Gaming Headset Testing Methodology & Analysis

Updated: Jun 17, 2024 3:18 PM


Key Takeaways_

  • 75% of gaming headset reviewers are untrustworthy. That means only 25% of publications actually test!
  • 23 reviewers publish trusted gaming headset reviews, including RTINGs , Sound Guys, and AnandTech. These 23 reviewers’ trusted testing methodologies and reviews fuel our Performance Criteria indicators and True Scores.
  • We spent 66 hours total evaluating 94 gaming headset reviewers for thorough testing and transparency.

Gaming Headset Category Analysis

Gamers rely on high-quality headsets for immersive audio and clear communication, but finding trustworthy reviews can be a challenge. After three years of research, our investigation has shown that 75% of reviewers fail to properly test gaming headsets, often lacking evidence of thorough testing and making it difficult for gamers to make informed decisions.

How do we know what to test? Our process involves a meta-analysis of trusted expert testing methodologies, our own testing expertise, and real customer review pain points.

  1. First, we review existing methodologies from trusted experts and identify their important and frequently-tested Performance Criteria. Both quantitative and qualitative criteria are considered and collected.
  2. We leverage our testing expertise (we’ve tested and reviewed hundreds of products several years ago) to select the most important Performance Criteria for evaluating gaming headsets.
  3. We then validate these Criteria by cross-referencing them with common pain points highlighted in real customer reviews.

This way, we ensure our evaluations are both rigorous and relevant.

Categories of Performance & Performance Criteria

We determined that the 8 Performance Criteria in 3 Categories of Performance below are the most important ones to test based on meta analysis of trusted criteria and expert testing methodologies, customer reviews, and our own testing expertise.

Audio QualityMin Frequency ResponseHertz (Hz)The lowest frequency a headset can reproduce effectively. It indicates how well the headset can handle deep bass sounds.
Audio QualityMax Frequency ResponseHertz (Hz)The highest frequency a headset can reproduce. It indicates the headset’s ability to produce high-pitched sounds, such as treble
Audio QualityHigh End Roll OffHertz (Hz)The point at which the headset declines in output at high frequencies and starts to distort
Audio QualityLow End Roll OffHertz (Hz)The point at which bass response starts to fall sharply, causing it to rapidly become inaudible
Audio QualityMax VolumeDecibels (dB)The loudest level it can produce sound without significant distortion
Microphone PerformanceSpeech to Noise RatioDecibels (dB)How effectively the headset’s microphone isolates the user’s voice in a noisy environment
Microphone PerformanceMicrophone Sound Quality RatingRating out of 10A subjective measure of how good the microphone on a headset sounds
Connectivity PerformanceLatencyMilliseconds (ms)The delay between the audio signal being sent to the headset and the sound being produced

To evaluate all these criteria, you can use the following equipment which expert testers use to ascertain the quality of gaming headsets:

artificial head for gaming headsetsArtificial Ear/Head SimulatorDesign, General sound qualityMimics the human ear’s shape and acoustic properties. Mounts on the analyzer and ensures consistent test conditions for accurate frequency response measurements$100 – $1,000+
sound pressure level meterSound Level MeterMax VolumeTo measure the volume output and ensure accurate decibel readings$50 – $500
acoustic chamber for testingAcoustic ChamberGeneral sound qualityAudio testing rooms are built up to isolate noise and provide a neutral, controlled environment for performing testing “in a vacuum”$500 – $5,000
frequency response softwareAudio Analysis Software with Microphone TestingMin Frequency Response, Max Frequency Response, High End Roll Off, Low End Roll Off, Max Volume, Speech To Noise RatioSoftware responsible for helping to interpret the audio output. It can also generate pink noise to simulate background noise and measure how well the microphone isolates your voice$100 – $1,000
latency signal generatorSignal GeneratorLatencyUsed to measure latency by sending a precise audio signal$200 – $5,000+
OscilloscopeOscilloscopeLatencyTo visualize the audio signal and check for distortions or anomalies$300 – $3,000

What Tests are Quantitative and/or Qualitative? 

Quantitative tests feature something that is either measurable or binary in nature, which includes tests that measure recline angle and weight limit.

Qualitative tests, on the other hand, are based on things that can’t be properly measured or are a “feeling” someone gets. This includes things like setup and ergonomics.

When deciding the Performance Criteria, we looked at customer pain points we found in customer reviews and determined if they could be tested and if the tests are quantitative or qualitative.

Our Trusted Data Sources

Our Trusted Data Sources

We looked at 90+ gaming headset reviewers and found that 23 are trustworthy (60%+ Trust Rating). The three we have listed below are our most trusted for gaming headsets.

  1. Theresa Ketterling – Rtings, MuckRack
  2. Reece Bithrey – Trusted Reviews, MuckRack
  3. Andrei Frumusanu – AnandTech, MuckRack

Interested in a comprehensive analysis of our data sources? We’ve got you covered. Below, you’ll find a detailed list of every gaming headset review website we’ve identified, organized by their respective Trust Ratings from highest to lowest. But we didn’t stop there. We’ve meticulously reviewed each publication and verified the data by checking whether the authors have bio links to MuckRack or LinkedIn. We’re committed to not only checking the facts but ensuring their veracity.

Usage Cases

After identifying the most important Categories of Performance and Performance Criteria, we applied them to real-world applications.

Competitive Multiplayer Gaming

  • Important Categories of Performance and Performance Criteria:
    • Connectivity (Latency)
    • Microphone Performance (Speech to Noise Ratio)
  • Reasoning: Low latency and clear communication enable coordinated team strategies, while precise directional audio helps gamers pinpoint enemies and react faster.
  • Related Guides: CSGO Headsets, Headsets for Call of Duty, Headsets for Fortnite, Gaming Headsets

Immersive Single-Player Gaming

  • Important Categories of Performance and Performance Criteria:
    • Audio Quality (Frequency Response, Roll-off)
  • Reasoning: A wide and balanced frequency response allows gamers to appreciate the full depth of the game’s audio design, while a comfortable fit is essential for extended gameplay sessions.
  • Related Guides: Headphones for VR, Xbox One Headsets, PS4 and PS5 Headsets

Casual Gaming and Entertainment

  • Important Categories of Performance and Performance Criteria:
    • Audio Quality (Frequency Response, Roll-off)
  • Reasoning: Overall good sound quality enhances the entertainment experience, while comfort and durability ensure the headset can withstand frequent usage.
  • Related Guides: Headsets for Nintendo Switch, Earbuds for Gaming

Content Creation (Streaming, Game Reviews)

  • Important Categories of Performance and Performance Criteria:
    • Microphone Performance (Microphone Sound Quality, Speech to Noise Ratio)
  • Reasoning: A high-quality microphone ensures clear voice capture for audiences, while monitoring capabilities allow streamers to fine-tune their audio presentation.
  • Related Guides: Microphones for PC Gaming


Our Gaming Headset Testing Methodology underscores our unwavering commitment to transparency and accuracy in evaluating gaming headset performance. These Performance Criteria fuel our Trust Ratings that we calculate for each reviewer during our ongoing research, which we analyze further in our Gaming Headset Trust List. The crazy fact that 75% of gaming headset reviewers lack enough testing emphasizes the need for our meticulous approach.

The Trust Ratings are the bedrock of our Gaming Headset True Scores, which is the most accurate product score on the web. Below are our gaming headset reviews sorted by highest True Scores. We invite you to learn more about how we score products with True Scores and how they empower you to make informed buying decisions online.

We also invite expert reviewers to contribute to a more trustworthy and transparent review system. By adopting stringent testing standards and/or supporting our efforts, you help elevate the quality of gaming headset reviews and ensure that consumers can make informed choices based on reliable information.

Let’s commit to higher standards together. Together, we can transform the landscape of gaming headset reviews for the better.

Courtney Fraher Avatar

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