Nintendo isn’t very good at online functionality. We know this and I’m sure you’ve read all the comments on how bad Switch Online is. I don’t think it’s that bad, but Nintendo does have a lot making up to you. The worst part for sure is that all of the big first party multiplayer games require you to use a mobile app for voice chat. There’s no built-in party feature on the Switch.
If you’ve got your headphones plugged into your phone, how are you gonna hear the game audio? Two pairs of headphones? Speakers blaring into your mic? Well, lucky for us, these ridiculous headphones have solutions for this stupid problem that shouldn’t even be a problem in the first place.
This Switch introduces a weird dilemma that other consoles don’t have to deal with. Since it’s a portable/home console hybrid, it has a headphone jack on the console itself. This is perfectly fine for portable mode, but not so great for docked mode. Other consoles resolved this by putting the headphone jack in the controller. Nintendo didn’t do this for whatever reason, probably because the joy con is already packed with a lot of other crap. Even if you play close to your dock, like for example you play on a computer monitor, you’d still probably need a three-ring headphone extension cable.
That should be the solution to Nintendo’s problem, but no, they must over complicate things and make you use a phone app. No third parties have signed up yet for Nintendo’s voice chat app. Gee, I wonder why?
This review is actually made in order by price, but I didn’t do that on purpose. It just so happens that price and quality go hand in hand here.
Fortnite has a great solution for this, why can’t Nintendo just do this for their first parties? Luckily, there are a bunch of different headsets that try to make the best of this awful situation. Hori, for example, has two. You might remember the Splatoon 2 headset as the first headset made with this functionality in mind. There’s not a lot they could do to not make it look like a mess of wires. Like most of the headsets you’ll see in this review, it has a big fat splitter that the headset plugs into. The headset even has volume knobs for both the game audio and the chat audio so you can mix it to your liking.
That being said, the splitter is a bit confusing. I guess they try to show how it worked by making it arrow shape, but this doesn’t really help. These are very uncomfortable headphones. The discs are too small to fit over your ears, so they just kind of rest on top of them and slide around. The audio sounds fine. The voice audio is weirdly muffled but the game audio sounds good. The mic also sounds fine aside from your breathing that easily gets picked up. This headset is the cheapest on the list, but cheap for a reason.
Hori Air Headset
The other Hori headset is the Hori Air. It’s significantly less stupid looking. It fits on your head like a regular headset and because of the way the speakers rest over your ears, the audio sounds slightly better than the Splatoon headset. Otherwise, these two headsets are pretty much identical. I’d bet that their internals are exactly the same. The controls are slightly easier to figure out, unfortunately there’s still a lot of breathing that gets picked up on the mic. Otherwise, it’s definitely a better alternative to the Splatoon headset but it’s a bit pricier too.
Both of these Hori headsets come with headphone extension cables, which is awesome and definitely something that you should include with your headset if it’s specifically made for the Switch.
ASTRO Gaming The Legend of Zelda A10 Headset
This is a real neat one that I didn’t even know about, but apparently Astro is making Zelda themed A10’s. It’s by far the most comfortable headset on this list and the most beautiful with its gold accents. The game audio sounds fantastic coming out of these big, cushiony discs, but for some reason, the voice chat sounds atrocious. I’m not sure why that is. When I tried this out it looked like there was no distinction between where the game audio gets plugged in and where the voice audio gets plugged in but it’s right there on the cables and it does matter because one of the cables has a three-ring jack and the other has a two-ring jack. There’s also no way to mix the audio from both of these sources, which is a shame. But I guess you could just use the volume knobs on your phone and the Switch, itself.
All of this makes the Astro A10 very simple to use. The mic sounds pretty good and it picks up less breathing which is also good. It also has a neat feature where the mic mutes when you flip it upwards. This is my favorite in terms of price and I also love a good themed accessory. I also like wired peripherals as there’s less things to charge. But in terms of a solution to the actual problem.
SteelSeries Arctis Bluetooth Headset
I think that this next headset is the most innovative. The Steel Series Arctis Headset is Bluetooth capable and connects to your Switch via a wire. You could also use the Bluetooth to connect to your phone. This is the simplest and easiest solution around. The Bluetooth connection is very easy to set up, you just hold the Bluetooth button for six seconds and it’ll show right up on your phone’s Bluetooth settings. Again, there’s no way to mix the audio on the headset, just a general volume slider.
It’s the most comfortable headset and it sounds about as good as the Zelda headset. There was no noticeable breathing heard in the mic whatsoever. The mic also retracts for portability and it automatically mutes itself when it retracts.
While this might feel like it solves everything because there’s no mess of wires and it erases the need for a splitter, you still can’t use it in dock mode unless you have a giant extension cable, which it does not come with. In fact, the cable that it does come with is relatively short.
While this is definitely the fanciest headset and the one that I would recommend the most if price wasn’t a concern, it still doesn’t solve all of the problems that are introduced by the Switch Online app.
I was never a fan of peripherals that were needlessly labeled for gaming. Whenever somebody wanted headphones for gaming, I always recommended something like Shure or Audio Technica or Sennheiser. Take your Beats headphones and throw them in the trash. But in this case, you’re reading this review because you probably also want a mic, so I’m giving you all of the options that are allotted to you. But in this case, you need something very specific. Something with a splitter or something that will allow you to use two audio sources.
When it comes to streaming, Discord is my chat app of choice and sometimes just regular old Google Hangouts. I have a mixer that mixes the game audio and the voice chat, and all my other computer sounds into my headphones and a standalone mic. So, it’s basically the same concept as the Switch Online app except I use a different app on the computer. Discord does have a mobile app, so why even bother using Nintendo’s solution? Come to think of it, you could probably just use any old headset, too, if you get a 3.5 millimeter three-ring headphone splitter.
If you play a lot of multiplayer games on your Switch and use the voice chat app on your phone, maybe one of these headsets best suits your needs.
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