Headphones are a product I've become very picky about ever since I began investing in quality pairs a few years ago. On the whole, headphones are a dime a dozen these days and consumers can be easily swayed by a product that gets by on name recognition alone. This is even more noticeable when it comes to gaming headphones, especially when "gaming phrases" can be slapped on the box in an attempt to appeal to a certain crowd. It's not a huge issue, but it's something non-gaming consumers might be confused by. You have to get down and dirty and go beyond the fancy box design to find what makes a great pair of headphones.
Enter the Steelseries Siberia 350 gaming headset. While it is guilty of some of what I mentioned above, the pros outweigh the cons and provide a much better than average experience.
Now, I did mention my attitude towards choosing headphones and how I go for a quality pair these days, but I am far from being experienced in this field. My wallet simply cannot afford to sacrifice itself to get me the best models out there, so I stick with what I can afford. That doesn't mean I'm not going to get the best I can afford, and I generally look for a few important features on a pair of headphones: comfort, sound quality and customization, and overall qualities.
The Sibera 350's are pretty freaking comfortable, I'll give them that. This is important to a person with a big head and elephant ears, and anyone who suffers from similar problems knows the pain of finding comfortable headphones. The memory foam earcups feel like almost nothing against my head and clasp on with slight firmness, but not so much that you feel like you're caught in a vice grip. I had these on for almost five hours straight at one point, and it wasn't till around the fourth hour that I noticed some discomfort. Normally I can only last just over an hour or two with other headphones. Steelseries also brought back the suspension design on the headband, allowing for free-form adjustment to nearly any head size.
Speaking of free-form, the customization on the 350's is pretty limitless. That is if you're big into LED lights. The earcups each feature a ring of light on the outside of the cup, lighting up whenever you plug them in. Through the use of the Steelseries Engine software, you can change the colour of the lights to almost anything. You can keep this a steady colour or make it shift through a number of them, turning your gaming session into the rave party you decided to skip out on. It’s a neat little effect.
The sound quality is something that's better than just a little effect.
Steelseries have packed the 350's with 7.1 Surround Sound, offering incredible quality and making me believe I had installed speakers all around me. Again, through the use of the engine, you can change the headphone's output to match whatever you're listening to—be it music, movies, or gaming. There are presets available giving you options for "Performance" or "Immersive" sound quality, but half the fun is tooling it to your needs. I spent a good amount of time toying with the equalizer sliders, pumping up the bass or making the vocals soar. I also found there to be some sound leakage (the sound from the headphones being heard from others/sound getting in), but other people could only hear whatever I was doing if I turned it up to max volume.
The built-in mic slides away very nicely and only protrudes slightly from the headphones. Chatting with my buddies over our voice channel, I was asked at first why I sounded so clear. I told them I had a new headset on and was trying it out. On the other hand, I was also told that I was coming in a little quiet and they needed to up my volume. Keep in mind I was using a semi-professional mic before so this came as a surprise. The mic itself is easily adjustable and stays in place no matter where you move it. Perhaps my broadcasting career can begin properly now.
The Steelseries Siberia 350's are pretty interesting headphones and performed better than I was expecting. I've had some trouble with gaming headsets in the past so I wasn't really expecting all the much from them, but after I put them on for the first time and blasted my favourite album, I knew I was in for something special with them. Don't let the Steelseries name scare you off. The 350's are a great pair of headphones for any computer or PS4 user, offering immense power boasted by an affordable price point.