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April 21, 2008 8:32 AM   Subscribe

Suggest a good gaming headset?

I've been playing Team Fortress 2 on my PC and figured it's about time to invest in a headset with microphone (for better teamwork, etc) but since I have no experience with these things I didn't want to pick one at random and risk shoddy quality or compatibility issues with the game I'm playing. Maybe the hivemind has some ideas? Here's what I'm considering:

- Is it possible to have a headset where I sometimes use the earbuds for sound, and other times have sound come out of my speakers, while I still use the microphone? I really like sound coming out of the speakers when I know it won't piss off the roommates. I don't know if this means detaching the earbuds, or what.
- Bluetooth? Does this mean I can get a headset that will also work with my phone (bonus, not really important). If I go Bluetooth will it come a receiver for my PC (since it doesn't already have one built in) If I do it, range and battery life should be as good as possible.
- Comfort's not really an issue - I don't plan on playing for hours at a time.
- Sound quality should be decent, shouldn't make me hate listening to it.
- Cost - I don't know if I can find the perfect set for less than $50-- unless you know something I don't! Less than $100 is good.

Thanks.
posted by lou to Technology (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
I have a microphone which sits on my desk rather than a headset so that I can use earbuds because other types of headphones annoy me. Plus I have the option of using speakers then but I try to use the headphones because you can get some echo that way that's really annoying to the people in chat with you. The mic I have was like $10 online made by Altec Lansing.
posted by dagnyscott at 8:47 AM on April 21, 2008


- Is it possible to have a headset where I sometimes use the earbuds for sound, and other times have sound come out of my speakers, while I still use the microphone? I really like sound coming out of the speakers when I know it won't piss off the roommates. I don't know if this means detaching the earbuds, or what.

I leave the desktop speakers plugged into the audio out and the headset mic plugged into the audio in when I do this. You can assign a "press to talk" key in Vent / TS / whatever, meaning that you don't blight your team-mates with nasty echoing game noises in their headsets all the time.
posted by bifter at 9:12 AM on April 21, 2008


For a wired headset, I'm reasonably happy with my Sennheiser PC151 headset. Great microphone quality. You could wear the headphones around your neck if you just want to use the mike, but that's pretty clumsy.

I'd love to find a good wearable PC microphone that isn't attached to headphones.
posted by Nelson at 9:13 AM on April 21, 2008


Neweggers love this. If your rig is set up for 5.1, I recommend getting a 5.1 headset. I have a Zalman, which isn't all that great, but I can use it to locate opponents behind me. To hear a footstep and know not only that someone is behind you, but that they are at 7 o'clock, is a big advantage. Consider these.
posted by sisquoc15 at 9:39 AM on April 21, 2008


Is it possible to have a headset where I sometimes use the earbuds for sound, and other times have sound come out of my speakers, while I still use the microphone?

This isn't very easy. If you have sound coming out of the speakers, the mic is going to pick it up and create a fierce echo. Using PTT will mitigate this a bit, but whenever you're talking, you'll have the potential for annoying echo.

For a wired headset, I'm reasonably happy with my Sennheiser PC151 headset. Great microphone quality.

I've got this headset too and I absolutely love it. Mic is great and headset is quite comfortable.
posted by Nelsormensch at 9:43 AM on April 21, 2008


I use the Sennheiser PC161 for my gaming + voice chat needs. I've been using it for a couple years and it works out great for me. Even bought another one after I stepped on the microphone of the original (don't do that).

In general, I wouldn't recommend using the microphone while having the sound coming out of your desktop speakers unless you want to annoy everyone else.
posted by grapefruit at 9:49 AM on April 21, 2008


Is it possible to have a headset where I sometimes use the earbuds for sound, and other times have sound come out of my speakers, while I still use the microphone?

Like others have said, this will normally drive your teammates crazy. But you can fix this easily by using the push-to-talk button and binding it to no volume.

"This script will mute the game volume while you are speaking to keep game sounds from coming through with the voice chat" (from the TF2 Wiki):"

alias "+mute" "volume 0; +voicerecord"
alias "-mute" "-voicerecord; volume 1"
bind "MICROPHONE-BUTTON" +mute

Personally, I use this Panasonic headset from Best Buy. It's comfy, the sound is good, and the mic works well.

Do NOT buy an Altec Lansing headset. The one I bought, the ear piece came off in my hand from the simple act of pushing my hair back from my ears. The one I got as a gift also broke within a few weeks. Conversely, I have had two Plantronics headsets, and each of them have lasted more than three years.
posted by gemmy at 10:38 AM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


oops, my current headset is Plantronics, not Panasonic...
posted by gemmy at 10:43 AM on April 21, 2008


Word of warning about some gaming 5.1 headsets : they're sometimes balanced for low bass response. A friend's headset - which I think is the Creative set mentioned above - is horrible for fidelity, but man, you can definitely hear it when a spy is sneaking up behind you. The mic on it works very well.

I purchased the Razer 5.1 Barracuda 'phones from Woot! for $50. Money down the drain. Do not get these 'phones. The microphone is useless.
posted by suckerpunch at 1:45 PM on April 21, 2008


Good to know on the speakers/mic feedback problem. I hadn't even thought of that. Like I said, no experience with this.

There's a used Sennheiser PC161 for $46 on Amazon-- going to give that a try!
posted by lou at 2:05 PM on April 21, 2008


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