geralt was looking. Blasting fireballs and hearing the cinders crackle in the distance was exhilarating and the music in Wipeout was ear meltingly clear. All of these aspects made it all the more disheartening when I plugged the headphones into my xbox controller to hear incredibly weak and flat sound. Firing a gun sounded more like I was throwing small stones into a frying pan and grenades sounded like someone was taking a long fart in my ears.

In conclusion all of the headsets excel at a particular aspect.

If you game solely on a PS4, pick up the Playstation Wireless Headset 2.0. Its comfortable, (if a little fragile) and has beautiful surround sound sound.

If you game on a PC, the HyperX Cloud II’s are definitely what you want to go for. The memory foam, very cool design and 7.1 surround sound are all a winning combo.

If however you’re a jack of all trades, someone who wants one general headset that sounds great no matter what you plug it into? I would go for the Hyper X Cloud Stinger which actually became my personal favourite. I use it all the time mainly because the audio in it is just as good as in the Cloud II’s but I find them far more comfortable due to the lighter frame.

Know a better headset for the price? Drop it in the comments below!


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