So you're isolated in hostile territory, almost out of ammo and badly wounded. As the enemy approaches your position, a squadmate's voice crackles over your cheapo headset: "I'll cover you. Run to your pssszzchZZZZCXXHzz and I'll bzzZZZzrrgh. Got that? Hello? Hello?"
Too late - you're dead.
But it needn't be that way. Invest in a decent gaming headset and you'll benefit from crystal-clear in-game music and effects and the ability to speak to your mates without having to guess what they're saying.
You don't even have to spend that much, with good quality kit available for as little as £20. Here's our pick of the current crop for the Sony PlayStation 4.
This isn’t the cheapest PS4 headset out there, but it’s close, and nicer than the budget alternatives we’ve tried. It’s dead simple, too: plug the short cable directly into the bottom of your DualShock 4 then change the ‘output to headphones’ option in the settings menu to ‘all audio’ and you’re golden.
You’re not getting the same build and sound quality of the other two here, but you’re not paying for it either – and for £20 the Kama is actually very impressive. Plus, it will work with your PS Vita too, if you have one.
Sound effects and voices come through clearly and there’s plenty of weight for the big bangs of Battlefield 4. There’s a little digital fuzz in the background of your voice, but it’s low enough that it won't prevent your commands and swears from being broadcast clearly to your friends and enemies.
Stuff says ★★★★★
The perfect solution for l33ts on a tight budget
Sony PlayStation Wireless Stereo Headset 2.0
Sony’s own PS4 headset has a dinky USB dongle for total wirelessness, a lovely design, invisible mics in the earcups, virtual 7.1 surround sound and a dedicated app for custom sound profiles. It's also versatile, working with PS4, PS3 and PS Vita - the only set here to work across all 3 of Sony's current gaming platforms.
So far, so good - but in use it's not quite perfect. Firstly, the virtual surround sound isn’t that good. You get a decent sense of audio coming from around you but it messes around too much and makes everything feel unnatural. The custom profiles are a waste, too – the standard ‘flat’ setting is best.
Still, while the sound might be a touch disappointing you’re still left with probably the best-looking gaming headphones ever made, at a decent price.
Stuff says ★★★★✩
Great looks, comfort and stereo sound, but the special features aren’t very special
Turtle Beach PX4
Turtle Beach takes this sort of thing seriously, and the PX4 is a pretty serious bit of kit. It’s got a whole little processing unit that needs to be connected to your PS4 via optical. It then handles Dolby Digital signals and sends them wirelessly to the headset in proper surround sound. It works with Xbox 360 as well as PS4 and PS3 - but not Vita, mind.
We’re yet to hear a pair of headphones that truly recreate a 5.1 home cinema experience, and the PX4 doesn’t buck the trend. But it’s not far off, and you do get an extra level of immersion in game worlds, while more accurate placement of effects such as footsteps can give you a competitive edge.
You do still need to use a cable between the headset and controller, which is a slight shame, but for crisp, dynamic sound that won’t wake the neighbours, the PX4 is currently hard to beat.
Stuff says ★★★★★
An impressive headset for hardcore gamers