Before you hand your money to a headphone seller, make sure you know what you are really paying for. In this article, we have listed 8 important factors you need to consider when buying them.
1. Wired vs. Wireless
The debate on wired vs. wireless equipment has been around for quite some time and there are no signs of it going away soon. Both wired and wireless headphones have their advantages and disadvantages so it’s a matter of weighing the options.
Wired headphones are by far the best when it comes to performance. Signal transfer is faster in wired connections as opposed to the wireless protocol. Also, there are no hassles of charging and replacing batteries, a common headache with wireless headphones.
On the other hand, wireless headphones are now becoming popular bearing in mind controllers are now entirely wireless. What I like in wireless headphones is that together with a wireless controller, you can just sit anywhere in the room as long as you are in the wireless range. However, signal interference alters sound most of the times.
All said and done, it is worthy to point out that many pro gamers tend to lean more on wireless headphones; better performance on console gaming and gives you the freedom to play form a distance of your preference, away from the screen.
Gaming headsets are quite a fortune considering a good one will set you back around $100. Check for the build quality and choice of materials before purchasing any headphone. For over-ear, the headband should be strong and sturdy. Some years back, when I was green, I ended up with two dead headphones in a span of a month; one broke its headband and the other one, the cup material got tattered. A good way to check this if you are not in the physical store is to read verified reviews and see what people are saying about its durability.
3. Stereo vs. Surround
This is another important aspect that you should have a grasp of when buying a headphone for gaming.
As you know, stereo systems reproduce sound as is at the time of recording with very minimal or even no processing at all. This makes it great for studios and those who like natural sound.
On the other hand, surround headphones reproduce 3D sound just using the two speakers as in stereo. The difference, however, is the fact that stereo has only two directions of sound, surround replicates positional sound. The sound drivers are tweaked to create directional sound; you can hear whatever is behind you or what’s coming ahead of you.It goes without saying that if you are into gaming, a surround headphone is exactly what you should go for. In games like Call of Duty and Far Cry, you rely on it entirely to track the movement of your enemy. If you hear movement on the left, you quickly turn to the left side.
4. In-Ear vs. Over-Ear
In the market, you will get in-ear gaming headsets as well as over-ear. The difference is pretty simple; in-ear headphones feature small earphones that you put inside your ear while over-ear have headbands with a speaker compartment on either end.
In-ear headphones are easier to tag along but unfortunately, they may not be comfortable using them for long sessions. On the other hand, over-ear headphones are better in performance and more comfortable but quite bulky.
Weigh between the benefits and the shortcomings of each and go for what you think will suit your needs and budget too considering over-ear headphones are generally more expensive.
5. Closed vs. Open-Back
Now that you have decided to go for over-ear headphones, the next hurdle will be deciding between closed and open-back design. Each headphone offers different performance and benefits. Besides, they all have shortcomings. It is important to understand all pros and cons of each.
Closed headphones will isolate all the background noise leaving you with what you are supposed to hear only. These headphones are best for use in areas with background noise or when commuting because they don’t let out any sound.
On the other hand, open back headphones deliver the best natural sound and are more comfortable because they have more breathability as air circulation is improved.
Personally, I prefer closed back headphones when gaming simply because of the noise isolation. I play combat games, so I want more situational awareness; where I am and where the sound is
6. Headphone vs. Headset
Well depending on whether you want a microphone or not, you have to decide between headphones and headsets. Remember, the key difference between the two is that headsets come with a mic while headphones don’t have one.
I wouldn’t dictate what’s best for gaming because it entirely depends on the titles you play. If you love online gaming, then get a headset. With a headset, players can talk to each other in real time as opposed to typing that makes multiplayer gaming quite passive. On the other hand, if you don’t need the mic function, just go for headphones. I find the mouthpiece quite a bother even when detached!
Once you have decided to go for a wired headphone, it’s time you weigh your options regarding connectivity. First, is the headphone wired permanently? And if yes, what’s the connection? Even though the common connection is a 3.5mm jack, please note that there are those that come with a single 3.5mm port while others come with two. With advanced headphones, you can also get an additional USB port. As a gamer, this should not worry you much as PlayStation, Xbox and PCs support all the above options.
8. Fit and Comfort
Make sure what you buy is comfortable enough to allow you play for long without hurting your ears or making them sweat. Here, there are three important aspects to consider; soft cups, breathability, and weight.
Get a lightweight headphone that won’t be exerting too much pressure on your temple. Also, consider the material used to pad the cups. It should be soft and breathable to prevent excessive sweating, especially during summer. If you are the type that sweats a lot, I would emphasize the fact that open back headphones are the best because of improved air circulation.
Besides the above aspects, you also need to factor in other issues like the brand and price. Buy a trusted brand and make sure the headphone you buy is worth the price. Do a little window shopping to know what features to expect at what budget. Above all, stick to your budget!