The Top 3 Most Innovative Gaming Headsets
The gaming headset market has exploded with choices over the last five years. Technology and game enthusiasts love to see new releases constantly, and as such yearly product cycles are common. With that endless iteration comes a lot of safe refinement instead of bold experimentation. Headsets are just headphones with microphones attached after all; why reinvent the proverbial wheel every eighteen months when plenty of good designs exist already?
Without true design ingenuity, there would be no progress. Every gaming headset would be the same thing with a different logo slapped on the side. Here are my picks for the three most innovative gaming headsets you can buy right now, and a short explanation of why they made the list.
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Turtle Beach Recon 500
This one came out of nowhere, and it was the best surprise. At $79.95, the Turtle Beach Recon 500 (official site) is an affordable headset that packs in a ton of truly new features and technologies. That’s a rare thing for the audio market, not to mention a gaming peripheral.
Rather than re-use one of Turtle Beach’s solid existing audio platforms, the Recon 500 has all-new “Eclipse” dual drivers inside. Essentially, instead of playing back audio with just one speaker, it has two speakers arranged concentrically, with the smaller one handling the higher frequencies and the larger handling the bass. To improve the audio tuning, they also injected the ear cups with a wood composite material, similar to the way that speaker cabinets are built.
All of this means this is an extraordinary-sounding headset that has some of the most impressive audio quality you can get for any price, let alone 80 bucks. The bass, mids, and treble all have much more room to shine than on most other sub-$100 headsets. And the rest of the design lives up to this performance, with a great mic, nice braided cable, and reasonable styling in spite of how huge the dual drivers made the ear cups.
My only complaints in my review (which you can check out here) were that the adjustment range is a little lacking compared to other models, and the headband design is a bit basic. Still, this is a huge challenge to the industry, and I can’t wait to see the next model with the Eclipse speakers.
Sony Pulse 3D Wireless Headset
Not only does Sony’s new $99 Pulse 3D Wireless Headset (official site) sound great, it also comes packaged in an eye-catching design that’s unlike anything else out there. It’s a shining example of just how much industrial design can still make or break a headset.
The Pulse 3D comes in a sleek white and black shell that matches the aesthetic of the PlayStation 5 console. It’s covered in smooth curves and interesting lines, and its suspension strap system doesn’t require any adjustment to fit on most head sizes. The overall look takes inspiration from Sony’s earlier Gold and Platinum headsets, but feels like it fell out of a hyper-stylish sci-fi future. It’s a visual design that will still look impressive in twenty years, I’d wager.
Fortunately, the headset isn’t just about looks, as I found in my full review. It sounds great too, with accurate drivers built on the years of experience Sony has making audio gear. It also has physical switches for all of its functionality, which is a nice throwback in an otherwise futuristic product. You won’t have to fumble with any questionable touch sensitive areas here.
In a nice bonus, the Pulse 3D isn’t just a PlayStation headset. It works great wirelessly with Sony’s consoles, but it also has wireless support for PC, Mac, or a docked Nintendo Switch. And it comes with a wire that’ll even let you use it with things like Xbox consoles…though I’m sure Sony would prefer it if you didn’t!
HP Omen Mindframe Prime
This one is perfect for those gamers seeking something completely different, and who have a thick neck that can support its one pound of girth. The Omen Mindframe Prime (official site) usually sells for around $149, and on the surface it looks like just another PC USB gaming headset. It has RGB ear cups, a flip down mic, and a big suspension strap on top.
Inside, it uses thermoelectric cooling elements to dramatically cool your ears for extra comfort while you play. There’s a large aluminum plate in front of each speaker that cools down, and an opposing plate on the back of each ear cup that heats up. The result is an intense cooling sensation that doesn’t require fans or special gel in the ear pads.
I’ve had some hands-on time with this one, but I’m not an owner for a couple of reasons. The first is the intense weight. The cooling devices and plates make the ear cups much heavier than most competing models, making this one of the heaviest gaming headsets ever produced. That’s directly counter to the long-term comfort provided by the cooling mechanism. The second possible worry is the permanently-attached microphone. I’ve seen some reports online that the mic hinge puts stress on the internal wiring and it can cause issues over time.
Still, the cooling system is one of the neatest ideas I’ve ever seen in a headset. I was a bit hesitant when HP recently acquired HyperX, one of my favorite headset companies. However, I’d love to see what their talented engineers could do with the Mindframe’s cooling tech. I think it’d be a perfect fit inside one of HyperX’s larger headset designs, like the Cloud Revolver.