SteelSeries’ Siberia 800 is one of the most versatile gaming headsets on the market. It can connect wirelessly to literally any platform of your choice and features 7.1 Dolby Surround Sound technology that delivers one of the crispest sounding game experiences money can buy. No wonder SteelSeries decided to market it as “The Best Gaming Headset”, but that title might be in name only.
The Siberia 800 comes across as a very professional looking headset. Instead of incorporating LED illumination into the body and having a dangling boom mic on the side like most gaming headsets, SteelSeries decided on a straight matte black finish for the plastic body, hinted with orange accents around the earcups. The microphone is hidden in its retractable housing and glossy plastic is used only on the outside of the earcups, which can be removed to reveal the slot for one of the two provided rechargeable batteries.
The set can adjust to any head shape required and the memory foam pads feel soft and subtle when they encase your ears. I had no problem wearing the Siberia 800 for multiple hours and unlike the multiple Turtle Beach kits I’ve used, I never needed to remove the Siberia to take a break from the pressure it was putting on my head. All of the volume control can be managed through the headset, which means that you don’t need to get off the couch or access anything on the console to set your preferred volume.
Setting up the Siberia 800, however, can be a pain in the butt. Due to the large variety of platforms it works with, the headset comes packaged with 10 types of labeled audio cables, and has poor wire diagrams that provide little guidance on where things need to plug in. On some platforms, only one wire is ever plugged into the headset while the rest plug into the provided central hub, which also serves as your battery charging station. You need a little more effort to get the headset’s wireless functions working with some consoles, particularly the PS3, but SteelSeries provides no instructions on which menus you need to access, which can make set-up an annoying hassle if this is your first headset.
After everything is finally set-up and working, you’re rewarded with some of the crispest audio a headset can offer. SteelSeries really outdid themselves with all of the features, essentially allowing you to mix your own audio profiles depending on the type of media you’re listening to through the central hub. I wish that it were a little clearer to me what I was messing with when I was adjusting the settings, though. The block comes with a number of pre-mixed settings, but they never seemed loud enough for me to notice a difference. Once I started amplifying the six audio bars I was able to create a variety of great sounds, but I am still unsure what each bar represented and was only able to get good results by using the pre-mixes as a guideline.
The provided 7.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound works like a dream and it’s never been easier to distinguish where footsteps are and what they’re stepping on. Explosions and gunfire have a booming impact on your ears and the immersive depth of great voice work transports you out of your chair into whatever title you’re playing. Even if you’re playing something competitive with friends, the Siberia 800’s chatmix feature makes it so that the game lowers in volume whenever someone is speaking, which has never been more helpful when I’m trying to hear a callout in the middle of an intense fight.
There is a catch to all this heavenly sounding paradise though, and that’s some bad driver issues. While I was replaying The Last of Us on PlayStation 4, the Siberia 800 would timeout every 30 minutes on the dot and break my immersion. It didn’t matter if I was listening to the creepy noises of the clickers or engaging in firefights with the militia, after 30 minutes I would hear a hard beep to signal the disconnect and then be set to the deafening loudness of the default PS4 chat audio. This was infuriating to deal with because there was just no solution to the problem. If SteelSeries is promoting the set as working on every platform, it needs to work seamlessly until the battery is bled dry. Thankfully, none of the other platforms I tested on had this issue, which included PC, PS3 and Xbox One.
The Siberia 800 is a great gaming headset because of its massive versatility; it’s just a shame that it doesn’t work as efficiently on some consoles as it does on others. The hassle of setting up every wireless configuration can be tedious, but the impact of the surround sound speakers and the ability to configure the headset to my personal preference was a treat. It’s definitely not the best gaming headset ever, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying all of the great features the Siberia 800 has to offer.