There’s a huge difference between gaming with a headset vs using speakers. So how do they stack up against each other in quality, price, etc.?
Which Is Better For Gaming: Gaming Headset Or Speakers
Gaming headsets are better for gaming than speakers because gaming headsets have much better directional sound, which is important for many games. Speakers also make communicating in game hard because a microphone is more likely to pick up voices and game noises coming through a speaker, creating feedback.
Gaming headsets are without a doubt better for gaming than speakers, no matter what game and no matter what console.
I’m not saying you can’t use speakers for gaming, but most of the time you’re going to want to go with a gaming headset.
If you’re playing a competitive game, or a game that requires directional sound like a First Person Shooter, for example, then you need to use a gaming headset.
You won’t be able to tell where enemies are using a speaker. Not to mention, communication will be a headache if you’re using a speaker and trying to talk to your friends.
Whenever someone talks, it’ll play through your speaker, which your mic will pick up and play right back to them.
I only use speakers when I’m gaming very casually. If I’m playing Fortnite on my Switch, for example, and don’t really care about winning – I’ll just let the sound play through my TV.
The major downside is that when my friend talks, he comes through my TV as well. I don’t have a mic for my Switch, though, so it’s not as big of an issue – my friend just talks and I listen.
Of course, I can’t count the number of times I’ve been shot at without being able to tell where the bullets came from, but that’s the sacrifice I make.
Speakers can also help for single player, story-driven games because you don’t really need a competitive advantage in those games.
For these types of games, it’s going to come down to preference. I like playing single player games with speakers because it’s nice to sit back and relax without a headset on.
However, there are many single player games where you need to be able to tell where a sound is coming from, so speakers aren’t always the best option there either.
Overall, when in doubt, a headset is going to be the best option 90% of the time when it comes to gaming, especially if you are trying to win.
Keep reading as I dive into the pros and cons for each to help you decide which one you should use.
Pros Of Gaming Headset
- Very immersive
- Great directional sound
- Picks up even the smallest of noises
- Great for communication
- Sound is isolated so only you hear it
- Louder and more clear than speakers
- Blocks out background noise
Gaming headsets are pretty much essential for competitive games and anytime you want to communicate with people while you game.
They’re great for immersion and blocking out background noise as well, but their main purpose is just giving you that extra directional awareness in game and allowing you to hear even small noises like enemy footsteps and reloads.
Cons Of Gaming Headset
- Can be cumbersome / uncomfortable
- Not good if you need to hear background noise
- Others can’t hear game sounds (when you want them to)
- Blocks out too much background noise sometimes and impedes awareness
I’d say the main con of gaming headsets is just the fact that you need to wear them. Wearing a gaming headset for a long time can be flat-out uncomfortable.
Some gaming headsets like the HyperX Cloud II headset have gone out of their way to be comfortable, but nothing is more comfortable than having nothing on your head.
Some people are more sensitive to wearing headsets than others, though, and many people can wear them all day without any issues. Now let’s talk about speakers.
Pros Of Gaming With Speakers
- More comfortable than wearing a headset for long periods of time
- Helps with real-life awareness (headsets block out too much background noise)
- Safer than extremely loud headsets that can cause tinnitus
- High quality speakers are very immersive
- Cinematic games sound better
- Great when you have guests / friends over
- Great for gaming breaks when watching movies or streams
I really enjoy gaming with speakers when I play story based games and casual games. Not having a heavy headset on my head makes it much easier to relax, especially since I don’t have a wireless headset right now.
So when I game using speakers for my sound, I can just chill back and relax on the recliner, or even in my computer chair if I’m using speakers while gaming on my PC.
They might not be the best for competitive gaming, but speakers definitely have their place.
Cons Of Gaming With Speakers
- Hard to hear quiet, subtle noises like footsteps
- Hard to tell the direction that sounds come from
- Others can hear your game
- Background noise could interfere with your game sounds
- Less immersive for some people
Basically it’s going to come down to your specific needs and how you live. I actually find having both speakers and a gaming headset is the best option.
I use my gaming headset when I’m playing a game that requires me to hear every single noise around me and to pinpoint exactly where those noises are coming from (Valorant, for example).
I also use my headset when I need to hop in a Discord call with someone. I’ll use speakers when I’m playing Pokemon or Splatoon 2 on my Switch, though, because then I’m not too worried about being competitive, and usually my roommate is chilling with me and checking out the gameplay.
Many people will play games using speakers during the day and then switch to speakers during the night when others are sleeping. Which you prefer comes down to which games you play, how you game, and your lifestyle in general.
Is Stereo Sound Or Surround Sound Better For Gaming?
Surround sound is better for gaming than stereo sound because surround sound helps significantly with directional awareness. Surround sound lets you pinpoint whether noises are coming from in front, behind, above, etc. which gives the player an advantage in first person shooter games and even MMO games.
If you’re a competitive player and play games that require you to know where enemies are (Valorant, CS:GO, Call of Duty, Final Fantasy XIV, World of Warcraft, etc.), then surround sound is 100% the way to go.
Surround sound will help with directional sounds, so if someone is behind you, you’ll be able to tell exactly where they are and be able to turn around and deal with them.
Surround sound is also more immersive for a lot of people, since sound will have more direction to it. In story-driven games, it can really help you feel a part of the world when noises all have very distinct direction.
Stereo sound isn’t bad, and a lot of gamers prefer stereo sound over surround sound because they find surround sound a bit jarring.
It comes down to mostly personal preference, but I’ve personally noticed that my awareness is amplified when I game using surround sound.
Recommended Gaming Headsets
The SteelSeries Arctis headsets are some of the best gaming headsets available. They are very well-known in gaming communities and in my opinion they’re some of the nicest looking headsets on the market.
The Arctis 7P+ has 3D audio, which is kind of a fancy name for surround sound, although it’s simulated surround sound basically.
While 3D audio is more of a buzzword, it’s still a super nice feature to have in a headset. The Arctis 7P+ headsets are also wireless, which is super convenient, and they have fantastic sound quality, so they’re one of my top pics.
The HyperX Cloud II headset is another fantastic headset and actually compares quite well to the SteelSeries Arctis 7P+.
This headset has the classic gaming headset look as well as surround sound technology, so they’re fantastic for gaming.
One of the main selling points of this headset is how comfortable it is, so it’s suitable for long gaming sessions.
Everyone’s head is built differently, but from what I’ve seen and read, most people find this to be one of the most comfortable headsets on the market.
My one gripe with this headset is that it isn’t wireless, but that’s also why this headset is only a fraction of the price of wireless headsets of the same quality.
Recommended Gaming Speakers
Alright, these are probably the best speakers on the market for gaming at the moment (unless you’re willing to spend an arm and a leg).
They sound absolutely fantastic, great subs, insane bass, etc. These are going to make your games sound incredible, and make it extremely easy to engulf yourself in whatever virtual world you choose to visit.
These speakers are also extremely durable and well-built, so you can expect them to last nearly a decade. They are an amazing investment for your gaming setup.
The Samson MediaOne BT3 speakers are very reasonably priced for the sound quality they provide. They sound absolutely fantastic, they’re small enough to fit on most desks, and they’re all around a great set of speakers.
There are also non-Bluetooth versions of this speaker available through Samson which are a little cheaper, but personally I enjoy the Bluetooth because I’ll listen to music on my phone occasionally.
For the price, these are some of the best speakers you’ll find and they’ll be perfect for 90% of gamers.
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Eric streams 3 days a week on Twitch and uploads weekly to Youtube under the moniker, StreamersPlaybook. He loves gaming, PCs, and anything else related to tech. He’s the founder of the website StreamersPlaybook and loves helping people answer their streaming, gaming, and PC questions.