Roccat Cross Headset Review
It had to happen someday. It is just impossible for a company to endlessly churn out brilliant products without eventually designing one which doesn't quite hit the mark, and the Roccat Cross is one such product.
In terms of the actual design it is very good. Unquestionably the thing that surprises you most when you first remove it from the packaging is the weight. This is an extremely light headset. Featherweight almost. Despite this light weight the hinges are backed with metal, so there shouldn't be any worries about long term repercussions of building the Cross largely from plastic. Anyone who has used headsets as their primary audio device will understand how it is nearly always the hinges that break rather than any other element. Additionally the earpads are comfortable and sit nicely upon your head, being neither too tight nor too floppy, and finally the headband doesn't press into your scalp thanks largely to the light weight of the Cross overall. The ear cups themselves are surprisingly small for a unit sporting 50mm drivers. There must be nary a millimetre of space around the driver. Those with ears larger than cat would do well to try before they buy.
Cabling is the key selling point of the Cross, allowing it to be connected to all manner of devices in our modern, multi platform, world. For the first, and hopefully last time Roccat have chosen to attach the boom microphone to the PC cable, leading you to have an enormous spaghetti affair before you've even begun to use it. How it will be six months down the line when you've had the Cross in and out of your bag a dozen times we shudder to consider. Of course this is a positive if you're just planning to use it on your phone because it means you haven't got a large microphone sticking out when you're on the bus, but on the flip side if Roccat could utilise an inline microphone for the phone part then why not for the main cable?
But these are minor issues if the 50mm drivers blow our socks off. Sadly, they don't. In fact if we were forced to decide what drivers the Cross had we'd have said 30mm, partly because of the compact dimensions of the ear pieces but largely because the sound is so compressed. If you've ever played around with either guitars, or some form of audio on the computer, you'll know about filters and compression, and the Cross sounds distinctly like it's had a high pass noise filter applied, or that all the audio is squished into a small frequency range. We started with our usual bass heavy tunes and all seemed to be well, as the Cross has a good pump to it and the bass is tight. But the moment we moved away into options that utilise a broader range of the audio spectrum problems quickly emerged. There aren't really any highs as such. Parts of songs we've heard hundreds of times got lost in the mix. The best way we can describe it is it sounds like you've put a speaker inside a cardboard box and listened to it from the next room.
However, that is us being audiophile purists. If you just want a headset for gaming and don't plan to do any serious listening then the flexibility of the Cross and long time comfort are just about enough to get it our OC3D Approved award. From a company that brought us the Kave and Regna though it has to go down as a disappointment.