Guild Wars 2 Gaming Headset by SteelSeries (Review)
This product was reviewed on the PC
SteelSeries has become well-known for their high-quality gaming accessories and game branded equipment. Now, gamers will be able to immerse themselves into the world of Tyria in style with their Guild Wars 2 Gaming Headset! Based on the same design as SteelSeries’ portable Flux line of headsets, this smaller form-factor set of cans carries many of the same qualities that its larger PC counterparts feature.
At first, I was apprehensive about the compact headset’s performance in comparison to SteelSeries flagship Siberia V2 lineup; however, you’ll find the Flux line equally impressive. The first thing you’ll notice when you open up your Guild Wars 2 Gaming Headset package is the red and white design with the Guild Wars 2 logo emblazoned on the removable side caps (additional colors and designs can be purchased on SteelSeries’ website). The rubberized frame allows for a significant amount of bending and twisting for the maximum durability the unit would undoubtedly need inside a backpack full of books or other peripherals you might take along with you for a LAN party. On the top of the frame is some additional rubberized padding to allow the headset to settle comfortably on your head. While initially apprehensive of the effectiveness of this rubber head bumper, I found the unit was very comfortable to wear for hours at a time while you’re adventuring, without wearing into the top of your head and causing the kind of discomfort commonly associated with headsets with similar or no padding. While the rubber pad on the frame can take some of the credit, much of the comfort can also be attributed to the light-weight design. Weighing in at approximately one-third of a pound, the headset is hardly noticeable while it’s being worn – something that’s an absolute necessity when you’re gaming through a marathon dungeon crawling session.
The Guild Wars 2 Gaming Headset’s cans are padded with SteelSeries’ red cloth and leather SNDBlock ear cushions. These ear cushions are designed for comfort and ambient noise reduction, allowing your ears to breathe comfortably through the cloth portion, while the leather portion on the inside keeps the sound focused towards the wearer’s inner ear. While this combination compromises true noise cancellation and allows the odd cell phone ring, screaming younger sibling, or spouse to be heard through the soft padding, it does keep your ears from getting sweaty as is customary with full leather caps. The ear cushions are also removable, allowing the owner to purchase additional colors if the red doesn’t suit. The Flux design actually allows for quick and easy removal by twisting the caps on and off, with a gap in the frame designed to essentially screw them on and off without having to pull them in every direction for removal.
A collapsible design in the headset allows you to easily toss the unit into a purse, laptop bag, or backpack without taking too much room. Simply fold the arms of the headset into itself while twisting the ear cups and the unit takes up very little space. Additionally, the headset’s cable is detachable, allowing you to coil up the audio line separately without wrapping it around the headphones (which is quite possibly the quickest route to destroying a cable). After about 40 cycles of collapsing and reopening the headset, there was no noticeable loosening of the hinges either. From the time the unit was removed from the box, to the end of the durability testing, the hinges clicked firmly into place, with minimal droop in the arms. The only one worry about this design is that while folded, a portion of the wire is left exposed at the hinge, leaving it vulnerable to crushing or cutting by a sharp object. It would have been nice if some kind of bag or case were included with the unit in order to give you a little more peace of mind while carrying it in your knapsack. To use the device, you simply attach the included cable to one of the two inputs located on the left and right cans, then plug in your microphone and headphone ends into their respective jacks on your laptop or PC. Approximately six inches off the headphone end of the cable is where the microphone is located with a slide that allows you to mute the microphone if so desired.
So how does SteelSeries’ compact headset sound? Quite excellent actually! The Guild Wars 2 Gaming Headset (as well as the Flux line in general) is designed with 40mm drivers capable of an effective frequency response of 18 – 28000 Hz – well outside of the range of human hearing. This allows the wearer to enjoy the best quality sound without it being limited by the capabilities of the driver, although the gamer’s experience will be entirely dependent on the quality of their soundcard and its capabilities. However, even with my laptop’s “Standard High Definition Audio”, the lows were very deep without crackling at the bottom end, while the mids and highs were crisp and clear with all of the settings maxed allowing the player to enjoy all of the sights and sounds of Tyria in high quality audio – which is an absolute necessity with a soundtrack so masterfully created as Jeremy Soule’s. Additional testing on my portable devices (PlayStation Vita, Nintendo 3DS, and Nokia Lumia 800 mobile phone) all produced similar results.
Another feature of the Guild Wars 2 Gaming Headset (as well as the rest of the Flux line) is the ability to use the second headset jack to connect another set of headphones, so a friend can share the auditory experience. With a second headset plugged in, you might notice a slight loss of volume, which is to be expected because of the additional load. However, your friend will have a significantly lower volume (but not detrimentally so) than you will. This might not be the case with two Flux headsets (we were only had one set on hand), but the resulting volume between my Skullcandy headphones plugged into the GW2 set, and directly plugged into the machine was significant.
The microphone too sounds pretty good, although there are a couple of nags. As with most microphones that hang from a headset or earpiece, the Flux’s mic picks up a lot of noise from rubbing against your shirt collar or (for guys that haven’t shaven in a couple of days) scratching against your beard. Furthermore, the sensitivity of the microphone is tweaked pretty high to where if you’re just moving around or adjusting your cable, you’ll hear quite a bassy thump in your ears if you have mic monitoring enabled. The quality of the sound that it inputs into your PC, however, is quite exceptional. You just might have to adjust the mic sensitivity down to make sure you don’t drive everyone nuts while you squirm in your seat.
The Guild Wars 2 Gaming Headset by SteelSeries retails for $99.99, which puts it in the lower end of the spectrum of headsets with comparable features, making it an excellent buy for the audiophile that’s looking for gear-on-the go and a must have for the die-hard Guild Wars fan. For someone who’s looking for a headset for a stationary setup like a PC, it is a little harder to sell considering that the Siberia V2 line is only $20 more. The quality of the headset overall, however, makes this an excellent choice for someone who doesn’t have the USB ports, or space in their pack available to carry a V2; and makes it an even better option for someone who doesn’t want to shell out $200 for a comparable Beats headset.
The Guild Wars 2 Gaming Headset by SteelSeries receives a 4.5/5.0.
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