March 26

The 5 Best Budget Gaming Headsets

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Table Of Contents

With eSports becoming a more viable career path for gamers, there is more demand for gaming gear than ever before. More demand (potentially) means more competition. This, in turn, creates more options for consumers.

It is even more evident when you look at the market for gaming headsets. What you have is more manufacturers creating and selling low-cost headsets to entice lower-income consumers. This means that gamers with tight budgets do not have to settle for substandard headsets anymore.

Amateur economics aside, if you are looking for a comprehensive list of the most affordable headsets, you have come to the right place. In this guide, we will discuss five of the very best.


Top 5 Best Affordable Gaming Headsets

Previously, I mentioned how more manufacturers and brands are churning out more affordable headsets with more features. While this flood in the market may mean lower-priced headsets, it also means more options. How can more options be a bad thing, you ask?

Well, more options mean you have a greater chance of making a mistake and selecting the wrong headset. That is why you need a reference like this guide. In this guide, we will explore five of the best budget headsets.

We have also featured a helpful buying guide as well as a section where we answer some frequently asked questions. If you don’t like our picks, you can use these sections to help you make an informed decision when choosing your own headsets. Without further ado…

Best Choice: RUNMUS K8 Blue

Pros & Cons

  • Affordable
  • Multiple platform compatibility
  • Features full 7.1 Surround sound on PS4
  • Comfortable
  • Long thick braided cable
  • Top-notch mic recording quality
  • A bit heavy

Key Features:

  • Black Knitted Audio Cable
  • LED Lighting
  • 7.1 Surround Sound
  • Multi-platform compatibility
  • Clear cast microphone with noise cancellation
  • 12 Month Warranty
  • Bionic protein cushion coat

Specifications:

  • Drivers: 50mm
  • Frequency Range: 20Hz-20KHz
  • Impedance: 32Ω±15%
  • Cable Length: 7.22Ft / 2.2m
  • Weight: 0,75 lbs. / 340g
  • Microphone sensitivity: -38±3dB
  • Microphone Output Impedance: ≤2.2 KΩ
  • Microphone Pick-up Pattern: omnidirectional
  • Headset Jack: USB±3.5mm 4Pin

RUNMUS K8 Blue Review

If you’re in the market for affordable headsets that don’t necessarily feel cheap, then RUNMUS is the first brand that you should look to. It is one of the reasons that the RUNMUS K2s made it on our list of the best PS4 headsets under $50.

The RUNMUS K8 is surprisingly well built and sturdy for a headset that cost just under $30. Just based on the build quality alone, you are getting great value for your dollar here.

Aesthetically, the headsets resemble the Black Knights from the Dark Souls series. They are replete with sharp edges and corners. However, they are not as shiny. They’re primarily made up of a matte black and silver plastic.

The K8s carry a robust black knitted two-meter-long audio cable. It looks and feels like it will last a long time. The RUNMUS emblems on each side of the headsets are backlit with blue LEDs. They are perfect for distracting or ‘stunting’ on your opponents.

In terms of comfort, the headsets have soft padding around the headband. The ear cups are rotatable. They are padded with memory foam and covered with a soft faux leather material. The headsets can be resized to fit a head even as large as mine.

While they try to be as accommodating as possible, the truth is the shape and size of your head will influence how comfortable the headsets are. If you have a wide head, you can really feel the headsets clamping down on your ears.

The mic recording quality is astounding. It isolates your voice and reduces background noise. This ensures that your teammates can hear you loud and clear. Unfortunately, this headset does not come with built-in mic monitoring.

The sound quality of the RUNMUS K8 is more than decent. Granted, they won’t be able to go head to head with high-end headphones like the Bose QuietComfort 35 II, but they give you above par audio.

This can be attributed to the 50mm audio drivers and the 7.1 integrated chip. The headsets are compatible with nearly any device that has a 3.5 mm jack. However, you can only get 7.1-surround sound on your PC or PS4.

If I could sum up the RUNMUS K8 with a single adjective, it would have to be ‘surprising’. The RUNMUS K8s prove that you do not need to pay premium prices to achieve premium goals.

Premium Pick: HyperX Cloud Pro Gaming

Pros & Cons

  • Extremely comfortable
  • Features a detachable noise-cancelling mic
  • Lightweight
  • Delivers immersive sound
  • Doesn’t feature 7.1 surround sound
  • Doesn’t feature built-in mic monitoring

Key Features:

  • In-line audio control and mic mute
  • Detachable microphone
  • Aluminium frame
  • Stitched cushioned headband
  • Comes with a mesh bag
  • Cones with a 2m extension cord

Specifications:

  • Drivers: 53mm
  • Frequency Range: 15Hz-25KHz
  • Impedance: 60 Ω per system
  • Cable Length: 3.28Ft / 1m
  • Weight: 0.77 lbs./ 350g
  • Microphone sensitivity: -39±3dB
  • Microphone Output Impedance: ≤2.2 KΩ
  • Microphone Pick-up Pattern: omnidirectional
  • Headset Jack split: 3.5 mm jack

HyperX Cloud Pro Gaming Review

I generally don’t like the way some of HyperX’s headsets are designed. They tend to look like old-school aviation headsets. If you consider the name (Cloud), maybe it is an intentional design choice.

It’s hard to dislike the way the original HyperX Cloud Pro gaming headsets look though. Especially if you get them in silver and black. Strong but lightweight aluminum prongs hold up the ear cups. It doesn’t feel like they’re in danger of getting loose after long-time usage.

In fact, it feels like this headset was built to last you a long time. The headband is covered in a cushioned PVC leatherette material, finely stitched along the length of the headband. It’s a really nice touch.

The headsets are comfortable. The padded ear cups are large enough to fit over most ear sizes. While they’re closed-back cups, they feel well ventilated. Which means your ears won’t feel your ears start to sweat or get cramped after a long night of binge gaming.

The headsets come with a wired foam-tipped microphone. It is completely removable. Which is perfect if you plan to wear these for the purpose of general music listening. Speaking of which, the audio on the HyperX Clouds is stunning.

It comes out crystal clear and not too bassy. Since the HyperX Clouds are older headsets, they don’t feature 7.1 Surround Sound for any device. However, this was fixed with the HyperX Cloud II. You will have to shell out an extra thirty dollars to afford them and that is why they did not make it on this list.

For most users, the Hyperx Cloud Pro Gaming’s stereo sound should be more than sufficient. These were already affordable when they came out nearly four years ago. Their age does not mean they are obsolete. While you may miss out on some perks that some modern headsets have, what you’re getting here is premium built headsets for a low-low price.

Best Value: Beexcellent GM-500

Pros & Cons

  • Extremely affordable
  • Features LED lighting
  • Multi Platform compatibility
  • Features anti-tangle and anti-pull cable
  • A bit bulky
  • Subpar mic recording quality

Key Features:

  • LED Lighting
  • Noise-cancelling mic
  • Inline sound and mic controls
  • Mesh fabric earcups

Specifications:

  • Drivers: 50mm
  • Frequency Range: 20Hz-20KHz
  • Impedance: 60 Ω per system
  • Cable Length: 6.8Ft / 2.1m
  • Weight: 1.1 lbs./ 498g
  • Microphone sensitivity: -38±3dB
  • Microphone Output Impedance: ≤2.2 KΩ
  • Microphone Pick-up Pattern: omnidirectional
  • Headset Jack split: 3.5 mm 4-pin jack and USB

Beexcellent GM-500 Review

The biggest problem with leather or leatherette material is that it tends to attract and absorb heat. This can present quite a problem if you live in an area with warmer weather. Especially if you don’t have air-conditioning or plan on wearing the leather/leatherette material outside.

So instead of using a leather-like material to cushion the headband as well as the ear-pads, the Beexcellent GM-500 uses a soft ventilated mesh fabric. There is some leather-like material holding the mesh fabric to the shell of the ear cups but your ears never meet it.

The ear-cups’ and headband’s outer padding material is coloured cream white. This may dissuade you from purchasing the headset because of how easily these materials may stain. The choice to make the material this colour may be a functional one. We all know that white reflects all visible wavelengths of light while black absorbs it.

The headset’s outer shell sports a desert military camouflage pattern and LED lights on each of the ear cup holders, each side of the headband and near the tip of the microphone. The microphone is a boom style mic. It only has 120-degree of movement or adjustability so it cannot be pushed up completely. Which means moving the mic does not mute it.

You can switch the mic on and off using an inline control. The microphone recording quality is decent. You won’t be recording multi-platinum albums with it but it is good enough for phone conversations or online chats with your friends.

As you might expect, the GM-500s do not have 7.1-surround sound support. However, they deliver undistorted bass and above average stereo clarity. They use a 3.5 mm jack, which means they are compatible with most devices. You will need an adapter to connect to older models of the Xbox One.

Most people would purchase headsets like these as a temporary or back-up solution but it does not feel as if they were made for that purpose. From the strong braided wires to the build quality, if you are not too peeved by the fact that it doesn’t come with modern day surround sound, then the headset can definitely work as primary or long term solution.

Best Cheap Pick: NUBWO U3

Pros & Cons

  • Well priced
  • Comfortable
  • In-line volume control
  • Decent sound performance
  • No surround sound

Key Features:

  • Inline mic and audio controls
  • 155 degree rotation microphone
  • Leather ear pads
  • 12 Month Warranty

Specifications:

  • Drivers: 50mm
  • Frequency Range: 20Hz-20KHz
  • Impedance: 60 Ω per system
  • Cable Length: unspecified
  • Weight: 0.9 lbs./ 408g
  • Microphone sensitivity: -38±3dB
  • Microphone Output Impedance: ≤2.2 KΩ
  • Microphone Pick-up Pattern: omnidirectional
  • Headset Jack split: 3.5 mm 4-pin jack

NUBWO U3 Review

Even if you’re working with the best gaming headset that money can buy, it’s still important to have a back-up or spare. Spending as much for your back-up headset as your primary headset does not make much sense – unless you are swimming in money.

But for those of us who aren’t part of the 1%, there are alternatives like the NUBWO U3. For a headset that costs less than twenty dollars, it has astonishing build quality. The shell is primarily made up of a matte plastic.

The ear pads are cushioned by memory foam and covered with a leatherette material. The inner ear pads are covered in a soft black mesh fabric.

Just like the Beexcelllent GM-500, the NUBWO U30 sports a rotatable boom-style microphone. The difference is the NUBWO U3’s microphone has 155-degree of movement. Unfortunately, just like the GM-500’s mic, it does not mute when you push it back.

It does not have built-in mic monitoring either. However, this is not a huge miss. The mic picks your voice-up with surprising clarity. But sometimes it can be too soft or quiet.

While you cannot control whether the mic is on or off by moving it, you can use the in-line mic control switch. The switch does feel a bit flimsy. The braided cable feels like it will last you a long time but unfortunately the same can’t be said for the inline controls.

The 50 mm drives deliver descent treble and bass. The frequency range is not too bad. Lows are a bit muddy but it has some colourful highs. This is perfect for gaming but you may want something better for music listening.

If you are looking for a good spare headset or short-term solution, then these are perfect. To be frank, I’m not quite sure how long they will last you but they come with a 12 month warranty. So even if they break down after six months of use, you can get them fixed or replaced.

Best for Consoles: Turtle Beach Recon 70

Pros & Cons

  • Light weight
  • Comfortable
  • Great sound performance
  • Affordable
  • Feature flip-to-mute mic
  • Aren’t very breathable

Key Features:

  • Flip Up Microphone
  • Mult-platform compatibility
  • Synthetic leather ear cushions
  • Windows Sonic for Xbox One and PC
  • In line volume control wheel

Specifications:

  • Drivers: 40mm
  • Frequency Range: 12Hz-20KHz
  • Impedance: unspecified
  • Cable Length: unspecified
  • Weight: 0.19 lbs./ 86g
  • Microphone sensitivity: -38±3dB
  • Microphone Output Impedance: ≤2.2 KΩ
  • Microphone Pick-up Pattern: omnidirectional
  • Headset Jack split: 3.5 mm 4-pin jack

Turtle Beach Recon 70 Review

Turtle Beach is another well-known brand in the professional gaming community. Streamers and e-athletes alike have endorsed them. You’d think that this means that they’re a premium-only brand.

Luckily, this is not the case. The Recon 70 headset is a great entry-level unit. It was designed for consoles in mind. The colour scheme would thematically fit right in with your PS4. However, by no means would I consider this the pinnacle of PS4 headsets.

In fact, by the looks of its feature list, the headset is built more for PC and Xbox-One players. Microsoft quite recently released Windows Sonic Surround Sound for Xbox-One and Windows 10. What this means is Xbox-one players can now experience near seven-channel virtual surround sound on their consoles.

Unfortunately, it seems that PS4 and Nintendo users were left out in the cold. But the headsets still deliver great stereo sound on these headsets. Despite its relatively small drivers, it still has a great frequency range. It gives you vivid lows and clear highs.

The volume can be controlled through an in-line wheel. Like many users, I am not a fan of this, as wheels tend to jam or feel uncomfortable after a while of use.

The microphone recording quality is more than serviceable as well. Your voice comes out clear on recordings and chats. It is an omnidirectional mic with noise cancelling capabilities. You can push it up to mute it completely. Which is perfect if you are playing a solo game or just listening to music.

The headset is light and comfortable. I like the matte black and blue plastic it is made from. However, I found that after a few hours of play, the ear pads would feel hot and uncomfortable.

Maybe it is because the ear pads don’t have sufficient ventilation, maybe it’s because the headsets are forced to try to conform to the strange shape of my head and ears or maybe it’s the drivers overheating inside. I’m not sure, but hopefully this is just a lone unique experience and other users won’t suffer from the same issue.

Overall, this  is a great headset. It’s a great alternative to the other headsets on this guide, especially if you’re looking for sound with more clarity or punch.

 

Budget Gaming Headsets: Buying Guide

As we’ve mentioned before, the market is currently flooded with cheap headsets. You as a consumer need to discern between what is a bargain and what is actually cheap or cheaply made. Selecting a pair of headphones or a budget gaming microphone is easy because all you have to worry about is the sound quality or recording quality (respectively).

However, when you are shopping for a headset, even just a cheap one, you have to worry about both aspects. In this section, I will go over a few things to note when you are selecting your own budget gaming headset.

Frequency Response – Primary Determiner of Sound Quality

The first thing you need to look at when doing your research on headsets, headphones or even gaming earbuds is the frequency response. The frequency response refers to the range of bass, mids and highs (treble). For instance, in a frequency response of 20hz – 20KHz, the first number represents the bass(20Hz) while the second represents the treble(20KHz).

If you’re looking for bassier listening, choose a pair of headsets where the first number is low i.e 15Hz. The frequency response is only a large part of the equation. Another determining factor may be the total harmonic distortion. Which determines how clear sound is emitted at a specific frequency. It is something you should bear in mind but it is not as important as frequency response.

The Astro A10 Gaming Headset Designed for Xbox One

Headset Connectivity – The Compatibility

Generally, you will find that most headsets in this guide use a 3.5 mm plug. This is still the most universally used way to interface between output and input sound devices. Major exceptions include newer models of the iPhone  and older versions of the Xbox-One.

If you find that you’ve purchased headset for an incompatible device, do not despair as most of these devices have adapters which can be purchased.

Microphone Sensitivity – Primary Determiner of Recording Quality

Microphone sensitivity refers to the amount of volume of sound your microphone can detect. Microphone sensitivity is usually represented by a negative value. The closer the number is to 0, the more sensitive your microphone is.

For instance, a microphone with the sensitivity of -20 dB is more sensitive than a microphone with -30 dB.  The ideal sensitivity for a cheap pair of headsets should be around -38+/-3 db.

It is also important to make sure that the microphone is omnidirectional and has noise isolation and or cancellation. If a microphone is too sensitive, it may pick up too much background noise. This means that your voice may be distorted or impeded during chats or recordings.


Frequently Asked Questions

Do You Need a Headset to Talk on Xbox One?

You do not need a headset to talk on an Xbox One. Previously, all you needed was the Kinect, but that’s virtually obsolete at this point. Microsoft now also allows you to chat and talk to Cortana using any 3.5 mm jack microphone. If you decide that you want to buy a standalone microphone instead of a headset, check out our guide on the best microphone for gaming.

Turtle Beach Recon 50P in Action

Are Wired Headsets Safer Than Wireless Headsets?

While wireless headsets emit low frequency radiation, there is no evidence that this radiation is substantial enough to cause any harm to headset users. If you think you might be sensitive to radiation for whatever reason, I would suggest that you try to steer clear of wireless headsets. However, it is still my and the scientific communities’ opinion that wired headsets are not safer than wired ones.

What is Headset DTS Mode?

DTS stands for Digital Theatre System. Some headsets or headphones can simulate a surround sound experience. This can be achieved through the DTS mode to create a more immersive gaming or listening experience.

What is Headset Impedance?

Impedance refers to the amount of resistance the headset gives to the signal from the audio output device. This often affects the sound quality and loudness. The lower the electrical resistance or impedance, the higher the headset’s noise potential. Generally, the impedance should be somewhere between 20 and 50 Ohms.


  Final Words

Through this guide, I can comfortably say that we proved that you do not need to spend over $100 for a decent headset. As a matter of fact, you may not even have to pay over $20 if you’re savvy enough. We covered the best budget gaming headsets and what to look out for when you’re hunting for your own.

We also answered a few burning questions. I hope you have found this guide to be informative and helpful. I hope you leave with more knowledge about budget headsets than you came with. Thank you for reading.


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