SteelSeries Siberia V2
These may be a bit pricier, but they are the most comfortable headphones we have tested. The ear cups sit around your ear with a nice, cushy feel and they are extremely light despite their bulky appearance. The head band features a soft, flexible strap with elastic connectors, meaning the entire headset just hugs your head beautifully and lightly. If you want to go for marathon gaming sessions and be able to forget you’re wearing headphones, the Siberia fulfills that role perfectly. It doesn’t hurt that they sound great, too. The headset we tested is designed for PS3, but it works on 360, PC, and anything, really. The microphone is especially cool – the stem is super thin and flexible, and the whole thing retracts into the left ear cup so you don’t have a silly mic sticking out of your head when you’re not using it.
The Siberia V2 is USB powered, has separate game and chat volumes, and has a 16 foot cord, but due to its need for a separate cord for the 360 controller, you can have quite a bit of cord draped all over your floor. There’s really nothing of note we have to complain about with these, and wholeheartedly recommend them.
SteelSeries Spectrum 7XB
Above: This is a rear view of the set - you can see the head of the microphone sticking out on the left
These are contenders for our favorite headphones as well – they’re ultra-comfortable and super convenient without wires to trip over. If you want to use the microphone there is a cord that runs from the headset to the controller, and the mic won’t work for PS3 (they still work fine as headphones). They don’t sit quite as lightly on your head as the Siberia, but they also feel a bit snugger and we dig the big puffy cushions around the ears and on the head band. Yes, they are pricey, and what you’re mostly paying for is the luxury of going wireless. It might seem trivial, but after using these quite a bit we love having no wires around – it’s really nice to be able to just set the headset down when you’re done and not have to gather up all the cords, keeping your gaming area neat with no extra effort on your part.
They sound great for the most part, although we did encounter some distortion when we turned them up high. They also require two AAA batteries to run and they eat through them fairly quickly – we’d previously invested in several pairs of rechargeable batteries and a charger, so the battery thing is pretty much a non-issue for us, but if you don’t like having to deal with replacing batteries, it could be a deal breaker for you. Like the Siberia, the Specrum has the sexy retractable mic. It also features some cool sound customization: The LiveMix, when turned on, automatically drops the volume of game sound when teammates are talking so you can better hear what they’re saying. It also has a simple equalizer with three presets, and both features are activated by buttons on the headset itself.
This extremely sleek and futuristic headset unfortunately has limited use for gamers due to its purely Bluetooth functionality. While it pairs successfully with the PS3, it only works for chat sound and not game sound, so it’s mainly for PC gamers, and even then you need Bluetooth on your PC. We have to say, though, that these sound fantastic, and with a bit of stretching of the head band, comfortable as well – note that at first they pinched our ears after extended wear. They have a build-in microphone (there’s a tiny hole in one side) and it can be paired simultaneously to two devices, which means you can pair it to your phone and then answer calls in the middle of your PC gaming without ever putting down the headphones. One issue is that you need the provided charger to replenish the batteries – lose that and you don’t have functioning headphones anymore. Also, while they’re not nearly as compact as a set of ear buds, they look super cool and work great for listening to music around town or when playing games on your phone/tablet.
V-MODA Crossfade M-80
Take a look at that price. Yikes. These puppies are certainly extremely stylish, and the sound has beautiful range, with some nice highs, if not super deep lows. They sit on-ear similarly to the iFrogz headphones, but they don’t pinch nearly as much. We found them to be comfortable after stretching out the head band some, and they sit very lightly on your head. Some of our editors found them perfectly comfortable while others felt like their heads were being squeezed. They’re pure headphones and don’t have a mic, with a rather short cord. Yes, they sound and look very nice, but again, look at that price.
Turtle Beach Ear Force DSS 7.1 Channel Dolby Surround Sound Processor
What the heck is this thing? That’s what everybody asks when they see it. It’s an innocuous little black box only a few inches across, and it’s not cheap. It’s kind of like magic, though. See, the DSS claims to transform any pair of headphones into virtual 7.1 surround sound. The amazing thing is that it actually works. We tested it while playing Dead Island – we managed to trap a zombie to where it couldn’t get at us, but was moaning continuously. We then stood our character in front of the zombie and slowly rotated in a full circle. Sure enough, the zombie’s moans seemed to float in a continuous, uninterrupted arc around our head. It’s like having 360 degree sound from your cheapo headphones. The fancy tech behind it messes with the way sound can be delayed from one speaker over the other, tricking your brain into interpreting it as coming from in front of or behind you. So if you already have some headphones and want an easy way to upgrade them, we absolutely recommend the DSS. It will increase your immersion in single-player games and give you a distinct advantage in multiplayer by allowing you to precisely pinpoint enemies.
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