The difference a headset makes.

Most people know this already, and honestly, I have no idea why it’s taken me so long to realise this myself.  Something that rings true with anything involving audio, something I know.  I just never put that knowledge, and my love of gaming together…..

Audio sounds better through headphones.

Ok, so after stating the obvious, it’s pretty easy to write-off the rest of this post, but bear with me…..It’s not just that it sounds better.  Modern games rely on audio to help the gamer get their bearings, feel their surroundings and become even more immersed in the world they’re opening up.  Apparently I’d missed that memo, up until now…..

The epiphany

It was when I was playing Fortnite: Battle Royale that the impact of audio really hit me.  In a game that is essentially silent, barring footsteps and gunshots, you need to be able to hear everything.  Playing at 6am one day, and I was basically getting crushed over and over, because I couldn’t hear the cues I needed to hear.

TV volume down low, playing a survival game without one of the core elements of the game!

I started contemplating my options to resolve this, and now I’m playing all my game audio through a proper stereo headset (this wasn’t without its dramas).

It’s a little rude when others are about, so I don’t use it exclusively.  However, those late night raids and those early morning battle royales are no longer hampered by my low-volume woes.  I can hear EVERYTHING (note that this doesn’t necessarily improve my gameplay abilities, but it does give me a better chance!).

The difference

As someone who has played consoles for years, and exclusively listened to the audio through the TV.  I’ve essentially limited myself and removed a great deal of detail during gameplay.

TV audio, turned down low.  It’s what I’ve grown used to, it’s been fine.  I’ve heard the great  music and effects, surely I’ve not been missing out too much?!

I truly did not expect the huge difference that it actually makes.  All the time that people work on audio in games, and I’ve basically been shunning them for years!

I can suddenly gauge where things are coming from, I can hear a whole new level of environmental details, and audio cues set up to make the game even more immersive.  Honestly, I expected a change, but sound design is an art and I’ve just been ignoring all of the nuance and brilliance that people have created.

What now?

Now I’m enlightened (see: slow on the uptake), I need to go back and play through other games again.  What would Dishonoured 2 be like if I could hear in what feels like 360 degrees?  How much more would I love The Witcher 3? What would playing Forza “feel” like?

Not only has it expanded my tiny mind, but it’s giving me even greater reason to go back some games that I either have DLC to playthrough, or that I never finished.  My back-catalogue has turned into a new library of sounds to listen to as soon as possible.

Honestly, I’ve seen all these streamers wearing headsets.  You see the pro gamers in competitions wearing headsets, but I always just kind of assumed that it was for chat purposes (apparently not acknowledging the expensive microphones people have set up in the foregrounds of the streams……).

Thankfully for me, games aren’t going anywhere, and I have a whole new perspective to view (hear) some favourites from.  I’m an idiot for taking this long to get to this point, but damn if I don’t feel like a genius for giving myself new reasons to play games.

What to use?

For anyone wondering, my first foray into the gaming headset market has been the Steelseries Siberia 200.  I gather it’s bottom-end in terms of what’s available these days, but it was a bargain, and I’m really pleased with it.

Looking to do reviews on headsets in the future, and I’ve reached out to companies to see if anyone wants to send something my way for review (nobody ever comes back to me on these things, but I won’t stop trying!).

My frame of reference is tiny at present, but when I can, I’ll be pitting headsets against each other, and hopefully finding the perfect pair.  For now, I’m really happy with my Steelseries though.  Super comfy with great, clean audio.  A little extra bass and treble would help, but I don’t feel like I’m missing anything crucial right now, especially at the price point I got them at.

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