The headphone market is growing by 0.8% annually. Globally, most revenues are generated in the United States ($ 3,945 million in 2018). Headphone sales are increasing across all regions.
How to create headphones that will catch on with gamers? We have prepared an analysis of the gaming headset market.
Check out the gaming headphone target audience and market trends here.
Headphone market leaders analysis
Who are the market leaders in gaming headphones? Almost every manufacturer of gaming accessories considers it their duty to release gaming headsets. However, the best (according to the survey results) are the following companies:
- Sennheiser … Usually produces headphones and audio equipment. The headsets from this company retain their signature sound – with slightly boosted bass and ample customization options.
Throughout its history, Sennheiser has brought many innovative ideas to the sound processing industry. For example, she owns the technology of using a ring cone on the speaker, which avoids unnecessary vibrations and extraneous noise at high frequencies.
- ASUS.Manufacturer of computer equipment and accessories. The headsets feature attractive designs, great microphones and pleasant sound.
- Razer.Produces incredibly recognizable headsets. Their headsets are highly comfortable, which allows them to be worn for hours without any fatigue. Razer works closely with professional eSports teams that test products under “real” conditions.
This allows the company to get first-hand information about its headphones. Therefore, all the shortcomings are quickly eliminated. The lineup is constantly being updated. In addition, the company is no less closely involved in the development of a budget line, which allows not only professionals to enjoy its products.
- HyperX (sub-brand of Kingston).Headsets and gaming accessories manufacturer. The headphones offer excellent sound and microphone quality, but their design may seem quite conventional.
The company creates headphones so that they can be used not only for gaming at a professional level, but also simply to enjoy using them in everyday life. For the convenience of users, all factors are taken into account: quality, convenience, price.
- Creative Sound. There are not many gaming headsets from this manufacturer, but each has good sound performance.
- Logitech. Among users, headsets of the middle and top price segments are in the lead. The rest provide not pleasant enough sound.
Analysis of interesting chips and colors
Based on the initial visual analysis of competitors’ models, we can highlight the following advantages of good gaming headphones:
- Overall ergonomics, sturdy but not heavy construction.
- Convenient, easy-to-move microphone that can be hidden in the structure or removed if necessary.
- The microphone material is soft, does not interfere with the user.
- The volume control wheel is located on one of the headphones, not on the wire.
- Deep ear cups that prevent the ears from touching the speaker.
- The headset material remembers the shape of the user’s head.
- High quality material of the ear cushions.
- Adjustable headband.
- Silicone wire protection.
- Aggressive gaming design with RGB lighting or a sleek premium look.
Headphone Component and Component Analysis
Almost all gaming headsets use regular audio cables … At the end of the wire of such headphones there is either one multifunctional 3.5 mm jack capable of transmitting audio and voice, or two separate connectors for sound and microphone. These headsets can be used with any gaming platform.
More possibilities are given by headphones, for which connection to a PC is used USB port … Thanks to the additional power supply, these models boast surround sound systems, active noise cancellation of the microphone, LED backlighting and other means of improving the comfort during the game. Analog models of headphones with a classic cable connection can be equipped with small sound cards that are connected to a computer via USB. External sound cards allow you to significantly expand the functionality of your headphones by activating 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound. These solutions are highly customizable and compatible with all operating systems.
Models using wireless technologies , are an order of magnitude higher, but give their owner more options. The advantages of such headsets are a capacious battery and a range of about 10 meters. In addition to the high price tag, there is another negative side – the inability to use in conjunction with stationary consoles. Most often, radio modules are responsible for the work, the operation of which requires an additional connection of an external transmitter.
There are also models in which data transmission is used Bluetooth … These headphones are connected both to the built-in PC module and to the bundled USB adapter.
Headphone design and form factor (materials)
Considering the design features of the headphones, there are 4 main types:
- Earbuds – not the best option for gamers, they have some drawbacks related to the length of the wire, sound quality, sound insulation. In addition, with active use, such headphones often fall out of the ears. Along with in-ear models, they are more intended for use with portable audio devices (smartphones, tablets, mp3-players).
- Over-ear headphones – the most optimal version of gaming headsets. The design of these models assumes a minimum distance from the speaker to the ear. Fully wrap-around ear cushions provide reliable sound insulation. Most full-size headphones are heavy due to their size, but this is compensated by a soft headband. Features of the housing allow you to hide the microphone in the speaker bowl.
- Overhead headsets – no less comfortable option for long-term use. Such models of headphones are attached directly to the ear, pressing against it with ear pads. The sound is high quality thanks to large speakers and soft ear pads. The dimensions of the ear cups allow for the use of expansion microphones that attach directly to the ear cup. Due to the peculiarities of the attachment, the speakers of the on-ear headphones are located at a considerable distance from the ear, respectively, it is often necessary to increase the volume.
- In-ear headphones – are fixed directly in the ear canal, which provides additional sound insulation and better sound transmission. May cause some discomfort with long listening. As well as earbuds, they are often equipped with a microphone on a cable.
Headphone design for gamers
The appearance of headphones is often ignored by gamers, because the main thing is sound quality and comfort. But there are users who pay a lot of attention to the design of their desktop. Some manufacturers keep the design of their models to the maximum ascetic without adding striking elements or unusual design solutions.
But headsets with customizable technology are popular among gamers. LED backlight … Some manufacturers even provide the ability to display different animations and synchronize the backlighting of different devices. Usually the backlight is set on the outside of the cups or on a headband. Both certain elements and simply the manufacturers’ logos are highlighted. Owners of these headphones can change the brightness and color of the backlight.
In the production of headphones, it is often used plastic , but various mechanisms (for turning the cups, adjusting the headband, folding for transportation) can be made of metal, which increases their reliability. The ear cushions and headband elements are covered with artificial leather or similar materials, inside – a soft material. In the production of more expensive models, genuine leather is used.
On wired headset models average cable length is 3 meters … Manufacturers often use a fabric braid that gives the wire rigidity and protects it from fractures and chafing. But there are models with sufficiently strong rubberized wires that are not inferior in durability.
There are models of headphones with flexible buttons. If you wish, you can bind certain actions in games to them. Various glow parameters can be set for gaming headset models with built-in LED backlighting.
Headset bow for gamers
The most important components of a full-size gaming headset may differ slightly in appearance, but the general features remain standard. The headband, or, more simply, the bow is the element that connects the ear cups. When making a high-quality headset, it is necessary to pay special attention to this element due to the fact that an unsuccessfully selected option can cause discomfort up to headaches.
Given the weight of the headset, it is desirable that there were soft elements in the bow … Manufacturers often make the headband from the same materials as the ear cushions. Sometimes the headband is supplemented with a flexible fabric band that allows you to more precisely adjust the length of the headband. Equally important is the presence in the design of mechanisms that allow adjust the bow in height … They must be equipped with reliable retainers. When it comes to wireless models, the headband housings also contain batteries and transmitters.
Type of headset cups for gamers
The most current class of eSports headphones – full-size … They are more suitable for long gaming sessions, have better technical performance and sound insulation. In turn, by the type of cups, full-size headphones are divided into two classes – open and closed.
- Open headphones … Comfortable for long sessions. On the outside of the cups there are holes covered with a mesh. The purpose of these holes is to reduce sound pressure to the ear without sacrificing volume and sound quality. Unfortunately, such headphones do not provide complete sound insulation for the people around the user. Simply put, some of the sound played back in the headphones will be heard outside the headphones.
- Closed-back headphones … They provide complete isolation, but with very long use they cause significant discomfort. Often, over-ear, closed-back headphones have a better soundstage and richer bass. For convenient control of the most necessary parameters of the headset, manufacturers integrate some controls into the bowls. Most often these are buttons that allow you to change the volume, mute the microphone, or activate various systems (for example, surround sound or vibration feedback).
Similar elements can also be located on the headphone wire in the form of a small remote control with similar functions. All this helps to adjust the parameters of the headphones without distracting from the game. Microphones are usually attached to the left earpiece and are of two types: external (attached to the earpiece and in some models can be detached) and internal (non-removable, retracted into the housing if necessary).
Headphone audio performance for gamers
Most over-ear headphones come with 35, 40 or 50 mm drivers. Size affects many important parameters – power, volume and clarity of rendering a sound picture. In turn, the high power of the speakers directly affects the volume of the outgoing signal. More powerful models of gaming headsets have pronounced low frequencies, which are emphasized by game manufacturers.
Sensitivity of headsets for gamers
The parameter that affects the volume of the sound reproduced by the headphones is sensitivity. For a gaming headset, the optimal sensitivity is in the range from 90 to 120 dB … Comparing several models with speakers of different power, those with higher sensitivity will play louder.
Sound amplifiers, whether it is a PC or a console with a built-in sound card or an external one, have an optimal operating range. A metric called the headphone impedance is needed to determine the mode in which the amplifier will operate. It is customary to measure this value in ohms, and for a high-quality headset this indicator is 32 ohm … Some models have an impedance of 40 ohms or higher and may require an additional audio amplifier to operate.
Frequency response of the headset
The frequency response (frequency response) graph can tell a lot about the sound quality of a gaming headset. Studying this issue in more detail, you can see that in technical terms, gaming headphones have a lot in common with conventional ones.
It is important to understand that the distortion for different ranges of reproducible frequencies will differ. For example, if we are talking about low frequencies, then the permissible level of nonlinear distortion should not exceed 10%; if we talk about a wider frequency range – from 100 to 2000 Hz, then the maximum allowable distortion should not exceed 1%.
Noise canceling gaming headphones
Ear cushions are used for sound insulation and extra comfort. Usually used as a filler soft materials that provide a snug fit to the ear. The ear cushions are covered with either a dense fabric material, or leather or its substitutes. An important point to consider is that the ear cushions of full-size headphones can cause discomfort associated with ear sweating over long periods of time. When making headphones, you should take this into account and select for ear cushions. soft breathable material …
Microphone in gamer’s headphones
An indispensable part of any headset is a microphone that ensures uninterrupted communication with colleagues via chat and communication in VoIP applications.
The human voice sounds at a frequency of 300-3000 Hz. Given the various distortions, the presence of extraneous noise and the individual characteristics of each user, it is desirable to have a microphone with an upper limit of at least 14000 Hz. The most optimal are microphones operating in the range of 100-15000 Hz.
Most full-size headsets have non-removable microphones. For comfort, if necessary, these microphones can either hide in the case headset, or just lift it up. Headphones with removable microphones have a similar principle. They are usually attached to headphones using connectors specially designed by the manufacturer. There are models in which a conventional 2.5 or 3.5 mm audio connector is used for connection … This option is more practical: in the event of a breakdown, the microphone can be easily replaced with any other with a similar connection option, and for walking with headphones or long journeys, the microphone can be easily disconnected from the case.
An equally important detail is noise suppression … Models connected to audio sources using classic audio cables, have passive noise cancellation that does not require additional power supply. Such a system does not always work reliably, there are cases when, instead of filtering unwanted noises, they, on the contrary, are amplified, causing discomfort to the interlocutor.
Headphones connected with USB cable or using wireless systems, often equipped with an active noise cancellation system … Her job is to programmatically filter the incoming sound and cut out unnecessary sounds. The production of such models is much more expensive.
Conclusions on headphones for gamers
From all of the above, you can imagine the ideal headphone model. So, a high-quality gaming computer headset with a microphone should have:
- High-quality gaming sound. Desirable with a function 7.1 or 5.1 – for the effect of presence and “realistic” positioning of sounds. For example, for CS GO or tanks, the precise positioning of the sounds of the shots of allies and enemies will help during the game. With a 7.1 system, you will hear what is happening: behind, above, below, right, left and front;
- Convenient design , for a comfortable and long game. One of the most important things for any computer gaming headphone;
- Usability (convenience for use). Control panels, additional buttons, regulators, etc.
- High quality microphone , which clearly and without noise will transmit the voice;
- Frequency at least in the range from 20 to 20,000 Hz
- Loudness within the range from 90 to 120 dB
The use of interesting engineering solutions in the industrial design of headphones
Gaming headphones from popular manufacturers have a lot of significant features, such as:
- lightweight body with anatomical inserts made of soft materials for long-lasting work;
- sound tuned so as not to overwhelm the user with unnecessary low frequencies. At the same time, the sound is spacious, detailed, and the high and middle frequencies are reproduced at a normal level;
- a high-quality microphone that allows continuous communication with colleagues in game chats without interference and delays, must have the ability to cancel noise;
- convenient connection methods and versatility for different platforms;
- interesting design solutions;
- additional equipment;
- the ability to adjust technical and mechanical parameters.
Separately, we note that users who love atmospheric games like the ability to activate surround sound in headphones. Of course, this system is implemented in software. Since the bulk of sound processing in such cases occurs directly on the PC using DTS and Dolby systems, such a system can only work on some headset models, USB or wireless … But at the output, the gamer receives sound in 7.1 format, which is extremely convenient not only in games, but also when watching movies. Some models of analog headsets come with small sound cards … Many manufacturers of gaming accessories have such solutions.
Development of new chips for a market segment
Each gamer selects a headset based on comfort indicators. Therefore, leading brands pay attention, first of all, to competent design of the device so that with the correct support points, the headphones sit pleasantly and lightly.
The second important aspect that influences the design is build quality … It assumes the strength of the structure and its reliability in critical places: no creaks, backlashes, wobbles, etc.
Internet user surveys have shown that product design is not the most important parameter for them. But the classic style for a gaming headset is still the connection aggressive, pointed designs with a bright color palette: red, orange, light green, blue. Popular among some gamers are headsets with LED backlight , usually the illumination is installed on the outside of the cups or on the headband. Either certain elements or manufacturers’ logos are highlighted. As a rule, the owners of such headphones can change the brightness and color of the backlight.
Some manufacturers make their designs as austere as possible, without adding bright elements or design solutions.
Color solutions in industrial design
Today, there are headsets on the market for every taste. Laconic with rounded graphite cups or enclosed in a body with broken lines, sharp corners, luminous inserts and other aggressive elements. Examples of successful design solutions are shown below.
An example of aggressive design is demonstrated by the Mad Catz FREQTE 7.1 surround sound headset. The “feline” origin is emphasized by the imitation of claw marks on the cups.
Feedback from users speaks of the convenience of placing the navigation buttons on the headphones themselves, and not on the cord.
For better noise cancellation, it is recommended to make the earcups large and deep so that the user does not feel discomfort when the speakers come into contact with their ears.
Some companies also use backlighting in the design of the microphone, but users do not really like this solution (according to the analytics of reviews of online stores)
Successful industrial design of a gaming headset
- Astro A50 gaming headphones.
- Turtle Beach Stealth 700 headset
- Headphones Logitech G433 …
- Hyperx stinger
- Razer Mano’war 7.1 granite.
- Logitech G533 headset.
- Headphones for gamers Hyperx Cloud Alpha.
- SteelSeries Siberia 650 headset.
- SteelSeries Arctis 7 Headphones.
In our research, we found that top brands care about headset sound quality and user friendliness. Most companies choose aggressive, bright, “broken” designs for their products.
Fewer brands prefer a laconic design with an emphasis on the logo. User surveys have shown that headset design is not their top priority. However, a well-designed look can become the face of a brand and its identifying element, so it is important to pay attention to unique elements when creating a design or redesign, for example, to stand out with a logo or lighting features.
Analysis of competitors and user reviews made it clear that quality, comfort and durability are important for the target audience. V unique priorities we will highlight gaming headphones: high-quality noise cancellation, detachable microphone design and good soundproofing … The price for our target audience is secondary, in the first place are the sound parameters that affect the performance and gameplay indicators. Therefore, it is important for the manufacturer to improve the sound and ergonomics.
Design concepts depend on the positioning of the brand as more universal, which provides for a restrained design, or exclusively for gaming, which implies following bright and aggressive trends in the design of a gaming headset.
You can order the development of a headset for gamers in KLONA.