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The days of primitive video games with characters one step up from stick figures are long gone. These days, kids and adults both expect gaming to be a life-like, right-there-in-the-trenches experience. That requires sophisticated graphics and sound that makes you feel like you’ve been dropped in the middle of the game zone. A good headset locks you into the world that’s onscreen and ensures all those thrilling gaming noises aren’t a nightmare for non-playing bystanders. The key things to look for are comfort, quality and, last but never least, excellent surround sound.

These contain large 53 millimeter drivers to hear every little thing and come with a detachable noise-cancelling microphone. HyperX

Surround sound headsets offer 360 degrees of audio, with multiple speakers covering each ear. That means you’ll know the exact direction things are coming from so you can react accordingly. Dolby 7.1, DTS:X 2 and Windows Sonic all offer comparable soundscapes. Meanwhile, a new generation of spatial audio producers, including Waves Nx and THX Spatial Audio, have been popping up. They add vertical dimension to audio, so it’s produced in a sphere rather than just in front, to the sides and from behind.

This one is constructed with lightweight microfiber mesh fabric and memory foam ear pads for extended gaming sessions. Corsair

A headphone’s sealing capacity can have a massive effect on your game. The pad should fit around your ear so you don’t miss a thing. Noise-cancelling is a useful feature in gaming headsets, even if you live in a relatively quiet space. You don’t want to be distracted by a car passing by outside while footsteps are coming from behind you in the game.

These weigh in at just half a pound, which is 40 percent less than the competition. Razer

Most gaming headsets are made of plastic—and not necessarily the durable kind. A plastic headset with a metal or wire frame will hold up a lot better than one that’s 100 percent plastic. Even better: an all-metal skeleton, which is built to withstand the thrill of victory as well as the agony of defeat.

Also Consider

Compatible with both Mac and Windows devices, but the premium audio software is applicable only with Windows 7, 8 and 10. Jeecoo

These boast larger earpads, five adjustable sizes, a 2.2 meter cable, a 360-degree rotating mic and cool, colorful illumination. ONIKUMA