Should I buy a gaming headset or headphones for PC gaming?

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More often than not, you’ll instead be skimping on some of the higher-end features or quality you’d find in a regular audio headset and microphone combo. With cheap headsets, you could end up with low-quality cables, plastics, hinges, and other components that could simply end up meaning you have to purchase a new headset in a few months anyway. If you buy a good gaming headset, that reliability won’t be a problem—the main drawback will be sound balance that’s inferior to a nicer pair of headphones. And the mic likely won’t be as good—but it’ll be good enough for voice chat while gaming, and you can’t beat the convenience.

Pros:

  • Affordable options from a variety of brands.
  • “One-stop shop” mindset makes buying simple.
  • Painless setup that’s adaptable for just about everything.

Cons:

  • Often lower overall build quality.
  • Higher markup based on the brand name.
  • Often too bass-heavy sound balance.

Headphones: Customizable, high-quality options with separate microphones

Even without getting into expensive “audiophile” territory, choosing headphones instead of a gaming headset offers a wide world of customization. You can mix and match the quality of headphones and a standalone mic your budget can handle, and headphones cover a massive breadth of prices and aesthetics.

Most headphone manufacturers are worried first and foremost about how their headphones sound, and they don’t have to worry about a built-in microphone and the other features of gaming headsets. In particular, quality headphones aim for flat (accurate) sound reproduction, with balance between highs, mids, and lows. If you’ve ever heard that Beats by Dre headphones have a reputation for being incredibly bassy, there’s a reason that stands out: great headphones pride themselves on balanced sound.

So for a lower price you’ll likely be getting better sound and potentially a higher quality product overall. You may end up paying a bit more for the separate headset and microphone duo, but you’ll be paying for long-lasting products that deliver without gimmickry. You may also note that audio headsets feature more comfortable, plush ear cups and headbands in contrast to cheaper alternatives.

As an added bonus, you won’t have to be as concerned about mic placement, as you can simply adjust a separate mic however you’d like. It isn’t plastered to the side of your headset at awkward angles, and you won’t have to play the “find an angle where everyone can hear me” game. 

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