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When it comes to the best headphones for VR, these devices have features that even the best gaming headset may not have. They will offer excellent noise cancellation, support for spatial audio to create a hyper-realistic sound immersion experience, and wired or wireless connectivity, among other things.
Virtual reality (VR) has seen tremendous advancements over the last few years. We now have plenty of high-quality virtual reality headsets to choose from, like the Oculus Rift, Oculus Touch, and PlayStation VR. Although they offer brilliant immersion visually, you need an excellent pair of VR headphones to truly feel like you’re in a different world.
Keep reading to learn more about choosing the perfect set of VR headphones for you.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: This premium model features strong audio performance and durable build quality that will hold up to high-intensity games. With an over-the-ear design, this unit provides users with enhanced immersion and a retractable mic to keep them in contact with teammates.
The SteelSeries Arctic 3 gaming headset is a stellar pick for users looking to take their VR gaming sessions to the next level. The over-the-ear design won’t interfere with most leading VR headsets, and the enhanced soundstage delivers enhanced immersion in the biggest virtual reality titles. Additionally, the Arctis ClearCast bidirectional microphone features noise canceling and is retractable for solo gaming sessions. While the cord is on the short side for some users, the 3.5mm audio jack connection ensures wide compatibility with modern PCs and gaming consoles.
In addition to a great microphone and fantastic device compatibility, the SteelSeries Arctic 3 gaming headset offers users an incredibly comfortable unit over hours of continuous use. The headband features a woven ski google fabric that keeps this unit feeling light and stable while playing games or listening to music. The Arctic 3’s AirWeave ear cushions feature a breathable performance fabric that keeps your ears cool and dry over long gaming sessions.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: This unique model offers a convenient form factor and decent sound performance to deliver an easy-to-use unit specifically made for virtual reality gaming. With the 3.5mm audio jack, this unit provides users with fantastic compatibility across multiple virtual reality headsets.
The Bionik Mantis gaming headset is an excellent choice for users that want an easy-to-use device that is specifically catered to VR experiences. While this model is intended for PSVR headsets, the clip design is compatible with most leading VR headsets like the Rift S and Oculus Quest. While this unit isn’t great as a general gaming headset due to the split design, the 20” 3.5mm audio jack connection ensures high compatibility across VR headsets.
In addition to simplicity and wide compatibility across headsets, the Bionik Mantis gaming headset provides users with comfort that ensures maximum immersion in the top VR games. The earphones feature variable adjustment so they can gently rest over your ears without causing discomfort over long gaming sessions. Additionally, this unit features great sound quality that provides users with enhanced positional awareness so they can stay alert during heated competitive multiplayer matches. Lastly, the included wire wrap lets users safely store these headphones without damaging the wire.
Award: BEST FOR HARDCORE GAMERS
WHY WE LIKE IT: These sleek-looking over-the-ear headphones feature battery-enhanced audio and wide device compatibility to provide increased immersion across multiple platforms. For users that need a comfortable unit with additional chat functionality, this model is a fantastic get.
The Turtle Beach Stealth 350VR gaming headset is a compelling pick for hardcore gamers that bounce from intense VR sessions to casual in-game party chats in a single gaming session. For users that want to increase their immersion in VR, but also want a solid headset for console games, this model features a 3.5mm audio jack for high device compatibility. While this headset doesn’t feature wireless connectivity, this model lets you swap the included audio wire with a longer one if you wish.
In addition to high device compatibility, the Turtle Beach Stealth 350VR provides users with a premium VR-ready fit that keeps them comfortable and immersed in the game. Thanks to the lightweight design and memory foam padding, this model won’t feel heavy after multiple hours of use. Additionally, this headset features a detachable microphone with active noise canceling to deliver crystal-clear chat audio during heated multiplayer matches.
Award: BEST FOR PORTABLE GAMING
WHY WE LIKE IT: This unit offers strong audio performance and a lightweight design to add a major boost to immersion and enjoyment of your favorite virtual reality titles. Thanks to the simple installation and variable adjustment, users can easily add this fantastic accessory to their virtual reality gaming setup.
The MYJK gaming headset features a simple clip-on design and a lightweight build to provide an easy enhancement to your favorite VR experiences and games. Thanks to the 3.5mm jack connectivity, users will get clear audio from the independent left and right headphones. While this headset is only compatible with OEM Oculus 2 head straps, like the standard and Elite strap, this model offers a secure fit that won’t waiver during intense gaming moments.
In addition to a secure fit and easy connectivity, the MYJK gaming headset offers an impressive soundstage so users can get the best from their VR headset. Each clip-on headphone features a broad frequency range so users can enjoy clear highs and deep lows for accurate audio cues in the game. Additionally, this headset offers full 360-degree stereo surround sound for enhanced positional awareness inside the top games. Lastly, this unit features multiple vectors of adjustment so users can find their preferred fit.
Award: BEST FOR IMMERSION
WHY WE LIKE IT: These headphones feature sturdy construction and multiple comfort enhancements to help users focus on the game or enjoy their favorite VR experiences. The multiple wires and wide device compatibility ensure that users can bring this model from their VR setup to game consoles or PCs.
The Logitech G Pro gaming headset is an excellent pick for users looking to get lost in virtual worlds or enjoy 360-degree streaming media. The premium metal build quality and soft padded material provide users with a durable and lightweight headset that keeps users comfortable through hours of use. This over-the-ear headset fits over most VR headsets, and the included short audio cable keeps users from getting tangled up during active games. While there isn’t a wireless function, the 3.5mm audio jack ensures high compatibility across most gaming hardware.
In addition to compatibility and comfort, the Logitech G Pro gaming headset offers users an incredible soundstage across media and games. The over-the-ear design provides passive noise isolation for increased immersion, and the 50mm audio drivers deliver rich positional audio across normal media and VR games. Additionally, with the included detachable mic and extended cable with in-line controls, users will love utilizing this headset for gaming with friends in VR or on the television.
Award: BEST FOR MULTIPLAYER GAMERS
WHY WE LIKE IT: Users with a passion for chatting with friends or working with teammates will love this flashy-looking over-the-ear model. Thanks to the adjustable microphone and durable cable, users can enjoy a tailored fit for chatting or playing their favorite virtual reality titles.
The Nulliplex gaming headset features a stunning aesthetic and cool LED accents to bring style to your live streams or casual party chats. Thanks to the 50mm drive unit, this headset offers 7.1 surround sound support and enhanced 3D audio for enhanced positional awareness in your favorite VR games and apps. While the bass performance is sub-par, users will still enjoy a crisp audio experience for chatting with friends or enjoying casual VR experiences.
In addition to positional audio and a decent sound stage, the adjustable microphone features free rotation and omnidirectional input so users can find their ideal microphone position. Additionally, the microphone’s noise-canceling feature provides clear voice chat with minimal interference from ambient noise. Thanks to the 3.5mm audio jack, this model offers wide compatibility across multiple VR headsets, game consoles, and PCs. The detachable ear cups are easy to clean, and they feature comfortable memory foam for hours of continuous use.
Most VR headsets come with earphones, but they don’t enhance the VR experience the way headphones for VR do. Simply put, headphones for VR are headphones designed to enhance the virtual reality experience while using a VR headset. They feature excellent noise cancellation to ensure better VR immersion, and they support spatial sound so you can pinpoint which direction the sounds in your game are coming from.
Headsets for VR are quite similar to regular gaming headsets. A standard gaming headset will feature noise-cancelling headphones, a microphone, and a stereo cable or wireless connectivity. But even the best headset for call of duty may not be suitable for use with a VR headset.
Headphones ideal for VR will feature wired connectivity, well-padded over-ear earcups, superior noise-cancellation, and 3D or spatial audio support. Microphones aren’t mandatory since VR headsets usually have in-built mics. Other gaming headsets may not provide enough padding either on the headband or the earcups, making them less comfortable for long gaming sessions. Depending on their construction, they may also not provide enough noise cancellation, either.
VR headphones work like regular headsets or the best headphones for PSVR. For an immersive VR experience, you’ll have to use wired headphones that connect to the VR headset with a 3.5mm jack or USB-C cable. This is necessary for better sound quality and better VR headset performance.
If you’ve just bought a new VR headset, you may have noticed that the standard earbuds that come with VR headsets aren’t the best when it comes to noise isolation. They also won’t let you experience 3D sound in its entirety. You’ll want to buy headphones for VR if you’re going to indulge in a fully immersive VR experience. Also, if your VR setup is in a noisy place, headphones will help keep out distracting background noise.
How long headsets last depends on their quality, how well they’re maintained, how much they’re used, and the type of connectivity (wireless or wired).
With wireless headphones, no matter how well you maintain them, the battery will begin to degrade eventually and need replacement. Batteries in headphones are much larger than those on earphones, so you can expect Bluetooth headphones to last 2 to 4 years or more, depending on use.
The connection cable tends to be the first thing to malfunction on wired headphones, so you’ll have to be mindful of that. If you keep your headphones clean and maintain them well, you can expect them to work for 2 to 5 years. Premium ones can sometimes work for more than seven years.
Once you’ve decided to pick up a pair of headphones for your VR experience, you have to consider several factors to narrow down your selection to the perfect headset. Connectivity, design, noise isolation, and material are some of these aspects.
Wireless headphones are naturally more convenient than wired ones, but for an immersive VR experience, you must go with wired headphones. With Bluetooth headphones, there are two issues: you either won’t receive 3D audio, or there’ll be a dip in the VR headset’s performance (or both). Connecting your headphones with USB-C or 3.5mm male connectors will create a more immersive and seamless experience.
To minimize potential issues with the wires, make sure you choose a model with a short audio cable. You’ll also find headphones that offer both wired and wireless connectivity. Choosing a headphone like this will give you more flexibility when it comes to your VR experience.
For a realistic VR experience, you’ll want there to be little to no external noise. But since that’s not possible for everyone, you must pick headphones that offer excellent noise cancellation.
You’ll find that there are two kinds of noise cancellation with headphones: passive and active. Passive noise cancellation relies on tightly sealed earcups to keep surrounding noise out. Active noise cancellation (ANC) is significantly better since it uses speakers and mics built into the headphones to nullify ambient noise by sending out inverse sound waves. ANC is an advanced feature, and headphones offering this will cost you more.
The type of headset design largely determines the sound quality and comfort. An open-back design has earcups with an exposed outer casing so that air can pass through. This design leads to a more natural sound by preventing resonance from building up.
It also creates an expansive sound stage and helps users better perceive the sound placements. The open-back design is comfortable because it doesn’t lead to too much moisture and heat build-up, but since these headphones let ambient noise in, they’re not suitable for noise isolation.
Closed-back headphones are best for noise cancellation since the outer case of the earcups is sealed off. But this design is less breathable, creates more heat, and could be uncomfortable when worn for extended periods.
There are three types of audio—stereo, surround, and 3D or spatial audio. Most headphones are designed for stereo and surround sound. Stereo sound gives you the feeling that there’s a speaker on either side of you, and surround sound makes you feel like there are multiple speakers on each side of you. But these speakers are fixed, so when you turn your head, the sounds move with you.
With spatial audio, you’ll feel like there are speakers around you and above and below too. And if the headset offers head tracking, then turning your head will accurately change your listening angle. Even if you look around, the sound field will feel like it’s anchored to one location—the way it is in the real world.
Spatial audio creates an incredibly realistic audio experience, making it possible for the ears to pinpoint every sound’s direction. Although you can pick any modern stereo headset to experience spatial audio, you’ll want to pick one that supports spatial audio to experience its full breadth.
Headphones offer two types of builds—on-ear and over-ear. The on-ear build is smaller and portable, but it has the earcups resting against the ears directly. When worn for long durations, this puts pressure on the skull and can hurt, especially for glasses wearers.
The over-ear build features thick earcups that entirely cover the ears, so the pressure is well-distributed and the earcups don’t press directly against the ears. This structure is much more comfortable and offers better noise cancellation, but it’s bulkier and not as portable as on-ear headphones.
For the best VR experience, you’ll want to pick over-ear headphones. Make sure to select a lightweight design so that you don’t feel like there’s too much clutter (and weight) on your head.
Most VR headsets come with earphones, but these don’t improve the VR audio experience the way headphones do. Earphones are built to fit in the ear and send sound directly into the ear canal. But headphones release the sound around the ears, making you perceive the audio in a more realistic way (and improving directional perception).
Headphones also offer much better noise cancellation than earphones, so you’ll want to pick these for your VR experience. A drawback is that they’re large and can feel clunky sitting on your head. So if your priority is comfort and breathability, go with earphones.
VR headsets usually come with decent quality in-built microphones. But if you regularly stream and record your gaming sessions, you’ll want to look for headphones with high-quality mics.
A noise canceling microphone will be pretty useful if you’re into FPS/multiplayer games and want to communicate clearly with other players. If your game library consists of single and multiplayer games, it’ll help to have headphones with detachable or retractable microphones.
VR headsets often look like futuristic armor pieces. In other words, having one on can make you feel like there’s a lot of clutter on your head, and throwing in a pair of bulky headphones is only going to add to the clutter.
To enjoy your gaming sessions with maximum comfort, you’ll want lightweight headphones with soft earpads. Earpads made of materials like velour, fabric, or suede offer extra comfort. Popular for its breathability and softness, you’ll find velour on high-quality headphones. But because of its composition, velour doesn’t seal the ears entirely, lowering noise isolation. Velour also lacks durability and requires plenty of care.
If you want soft earpads on your headphones but are on a tight budget, you could always purchase the earpads from a third party and replace them on your headphones.
Premium headphones are sure to offer top-of-the-line comfort and quality, but they’ll most certainly be heavy on the pocket too. If you have the budget, spending on a premium pair of headsets will be a wise investment. They’ll guarantee a more immersive experience for your VR adventures, and they’re likely to last long if you maintain them well.
If you don’t have the budget, purchase as good a pair as you can, ideally one with good reviews and is likely to last long.