The gaming headset market is full to bursting right now and so the Roccat Khan Aimo arrives at a time where it has to do plenty of muscling and elbowing to make space for itself. The brand and product are clearly aimed at professional and ‘serious’ gamers who play for long stretches. For the casual gamer, it's a little more tricky to place: a doer of some things very well and a doer of some others not so well. To give it a proper spin around the block, I tested it on a variety of games on PS4, including offline and online multiplayer, and sampled plenty of movies, music genres, and videos.
Roccat Khan Aimo - Design
The aesthetic of the Roccat Khan Aimo is striking - no plain colours here - and is actually very likeable. It’s a simple, minimalist design, pleasing on the eye and keeps the overall aesthetic balance of the headset simple - no weird extra bits or superfluous decorations. The LEDs on the cups and headband are incredibly swish and only serve to enhance the coolness of the headset.
Picking up the headset, the first thing to notice is the weight - or lack thereof. It is extremely lightweight (around 275g) and, as a result, does not feel like a headset likely to cause achy ears or general discomfort. This is proven in the wearing of them for long periods of time - I totally forgot I was wearing them after a while. The cans comfortably fit right over the ears and the headband feels sturdy but is also comfy enough, given the padding provided. The steel frame and adjustable sliders behind the padding add further stability and a better overall feel of robustness to the headset, too. Plus, they are no trouble to wear with glasses: a colleague of mine wore the headset for an afternoon in the office and said they comfortably fitted around his glasses, and neither ever feeling in the feeling in the way of the other.
Roccat Khan Aimo - Features
Building on the pleasingly chic and uncomplicated design, the features on the Aimo are relatively few and far between. Its standard features are predictable but provide a solid-enough start: it’s compatible with PS4, Xbox One and PC - always convenient if you hook up to more than one system, in more than one place; and its connected via a no-frills USB connection. The noise-cancelling cans are great too: on top of the design and comfort, they cancel out noise from outside very well, while the hi-res sound they push out is full and sumptuous; not too sharp or too boomy, lacking in the middle a little, but well rounded and satisfying.
The microphone is bolted on to the headset at the left earcup. When pulled down it is a clear, front-of-face mic that is pretty well positioned - neither in the way nor too far away - and it can be muted totally by moving it into the upright position. However, it's worth noting that it’s not retractable or detachable. This gives a clear indication of who the headset is aimed at.
I was left quite baffled by the two physical controls on the Aimo as, no matter what media or device I was connected to, they didn’t really do much. There was no effect of either the roller (volume) and the button (surround control) when plugged into the PS4 and while the roller worked as a volume control for music there was only a small effect when changing the surround volume when listening to music. This was frustrating, even more so after spending many minutes trying to figure out what was going on and changing connections and so on. It feels like Roccat has stripped the features a little too far back on the Khan, and that's hugely frustrating.
Roccat Khan Aimo - Performance
Importantly, and using a bit of a broad brush, the sound that the Aimo puts out is good. Very good. During long gaming sessions across the planets of Mass Effect: Andromeda all the different noises from the environments Ryder explores, and all of the residual sounds were presented to my ears very nicely, right down to the whirring of machinery and tech and the distant noises of alien wildlife. Though the dialogue wasn’t presented brilliantly and made it sound a bit like everyone was permanently in the confines of the Tempest’s smallest storage hatch, no matter where they were. Re-visiting CoD 4: Modern Warfare Remastered was great fun, and the headset suited the FPS perfectly, with every shot sounding crisp and clear, whether coming from me or toward me. The ambient landscape and environments of Skyrim Special Edition were picked up OK: the lighter sounds, the nuances of the weather, wildlife and nordic outdoors were delivered to me merely adequately - you could sometimes catch the atmospheric ambiences but they would often be totally absent.
However, where I had both the best time with the headset - feeling their quality and benefits most - but also the worst, was while playing The Division online in two player co-op. It was here that the 7.1 surround sound came to the fore and was very impressive, as sound was always clear and true to the direction that trouble was coming from. The enemies voices, movements and weapon sounds were all clear as day and helped to pinpoint their location, and so enhanced my experience and immersion into urban forays. It was here that the hi-res audio and the surround sound was very, very good.
But... the microphone was very inconsistent in the performance it gave. When I wasn’t speaking the auto-mute function was pretty good, barely allowing any sound to travel to my teammate. And the general sound of my voice carried well too. But alongside that, whenever I spoke, a persistent buzzing was present to my teammate on his end. It was the most distracting, annoying and intrusive thing to have to experience for my teammate. Even after a fair while trying to investigate, fix and solve the buzzing, it was no good and in the end it was constant and bad enough that I swapped back to my usual headset. Disappointing.
Listening to music I moved through my PS4’s Spotify app from heavy metal to classical game soundtracks and through to some pop and chart music. It was perfectly good, and the bass was great for the rock and metal tunes, but it can’t really compete with headphones that are specifically geared towards music and everyday listening. Lastly, I gave it a spin with Netflix, BBC iPlayer and YouTube where it held up pretty well, and the noise cancelling certainly helped engross me in what I was watching, but again the sound lacked in the richness of the dialogue, much like I experienced with my games. This headset is clearly designed for game audio but still manages to give you good experience for music, TV and movies.
Overall - Should you buy it?
The Aimo headset retails for $119.99 / £119.99 but often goes for less than that at the major shops, which is probably just as well as they don’t ever feel like a 120 dollar or pound headset. They’ll certainly be more appealing at a lower price but then they’ll find themselves among a strong field of competing headsets. For example, our favourite, the Razer Kraken Pro V2 that tops our best PS4 headset list would be in the same price bracket when the Aimo sees reductions (its list price/RRP is actually a bit less than the Khan Aimo’s to begin with too) and I’d still recommend the Kraken over the Khan Aimo. The Aimo doesn’t have anything truly distinctive or befitting of a 120 dollar headset- and the Kraken Pro V2 is better placed if you were looking for a headset in that price range that does everything well.
So, rather bluntly, the Roccat Khan Aimo is a perfectly fine gaming headset. Using it for other media was good enough, though not outstanding, and having a non-detachable microphone makes it difficult to use as everyday headphones. Its audio is excellent, it’s comfortable and well designed for long play sessions, and while your voice will carry well on the microphone, the background buzzing I experienced made it tough to persevere with. It's flawed but there’s a good headset in there, and if you can ignore its shortcomings, then it’ll make for a solid, reliable and clear pair of gaming cans.