The debate about wired vs wireless gaming headset never ends, mainly because newer and better versions of both types of headsets continuously appear in the market.
If you're new to the gaming world and you're just investing in components to make your gaming experience totally awesome, take a look at these top headset picks for gaming in 2020.
Quality gaming headphones are a must-have but before the purchase, you should first decide between wireless vs wired headphones. This guide should be able to make your choice a lot easier.
Wired vs Wireless Gaming Headset – Which Is Better For Gamers?
Unfortunately, choosing between wireless and wired headphones is not that easy. Your decision will ultimately depend on two factors: personal preference and device compatibility.
- PC Gaming headset - Although there are wireless headset for PC available in the market, PC gamers often prefer wired gaming headset because they are seated at a desk and it offers a more personalized experience. Plus, USB gaming headset never requires charging, which means the game doesn't have to be put on hold in the middle of a level.
- Console gaming headset - Those who play on Nintendo, PlayStation, Xbox, and other gaming consoles prefer wireless gaming headsets since they provide more freedom to roam around while playing. And since all modern gaming consoles are compatible with Bluetooth, it is hassle-free to connect Bluetooth headphones to ps4 or other devices. Note that this doesn't mean you won't find ps4 or Xbox one wired headsets. Bluetooth and wired headphones are both possible options for console gaming.
Both wired and wireless headphones work with a laptop, desktop, gaming console and most smartphones. However, only Bluetooth gaming headsets are able to connect to multiple devices at once, even while in the heat of a game. For gamers, this means trash-talking their friends while they beat each other in the game, or taking their girlfriend's calls even without stopping the game.
Standard Wired Connection Type
A standard wired headset is designed with a cable that plugs into your PC through a 3.5mm jack or USB. People often choose a wired headset because of one or all of the following reasons:
- Provides better audio - Some might say this is debatable, but wired headsets are actually designed to provide reliable and better audio quality.* This is because the audio frequency passes directly through the cables, preventing latency or interference from third-party forces (such as a wall, other connections, and so on). If you are familiar with Wi-Fi vs. wired Ethernet, then you'd know the latter connection is always preferable due to stability and performance.
- Wired headset with mic has better voice output - Just like input audio, gaming headphones with mic are designed with better voice output than the wireless versions.
- Does not need charging - When wireless headphones for pc were first introduced in the market, they had the worst power performance with some units needing a recharge after only an hour or two of use.
- Cheaper - There are rare cases wherein branded or high-quality wired headsets will come out higher-priced than generic wireless headsets, but generally speaking, good wired headphones are cheaper than their wireless counterparts.
*Note that audio quality can also depend on how high or low quality your music files and game audio are.
Types of Wireless Connection
The three most popular wireless technologies used on wireless headphones for gaming:
- Infrared (IR) - This type of wireless connection allows connectivity with TVs, DVD players and other devices with infrared features. It can reach up to 33 feet and is not affected by other audio transmissions. TV remotes use this technology.
- Bluetooth - This is the most popular technology and is used in almost every kind of wireless device from smartphones to gaming earbuds with mic, or most modern Bluetooth gaming headphones. It operates at a frequency of only 2.4GHz and has a range of about 33 to 100 feet (depending on the version of Bluetooth technology used).
- Radio Frequency (RF) - This technology has the longest range (about 300 feet), operating at a frequency of 900MHz to 3.2GHz. It is mostly used in sound devices equipped with an RCA output enabling it to pass through walls and ceilings.
With IR wireless headphones, the headphones have a built-in receiver that connects to an IR docking station (or what's known as a transmitter) via infrared signals or IR light.
Infrared headsets are ideal for personal use, such as listening to music or watching videos without interrupting other people in the room.
The Simolio infrared wireless headsets (for kids and adults) are famous for using the IR technology.
- No static
- High-quality IR headphones can beat the sound quality of wired headphones
- The major downside of IR headphones is that it has to have a direct line of sight for the connection to work
- The range can still be limited (about 10 meters)
When people talk about wireless headsets, they usually refer to Bluetooth headphones for gaming since this technology is the most popular.
If you prefer a Bluetooth gaming headset, your device uses a frequency-hopping signal to exchange data over short distances. This is the reason why manufacturers market these headsets to commuters as personal, cable-free music listening, or for amplified sound at home when playing games.
Popular brands like JBL and Sony, as well as generic brands all have Bluetooth headset for computer and gaming consoles to offer at varying prices.
- A gaming Bluetooth headset consumes less power and has lower interference than other wireless headphones.
- Secured frequency at all times
- Very portable (easy to bring anywhere)
- Most affordable technology
- The problem with Bluetooth headphones for pc or gaming consoles is that they are only compatible with Bluetooth-enabled devices.
- Limited to 10-meter range
Radio Frequency (RF) Headsets
Radio Frequency headsets transmit sound from your audio source via stereo frequency modulation system and then to your headphones. RF headsets are pretty powerful - you can compare it to having your own personal radio station except your headphones is the only device that can pick up the music. A good example of this is the Sennheiser RS 120.
- Can transmit sound even between walls or large objects that normally block other types of wireless connections
- Connects unlimited number of wireless headphones to a single transmitter
- Reaches over 100 meters
- Very little bass
- Can be pricey
- Not a lot of models in the market
Wired vs Wireless
Now that you know what types of headphones you can find in stores, it is easier to pick a side with the wired vs wireless headphones debacle. If you're still on the fence, hopefully the following in-depth comparison can bring more light to your personal requirements.
Serious gamers would know that sound quality can make or break the entire gaming experience. And although I mentioned that connection type (whether wired or wireless) can affect the sound quality of your device, there are other factors to consider.
For example: a $500 Bluetooth vs wired headphones below $100 will always have better sound quality because it would make sense that the higher-priced model would be equipped with higher quality materials and technology. It is for this reason that specialty models like surround sound headphones tend to have higher price tags than standard gaming headset with mic.
Wireless technology has come a long way and it is proven in the quality of wireless headphones in the market today.
Freedom of Movement vs Battery Life
For some people, good gaming headsets must be portable, allowing you to have freedom of movement. Choosing wireless headphones means no more tangled cables, and no more being stuck to the computer or in front of the TV for a long time.
Aside from the obvious benefits, being able to move freely reduces your risk of chronic health problems like diabetes, heart disease or cancer, which are associated with sitting or lying down for long periods.
The only problem with making this your priority is that you’ll be compromising on the headphone’s battery life. If you're OK with charging the headphone daily, then battery life shouldn't be a deal-breaker for you.
If budget is your main concern in buying wireless headphones vs wired ones, decide how much you are willing to spend for your gaming gear.
Wireless technologies are more expensive, which is why wireless headphones would cost a lot higher than its wired counterpart. This also means that if you go with a wired headset, you can get a better quality at lower prices.
Reasons You Should Get Wired Headphones
Deciding on wired vs wireless gaming headset is a personal choice.
Go with wired headsets if:
- Battery life is important - If you're like many gamers who do not like stopping mid-game just to recharge their headsets, then skip wireless devices. This way, you won't be interrupted with your game as long as the cables of your headset remain plugged in.
- You hate latency or lagging issues - Many headset manufacturers will try to advertise that their headsets have zero latency, but history has shown that wireless devices fail this issue more often than any wired device. While this lag may involve only milliseconds, it could be the exact millisecond that resulted in your loss during an online gaming tournament.
- You want to avoid sync issues - Because wired headphones are only connected to a single device at a time, whether this is your desktop PC, gaming console or even your smartphone, you avoid sync issues completely. Wireless headsets that are synched to your phone's apps, calls, or text messages would cause a sudden loss in audio at every notification.
- Security is top priority - Other people could "listen in" on your conversation if you use wireless headsets. You may only be using it to talk down to your opponents during the game, but those conversations should be private nonetheless. Using a wired headset completely removes the worry of privacy concerns.
Reasons You Should Get Wireless Headphones
Go for wireless headphones if:
- You need to move freely while gaming. Get a drink, get snacks, or do something away from the computer or gaming console without pressing the pause button. With a wireless headphone, you have the freedom to move from one location to the next with ease.
- You'll be using them for multiple devices or applications. Being able to answer a Discord call while you're playing a game on your computer, or answering a Skype call from your phone while playing on PS4 are only possible with wireless headphones.
- You have a cat/dog who loves cables. Chewed up cables are a nightmare. You know this if you have a playful pet who loves gnawing on cords and cables. Picking wireless headphones means you no longer have to worry about this ever again.
- You don't like tangled wires. You're not a fan of unsightly wires. If your PC setup or gaming console spot follows a minimalist theme, then you'd appreciate having headphones without cables and wires to trip over.
So, which is better? Neither wired headsets or wireless headsets are superior to the other, and your decision comes down to your personal gaming preferences and budget.