The Closest You Get To Living In-Game
What are the most critical factors in choosing gaming headphones? When it comes to gaming, things get a bit special. Gamers demand more immersive audio; hence virtual surround sound gaming headsets have been taking the market by storm in recent years.
Being able to admire the amazing music scores of Triple-A titles is one thing. But to have a surround sound that aids in fast-paced competitive multiplayer games is nothing short of a beautiful advantage. The right headset gives you an idea of the exact location of your enemies, which translates into tactical supremacy.
If only you knew which headset to choose! A summary of what the big names have to offer is the best I can do. The next move is up to you.
- What Is 7.1 Surround Sound? Why Use It?
- Premium Picks $200 – Up
- Best Value Picks $200 – Below
- Budget Picks $100 – Below
What Is 7.1 Surround Sound? Why Use It?
The 7.1 Surround Sound is a well-known name for audio systems that can recreate sounds at various angles and distances. Thus the listener can visualize the position of a given object by the power of the sound. These systems are generally employed in home theatre configurations and headsets meant to deliver a more complete audio experience.
By using a headset that features 7.1 Surround Sound, you’ll be able to detect every footstep, explosion, and gunshot with cinematic precision. If you’re serious about gaming and want to have a competitive advantage over your enemies, or just want to get lost in gaming’s fantastic musical scores, then a 7.1 Surround Sound headset is what you need.
Premium Picks $200 – Up
If you have the extra dough to splurge, then undoubtedly go for the premium picks.
ASTRO Gaming A50 Wireless (2019 Version)
Enjoy some flawless performance, as the ASTRO Gaming A50 Wireless got you covered no matter the gaming platform. If you are an Xbox gamer, go for the green and gray model. PlayStation owners, the blue and black one is your pick. PC gamers need not worry because both versions are PC compatible.
The A50 is wireless and comes with a base station, which is sophisticated, slim, and compact. The headset itself is powered by 40mm Neodymium Magnets. Tests proved the A50 is loud, with distinct highs, powerful bass, and enjoyable directional audio. With the 7.1 Dolby Surround on, the audio performance becomes much better. Even at max volumes, the A50 doesn’t lose any audio quality, nor does it sound muddy or distorted.
This headset comes with three EQ settings. They can be toggled by a switch at the back of the right ear cup. The modes emphasize bass, balance, and highs.
This headset does really provide you with a competitive advantage. Playing PUBG was much more enjoyable as I was able to distinctly hear footsteps and doors closing. In other gaming genres, the immersion quality is high-end and reminds me of the Astro A40 TR. Bloodborne music is even more epic in the surround mode, where the distinction between the instruments comes naturally.
- Astro Audio V2: Immersive Audio and sound experience that delivers dialogue, music and in game sound clearly
- Dolby Audio: Dolby Audio delivers a cinematic, high resolution gaming audio experience
- Battery life: 15 plus hour rechargeable lithium ion battery
- Astro command center software: The free Astro command center software gives players complete control over their audio experience, which includes voice communication and game Audio settings; Available on windows 10, Xbox 1 and Mac.
- Mod Kit ready: For even more customization, the optional A50 Mod Kit allows users to add synthetic leather headband and ear cushions for improved noise isolation; Only compatible with A50 wireless Headset Gen 4
Turtle Beach Elite 800X
The Turtle Beach Elite 800X is for Xbox One gamers who crave the impressive 7.1 Surround Sound. As usual, there is a way for PC gamers to join in the fun.
There are three ways to do it. You can connect the Elite 800X using the optical output, but this method will leave the mic useless. Another option is to connect the transmitter’s wireless USB to the PC and then pair it wirelessly with the Elite 800X using Bluetooth. Or you can simply pair the headset with the PC if it’s Bluetooth ready. With this method, you will be able to use the mic.
The design of the Turtle Beach Elite 800X targets the classy crowd. Instead of dazzling colors and bulky shapes, they opted for this elegant, curvy, no-excessive-flair approach, like the Turtle Beach Stealth 600.
Audio performance-wise, the headset offers a 7.1 Channel Surround Sound with active noise-cancellation, perfect for those who want to get lost in Skyrim’s cinematic music. The Elite 800X provides a private bubble for multiplayer games, which many will appreciate. I was wholly immersed during my solo gaming spree thanks to the headset, which made me deaf for real-world sounds.
During my Hitman: Absolution marathon, I moved by stealth, and was able to pinpoint enemy movements by sound. Without a doubt, the detailed 7.1 Surround Sound of the Elite 800X will delight solo and competitive players alike, especially with the Superhuman Hearing mode on to amplify surroundings.
- Enhanced DTS Surround Sound Modes and Presets: Custom DTS HeadphoneX 7.1 surround sound modes combine with enhanced Turtle beach genre specific presets to further immerse you in your favorite games, movies and music
- Dynamic Chat Boost: Communicate game winning plays to your squad clearly thanks to automatically boosted team chat audio
- Active Noise Cancellation: Completely immerse yourself in your gaming experience and eliminate unwanted distractions with active noise cancellation
- Mic Monitoring: Say it; don't shout it, thanks to the ability to hear the volume of your own voice inside the headset
- Magnetic Charging Stand: Easily charge and store your headset when not in use
ASUS ROG Centurion
The Asus ROG Centurion is, as the name suggests, is a behemoth of a headset that rocks black, orange, and chrome accents. It’s one of the biggest headsets I’ve ever used. Of course, the build has its benefits and drawbacks. The large leather cups will fully cover your ears and will passively keep external sound out; however, all this insulation means more bulk, so portability may be a concern.
In terms of audio performance, the ROG Centurion with its 7.1 Surround is not for the faint-hearted. The boisterous build is not just for show, as the quality of its sound dome is colossal. The moment you put the headset on, you are cut off from the real world and lose track of time.
It effectively delivers a convincing 7.1 Surround Sound experience, thanks to all the drivers under its hood. Each ear cup houses five neodymium magnets, expertly tuned to give a sense of immersive sound during play. My Witcher: Wild Hunt experience had me grinning as the music scores came alive, and I dove into my solo adventure.
To maximize the gaming experience, there are adjustable audio presets that can be activated through the amp. There are options for gunfire, racing sounds, and a vocal boost, should you switch to an RPG title.
- ASUS GAMING HEADPHONES with Premium True 7.1 Surround Sound featuring 10 discrete neodynamic drivers for accurate positioning, with a hi-res ESS amplifier
- CLEAR COMMUNICATION - These wired headphones with mic come with a unidirectional digital micrphone with an impressive SNR, high sensitivity to sound, and minimal background noise pickup
- PLUG-AND-PLAY USB CONTROL BOX - Includes ROG Centurion Control Box that works like a USB sound card and provides effective environmental noise cancellation (ENC)
- INTUITIVE AUDIO CONTROL - The Centurion wired headset comes with an easy-to-use ASUS Sonic Studio with complete control over audio features
- ULTIMATE COMFORT - Features two sets of ear cushions - ultra-soft fabric mesh, and highly breathable protein leather
Best Value Picks $200 – Below
If you are not yet ready to blow a lot of cash, but still want to get a taste of the top flight, this section is for you. Here we have the best value-price combo picks.
SteelSeries Arctis 7
The SteelSeries Arctis 7 is a wireless gaming headset that is practical, versatile, and dynamic. This headset is sleek and refined, with a beautiful exterior and an adjustable headband. Rather than going bananas with hard extendable rods, the two Velcro straps, and the flexible headband will make your life easier.
The Arctis 7 provides stellar gaming options, just a couple of tweaks away. With both stereo and DTS 7.1 Surround Sound as well as plenty of equalization options, you can get different configurations to satisfy your gameplay. Fortunately, setting up game profiles is pretty manageable.
The Surround Sound had me hearing opponents footsteps’ sounds clearly in my Fortnite match. I was able to snipe and prowl my way to victory. The Arctis 7 provided a precise balance among dialogue, swordplay, and overall cinematic atmosphere while using the Immersion setting for Dragon Age: Inquisition.
If you want to go deeper using the SteelSeries Engine 3 software, you can play around with the Surround Sound and equalization settings, then create profiles and link them to individual games. In this way, every profile will be tailored to produce the best results in any respective game.
PC gamers don’t hog all the fun as you can hook up the Arctis 7 with a PS4 or Xbox One by plugging the audio jack into a controller. Although the Surround Sound options are not available in this hack, the headset still provides better audio than most competitors’.
- Lag free 2.4 GHz wireless audio with up to 40ft/12m range and more than 24 hour battery life;
- Headphone sensitivity: 98 db. S1 speaker drivers and DTS Headphone:X 7.1 surround sound on PC
- Arctis headsets feature athletics inspired performance fabric AirWeave ear cushions and a ski goggle suspension headband for lasting comfort
- Microphone sensitivity 48 db, microphone impedance: 2200 Ohm; Arctis 7 is PC Gamer's "Best Wireless Gaming Headset of 2017"
- Headphone frequency response is 20 to 20000 hertz. Microphone frequency response is 100 to 10,000 hertz; Headphone volume control is on ear cup.
Logitech G935 Wireless
The Logitech G935 Wireless looks and feels premium. And you don’t need to pay crazy money for the privilege. It sports some chunky black trapezoidal ear cups that have faux-leather-wrapped ear pads and a thicker plastic outer shell.
If you are a PC gamer, then the G935 will work well for you. If you’re on a PS4 and a Switch, just plug the wireless dongle into the PS4 or Switch. Though technically you can use the 3.5 mm audio cable for Xbox One, the sound quality will suffer a bit.
The sound performance of the G935 is achieved with a new generation Pro G 50mm drivers. Logitech flaunts a superior low-frequency performance over competitors on the market. The DTX Headphone X 2.0 Positional Surround Sound will get you some prominent low-end rumble. It’s not overwhelming, and you can still appreciate the rest of the sound stage.
Some might object to the inclusion of DTS over Dolby, but it is undeniably doing a good job. The virtual surround and positional audio effects work well. Sessions with Nier: Automata were rewarded with an immersive audio experience and made me appreciate the game better.
Overall, the G935 provides a harmonious balance of bass and treble, voice lines, sound effects, and music. It’s undeniably a rock-solid gaming audio device at a sensible price.
- The most advanced wireless gaming headset yet from Logitech G. 2.4 GHz wireless delivers premium Sound, complete freedom and a clean set up without wires. Default lighting- 8 hours. No lighting-12 hours
- Large 50mm Pro-G drivers lets you hear more of the game environment in greater detail
- Lightsync RGB game-driven lighting, EQ settings and more can be customized through downloadable Logitech G hub software.
- Advanced DTS Headphone: X 2.0 surround Sound fully immerses you in both subtle and explosive parts of a precise positional 3D soundscape.
- Enhanced 6 mm mic-plus provides new levels of comms clarity.
Sennheiser PC 373D
The Sennheiser PC 373D is rather straightforward. It is made of matte black plastic with black velvet pads and several red accents on the microphone. This product is somewhat underestimated considering the market’s preference for angular designs, dazzling lights, and rich colors. Like the Sennheiser Game One, this headset looks elegant without blowing out of proportion.
In terms of gaming audio performance, I tried the Game preset, and it offered an accurate balance of added bass while maintaining treble at a passable level.
During testing, the sounds of mercenaries and other aliens shooting from all directions during my Mass Effect 3 game time came through loud and clear. Credit to the 7.1 Dolby option, which highlighted the space battle fantasy and satisfied my ears without any hint of distortion, even at max volumes.
Quieter moments that required creeping behind enemies on Dishonored highlighted the Surround Sound feature. I was able to quickly identify where my enemies were standing or patrolling, so it was easier to avoid detection.
The PC 373D is well worth every cent all the way from design to performance. It may have room for improvement, but overall it ticks many boxes.
- Immerse yourself in the game with Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound
- Sennheiser Transducer Technology lets you hear every detail in the game
- Breathable plush velvet ear pads keep your head cool during long gaming sessions. Cable length: 1,7m + 1,2m
- Professional noise-cancelling microphone provides crystal clear in game chat
- Customizable surround software let you shape the sound - Download the SENNHEISER SURROUND DONGLE SOFTWARE by visiting our official website.
Budget Picks $100 – Below
A tight budget is not a sufficient excuse in itself to play with bad audio. There are good budget picks that can still boost performance.
CORSAIR Void PRO RGB
The Corsair Void Pro RGB is a good gaming headset that produces remarkable sound quality without leaving you penniless. Its design is minimalistic but with a gaming flair that is sure to appeal to a lot of people. It is ergonomically built in a way to cater to extended gaming sprees.
It is fairly common for gaming headsets to focus on achieving ear-shattering bass. It’s like putting more salt in a meal to make it edible. Vivid and dramatic blasts and all that. The Corsair Void Pro RGB manages a well-balanced performance, which makes this headset excellent also for other non-action-packed gaming titles.
During gaming, the Void Pro RGB acted nicely, with clear and impactful audio and proper use of Virtual Surround Sound. A chaotic gun battle in Borderlands 2 became realistic, having the sound of bullets flying past me. Overall, the sound quality was amazing, thanks to the impressive 7.1 Virtual Surround Sound implementation.
- Microfiber mesh fabric and memory foam provide exceptional comfort
- Multi-platform compatible with PC, Xbox One*, PS4 and mobile devices. *May require Microsoft adapter sold separately
- Optimized unidirectional microphone reduces ambient noise for enhanced voice quality
- The included USB adapter unlocks Genuine Dolby Headphone 7.1 surround on PC and full range stereo sound on consoles and mobile devices
- Discord Certified for crystal clear communication and outstanding sound; Cable Length :1.8m
- CUE software gives you full control over your headset’s features through an intuitive and simple to use interface.
Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma V2
At first glance, the Razer Kraken 7.1 V2 looks big and clunky. It has a bit of old school appearance with all its bulky glory. But before judging it by the looks, I checked the audio qualities to find out that the Kraken 7.1 V2 is, in fact, the real deal.
The Kraken 7.1 V2 is powered by Razer’s very own 7.1 protocol. Although technically you can turn it off, I think that would defeat its purpose. Compared to other Surround Sound systems, the Kraken 7.1 V2 drowns you in immersive sound without adding a weird reverberation effect to voices, something quite common in surround headsets.
I tested Battlefield I, StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, and Deus Ex: Human Revolution to see how it would fare across diverse genres. I was not disappointed, as both surround and stereo did an excellent job of balancing audio profiles for gaming, whether its NPC conversation or gunfight sounds.
Needless to say, aside from an attractive price point, the Razer Kraken 7.1 V2 is an all-rounder. It might not be able to compete on high-end wares, but the immersion it offers is more than sufficient given its price.
- BUILT-IN ADVANCED 7.1 VIRTUAL SURROUND SOUND: Delivers immersive surround sound with pinpoint accuracy
- LOUDER AND CLEARER THAN EVER: Outfitted with large 50 mm drivers custom tuned for balanced and crystal-clear in-game audio and communication
- CUT ALL NOISE: Fully retractable microphone with active noise-cancellation* ensures crystal clear communcation. *Noise-cancellation only available on PC
- LIGHTWEIGHT AND DURABLE: Made of Bauxite aluminum, the entire frame is lightweight, flexible, and incredibly durable
- OVAL EAR CUSHIONS: Designed for full-ear coverage, perfect for long-wearing comfort.Input power: 30 mW (Max)
HyperX Cloud II
When I saw the HyperX Cloud II, I thought it must be one of the best-looking headsets. Add affordability to style, and things escalate quickly. Aside from looking cool, it is comfortable, too, thanks to its richly padded headband and ear cups.
The Cloud II’s audio was impressive but not as well-rounded as the top tiers on this list. I tested it on Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, where it did justice to the sea shanties. Its virtual 7.1 Surround helped to better highlight details such as the chirpy birds and chatty townsfolk of Havana in Black Flag.
It was easy to ascertain where enemy gunfire was coming from, and every round of my rifle provided a gratifying rattle. Gunshots were defined but lacked the level of immersion that high-end picks have. Cloud II’s low-end frequencies didn’t totally deliver, missiles at Titanfall 2 did not have that bass-heavy boom. They weren’t bad, it just means that they were not as good.
Overall, the Cloud II proved a good companion in FPS games. The headset’s virtual 7.1 Surround Sound highlighted the games’ more subtle sounds, and its lightweight design makes it a homey companion for longer play sessions.
- Designed for comfort: Exceptionally comfortable memory foam ear cushions and padded leatherette headband help keep you focused on gaming
- Supreme audio quality: Large 53 millimeter drivers provide high-quality audio. Hear in-game details better and get the in-game advantage on your opponents
- Passive noise cancellation: The closed ear cup design blocks out outside distractions to keep you in the game
- Built to last: The solid, durable aluminum frame is built to withstand the blows of daily use
- Detachable, noise-cancelling microphone
If you want the best 7.1 Surround Sound experience while gaming, you cannot go awry with any of the headsets we’ve examined. As you know, gaming is sweeter with better equipment. It will also provide you with occasional advantages. More epic experiences are awaiting you.