Alright squaddie, so you love playing games, but you don't feel like they're immersive enough? Well boo-hoo for you. It's time to get tough! We've rounded up five of the finest gaming headsets money can buy, in order to hurl you deeper into the game than ever before. Your enemies will shiver before you, your rivals will quake in their virtual boots as you use your lethal microphone and headset combination to bag headshot after headshot after headshot. Here's the test:
Plantronics Gamecom 777 7.1 Surround Sound (£50)
The Gamecom 777 offers a few unique advantages that will doubtless double your gaming prowess. Firstly, it offers 7.1 surround sound -- or rather, an imitation of it. Plug the headphone and microphone cables into the supplied USB adaptor, and it does a worthy job of pretending to be surround sound. As our buddies over at GameSpot UK discovered during their test, that effect is a little gimmicky, and obviously isn't a true 7.1 experience.
But there are other reasons to like the 777 -- for instance, despite costing a rather reasonable £50, this headset offers rather spiffy sound quality, which isn't something we were expecting. There's an in-line remote partway down the cable for muting the microphone or tinkering with the volume as well, which will come in handy. Finally, the microphone also folds back into the headband, which is convenient to say the least. Decent value, good sound and a sturdy construction makes the 777 a neat bit of kit.
Verdict: Three and a half stars
Creative Sound Blaster World of Warcraft Wireless Headset (£100)
If you're into World of Warcraft, the officially licensed headset will hold some significant appeal. These mighty cans of Azeroth look pretty cool, offering glowing earcups (yes, you can customise the colour and intensity of that glow) and a voice modulator effect that turns your voice into that of WoW characters.
But despite all that and Bluetooth wireless connectivity too, the usefulness of these gigantic plastic 'phones is hamstrung by a really high price. Acquiring this legendary item will set you back around £100, and while they're fun, that's a sack of gold. The final kicker is they don't even sound all that good. Disappointing. Incidentally,.
Verdict: Three stars
SteelSeries Siberia V2 (£50)
SteelSeries certainly knows about gaming, and that knowledge shows in the Siberia V2. This is a lightweight headset that feels comfortable to wear even for prolonged periods, and uses an elasticated band to get a comfortable fit around your bonce.
That lightweight build is a strong selling point, and mercifully these cans don't look cheap and tacky, despite their plasticky construction.
A really cool feature is a discreet, retractable microphone that slides out of the left earcup on the end of a flexible cable for your positioning comfort. There's an in-line remote for muting the microphone or adjusting the volume, and a secondary remote at the point where the USB cable joins the 3.5mm mic and headphone pins.
There's one more thing: bass! The V2 offers really decent sound quality for cans at this price, and pack a solid bassy punch without sounding muddy, delivering a satisfying thump that will make firing a grenade launcher into your opponent's abdomen sound positively delightful.
Verdict: Four stars
Sennheiser PC 360 (£130)
Sennheiser comes at the task of making a great gaming headset from the audio side of things, but that doesn't mean it can't excel. The PC 360 offers an open design, which lets air circulate around your ears. Some people find open-back headphones have a more natural sound too.
The downside is that the PC 360 is a tad leaky, so don't crank up the volume if you have irritable colleagues or family nearby. If you do need to kill the volume, there's a handy dial on the right earcup. Annoyingly however, there's no microphone mute control.
The 360 sounds pretty good, but it's bulky and unattractive. Without many features to speak of, and at a high price, there are better alternatives out there.
Verdict: Two and a half stars
Audio-Technica ATH-750COM USB (£65)
A wildcard entry, because this isn't really a dedicated gaming headset, but it has the advantage of being small. Rather than swallowing up your whole head with two massive cans, the 750COM sits numbly atop your lugs. These 'phones aren't too interesting to look at -- an understated matte-black design with the odd bit of chrome edging is the order of the day.
Despite its diminutive dimensions, this heroic headset delivers some powerful bass. It sounds a little muddy, however, with that thumping sometimes obscuring the finer detail of whatever you're listening to. When you need to detect the pitter-patter of enemy footsteps just as keenly as massive explosions, more clarity would be helpful.
There's nothing especially wrong with this headset though -- there's a pleasingly minimalist in-line remote that lets you adjust volume and mute the microphone, and the earcups fold upwards into the headband, making these a decent choice for anyone who does a lot of travelling, and games on the road (no, we can't really imagine it either).
Verdict: Three stars
For the low price, comfortable lightweight fit and decent sound quality, we like the cut of the SteelSeries Siberia V2 headset.