Our very own way of testing headsets here is to listen to the audio quality in different environments. This involved playing some games, listening to a variety of music and playing some movie scenes to see how capable it is.
Since this is a headset designed for console as well as PC gaming, I used the 7XB on a variety of platforms. The games and system used for testing were:
Monster Hunter Tri – Wii
Trackmania – PC
Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 – PC
South Park Let’s Go Tower Defence Play – Xbox
Throughout each game I found the 7XB to have a pretty good range of sounds, with plenty of depth to them. Clarity was also strong with often missed sounds on cheaper headsets coming throgh the mix very well indeed. Also, the Stereo field was very recognisable, with good panning from speaker to speaker, as well as obvious directional sounds with environmental noises.
While on the Xbox, I used the bundled fabric cable to attach the 7XB to my controller, allowing voice communication via Xbox Live as well as game noises to be pumped through the headset. While the clarity of my own voice was strong throughout, I found adjusting the volume of my teammates quite difficult. The headset’s noise levels for voice communications seemed to be far higher than traditional noises, often leading to quite ear piercing conversations while you scrambled for the dial.
However, this is where Steelseries’ live mix comes in, as it automatically keeps noises within a respectable hearing level. It’s not perfect, as all it takes is some idiot playing music down his mic, or breathing heavy, and you have yourself with a consistently quitened game sound. It is at least a step in the right direction, but it needs improvement to be considered spot on.
There was one problem with the mic though that I must address and that’s how much the cable resonates in the headphones when its touched. Any brushing or tapping of the fabric cable causes quite an obvious scratching sound within the earcups. This is the same if you tap the frame. This is completely unacceptable and sounds awful. It became increasingly irritating throughout play that everytime I moved and brushed the cable I’d be taken out of the game by the sound.
It’s not game breaking – in that you don’t need to use the headset for VOIP, but when you do, it’s really irritating.
Here I utilised the built in EQ settings to enhance the tracks that I was using to test the headset – of which there were several different genres and many different tracks. However, I found them to be a little lacklustre. They certainly sound better in some aspects than the default sound, but a more middle ground output is perferable. This is because all but 1 of the EQ settings, I found quite extreme. One was too bassy, another too flat etc.
That said, if you find an EQ setting you like, or simply prefer the non-tweaked audio, the frequency range of the 7XB is pretty nice. If anything, I’d like to see the bass bumped a bit and the highs a little more prominent, but the overall mix is reasonably strong.
Throughout testing though I did feel there was a slight lack of volume. While no company wants to get in trouble for damaging their client’s eardrums, they had no problem doing so with the voice audio; why is the main sound quieter? You can get it reasonably loud, but I’d have liked a little more if possible. Also, when maxed out the headset has a quiet background hiss. Obviously not noticeable when listening, but between songs its quite clear.
The usual Movie scene I go to is the Klendathu Invasion in starship troopers. It’s got a great mix of action sounds, voices and a strong score running beneath it all. This test is usually just to see how well a headset is able to transmit all these different sounds to the user, keeping them firmly in the action. I’m pleased to say the 7XB did very well indeed here, I’d have no problem watching the entire movie on them; admittedly I spent some of this afternoon also enjoying the capture of the brain bug.
Despite several hours of testing without removing the 7XB I had no problems with comfort at all. Infact, I’d go as far as to say that this is one of the more comfortable headsets out there. I can’t vouch for 12hour + gaming sessions, but if you want to put in a few hours afternoon gaming, this headphone setup will not give you any problems.
The wireless aspect is also nice, wandering around you can get quite far from the base station before you begin to lose sound. If you’re listening to music and like to wander – within reason – you’ll appreciate this side of the 7XB.
Well, I’m afraid guys I wouldn’t buy it. Thank god I get sent them to test for free or it just wouldn’t happen; £140. Ouch.