I have a lot of gaming headsets. It's one of the nice perks that comes with this job, though these days I find that it's getting harder to get excited about them. As my collection grows, I'm starting to see some of the similarities in headsets: some lines have better audio, others have better feature sets, and one or two other lines are just plain crap. These days, for the most part, they're all pretty nice, but again, I'm kind of spoiled, and review units aren't doing much for me lately.
I'm happy to say that the latest headset I've used, the SteelSeries Siberia V2 USB, stands out from ones I've reviewed lately, making this review much easier to write. This Special Edition Frost Blue Illuminated set glows with a soft blue light from the ear cups, so it stands out visually, but what I'm really digging is the sound, as these things sound fantastic.
The SteelSeries Siberia V2 Frost Blue Edition headset is a bit of an upgrade to the standard V2 headset that so many PC gamers continue to use, though the changes mostly lie in the visual department. Like its predecessor, the key attraction points to this set are its style, comfort and sound.
This headset is seriously comfortable. Instead of an adjustable headband, the Siberia V2 set has a soft, padded inner band that is tethered by four thin metal cables that extend out to automatically adjust to your head while wearing it. This provides a gentle fit that never squeezes your head. On top of this, big, cushy ear cup padding is always nice, and the ones on the Siberia V2 Frost Blue are as nice as any. I've worn this set for hours and never had any kind of comfort issue. These are up there with the most comfortable PC headsets I've ever worn, beating out my long-standing favorites from Plantronics. If you're the type that wears gaming headsets for extra-long gaming sessions, you definitely need to check this one out.
Though it looks small, the headset's built-in mic is a good quality one that got the job done in online play sessions. I really liked that it's bendable and fully retractable, letting you push it back inside the left ear cup when you're not using it. Very slick.
The Siberia V2 Frost Blue Edition is a USB 2.0 affair, with a built-in sound card, which seems to reside in the USB plug itself, making it a bit bulky. If that's an issue for you, the included USB extension cable will help. A simple in-line control lets you mute your mic and adjust volume. The rest of the headset's settings can be changed in the SteelSeries Engine software, which lets you do everything from tweak the equalizer curves to set how the built-in lighting behaves.
About that lighting: it's pretty cool. While I'd never seek out a headset because it glows blue, it's a fun thing to have, and it will definitely have you standing out at LAN parties. By default, the lights pulse slowly. In the SteelSeries Engine software you can change the light intensity ('off' is an option), pulse speed and more. A fun option called "Trigger" has the light reacting to the sound coming out of the headset. Of course, you can't see this light action with the headset on, so this is all more the enjoyment of others.
Comfort, features and glowing ear cups won't mean much if the headset doesn't sound good. Thankfully the Siberia V2 Frost Blue Edition sounds better than any PC headset I've tested in recent memory. The sound is big, open, and wide, and much closer to an audiophile sound than you'll find in a lot of other gaming headsets. Instead of that constrained, mid-range focused sound I'm used to from so many other makers, the Siberia V2 USB filled my ears with effortless, sparkling music and sound effects for the 10 or so hours I wore them during PC gaming sessions. The stereo sound from the Siberia V2 (no surround options are available) puts forth a low end that is full but not overly bass heavy, and a top end of the spectrum that is clearly defined without being excessive. In fact, to my ears, you're better of not even messing with the optional equalizer settings, as the sound is really, really good straight out of the box.
It's good to see that SteelSeries focused on the important stuff with the Siberia V2 USB. Well, aside from the glowing lights -- but they're fun. Aside from them, there's no crazy optional features, switches or breakout boxes here. Just consummate comfort and superb sound. They look good, feel good and sound good -- highly recommended.
The SteelSeries Siberia V2 Frost Blue USB headset is available now for $119.99.
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