Wireless Vs Wired Gaming Headset

When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Wireless gaming headsets have steadily blossomed into a huge product category with several models earning top spots in our guide to the best gaming headsets. But there are still more than a few reasons to invest in a wired headset, whether you want to save a bit of money, or maximize compatibility with multiple consoles and computers.

Many of the best wireless gaming headsets also typically include wired functionality, so it’s helpful to understand the different types of wireless connections offered and how they compare to their wired counterparts.

Below, we’ve broken down the pros and cons of wired versus wireless gaming headsets to help you decide which is right for your needs.

Wired vs. wireless gaming headsets: Compatibility

Top wireless gaming headsets support Bluetooth and 2.4GHz connections to pair with lots of devices.

Most wired gaming headsets will work across all platforms without any major compatibility issues. But wireless gaming headsets are another story. Wireless compatibility varies for different gaming consoles because certain systems support different types of wireless connections. The two main connection types are Bluetooth and 2.4GHz.

For gaming headsets, 2.4GHz has become popular since it can cut down on audio latency, which causes delayed sound compared to what you see on screen. Meanwhile, Bluetooth is more common for headphones geared toward music listening on your phone. However, many top wireless gaming headsets include support for both Bluetooth and 2.4GHz so you can connect to multiple devices at the same time.

Computers and the Nintendo Switch are compatible with both types of wireless signal, but Xbox and PlayStation consoles have some restrictions. The PlayStation 5 supports a standard 2.4GHz wireless connection, but it does not support Bluetooth audio (though the PS4 does). Xbox consoles also lack Bluetooth audio support, but instead of standard 2.4GHz capabilities, they use a proprietary 2.4GHz signal that requires a different type of transmitter than the ones used for PlayStation or Switch consoles.

As a result, you’ll have to pay close attention to the type of connection a wireless headset supports to ensure it will work on your console of choice. Only more expensive headsets, like the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X and Arctis Nova Pro, support multiple types of wireless signals across PC, PlayStation, Xbox, and Switch.

On the other hand, a wired headset with a simple 3.5mm headphone cable can connect to all three consoles or a PC without any compatibility issues. Xbox and PlayStation both offer a 3.5mm port in their wireless controllers, so you can even use a wired headset without a cable connecting you to the console. The Switch has a built-in 3.5mm port, and it works in handheld mode or when the console is docked and connected to a TV.

However, some wired headset models don’t have a 3.5mm connection and instead rely on a USB-C port. Headsets with USB-C are best for use with computers since most consoles will require you to get a USB-C to 3.5mm adapter.

Wired vs. wireless gaming headsets: Sound quality

Though the sound quality benefits can be subtle, a wired connection can still deliver higher bandwidth than a wireless signal.

Technically, a wired audio connection can still offer better sound quality than a wireless connection since its signal can support a higher bandwidth with less interference. This means that wired connections can transmit high-quality lossless audio without any extra compression. That said, wireless technologies have improved so much that most people aren’t likely to notice a difference, and many audio sources don’t actually need the extra bandwidth that a wired connection provides.

Ultimately, the most important factors that impact sound quality on a gaming headset are the drivers (speakers) the headset uses and the source format you’re actually listening to. You can find both wired and wireless headset models with high-quality drivers, but you can typically get a wired model with higher quality sound for less money than wireless options with similar performance.

On the other hand, premium wireless headsets do tend to offer extra features, like noise-cancellation and microphone monitoring, more often than their wired counterparts do. These perks can help improve your overall audio experience.

Wired vs. wireless gaming headsets: Latency

A 2.4GHz wireless connection can deliver lower latency than a Bluetooth signal.

Audio delay caused by wireless signals has been a polarizing topic for gamers in the past, but modern wireless headsets don’t lag behind wired connections in meaningful ways.

Competitive gamers who want the most responsive sound possible may still opt for wired headphones to try and gain an advantage, but most gamers will be perfectly suited with a 2.4GHz wireless headset.

Bluetooth suffers from a bit more latency when gaming than 2.4GHz and can occasionally disrupt your experience with a slower or weaker connection, though it’s only available as an option when gaming on PC, Switch, or PlayStation 4.

Wired vs. wireless gaming headsets: Convenience

Wireless headsets can connect to consoles and mobile devices without a cable, but you do need to charge them.

The most obvious advantage of a wireless headset is the added convenience you get from not needing to deal with cables. Some wireless connections still require you to plug a small USB dongle into your device, but otherwise setup is simple and free from wires.

On the other hand, wired gaming headsets need to be connected with a cable to your gaming system or, in some cases, a controller in order to work. This physically tethers you to another device which can restrict your movement and limit the distance you need to be from your system.

But wired gaming headsets do have one key advantage when it comes to convenience: they don’t need to be charged. Since power is provided by the cable, wired gaming headsets don’t have batteries. Meanwhile, wireless gaming headsets all need to be charged and battery life varies between different models and price ranges.

Longevity is something to consider as well, as wireless headsets without a replaceable battery will eventually begin to lose charge after a few years, while a wired headset will continue to work so long as the cable is intact.

Wired vs. wireless gaming headsets: Price

Pricing is probably the most important factor when choosing between a wired or wireless gaming headset. If you’re a casual gamer or have a small budget, you can buy a versatile wired headset that works great with consoles and doesn’t sacrifice quality sound for about half the price of a comparable wireless headset.

Wireless headsets cost a bit more but are incredibly feature rich and convenient for the price. Newer wireless headsets are especially great for multi-tasking as their simultaneous 2.4GHz and Bluetooth connections let you hear two devices at the same time.

Which should you buy?

In the end, your choice between a wired or wireless headset will probably be decided by your budget and how often you game. Wireless models are best for people willing to spend a bit more to get an untethered experience and extra premium features, but just remember to ensure that the model you buy is compatible with your system’s wireless connection. Meanwhile, those who want to save money, don’t mind cables, and don’t want to worry about compatibility issues are probably better off getting a cheaper wired headset with a 3.5mm connection.

Getting into gaming? Check out our picks for the best gaming headsets:

  • Best premium option: SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless – See at Amazon
  • Best budget wireless model: Wyze Wireless Gaming Headset – See at Wyze
  • Best budget wired model: Turtle Beach Recon 70 – See at Amazon
  • Best for console gamers: SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X – See at Amazon
  • Best for PC gamers: Razer BlackShark V2 Pro Wireless – See at Amazon

Related Posts

Ps4 Platinum Headset Vs Pulse 3d

Sony PlayStation Gold vs. Sony PlayStation Platinum vs. Sony Pulse 3D Headset Side-by-Side Comparison Where to Buy Sony PlayStation Gold, PlayStation Platinum and Pulse 3D Headset? If…

Corsair Hs70 Pro Wireless Gaming Headset

Are the HS70 Pro Wireless a hidden gem in Corsair’s gaming lineup? In this day and age, it’s hard to find a pair of gaming headphones that…

Best Bluetooth Headset For Phone Calls

Clear is still cool. Yes, Beats’ new Studio Plus earbuds come in black and ivory, but it’s the transparent version that everyone seems pretty excited about, because…

Top 10 Best Gaming Headsets 2022

Good sound is as important to enjoying a game as any other part of the experience, and these days you have your choice of dozens of headsets…

Nintendo Switch Headset With Mic

Investing in one of the best Nintendo Switch headsets is the perfect way to make your favourite games console that little bit better. While a quality headset…

Plantronics Headset Keeps Muting Itself

Poly Focus 2 UC and Poly Focus 2 Office is one of the newest headsets in the market and personally I love mine, however as all the…