Published: 8th January 2010 | Source: SteelSeries | Price: |
Results and Score
For the purposes of testing we ran all three headsets with the same games, movies and audio, along with a test of a VOIP conversation. For gaming we used Modern Warfare 2 and Dirt2. Movies were Transformers 2 and Valkyrie, neither much good as films but provide the full range of audio tests from quiet speech to bombastic music and loud fight scenes. Finally for the audio testing we dug out our much played copy of Rammstein's Liebe Ist Fur Alle Da.
SteelSeries 5H v2 USB
First up for testing was the 5H v2 USB. As we mentioned earlier they come apart and go back together very easily, and fit comfortably on the head. The ear pieces are very comfortable and will fit over even the most generously proportioned ears. The soft braid cable feels very nice against your skin and doesn't at all become irritating like some cheap plastic cables can.
Sound quality was very good indeed. The headset was able to deliver clear voice reproduction and tight music thanks to the closed back design. Very occasionally we felt that they needed to be slightly bassier, but they coped easily with the transitions from the moments where there was the calm before the storm, both in the games and the films, to the time when all hell broke loose. All around the sonic quality was very high indeed and the reproduction of music is especially good for a gaming-based headset. Naturally gaming performance was outstanding.
The microphone comes complete with an in-line switch that allows it to be adjusted from high, low and off. In testing at high it provided very clear audio indeed. Some of the best we've heard from a microphone. Unfortunately switching from high to low not only led to an incredibly loud clunk, anyone who has had an older style Hi-Fi that had the on off switch at the bottom of the volume knob will know what I mean. Also moving it to low made us almost inaudible to the person on the other end. It does tend to swivel slightly too easily for our liking though meaning we sometimes became a lot quieter in the heat of battle.
As a dedicated gaming headset these are very good indeed. Lacking a little bass for general all around use, or if you're a gamer who likes to feel that grenades explosion in their chest then you might be slightly disappointed. The fact the microphone is only usable on high and the switch is very noisy for the listener are about the only drawbacks the 5H v2 has.
The cable is so nice we want to find out where SteelSeries get they braid from. The headphones are very well built and come apart simply and go back together easily too, but without the connection being fragile in the least. An excellent piece of design.
All in all, a product we can heartily recommend if you use your headphones for mainly gaming us, with the odd multimedia thrown in.
SteelSeries Siberia Neckband
The Siberia Neckband are very different. Having been designed as more of an all-rounder, with maybe a slight leaning towards audiophiles, the open back design meant they were very good at coping with various types of music. Naturally an open back headset means that it's easier for those in the room to hear what you are listening to when compared to the 5H v2s, and the music itself has more of a airy quality that the tightness you get with a closed back.
Still they had good range and response throughout our testing and for certain things, Dirt2 especially, the open back nature of them gave a much more pleasant aural experience.
The microphone slides smoothly in an out and seems to not swivel as much as the 5H v2 one did. The quality from the microphone is just as excellent though, and because the Siberia Neckband doesn't have a in-line volume control you don't get the terrible crackle when you're muting it. Although you also don't get the ability to turn those loud bits down either without reaching for your keyboard if you have one that adjust volume or just suffering if you don't.
They are surprisingly comfortable for something that sits in an unusual place on your head. You are aware that they are there though and they aren't the kind of things you'd want to wear for extended sessions.
Very nicely priced, and with reasonable sound quality in a sturdy package, if you desire something a little different, these suffice nicely.
SteelSeries In-Ear Headset
Oh dear. As good as the 5H v2 and Siberia Neckband headsets are, is as bad as these are. They look very nice, although the touch of baby blue on the earbuds and the microphone is strange given the pure white nature of the rest of the range. They are billed as a passive noise reducing headset and they kinda work, but mainly through them being in your ears and blocking the outside world with loud music. So by that definition putting your fingers in your ears are passive noise reduction.
Sonically they are a bit lifeless. Very dodgy bass notes, the mids are a bit gutless. Before you all wail and gnash your teeth, we have taken into consideration that these are really tiny speakers and so we should expect the same quality as other walkman-style headphones rather than Wisdom Audios efforts. We are. Even by those standards these are pretty weak.
The microphone is nearly wholly useless. Placed on a collar as near to the mouth as physically possible it sounded as loud as a mouse coughing. To get the person on the other end of the call to hear properly it had to be held in front of the mouth, which led to the whole breathing and s/p sounds" problem that microphones held too near always give.
Finally, even with the biggest ear buds in they slipped out more often than we'd like, and yet weren't very comfortable at all. All in all, very tough to recommend. The only part that bumps the price way higher than standard bud headphones is the microphone, and that doesn't work in any way that would be useful.