The lights are on
At PAX 2013, I had the opportunity to spend some time with a new headset from Steelseries. I've used a lot of gaming headsets from a number of manufacturers (last year I reviewed more than 25 different models), and I was quite impressed with where Steelseries is going with the Siberia line.
The Siberia Elite is a departure from the previous, stereo-only versions of the line thanks to a USB sound card that works on both PC and Mac. The device sports 40 mm drivers rather than the bass-heavy 50 mm speakers found in a lot of gaming headsets. This allows for a broader range of sound, and with the test video used to demonstrate, I got the full effect of the Dolby 7.1.
The Siberia Elite offers a rich sound field that is sounded as clear on the highs as it did in the lows. Because of the 40 mm drivers, the bass wasn't fuzzy or distorted in any way.
Comfort is as important as the sound for headsets designed for extended play sessions. The Siberia Elite improves upon the previous models with enhanced headband padding and an oversized ear cup that puts additional distance between the speaker and the ear.
The cups are covered in soft, heavily padded leatherette. The only thing to be aware of with this material is that it doesn't breath quite as well as cloth. If you are prone to sweating, you're going to likely want to wipe these off when done.
The headband on the Siberia series is something I've always liked, as it doesn't use fixed adjustment points. Instead the band dynamically moves and conforms to head size. There's an improvement here, as the cables that handle the dynamic adjustment have been reinforced to ensure stability and durability.
The controls aren't in-line as they are with many models. Instead, everything is on the external portion of the earcups. I found it easy to adjust the volume, with no fumbling. I didn't get a good feel for the retractable microphone during my demo, as that's something that requires active gaming.
The Steelseries Siberia Elite will be shipping in early October, and it's available for pre-order now. The white or black headset (with customizable LEDs via the Steelseries Engine) will set you back $199.99.