Playing games on PlayStation 4 is one of the highlights of being a hardcore gamer. With tons of award-winning exclusives, it’s not surprising that you’d want to play with your PS4 in the most immersive way possible. A big part of the PlayStation 4 experience is being able to enjoy the high-quality sound effects and epic music soundtracks.
However, there are times when your TV’s speakers just won’t do. Perhaps you’re playing a game that requires voice chat or one that relies largely on directional sound. Maybe you’re just trying to play without causing a lot of noise in the house because you’re playing during late hours. For times like these, you need the best PS4 headset.
What’s Wrong with the Default Headset?
While it’s nice that PlayStation went ahead and bundled the console with a headset, the headset has a lot of glaring flaws. First of all, it’s a single ear cup, which means you’re out of luck if your game uses anything that’s stereo or surround sound. There’s also an excessive amount of mic feedback so if you’re using voice chat, you’ll end up listening to yourself speaking. Since only one of your ears is using the headset at a time, the other ear will easily pick up ambient noises. The lack of silicone pads on the earbud means using the headset for several hours at a time will be very uncomfortable.
Properly Upgrading Your PS4 Headset
Knowing what the default PS4 headset lacks is the key to finding the right PS4 headset for you. Here are a few tips that you should keep in mind when checking out a certain headset’s features to see if it’s worth the upgrade.
- Check Your Budget
One of the good things about the increasing demand for better gaming headsets is that it provides you with a lot of options. If you have a limited budget, an entry-level gaming headset should still be able to provide you with a decent audio experience. However, if you have the cash to spare, feel free to buy a high-end headset with all the necessary features.
In any case, you have to set your expectations given how much you’re willing to spend on a gaming headset. For example, certain features found in midrange and high-end models are rarely in the cheaper headsets, so don’t expect to be able to experience DTS surround with the least expensive headset you can get your hands on. Pick which features matter to you the most, set an appropriate budget, and start your search from there.
- Function Before Form
When people hear the term “gaming gear,” a lot of them imagine sleek-looking controllers with super stylish engravings, aggressive-looking profiles, and enough blinking lights to cause a seizure. Many gamers make the mistake of purchasing gaming headsets that look cool but end up regretting their choices later simply because they realized they bought something that’s not much better than regular headphones.
If you want a good quality headset, you have to look at each option’s features before factoring in their looks. After all, you won’t even see your headset when you’re using it since you will be looking at your game screen. While it’s true that today’s best PS4 headsets are designed to look cool, cosmetics should never be your main reason for picking a specific model.
- Decide if You Need to Go Wireless
Do you want something that will let you play at a certain distance from the TV? If your answer is yes, a wired headset is out of the question because the cord length will keep you close. You can also connect the headset to a wireless controller, but regular wired gaming headsets usually have 8 ft. cords, which can be too much for connecting two devices that are an arm’s reach away from each other. Finally, you don’t want to yank your console or gaming controller off the desk just because you had to step away for a bit and forgot to remove your headset. If you want to do away with cable troubles, a wireless headset is your best option.
You may have heard a lot of bad things about wireless headsets but there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t get one for yourself these days. While it’s true that wireless headsets originally had a bad rep, today’s wireless PS4 headsets like the Turtle Beach Stealth 700, offer good range without sacrificing the sound quality. Improvements on wireless technology, battery life, and manufacturing designs over the years have addressed most of the issues that plagued the earliest wireless headsets such as sound delays and running out of power too soon.
- Check for Surround Sound Support
Virtual surround sound can be the difference between catching an opponent sneaking up behind you or several seconds looking at your death recap timer while waiting to respawn. Some gaming headsets feature two or more smaller speakers in each ear cup to simulate sound coming from different directions, but virtual surround sound only uses one in each cup. To simulate surround sound, special algorithms are used to modify the sound waves in a way that replicates actual directional sound.
Many PS4 titles use DTS surround sound technology which is considered by many gamers to be a lot more precise and realistic compared to the popular 5.1 surround sound because it adds two more directional speakers to the setup. While true surround sound headsets are ideal, many gamers prefer the more budget-friendly virtual surround sound headsets because they provide very similar results at a more affordable price tag.
- Choose Comfortable and Lightweight Designs
Comfort should be a top priority when it comes to headsets, especially if you’re the type of gamer who plays for several hours at a time. The ear cups should be adjustable and big enough that they don’t press on your earlobes. The cushions should be made of breathable materials to keep you from sweating. Don’t forget the top band cushions—they keep the top of your head from being rubbed raw. You must to be extra careful about the material if you’re allergic to certain types of rubber or plastics that can trigger skin irritations.
Weight can also be a big issue when it comes to gaming headsets. While large ear cups are preferred, it shouldn’t come at a cost of being too heavy because it can cause neck problems in the long run. This is especially true when it comes to wireless headsets because the battery compartments and receiver components can make up a good 10-20% of the headset’s overall weight. Remember, the more comfortable your headset is, the more suitable it is for extended usage.
- Look for Noise-Cancelling Headsets
There are plenty of external factors that can keep you from fully enjoying the sound of your PS4 game titles. If you live next to a busy street or if there’s construction going on nearby, there’s no way you’d be able to fully appreciate your game’s breathtaking soundtracks. If you’re playing games that require voice chat to properly communicate with other players, a single message that got drowned out by outside noise can be the difference between victory and defeat.
If you can, find a way to try out a headset before buying it. Most stores have sample units you can freely test out. If they don’t have sample units, there’s no harm in asking the shop personnel if you can try one out of the box. Check if the headset does a good job of blocking outside noise. Start by just putting it on and check if it muffles ambient noise to an acceptable degree. Next, play music or try playing a game with it and see if you can hear in-game sounds clearly. If you think it could use bit more noise reduction, just switch to a different option.
- Get One with a High-Quality Mic
Voice chat is essential for any cooperative PS4 game because it lets you and your teammates perform coordinated tasks much more efficiently compared to typing messages using the in-game keyboard or relying on very basic quick chat messages. You want a mic that will be able to clearly pick up your voice to make sure other players will understand you the first time around. Noise cancelling mics found in premium PS4 gaming headsets are specially designed to filter the ambient noise from external sound sources, so voice chat isn’t an issue even in noisier environments.
Ease of use is also a major factor when choosing a high-quality mic. A good PS4 headset should have a button or a switch that lets you control the mic with just one hand. Some headsets have the mic controls somewhere along the cord, while others have the controls integrated in one of the ear cups. Fortunately, most PS4 headsets feature mics that can swivel up or retract so you don’t have to worry about a mic dangling in front of your face if you don’t need it.
When playing on your PlayStation 4, make sure to pick up a pair of gaming headsets that are comfortable and that work for you. Many people love their specific brand of headsets and will talk about how great they are. Although certain brands might be good for them, they might not work for you so always do your own research and try to test the headsets before purchasing. Remember to look at the specs and prioritize what is important for you above all else. Happy headset hunting!