Best USB Headsets

Updated December 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Pros
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
118 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for Best USB headsets

Blasting your speakers isn’t always an option, especially if you share your space with a roommate, family member, or coworker. If you’d like to enjoy a fully immersive sound and communication experience without disturbing those around you, invest in a USB headset.

USB headsets allow for a customized sound experience, which is most often enjoyed by gamers. Many of these headsets have soft, contoured ear cups to remain comfortable during prolonged wear. They are also typically adjustable, so you don’t need to worry about them sliding off or feeling too tight. USB headsets are also equipped with a quality microphone to enhance voice communications, and certain models have noise-cancelling technology to promote better clarity. The microphone is usually adjustable as well, so you can position it as close to your mouth as necessary. Some USB headsets enable you to conveniently dock the microphone when you only want to use the headphones. 

If you’re wondering which USB headset is right for you, keep reading our buying guide and check out a few of our favorites.

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When the battery on a wireless USB headset dies, it can bring your gameplay or work to a screeching halt. If possible, invest in a backup wired USB headset to avoid interruptions.

Key considerations

Who uses USB headsets?

USB headsets are most frequently associated with gamers, but they’re also used by a great many others for work or relaxation.

Gaming: PC gamers use USB headsets, especially if they play online video games and communicate with teams or opponents on Discord, TeamSpeak, or other VoIP applications. Console gamers also use USB headsets to communicate on Xbox Live or PS4’s Party Chat.

Call centers: People who utilize VoIP networks often use USB headsets. This allows them to assist callers hands-free and work on the computer simultaneously. As call centers are notoriously noisy, USB headsets localize sound to the headphones, thus making it easier for representatives to hear callers.

Meetings: Individuals who engage in video conferencing also use USB headsets, which provide better sound quality than a computer’s speakers and microphone, resulting in clearer communication from all parties on the call.

Media: USB headsets help media lovers enjoy music, films, and audiobooks without disturbing those around them. While they don’t use the microphone, the excellent sound quality in the headphones is worth the investment.

How do USB headsets work?

USB headsets operate as peripheral devices for PCs or video game consoles.

Wired USB headsets don’t require a power cord; they simply pull their power from the PC or console. Wireless USB headsets, on the other hand, require charging. They come with a USB receiver that plugs into the PC or console, while the headset charges through a dock or cradle.

Compatibility

In theory, a USB headset should work with any PC or console with a USB port. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

Newer USB headsets may have difficulty working with computers that have older operating systems. For that reason, most USB headsets list the compatible operating systems on their packaging. Some USB headsets also require driver downloads or updates for the PC to recognize them as compatible peripherals.

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Did You Know?
If you like the headset a Twitch streamer is using, you can scroll down their homepage and find the make and model so you can buy the same one
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Features

Ear cups

Ear cups, also referred to as ear pads, cover your ears with soft, cushioned materials.

Fit: As far as fit goes, this is one of the most important features to compare. Ear cups that are too small or rigid can pinch or press against ears, which proves rather uncomfortable. The most comfortable ear cups are oversize and filled with memory foam or gel cushioning that contours to your ears. These full-coverage designs also isolate sound for better immersion, as they dramatically muffle or reduce ambient sound.

Design: If there’s one thing you should know, it’s that there’s a major design difference between USB headsets used for gaming and headsets used for video and voice calls.

In most gaming USB headsets, you’ll usually have two oversize ear cups. Those used in professional settings may only have a single ear cup. In fact, the single ear cup may be smaller and moderately cushioned and not entirely cover your ear. This means that these USB headsets are far less immersive, so you’ll be able to hear sound from the incoming audio and the sound of your immediate environment.

Sound quality

The sound quality varies considerably among USB headsets, and you definitely get what you pay for with these. In some lower-priced models, the sound is a bit muffled or one-dimensional.

Better-quality USB headsets have 7.1 surround sound. That means you can hear audio from a variety of angles and distances, which renders it more realistic and delivers a more enjoyable experience. As expected, this feature is especially important to gamers seeking a fully immersive gameplay experience.

Microphone

Design: It’s not a stretch to say that when it comes to USB headsets, no two microphones are the same, at least when it comes to appearance. Some models have a flexible arm that can be manipulated and contoured to the wearer’s preference. Others have an arm with up to 360° of rotation, which can be adjusted in front of your face or pushed back when you intend to use the headphone function only.

Sound quality: The average USB headset microphone will pick up the sound of your voice, but the quality isn’t always the greatest. In fact, lower-quality microphones can experience interference and crackling and cut out occasionally.

Many quality USB headsets are equipped with better microphones, which may include noise-cancelling technology. This feature picks up only your voice and filters out unnecessary ambient noise to boost clarity. There are also microphones that automatically adjust and balance certain sound settings to improve the output quality.

If you intend to use a USB headset for gaming on an Xbox One, you may need to invest in a Microsoft 3.5-millimeter adapter.

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USB headset prices

USB headsets range in price from $25 to $350, so there’s one to suit almost every budget.

Inexpensive: Entry-level USB headsets cost between $25 and $60. These include single-cup models intended for professional use, as well as basic gaming headsets. Sound quality and clarity are modest, and many of these USB headsets tend to have short lifespans.

Mid-range: You’ll get the most bang for your buck with a mid-range USB headset, priced between $70 and $180. The sound quality is superior in these models, and they offer far more in the way of adjustability and settings. There are also some wireless USB headsets found in this price range.

Expensive: The most expensive USB headsets cost between $200 and $350. These are produced by reputable audio engineering brands and offer the best noise-cancellation and voice-clarity technology. They’re designed to last through intense use and have the longest lifespans.

DYK2
Did You Know?
While most USB headsets are designed for adults, many of them can be adjusted to fit kids and teens.
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BestReviews

Tips

  • Check the return policy. A USB headset takes some getting used to. Check the seller’s return policy before you buy to see if you can exchange a headset you don’t like. Some retailers and manufacturers limit returns or exchanges to defective merchandise only.
  • Invest in a rack or stand. While USB headsets are durable, it’s a good idea to store yours in a safe spot when it’s not in use. Many users invest in a rack or stand to hang the headset on. This not only frees up valuable desk space but also keeps the headset away from pets and kids.
  • Confirm system compatibility. If you enjoy gaming on more than one PC or console, make sure the USB headset you choose is compatible with all of them so you don’t need to buy more than one.
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Older USB headsets might not work on newer computers with certain operating systems, so it’s recommended that you buy the most recent model to ensure compatibility.

FAQ

Q. How do I adjust the settings on my USB headset?

A. In most models, you can adjust them by buttons located on the headphones or headband or with a control dongle attached to the cable. If your USB headset comes with special software, you’ll be able to adjust the headset through the app or program on your computer. You can also control volume and other settings through the audio output settings on your computer.

Q. Why do some USB headsets come with a 3.5-millimeter jack in addition to the USB?

A. USB headsets with this feature can be plugged into smartphones, tablets, e-readers, and even video game systems and controllers. Unfortunately, not every USB headset with the 3.5-millimeter jack will work with these devices, so you’ll need to confirm compatibility before you buy. 

Q. What is the best type of USB headset for travel?

A. If you regularly take your USB headset on the road, stick to a durable or collapsible model that can handle being packed in a bag with other items. If you’re not a fan of these types of USB headsets, you may wish to invest in a protective carry case for yours. If possible, invest in a zippered shell case lined with contoured foam because these are the most effective at protection and shock absorption.

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