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How to connect your gaming headset to any device
Connecting a gaming headset to a PC, gaming console, or other devices should be straightforward, but it can get confusing. Here’s how to connect a gaming headset to your devices and avoid some pitfalls.
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How to connect your gaming headset
The exact steps to get your gaming headset connected will vary depending on the device and the headset. In general, here are the steps you’ll follow for some common devices.
To a PC
If you’re using a wired headset, plugging it in is usually all that’s needed to get it working with a PC. Likewise, for wireless headsets that include a dongle, plugging the dongle into a USB port is often all that it takes.
But there are some notes you should consider. Sometimes, plugging in a headset won’t automatically cause all audio to switch to it. If this happens, here’s what you can do:
- Left-click the speaker icon at the bottom right-hand corner of the screen.
- Check to make sure your headset is listed.
- Click on your headset to make it the preferred playback device.
Other apps like Discord might also require you to do this in their setting’s menus.
While this will get your headset working, you might have some more steps left afterward. To get the full experience of your headset, install its companion app if it comes with one. For example, there’s Audeze’s Mobius app and the HyperX Cloud Orbit app.
To a PS5 or PS4
Things get a little hairier when connecting a gaming headset to a PlayStation 4 or 5. Sony has a few officially-sanctioned headsets that work with the PS4 and PS5, like the Gold Wireless Headset. If you have one of these, here’s how to use it:
- Plug the USB adapter that came with the headset into your PS4, PS4 Pro, or PS5.
- Turn on the headset and wait for the blue light to stop blinking.
- A solid blue light indicates successful pairing.
If your headset is a wired model, plug it into the 3.5mm jack on the bottom of the controller. If you have a PS4, there are still more steps to take:
- Open the Settings menu on your PS4 or PS5.
- Head to Devices > Audio Devices.
- Change the Output option to “Headset connected to controller” (if that hasn’t happened automatically).
- If the headset has a mic, set the Input setting to the same option.
- Ensure Output to Headphones is set to “all audio.”
- While you’re here, you can check “Switch output device automatically,” so you don’t have to keep doing this every time you plug in a headset.
The above steps apply if you’re using a non-Sony-sanctioned USB headset with a PS4, too.
Finally, if you’re using a headset that uses the PS4’s optical output, you must do some steps before performing the above actions:
- Open Settings > Sound and Screen.
- Choose “Digital out” for the Primary Output Port option.
- If the manual of your headset states you need to change the Audio Format (Priority) setting, do that as well.
To an Xbox X/S
To connect a gaming headset to an Xbox X/S isn’t too different from a PlayStation 4 or 5. To use a wired headset, just plug it into the controller, and the rest should happen automatically.
However, the Xbox only supports USB headsets specifically made for it. Be sure to read the documentation that came with your headset to ensure that’s the case. If your headset uses another output option or connector, like the optical port, make sure to head into Settings > Audio output and turn HDMI off, and Optical audio is set to “bitstream out.”
Finally, some wireless headsets that say “Made for Xbox” can connect to your console without a dongle or other accessories. For these headsets, here’s what to do:
- Press and release the connect button on the console while it’s on.
- Hold the pairing button on your headset for a few seconds — check the manual to be sure which button is the pairing button and how long you should hold it.
- When the headset and console sync, a “headset assigned” message will display on your TV.
To a Nintendo Switch
The Nintendo Switch is unique among gaming consoles because you can use Bluetooth headsets. Unfortunately, there are some hiccups when using wired headsets with a switch.
If you want to use a wired headset with a Switch, be aware that not every game supports using a mic this way. To work around this limitation, here’s what Nintendo recommends:
- Plug the headset into a splitter, then plug the headphone side into the Switch and the mic side into your phone (or into a dongle that connects to your phone if it doesn’t have a headphone jack).
- Link your Nintendo Switch account to the Nintendo Switch Online app on your phone.
- Launch a game that works with the app, and you can now chat using your headset and listen to in-game audio.
If you have a USB gaming headset, you connect it more easily to a Switch. This approach is usually pretty simple as long as it’s not explicitly designed for another console. Just plug the headset into the Switch, and you should be set.
As mentioned, the Switch also supports Bluetooth headphones. To use a Bluetooth headset with the Switch, here’s what to do:
- Open the Settings menu on your Switch.
- Scroll down to the Bluetooth Audio section and then select Pair Device.
- Put your headset into pairing mode.
- Select your headset from the list of available Bluetooth devices.
Note that this approach locks you into using the SBC Bluetooth codec (there’s no way to change it). Plus, you may experience lag and latency issues. Finally, you’re limited to two JoyCons at a time, and there’s no mic support over Bluetooth.
To a smartphone
For gamers who use smartphones, a few options are available to use a headset. If your phone has a headphone jack, you can use wired gaming headsets directly. If not, you’ll have to purchase an adapter dongle.
Some gaming headsets support Bluetooth, but this is not an ideal option. You may run into latency issues, which isn’t great when gaming. But it could be nice to also listen to music and take calls with the same headset. As a result, some headsets, such as the EPOS Sennheiser GSP 670, can do simultaneous connections using 2.4GHz and Bluetooth.
Because there are so many gaming headsets models, check the manual to see how it pairs with a smartphone. Note that, in general, gaming headsets don’t tend to have full functionality when connected to a phone.
If your headset is a wired model, you can use it like a regular pair of headphones, but it gets trickier if it’s an exclusive model for a console or a dongle-type. Console-exclusive gaming headsets don’t work with anything except the console they’re designed for. Other models that sync using 2.4GHz will work as headphones if they also use Bluetooth.
Bluetooth introduces lag and latency issues that can cause problems when you’re gaming and doing timing-dependant things such as firing sniper shots, tricky platforming, or dodging enemies.