A good gaming headset is important in these days of quarantine. Not just for gaming, although it certainly helps pass the time, but for putting some music on and blocking everything out when you need a break, or even for ensuring your voice is nice and clear on a video chat catch-up with friends and family. There are a lot of expensive options out there, but getting the balance between sound quality, comfort and build quality right can be difficult in cheaper models.
The GXT 488 is one such model, and given that you can find it for £30 to £40 they’re amongst the cheapest options available. Thankfully, they both look and feel like a quality product. With a camouflage print design – it’s also available in black and blue camo – shiny PlayStation logos on the cans, and a folding microphone, they look pretty good without crossing into that obnoxious, over-designed territory some other headsets drift towards. More than that though, they’re a good weight, not so heavy that they’d be uncomfortable for a long period, but not so light that they feel cheap, there’s plenty of padding both for around your ears and to protect the top of your head. It even has a braided cable with an inline volume control/mic mute toggle and a standard 3.5mm jack on the end, so it’ll plug into pretty much anything that isn’t a mobile phone from the last two years.
They look and feel the part, but let’s talk sound quality. The 488s are not going to compete with your fancy headphones or any premium gaming headsets, but they aren’t really expected to and the quality they deliver is better than expected. There’s good dynamic range, with some thump to the bass, while the top end is nice and clear. More importantly, for a gaming headset at least, you’ll have little trouble finding where you’re being shot at from and even less when looking for that humming lootbox in Warzone. As a stereo headset, you’re reliant on each game’s spatial sound, though if you head off onto an Xbox One or PC you could pair them up with Dolby Atmos or Windows Sonic for some virtual surround sound.
The in-line volume control is pretty well placed, although I’d prefer it a tad higher on the cable personally, and whilst a little bigger than necessary is a welcome and useful addition, especially with a hardware mute button for the microphone. The mic itself can both be folded upwards out the way when not in use and bent and twisted as much as you like whilst getting into exactly the right position for use. It doesn’t drift when in use either, even after almost a couple of weeks of regular use, so you shouldn’t need to readjust it mid-game.
It is a PlayStation branded headset, which means not only does it have a few logos on it, but the fancy braided cable is only a little over a metre long as its meant to be plugged into your controller. The length is fine for most uses, such as plugged into your phone in your pocket, but it might not easily reach down to a PC, for example, when in use. There are other reasons why you might not use it with your phone, however, as it is a little bulky, which is fine when you’re sat on the couch but not quite as comfy when you might be moving your head around. They’re also not ideal for glasses wearers, pressing them into the side of your head and becoming uncomfortable after a couple of hours, which is a shame when Turtle Beach have done such a good job accommodating them.