My new go-to headset
Over the past year or so, I've acquired a decent amount of headphones. Some of them have fallen by the wayside, some of them relegated to certain devices, and a few have become decent "catch-alls" for most of my needs.
Seeing as the Siberia Elite was my first introduction to SteelSeries, I had high hopes. Thankfully, it didn't disappoint, and I now have a new catch-all solution for my headphone needs.
Product: SteelSeries Siberia Elite Gaming Headset
First things first, the Siberia Elite is extremely comfortable. The cup material doesn't feel sticky (meaning it won't get sweaty over time), and it does an amazing job of isolating pretty much every bit of noise -- even my wife, who I didn't notice calling me on multiple occasions. For good measure, I tested them out for multiple-hour sessions on many devices, and I was never tempted to take them off due to discomfort. The self-adjusting suspension headband feels fairly comfortable (especially at the top), but it's a tad flimsy -- like it could potentially snap in half if dropped on a hard floor.
One of my favorite things about the headset is the volume control dial that's available on the right earmuff. When I first threw on the Elite I noticed that the volume was severely low, even with my device's volume set at the maximum level -- come to find out the dial was at the lowest setting, and it was capable of a much louder range. I really enjoyed the ear dial after extended use, as it's better than fumbling with a corded volume control or a dongle. Elites come in a black or white variety, but I prefer the latter due to the unique look -- especially when the LED functionality is enabled.
While testing out these levels, I noticed that the quality of sound didn't drop, even near the "hearing loss" standard of volume. The lows aren't nearly as powerful as they would be on other headsets, but the highs and everything in between sound perfect. When coupled with the bundled equalizer, most everything sounded like it should, boasting up to 7.1 channel surround sound. The right cup also comes equipped with an additional headphone jack, should someone else want to share a movie on a plane or listen to your playlist.
Thankfully, the included cords are fairly long (short cards are a pet peeve of mine with other headsets), clocking in at 1.2 meters, which is approximately four feet. The extension cord is two meters, which is around 6.5 feet, and more than enough room for most setups. Along with the extensions, a USB Sound Card is also included, which allows the headset to gain a few extra features when plugged into a PC.
The Sound Card itself is a proprietary design, with standard green and red audio/mic inputs, and a USB connection. Functionally, it allows you to connect your headphones to SteelSeries' software suite (SteelSeries Engine 3), enabling sound manipulation, noise-cancellation for the mic, and the ability to change the LED lights on the muffs for fun. The software itself is fairly non-obtrusive, and easy to use, with giant buttons and clear descriptions for all of its features, like Dolby toggling, the equalizer, mic compression/volume, and LED customization (including the rotation of certain colors, and pulsing).
Of course, the headset has to measure up in extended gaming tests, and I was pretty pleased with the results. Whether it was with my Vita, 3DS, iOS device, or my PC, everything sounded clear as every nuance like footsteps was captured, and the microphone worked as advertised -- especially when I used the noise-cancellation option through the software.
As an added bonus, the mic lights up to indicate when you're muted or not, and it's retractable, so you won't look ridiculous wearing these in public with a giant mic sticking out. Additionally, the left earmuff has a mic mute control that operates in the same way as the right-ear volume dial.
SteelSeries products tend to be really expensive (like the Siberia Elite), but I had very little complaints from just about every aspect of the headset. The Elite is sleek and well-designed, it's flashy, and best of all -- it actually works and sounds great.