Some wireless headphones are designed specifically to suit the needs of video game enthusiasts. Gaming headsets include microphones for chatting with virtual teammates, and usually feature several buttons and settings that don't appear on headphones intended for home theater use alone. However, not all wireless gaming headphones will work with all gaming platforms. Some only work best with certain video game consoles like the Sony PlayStation 4 (Est. $400); workarounds are possible, but often at the cost of missing features.
Three features any gaming headset needs are good sound quality, a strong wireless signal and a comfortable fit that's easy to wear for long play sessions. The Astro Gaming A50 (Est. $300), according to reviewers, delivers all three. GamesRadar.com calls it "the one wireless headset to rule them all." It is fully compatible with Windows PCs, the Sony PlayStation 3, Sony PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Xbox 360. However, while it can deliver game audio on the Microsoft Xbox One, the chat connector on that platform's controller is non-standard. The company reports that an adapter is under development to fix that problem, but for now A50 users need to rely on the Xbox's built-in Kinect microphone for chat. The A50 is not Mac compatible.
All reviewers agree that the A50 delivers great sound and comfort, as well as long battery life (about 12 hours). Will Greenwald of PCMag.com says the microphone delivers "top notch" voice quality as well, and it flips out of the way when not in use. Greenwald finds the placement of the controls on the Astro gaming headphones "slightly awkward," but most users don't find it to be a problem.
Owners are impressed with the A50's signal strength and range, and they like the surround-sound feature that, as one Amazon.com review puts it, "really enhances immersion." The main complaint we saw from owners -- aside from the high price tag -- is that the A50 can be unreliable or buggy. Some users say their headsets freeze up unexpectedly and won't work until the battery has been depleted and recharged. Astro's customer support is often criticized for providing little or no help. Considering the price tag, that's certainly disappointing. Still, most reviewers seem to think that for truly hard-core gamers, the headphones' performance and features are worth the price.
A less expensive option that still gets good reviews is the Logitech G930 (Est. $105). These gaming headphones work only with Windows PCs (not gaming consoles or Mac computers), and professional reviewers say their sound quality can't quite match that of a high-end headset like the Astro A50. Their biggest plus is their long wireless range. Logitech claims these headphones can transmit up to 40 feet, and in tests at PCMag.com, they actually do maintain a strong connection for this full distance. Most owners find them comfortable to wear, if a little heavy.
Though most owners seem happy, the Logitech G930 does draw a fair number of complaints from users about reliability. Logitech tech support also comes in for some criticism.
The Creative Sound Blaster Tactic3D Wrath (Est. $80) is also worth considering. Both TechRadar.com and GamesRadar.com say these are a great choice for novice gamers, particularly because they are so easy to set up. TechRadar.com says they "literally had us up and running moments after the USB wireless transmitter was plugged into our PC or Mac." Reviewers also find the sound quality of these headphones amazingly good for the price, though some users say voice transmission could be clearer. The biggest drawback of this headset is comfort. Many reviewers say it's heavy and feels too tight, making it uncomfortable to wear for longer than a short period of time. The Tactic3D Wrath doesn't work with game consoles, and according to TechRadar.com, its software doesn't work all that well with Macs either.