For all their simplicity, sometimes getting a gaming headset to actually work on your platform of choice is oddly complicated. Maybe there’s a mic on your PC’s webcam hijacking your audio output, or some dropdown menu in your Playstation 4’s settings menu. This stuff shouldn’t be complicated, but sometimes it is.
Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Here’s how to connect your gaming headset, whether you’re playing on PC, Playstation 4, Xbox One, or Nintendo Switch.
Editor’s note: This post was updated March 19, 2020 to better reflect the state of the Nintendo Switch’s audio situation.
How to connect a gaming headset to PC
This one’s dead simple. Most of the time, all you have to do is plug a headset in and it’ll work. Depending on how involved the headset’s features are, your computer might need to install some drivers, but that should be an automatic process.
After everything’s installed, just make sure your computer is using your gaming headset for audio input and output. Normally this happens automatically, but sometimes things can get a little jumbled. Just left-click the little speaker icon on the right and make sure the correct device is selected. It’s also probably a good idea to make sure apps like Discord are also set correctly, so check out the audio settings menu there too.
That’s all it takes to get almost any gaming headset up and running on PC, but often there’s actually a little more to accessing its full features. Depending on the model of headset, there may also be a particular app to install. Most of the time, the apps are like Logitech G Hub—mainly meant to keep the LEDs of your various peripherals coordinated. However, sometimes they’re more like Audeze’s Mobius app (or its identical HyperX Cloud Orbit counterpart), offering customization options for EQ and a host of other features.
These apps are typically optional additions, so you’ll need to read up on your particular headset to see what software is available and whether it’s worth downloading.
How to connect a gaming headset to PS 4
In a broad sense, there are two ways to connect a gaming headset to your Playstation 4—through the controller and through the console. Unfortunately, it’s rarely as simple as just plugging something in.
If your headset uses a 3.5mm connection, like many of Razer’s, the first step is plugging it into the bottom of your Playstation 4 controller. Once that’s plugged in, it’s time to go into the settings menu, navigating to Devices page and selecting Audio Devices. Change the Output option to “Headset connected to controller,” if it hasn’t done it automatically. If this headset uses a mic, set the input setting the same option. After that, make sure the Output to Headphones option is set to “all audio.” Once you’ve done that, you’re all set, though if you had to do it all manually checking that “Switch output device automatically” box wouldn’t hurt. If you’re using a USB headset, the process should be pretty much the same, even if you’re just connecting a dongle for a wireless headset.
If your headset uses a base station that requires an optical connection, before doing all the steps above go to the Sound and Screen page in the main settings menu. Then select “Digital Out” for the Primary Output Port. You may also need to change the Audio Format (Priority) setting, but that will be particular to the headset you use, and should be listed in its manual.
Once you’ve done that, you should be all set for gaming on a Playstation 4.
How to connect a gaming headset to Nintendo Switch
Connecting a gaming headset to a Nintendo Switch is simple enough, but the console’s versatile nature means you may need a way to swap between connection options, though there are limits.
The 3.5mm port on the Nintendo Switch is the only truly universal way to get headphones to to work with the console, but there’s a catch: Most games don’t support a microphone connected in this way, so TRRS plugs aren’t terribly useful, despite the TRRS jack on the console. Nintendo’s solution to voice chat involves plugging a your headset into your Switch and phone at the same time via a splitter (and a dongle, if your phone doesn’t have a headphone jack), and then using an app to access voice chat. Basically, it sucks.
Unfortunately, things aren’t much better if you’re interested in using a USB headset. Nintendo recently opened up the Switch dock’s USB ports for wireless audio, but the list of compatible devices is still pretty short. If you’re lucky enough to have one that works, it really is as simple as plugging in to play. Of course this only works while the console is docked—after that you’ll need to switch to 3.5mm.
Ultimately, 3.5mm connections are the only ones that work while both docked and undocked, but they’re all simple to use. The jack on the Switch works while it’s docked, too, though your mileage will vary stretching a cord across your living room. Basically, if you’ve got a compatible headset, it’s always going to be a plug and play affair, but finding the correct headset is a little tricky, and it likely won’t cover every use case.
How to connect a gaming headset to Xbox One
Connecting a gaming headset to the Xbox One isn’t any more complicated than the other consoles, but there are a couple unique options.
Like the Playstation 4, using a 3.5mm gaming headset just takes plugging it into the headphone jack on the Xbox One controller. Some older controllers don’t have a built-in headphone jack, so you’ll need to either get a new one or buy one of Microsoft’s adapters.
If you’re using a wired USB headset or a wireless headset with a USB dongle or base station, plugging it into the console should work. If your wireless headset uses additional connections, like an optical cable, head into the settings and change the audio output so HDMI audio is off and Optical audio is set to bitstream out.
Notably, some headsets bearing the “Made for Xbox” moniker can connect to the console without a dongle or base station using Xbox Wireless. To connect pair compatible headset with an Xbox One, first press and release the connect button on the side of the console while it is on, then hold the pairing button (often it’s the power button) on the headset for a few seconds—it varies from headset to headset. When the two devices recognize each other a “headset assigned” message will display on your TV, and you’re all set.
Have any other platforms you’d like help setting headsets up in? Sound off in the comments.