These headsets are the no-excuse tools you need to up your ESports game

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There’s an old saying that goes something like “A poor workman blames his tools.” Going cheap has definite advantages for those with an endless list of reasons for why they consistently underachieve in life. “It’s not my fault I was dead and buried out in the PUBG parking lot long before I could get on the plane. It was my headset’s.” Invest in one of the following essential gaming headsets and then head into battle knowing that you’ve got the upper hand, thanks to superior gear. Which is to say that you’ll have to think up a whole new set of excuses.

For those on a budget

AmazonBasics Premium Gaming Headset

AmazonBasics Premium Gaming Headset

Is this the most inexpensive headset on the market? No; you can find ones in the $30 range if you’re cheap enough to look that hard. Even those of us with limited funds want something that looks good and works well, though, and this one from Amazon’s house brand fits the bill. With memory-foam earcups, a padded headband, an omni-directional microphone, and even a desktop mixer, you could probably fool your friends into thinking you paid twice the price. Unless your friends have access to the Internet, in which case the jig is up. (Find it at Amazon)

Turtle Beach Recon Gaming Headset

Turtle Beach Recon 70 Gaming Headset

We know what you’re thinking. Who in the heck would put the word turtle in a headset’s name when only the lightning-quick survive in Call of Duty, Overwatch, and VALORANT? Stop and think about it for a second, though. Have you ever seen the way sea turtles move when they hatch in the sand and have 100 yards to cross to the ocean to avoid becoming bird food? Seriously, we’re talking Usain Bolt after six double lattes. The Turtle Beach Recon 70 is compatible with Dolby Atmos, which accents higher frequencies, alerting you to those for whom stealth is a weapon. Adjustable earcups keep you comfortable, while the mike flips up when you need to mute yourself while opening a new bag of Lay’s mid-battle. (Find it at Amazon)

For those who want to feel it all

Nari Ultimate Wireless 7.1 Surround Sound Gaming Headset by Razer

Razer Nari Ultimate

Razer boasts that you will be able to “feel every battle” with its Nari Ultimate. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing depends on just how immersive an experience you’re looking for. The wireless headset is equipped with intelligent haptic technology developed by Lofelt, which transforms the frequencies of game audio into vibrations. The haptic effects vary in intensity and flow from left to right (or vice-versa) to match what’s happening on-screen. For some, that’s probably a recipe for a heart attack after one too many Red Bulls. For others, though, it no doubt sounds—and feels—like gaming heaven. (Find it at Amazon)

JBL Quantum 800 Wireless Over-Ear Performance Gaming Headset

JBL Quantum 800

We all want what the cool kids are wearing, right? A few weeks back, electronics giant JBL announced a deal with 100 Thieves to be the organization’s official gaming-headset partner. That means that members of the gaming and lifestyle conglomerate will wear JBL when competing and training. And presumably also while doing laps in the Cash App Compound swimming pool. The JBL Quantum 800 gives you the chance to feel like ESports royalty with QuantumSURROUND™ sound technology and a 14-hour battery life. Additional features include proprietary algorithms and head-tracking sensors. Those make it easier to flush out enemies. Unfortunately, though, they do little to boost one’s chances of scoring a two-week stay at the 100 Thieves Cash App Compound. (Find it at Amazon)

For the independently wealthy

Bose A20 Aviation Headset

Bose A20 Aviation Headset

Yes, you read that correctly: this is technically an aviation headset intended for use by pilots. Why would you buy it for gaming, you ask? The most likely reason is so you can go to ESports forums and tell anyone who might be interested how much you paid for them. Plus, they’ll make you look cool. Like a pilot, y’know? Well, that and the fact that the sheer quality of these noise-cancelling headphones is above and beyond that of most gaming-specific headsets. You get what you pay for, right? You might need to invest in an adapter in order to use the A20s with your PC or gaming console of choice. Mind you, if you can afford these, you can certainly splash out on an adapter. (Find it at Amazon)

HyperX Cloud Orbit S

HyperX Cloud Orbit S

The name HyperX brings to mind an ADHD-afflicted nine-year-old who’s palmed his meds and shotgunned three bags of Sour Patch Kids, including the sugar at the bottom. Clouds, meanwhile, were made for days spent lying on your back in the middle of sun-kissed fields and staring at the sky, gently debating whether the cumulus mass overhead looks more like a rabbit or a sonic hedgehog. If you think about it, though, rationally speaking, there’s no way that the two go together. But locked and loaded with Audeze 100mm planar magnetic drivers, the HyperX Cloud Orbit S headset features Waves Nx 3D technology, delivering superior digital surround sound. Whether you’re playing on PC, Xbox One, PS4, or mobile, that sound is key. Think about how having the hearing of a rabbit is going to elevate your game. And, no, we’re not talking cumulus rabbits. (Find it at Amazon)

With files from John Lucas.

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Mike Usinger once took the better part of two years to finish Grand Theft Auto. Over the course of his career he has written about everything from eSports to music to movies to travel.

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