We’ve reviewed pretty much the entire SteelSeries line of headsets, and the In:Ears of their subsidiary; Icemat. However, today I have the full Siberia headset which was brought to relative fame by Basshunter with his DOTA ditty. Let’s see if they are ready to be endorsed by XSReviews as well…
The original Icemat was launched in 2000, targeted at one of the most demanding consumer groups in the world: gamers. Since then Icemat has expanded the portfolio and today offers a wide range of products. Everything is created by people who demand as much from the visual design as they do from the performance of the final product.
Our staff is distributed throughout the world, working from offices in Europe, North America and Asia. The Icemat headquarters are located in Europe (Copenhagen, Denmark), and host the primary office facilities for the company. The headquarters handle all planning, production and partner coordination. For logistical reasons we also have sales offices in Asia (Taipei, Taiwan) and USA (Los Angeles, California). From Taipei we can reach the entire Asian market, as well as New Zealand and Australia. From Los Angeles we can reach North America, Canada and South America.
|Frequency responce||18 – 28.000 Hz|
|SPL @ 1kHz, 1 Vrms||99 – 104 dB|
|Jack:||3.5mm (6.3mm converter included)|
|Cable length||1.0 m + 1.8 m = 2.8 m / 9 ft.|
|Frequency response||80 – 15.000 Hz|
|Pick up pattern||Uni-directional|
A country in a box
The headset comes a box with the same styling as the In:ears (reviewed here), it even has the same ‘Looks damn cool’ logo on the front too.
You can see the top side of the headset through the large window on the front of the box, which shows that’s it’s gonna end up on a shop shelf. I have the white version to review today, however you can also get a black version. Both colours are glossy plastic, which is very iPod like; showing you the kind of audience Icemat are targeting.
Inside the box, you’ll find a load of advertising leaflets, a mic, the headset itself, a 3.5mm to 6.3mm converter, a microphone hook (with Velcro mounts) and an extension cord which has a built in volume control.
The separate mic method used by this headset means that you can use the headset without the usual mic aerial sticking out your head. This is more a pair of headphones, with a mic as an extra. The fact that this headset has been designed for music listeners rather than just PC users, is evident in the fact that they packaged a gold-plated converter for the larger plug type used on most hi-fi equipment.
The mic is the same one that is packaged with the In:Ears, although it has a longer cord. To help stop the thin mic cord getting tangled, there are several push clips all the way down the thick headset wire, which means both cables can be moved as one.
The headset cable is quite thick, and is covered with ribbed plastic; this should help it survive the punishment that daily use throws at it. The 2.8m cable terminates in a gold connector with two green bands signifying it’s a line-out device. The headset itself is built well, and the feel of quality is undeniable. The microphone has a small mute slide switch and another Icemat logo on the side. In order to position the microphone, you can either use the microphone hook, and clip it onto your monitor, or wherever else the Velcro will stick, or you can clip it to your shirt. Either way, you have to make sure that it’s pointing at you as it’s a unidirectional design meaning that it only detects sound in a cone in front of it.
The ear ‘muffs’ are nice and soft, which should help when gaming for hours on end. The speakers themselves are at a slight angle to the foam. This means that the foam doesn’t actually touch your ears, only your head. The speakers are positioned in such a way to be as close as possible to your ears. The closer the speakers are, the more bass you will get. Try forcing your headphones closer to your ears and you will see what I mean. This angled approach should also make them more bearable over a long period of time, as there is no pressure being exerted on your ears themselves.
As sound is simply vibrations in the air, there needs to be a way for air to enter the back of the speakers, otherwise a vacuum forms lowering volume and bass. The Siberia has a honeycombed back to each of the speakers which not only looks cool but provides a perfect method of air to pass.
To make sure that the headset will fit everyone’s head, there is a nice and flexible head strap which is connected to the man body with elastic. The band is padded, to make wearing these headphones a pleasure. To maintain the headsets shape, there are two pieces of white clad metal which arch over the head band and connect the two speakers together. It’s through these rods that the signal wire for the right earphone passes, which means that only one wire comes into the Siberia, rather than two making a ‘V’ shape (like the SteelSound 4H).
All over the headset, there are Icemat logos, ranging from the huge lettering on the headband, to the tiny images on each of the headphone backs and the volume control.
To test the Siberia, I’ll be using a Creative X-Fi FatalOnety card meaning that the sound card won’t be the limiting factor. The X-Fi’s extra sound changing tools (crystallizer and surround) were turned off throughout the testing as they cause bass distortion at higher levels.
I used a whole bunch of songs, and played Battlefield 2142 solidly for a weekend with these headphones – all in the name of the review honest. After this time, I managed to see the strengths and weaknesses much better than just a quick sound test.
I’ll start with the bad news. As the speakers are at an angle to your head to accommodate your ears, if you have the headset in the wrong position, after about half an hour, your ears will ache. Positioning the headset in the right place fixes this problem, but it slowly slips down without your realising until your ears are on fire. As long as you don’t headbang, or reposition them regularly, you’ll be fine.
Other than this, they are very comfortable to wear over long periods of time. They are more than usable over hours of continuous gaming and you’ll miss the slight pressure the ear pads put on your head when you take them off. As there are many holes in the back of the speakers, ear can easily travel around your eye which stops your ears becoming hot and/or sweating in an intense fight.
Sound quality was pretty good, at least on par with the 5H v2 from SteelSound. Any headset sound review is always biased towards the users opinion, rather than a scientific test.
The bass on the speakers was good, but no better than the 5H. In fact, I would say that it is ever so slightly worse. I couldn’t get the same bass level that I could with, say, the 3H even (although those could get ridiculously loud with an ear destroying beat). This is probably because the frequency response of the 3H is much lower than the Siberia.
Where the Siberia shines is the high notes. Most headsets have muddy bass which overpowers the higher tones. Instead, this headset concentrates on getting both to the same level making neither one more obvious that the other. This means that you can clearly hear a gunshot and where it’s come from in Battlefield. The bass is enough for most games but a little lack lustre when you are playing something that needs a low frequency punch (think rap, drum and bass, techno, dance etc.). It should be noted that these are far from poor bass produced headphones, its just that I’ve used better.
The treble is so good, that even the Windows click sound sounds better with these headphones on.
With an X-Fi, sound quality at max and EAX 5 enabled, you need a good headset to be able to distinguish between the different sounds made. The Siberia does this perfectly as you can pick out the high notes easily. I was playing for a while just shooting whenever because it sounded so good; kills were even better.
I used a few songs to test the headset in different ways. I used the usual Black Sun Empire – Arrakis which puts the bass reproduction up for scrutiny, Basshunter – – Vi Sitter I Ventrilo Och Spelar Dota for bass and high notes, and Darude – Sandstorm which also does both high and low notes. All of the songs sounded perfect, with Arrakis being the only exception as the bass wasn’t quite on par with other SteelSeries headsets, although better than the Razer Barracuda.
To test the microphone, I used Skype to chat for a few hours to make sure that it was up to the job. I found that its best to clip the mic onto your monitor/desk rather than yourself as I managed to walk away with it still attached on more than one occasion.
You’ll have to careful with positioning as it’s so sensitive that the movement of your mouse on a hard pad can be heard and annoy your conversation buddy. Keyboard keys can also be heard. Fiddle around with the position and use all of the Velcro and you’ll soon find the sweet spot where only your voice is picked up.
This headset retails for £40 which is a good deal considering its sound reproduction and the ability to use it on your PC, or with a stand-alone media player. It looks ‘cool’ rather than functional, which is always a bonus. Whilst I would far from walk down the street with this on, it’ll look a lot better than other headsets at, say, a LAN party.
If you like style, comfort and great quality sound, or even just one of these, you’ll pick the Icemat Siberia headset and be happy. Very happy.
|Sexy||Uncomfortable when worn incorrectly|
|Treble; clear and sharp||May be above the budget of some|
|Fully adjustable headband|
|Comfortable (if worn right)|
I’d like to thank Icemat for providing us with the headset
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