Gaming headsets are one of the key pieces of gear in a player’s arsenal. They allow the player to become fully immersed in their gameplay and more aware of their virtual surroundings. However, cheaper gaming headsets have always had a negative stigma around them. Poor build quality, static-filled mics, and unrefined sound are just a few examples of the multiple compromises budget consumers have to put up with when purchasing a headset that costs less than $100. Now AVerMedia is throwing their hat into the ring with a new lineup of gaming headsets, the Sonicwave GH335 and GH337, to prove to consumers that they don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for great sounding audio.
The subject for this review is the AVerMedia Sonicwave GH335, the most affordable gaming headset of this specific lineup. Retailing for $73 CAD, the Sonicwave GH335 shares the same base chassis and technical specs as its more expensive sibling, the GH337. The only differences between the two being that the Sonicwave GH337 supports 7.1 surround sound, as well as bright red, LED accents around the earcups and microphone for an extra $20 CAD on the price tag. Despite the lack of LED lighting, the Sonicwave GH335 still sports a clean looking design. Think in the vein of Beats by Dre, but with a little more bulk added to the headband and earcups for its own unique flair.
At the core of the AVerMedia Sonicwave GH335 audio experience are a pair of lightweight 50mm neodymium drivers. While I’m more used to the audio quality offered by heavier drivers, like the ones used in Astro A20’s or Razer Thresher Ultimate’s, the Sonicwave GH335 performed quite admirably in my sound tests of Battlefield 4, Destiny 2 and DOOM. I was able to distinctly hear the footsteps of enemies around me, I could make out explosions echoing in the distance, and I could lose myself to the satisfying sound of DOOM’s shotgun time after time. The only true weakness that crept up in Destiny 2 and DOOM was the lack of sharpness in the score. Even outside of gaming the Sonicwave GH335 struggles when it comes to music. Both the instruments and vocals in most songs sound muted or oddly distant compared to my other drivers, which is disappointing, but understandable considering the low price range of this lineup of gaming headsets.
The one and only compromise AVerMedia have designed into these Sonicwave headsets is the built-in microphone. While the build quality is serviceable, the actual sound quality of the mic is rather rough. Friends had a tough time hearing me on Discord, saying that there was a noticeable coarseness to my voice, almost as if I sounded sick or had a sore throat. Even after adjusting my input levels the problems persisted and static would start to creep in at higher levels. I believe the prime culprit to be both the length of the microphone and its internal specs. The mic is so short that it doesn’t even reach my lips, meaning that it’s only picking up the sound from beside my mouth instead of in the front like any other normal headset. This is a very poor design choice on AVerMedia’s part and should have been caught by their development team.
After reflecting and settling on a score, the AVerMedia Sonicwave GH335 gaming headset is a decent buy for the money. While I still believe the best bang for your buck headsets are the HyperX Cloud II’s and the SteelSeries Arctis 5’s, they are over $100CAD and can be too expensive for users on a tight budget. That’s where the Sonicwave GH335 shines as a good alternative candidate. While users should expect some backlash during online gameplay for poor mic quality, the actual sound this headset manages to deliver is great, especially in multiplayer games where you need to listen for specific audio ques to get an upper hand on the competition.