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Best headset in 2022: headphones with a mic for Zoom, gaming & home working

One of the best headsets, on a desk next to a keyboard and monitor
(Image credit: Razer)

The best headset may cost a little more, but it will give you an immeasurably better experience online, whether you're in a Zoom meeting, making voice calls, gaming, or streaming your own content.  

Headsets differ from the best headphones because they feature an integrated mic. That means that not only will you be able to hear others more clearly, they'll be able to hear you better too. And given how important good communications are to both our working and personal lives, you can't put a price on that. 

Below you'll find the best headset for a variety of use cases and budgets. If you're not sure what you're looking for, though, our section on How to choose the best headset will walk you through the fundamental things you need to be looking for.

Meanwhile, if you need to complete your home working kit, then don't miss our guides to best laptops and the best Chromebook. And if you're looking for peripherals too, we have roundups of the best portable monitors and the best monitor arms to help you out.

The best headsets in 2022

(Image credit: Kingston)

1. HyperX Cloud II

The best headset for all-round use

Specifications

Microphone: Electret condenser microphone, bi-directional, ANC, 50Hz-18kHz
Connection: Wired, 3.5mm jack, 1m cable (+2m extension)
Driver size: 53mm
Frequency response: 15Hz-25kHz
Impedance: 60 ohms
Weight: 350g

Reasons to buy

+
Wide frequency response
+
Active noise cancellation
+
7.1 virtual surround sound

Reasons to avoid

-
Relatively heavy

Though aimed at gamers, you can use the HyperX Cloud II in a variety of scenarios thanks to its strong emphasis on sound quality, mic quality and wearer comfort. And that means it's the best headset we can recommend today for all round use.

Large 53mm drivers deliver a healthy 15Hz-25kHz frequency response, while wide device compatibility is assured by the convenient 3.5mm connection. The drivers are capable of Dolby 7.1 virtual surround to enhance both gaming and movie immersion, and you don't even need to install software to enable it. 

Comfort is paramount with the Cloud II, as its large over-ear earpads are clad in soft leatherette and lined with memory foam. The focus on quality materials also extends to the solid-steel frame. However while this is great for toughness, it does contribute to the headset's relatively heavy 350g weight. We're also not that impressed by the mic's 50Hz-18kHz response, but at least you do get noise cancellation to keep your voice sounding its clearest.

(Image credit: Razer)

2. Razer Kraken X

The best cheap headset

Specifications

Microphone: Unidirectional ECM boom, 100Hz-10kHz
Connection: Wired, 3.5mm jack, 1.3m cable
Driver size: 40mm
Frequency response: 12Hz-28kHz
Impedance: 32 ohms
Weight: 250g

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent value
+
Good frequency response
+
Plenty of ear/headband padding

Reasons to avoid

-
No active noise cancellation

If you're watching the pennies, here's the best headset we can recommend for a low price. It's targeted squarely at gamers, but it's just as versatile when used as a regular headset. The plush memory foam earpad cushions are as comfortable for a day's home working as they would be during an evening's gaming. 

Underneath the left earcup is a conveniently placed volume slider and mute button, and inside are 40mm drivers with a respectable 12Hz-28kHz frequency response, and with a low 32-ohm resistance, they can be driven by any device and still produce plenty of volume. Connectivity is via a good old wire (1.3m long) that terminates in a regular 3.5mm audio jack. The bendable and directional mic utilizes a cardioid pic-up pattern to zone in on your voice and exclude background noise, though there's no active noise cancellation.

(Image credit: Audio-Technica)

3. Audio-Technica ATH-G1

The best headset for gamers

Specifications

Microphone: Condenser, hypercardioid pattern, 30Hz- 20kHz
Connection: Wired, 3.5mm jack, 2m cable
Driver size: 45mm
Frequency response: 5Hz- 40kHz
Impedance: 45 ohms
Weight: 257g

Reasons to buy

+
Stunning frequency response
+
Detachable, directional mic
+
Premium design

Reasons to avoid

-
Fairly pricey
-
No virtual surround

If you're specifically looking for a gaming headset, then the Audio-Technica ATH-G1 Premium Gaming Headset is our top pick. Sound quality takes center stage here, with the relatively large 45mm drivers tuned to deliver studio-quality sound; something that's backed up by the highly impressive 5Hz-40kHz frequency response. Even the mic boasts a respectable 30Hz-20kHz response. 

The mic boom is also flexible for optimal positioning, it features a highly directional pickup to help zone out background noise and improve your voice clarity, plus it can be removed so you can use the headphones on the go. 

You also get an in-line volume control and mic lock switch on the 2m cord, and the cable connects to your device with an ultra-compatible 3.5mm audio jack. The brushed aluminium headband helps keep weight down to a reasonable 257g while also helping the headset look like a quality product.

(Image credit: Jabra)

4. Jabra Evolve 75

The best headset for home working

Specifications

Microphone: Uni-directional ECM microphone, ANC, 150Hz-6.8kHz
Connection: Wireless (USB receiver dongle, Dual Bluetooth)
Driver size: 40mm
Frequency response: 20Hz-20kHz
Impedance: Not stated
Weight: 177g

Reasons to buy

+
Strong emphasis on microphone quality
+
Certified by numerous VC platforms
+
Wireless with up to 30m range

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the ideal choice for music/movies

If you regularly work from home and want to improve your voice clarity in video conferences, check out Jabra's Evolve 75 wireless headset. It's been designed for professional use in an office environment, so its mic is blessed with advanced active noise cancellation, and it boasts official certification by the likes of Microsoft and Cisco. There's even a 'busy light' on the outside of the earcups to tell passing colleagues (or family members) that you're on a call. 

Leatherette padded on-ear ear cushions have been sculpted to allow comfortable day-long use, and you get complete freedom to move thanks to Bluetooth wireless connectivity that enables up to 30 metres of roaming range. Two devices can be connected simultaneously and you get up to 15 hours of talk time per charge. 

A wired USB connection is also available should you run out of juice. And 40mm drivers with a 20Hz-20kHz frequency response promise decent music quality once your videoconference is over.

(Image credit: Logitech)

5. Logitech H800

Flexible wireless headset with excellent range

Specifications

Microphone: 100Hz-6.5kHz
Connection: Wireless (USB receiver dongle, Bluetooth)
Driver size: Not stated
Frequency response: 30Hz-15kHz
Impedance: 32 ohms
Weight: 120g

Reasons to buy

+
Wireless with high Bluetooth range
+
Works with computers and mobile devices
+
Very light

Reasons to avoid

-
Poor headphone frequency response
-
On-ear, not over-ear

Smart, functional and feature-packed, the H800 is a versatile option for home working, whether you're using a computer, tablet or your phone. This is also a wireless headset, giving you up to 12 metres of roaming range. 

Simply stick the tiny 'Nano' receiver into a spare USB port on your computer, or activate the built-in Bluetooth to pair with your smart device. The built-in rechargeable battery is good for up to six hours use, yet the headset is still comfortably light at 120g. 

Audio quality is improved by a flexible mic for more accurate positioning, and it's equipped with noise cancellation to reduce background noise. Touch buttons on the ear cup give you convenient access to volume, mute, call handling, song advance/replay and device select functions, and the Nano receiver can even be stored inside the left earcup when you're on the go. The only weak link here is the headphone drivers' frequency response, which at 30Hz-15kHz is slightly more restrictive than the 20Hz to 20KHz average.

(Image credit: Koss)

6. Koss SB45

The best budget headset for comfort

Specifications

Microphone: Noise-reduction Clear Voice Technology
Connection: Wired, 3.5mm or USB (separate products), 2.44m cable
Driver size: Not stated
Frequency response: 18Hz-20kHz
Impedance: 100 ohms
Weight: Not stated

Reasons to buy

+
Fantastic vlaue
+
Folding earcups
+
USB and 3.5mm versions available

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly high 100-ohm resistance
-
Frequency response could be better
-
Plasticky look

Here's another excellent choice if you're looking for a low-priced headset. With its large closed back, over-ear earcups, plus a well-padded headband, the SB45 is designed with comfort very much in mind. The earcups can be folded up and into the headband for more compact storage, and inside are anisotropic ferrite magnet drivers boasting a pretty respectable 18-20,000 Hz frequency response, though at 100 ohms they're not quite as easy to drive as some headsets, so you may find volume levels a little low when used with some portable devices. 

Voice capture is taken care of by a mic incorporating Koss's Clear Voice Technology to help minimize background noise, making for more accurate speech recognition and better video conferencing audibility. Two versions are available: a USB version, and one with traditional dual 3.5mm audio jacks.

Plantronics Voyager Focus UC

(Image credit: Poly)

7. Plantronics (Poly) Voyager Focus UC

The best headset for conference calls

Specifications

Microphone: Active noise-cancelling triple mic
Connection: Wireless (Bluetooth, USB)
Driver size: Not stated
Frequency response: 20Hz-20kHz
Impedance: Not stated
Weight: 155g

Reasons to buy

+
Noise cancelling headphones and mic
+
Great wireless range & battery life
+
Charging stand included

Reasons to avoid

-
On-ear ear cups won't suit everyone
-
Biased for work over play

If you're fed up with background noise distracting you from important conference calls, the Voyager Focus UC headset is the answer. From the highly-respected headset brand Plantronics (recently re-branded as Poly), this headset's advanced active noise cancellation can cancel out unwanted ambient sound so you can better hear your colleagues or friends in your video conference. 

What's more, the mic is also blessed with noise cancellation tech, so those on the other end of your call can also hear you more clearly. There's even a Dynamic Mute Alert feature that senses if you talk when muted and alerts you, saving potential embarrassment.

The Voyager Focus UC can be used with your PC, phone, tablet or even a smartwatch, thanks to its USB and Bluetooth wireless connectivity that gives up to 30m of roaming range. Battery life is good for up to 15 hours of listening time and 12 hours of talk time, and there's an included magnetic charging stand to ensure the headset never runs out of juice.

How to choose the best headset

Microphone quality

At its most basic, a good mic should be able to be positioned so it can sit just beside or below your lips; close enough to pick up your voice at its clearest, but not right in front where your breathing will make you sound like Darth Vader.

Noise reduction

Background noise can easily detract from what you're saying, but fortunately most headset manufacturers incorporate directional microphones that are tuned to only pick up the sound waves emanating from the direction of your mouth. If that's still not enough, higher-spec headsets can feature active noise cancellation, whereby the mic actively filters out background interference.

Frequency response

Frequency response conveys the breadth of tones that the headphone drivers are able to produce, from the lowest bass notes to the highest treble frequencies. The human ear can usually hear a range from 20Hz up to 20,000Hz (or 20kHz), so a pair of headphones that at least covers this range is a must. Most boast an even wider response range though, which at the low/bass end can be beneficial, as while you may not be able to hear these frequencies, it is possible to feel them.

Impedance

Measured in ohms, and symbolized as Ω, impedance quantifies how easily the speaker drivers are to 'drive' - vibrate - sound waves into your ear. Headphones with a low impedance (below 50 ohms) are easy to drive and don't require additional sound amplification above and beyond what your laptop can produce. High impedance headphones are designed for use with a dedicated headphone amp or pro studio equipment, otherwise they can sound too quiet. On this list we're only recommending low impedance models to ensure maximum device compatibility.

Connection

Most of the headphones on this list use a traditional corded connection to your device, usually via a good old 3.5mm headphone jack. This ensures the best possible audio fidelity with no risk of degradation or dropout due to wireless interference. More expensive headphones may have the option to unplug the headphone cord from the earcup, so you can swap it out for shorter, longer, straight or coiled cables.

Earcup design

When you're spending long periods in front of a computer, comfortable earcups are a must. For this reason studio headphones don't tend to use an in-ear, earbud design, and instead are generally classified as 'on-ear' or 'over-ear'.

On-ear headphones are less common in the studio sector. These earcups rest flat on the surface of your ear, which can be fine for shorter periods, but could cause fatigue after a while.

Over-ear cups (also called circumaural) solve this by adding a thicker perimeter ring of padding around the cup so it sits around your ear, rather than on it. It's a more comfortable solution, and also creates a seal around each ear to seal out background noise; a feature called noise isolation, or passive noise reduction.

Then there's the choice between open-back and closed-back earcups. Closed back are more common in the reference headphone market, as they help to further isolate sound. Open-back earcups will have a vented exterior casing to allow some sound to escape. This can create a wider, airier sound profile, but it also means others around you can hear the audio leakage.

Read more:
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The best photo editing tools and accessories
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Everything photographers need to work from home
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Ben is the Imaging Labs manager, responsible for all the testing on Digital Camera World and across the entire photography portfolio at Future. Whether he's in the lab testing the sharpness of new lenses, the resolution of the latest image sensors, the zoom range of monster bridge cameras or even the latest camera phones, Ben is our go-to guy for technical insight. He's also the team's man-at-arms when it comes to camera bags, filters, memory cards, and all manner of camera accessories – his lab is a bit like the Batcave of photography! With years of experience trialling and testing kit, he's a human encyclopedia of benchmarks when it comes to recommending the best buys. 

With contributions from