Tag Archives: steelseries

GKick Hardware Review: SteelSeries Flux Headset

After our review of the SteelSeries Siberia V2, perhaps one of the best general gaming headsets on the market, I was eager to try out another pair from the SteelSeries line. One of their newest releases was actually a bit of a change of pace - a travel-style headset designed for use not only as a standard gaming headset but also for mobile devices such as phones and MP3 players called the SteelSeries Flux.

The Flux is a small but powerful stereo headset which delivers a lot of bang for your buck. Unfortunately, in my experience, the Flux is a bit of a bittersweet experience.

The most impoortant thing to anyone who drops money on a headset, whether for gaming or for any other purpose, is the quality of audio. You want to be able to hear things well, clear, and not have distortion and other issues when the volume goes high, just to name a few things. I can safely say, in this, the Flux delivers. Despite the fact that it’s a stereo 3mm connector only, it still has powerful audio that sounds amazing regardless of what you listen to. Everything from in-game audio to YouTube videos to music playback all sounds outstanding through these compact earphones.

However, the “headset” part of the Flux falls a bit short when it comes to the microphone. In an effort to keep the Flux as a very compact, travel-friendly piece, there is no integrated microphone. Whether as a phone headset or on a PC, the mic is embedded in the cable of the device and, unfortunately, the audio suffers a bit unless you have a proper powered amp of sorts to run it through.

So, even though the audio isn’t that strong for recording, the headset does do a great job at fulfilling its role. This is not a headset you’ll typically use everyday for your usual activities. This is a travel headset clearly designed for those times when you’re at your parent’s house for the holidays and all you could bring was your laptop so you want to get some gaming in. The Flux delivers BIG on being portable. In addition to providing two different cables depending on whether you’re hooking up via PC or phone, it also comes with the ability to alternate which ear you connect the cable to, making it much easier to work with. In addition, there is also an extension cable if you do decide to use it on a desktop PC perhaps as a strong pair of quality headphones.

The design of the headset is brilliant, too. Being portable, it folds up neatly and fits into the included pouch along with any necessary cables quite nicely. In addition, the speakers have brilliant audio quality and the padding fits right to your ears comfortably. Many headsets are rough to wear initially, but the Flux does a great job of being very comfortable right out of the gate. It also blocks out external sounds effortlessly, so make sure you don’t need to listen to anyone if you decide to turn on these speakers.

When it comes down to it, the Flux is everything it promises. If you’re looking for a full-time gaming headset, this probably isn’t right for you. Fortunately, the Siberia V2 is a fantastic alternative for just that role. However, if you need an emergency pair, or you want a great pair of headphones, or you need a travel headset that packs a lot of punch, then you can’t go wrong with the Flux.

Oh, and as far as aesthetics go, you also have a variety of additional earpiece shells that you can use to personalize the color and style of your headset, if that’s your thing. Certainly don’t want to leave that out.

STYLE: 9/10
COMFORT: 9.5/10
PERFORMANCE: 8.5/10
DURABILITY: 9.5/10

OVERALL SCORE: 9.3/10

GKick Hardware Review: SteelSeries Siberia V2 Frost Blue

When it comes to gaming headsets, SteelSeries’ Siberia V2 has emerged as the standard-bearer not only of the SteelSeries line of headsets but also of gaming headsets overall. While there are likely headsets of various brands that may be better to some folks, the Siberia V2 has definitely been the “default” of gaming headsets for some time. One of the newest members of the Siberia line is the Siberia V2 Frost, a white and pale blue USB headset that carries the banner proudly.

First impressions of the V2 Frost are pretty straight forward as it already met two of the things I really like out of any gaming headset: extremely lightweight and utilizes the suspended headband style. If you aren’t familiar with that term, just think of any headset which has a fabric band that runs underneath the hard plastic of the actual headset, usually anchored to the earpieces by cords of some sort. You see it in all of the Siberia V2 models even though most headset manufacturers go with the solid headband style.

As far as comfortable, these things really deliver. The leather padded earcups are not only gentle but also provide excellent noise cancellation. Style-wise, the headset looks very nice, with a clean white and grey color scheme accented by large blue LEDs on either ear. And, as I said before, they’re super light. Deceptively light, actually.

Another favorite is the microphone design. Instead of the typical style of tilting up and down alongside one of the earcups, the V2’s mic is hidden inside the left earcup and can be pulled out – and flexed to nearly any degree – at a whim, or just tucked away when not in use. But enough with the look and feel, how good is it?

While the Siberia V2 will be a featured product as part of the GKick Great Gaming Headset Review feature, we can safely say that the sound quality is superb and thanks to the integrated USB soundcard, it provides some awesome audio quality even if you are lacking a high-quality standard sound card.

We ran the Siberia V2 through a few of its paces in games like World of Warcraft and while watching HD TV broadcasts, as well as tested the microphone during the recording of a recent podcast as well as over voice-chat software and while streaming over TwitchTV.

When it comes to output quality, the upgrade over a cheap office-type headset is massive. The rich sound puts the Siberia V2 up on a level that most headsets can’t touch, and there was no unusual peaking or static during complex sound events in Warcraft. While watching TV, the audio was crisp and clean and the provided EQ software gave us a bit of versatility to the soundscape.

As far as microphone quality, the Siberia V2 does a great job. The noise-cancellation is present throughout and even with the hum of an air conditioner or fan running in the background, the mic did an awesome job of filtering out the excess sound and providing clear, clean, high-quality voice capture. While not on the level of a studio microphone, it does a tremendous job at being a quality headset mic.

So far, the headset has performed admirably, though there are some concerns with the build quality of the in-line volume controls. Most headsets have a pretty strong and sturdy control, especially if it’s in-line, but the one on the Siberia V2 Frost definitely feels a bit cheaper than was expected. However, so far, there haven’t been any issues, but it definitely felt out of place on such a high-quality headset overall.

When it comes down to it, I can’t recommend the Siberia V2 line enough. The Frost is an awesome headset for any gamer, it looks great and the LEDs aren’t even much of a distraction to other players, though you can personalize and customize them (or turn them off completely) to your taste. Frankly, for the price, this is a tremendous headset and worth every penny, especially if you’re not looking to spend $200 or more on a top-tier audiophile headset.

STYLE: 9/10
COMFORT: 10/10
DURABILITY: 7/10
OUTPUT QUALITY: 8/10
INPUT QUALITY: 8/10

OVERALL SCORE: 9.5/10

Stay tuned for our GKick Great Gaming Headset Review feature on the SteelSeries Siberia V2 Frost Blue when we REALLY put it to the test and tell you where it excels and where it falls short in a wide variety of applications - COMING SOON!

The Great GKick Gaming Headset Review

We understand that, as gamers, and as likely PC gamers, you enjoy quality sound when you play. Anyone who knows will tell you that good sound can make or break a gaming experience and when you finally get the chance to upgrade from your dinky store-brand or office-style headset to an actual, high-dollar gaming headset, you want to get your money’s worth.

Well, that’s what we’re here for.

Throughout the upcoming days and weeks, we’ll be reviewing a wide variety of gaming headsets. This may take a bit of time, but don’t you fret because we’ll eventually get to the one you’re curious about. Want us to check out a specific headset? Let us know and we’ll see if we can work it in.

First, to clarify. Why do we want to run these tests on just gaming headsets and not high-quality audiophile type headsets? Well, we’re testing at around an approximate budget of $150 max, and most top-end headsets are going to exceed that. Of course, there are some exceptions, and we’ll work in what we can, but those really top-tier headsets are going to be a bit much. But for now, let me give you a rundown of exactly how our review process will work.

As a gamer, we also know that many people use their headsets for more than just gaming. What about voice chat? Watching movies? Listening to music? Recording podcasts or other audio? Yes, it’s all very important and we want to cover ALL your bases.

GAMING:
First off, the most important aspect of your gaming headset is how well it does in GAMES (shocking, right?). Because of this, we’ll begin by putting a few sample games to the test:

- World of Warcraft: The MMO of choice will allow us to see how well the headsets detect the small audio triggers, how big they make battle feel, and how well-rounded the music and audio experience is.
- Just Cause 2: A big explosive shooting game that lets us really get into an action-packed experience and see how much we can pull out of it.
- Dear Esther: A very mild yet audio-intensive experience, we chose this game because of the nature of the audio experience.
- FIFA 12: A sports game that we chose mainly because of the blend of live commentary, on-field action, and ambient arena sound. From cheers, boos and crowd chants, FIFA made an ideal choice.

Between those four games, we feel we can deliver a well-rounded experience that will help determine how well a headset feels in a gaming environment. But that isn’t all.

MUSIC:
People like to listen to music on their computer, obviously. While a gaming headset isn’t exactly tailored to be an audiophiles dream, they should at least deliver clear, well-rounded sound, right? Here’s the sample tracks we’ll be using.

- Skrillex, “Bangarang”: Dubstep may not be everyone’s flavor of choice, nor may Skrillex be every dubstep fan’s flavor of choice, but we feel the variety of audio samples we’ll have thrown at us will provide a nice sample of the range and clarity of a low bass paired with high treble audio.
- Bach, “Mass in B Minor, ‘Angus Dei’”: A sample of Bach’s piece will be used to help test how the headsets handle orchestral music as well as high-pitched vocals. While not a standard choice for orchestral music, I felt it would be suitable for these tests.
- Metallica, “One”: A suitable hard rock track that starts soft and escalates to a very intense finish I felt would make a great choice. Being that it’s light on vocals yet strong on music, it would really put the headsets to the test.
- Eminem, “Lose Yourself”: A good, versatile rap track provides a nice amount of highs and lows for fans of hiphop. Maybe a little light on bass, but still a good option.
- Benny Benassi, “Inside of Me”: This Electro House track adds a few vocals to a really pounding track that suits the testing of headphones to a T.

With this handful of tracks, we can get a pretty solid idea of what kind of range the headsets have. Again, if you’re a big MUSIC fan, a gaming headset might not be the best option, but at least you’ll expect good bang for your buck with an everyday headset.

MOVIES:
Whether it’s movies or TV shows, lots of people want to be able to watch their favorite entertainment on their computer and have a great headset to go with it. In this case, we’ve taken a small sampling of a few sound-centric video clips to see just how nicely it plays out.

- Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones: Naturally, we wanted a sci-fi movie to test this out with, and what better than a movie with sound handled by one of the most prolific sound studios out there? Some folks may not like the movie, but it does a good job at providing adequate effects and music and dialogue for testing.
- Doctor Who: Season 1, Episode 10 – The Doctor Dances: Another sci-fi show, but this one has a bit more natural effects including gunfire and explosions along with some high-pitched audio that helps put some headsets to the test. Plus, it’s a great show, but that has no bearing on our tests.
- Casablanca: A classic film but a good way to see how the headsets handle audio that isn’t necessarily “HD”. Is it still clear if it comes from a quality source, or does it get muddled or distorted? We use a bit of Casablanca footage to put it to the test.|
- WWE Raw 9/3/12: A recent episode of this pro wrestling show should help provide a “live venue” style approach along with music performance, arena chatter, crowd reactions, and other effects that may occur in the ring itself for a nice, well-rounded soundscape.

With this variety of movies and TV shows, we should be able to provide a smooth profile for folks who want high quality audio for their entertainment value.

MISC:
After that, we’re going to run these headsets through the gamut of some miscellaneous tests. These should give us a complete profile of the headsets available. Here’s the final battery of tests we’ll apply.

- Live Streaming: A few different TwitchTV streams should give us a nice mix of gameplay action with accompanying commentary or similar features.
- Voice Chat: I know, NOW we get to the recording aspect of these things, but yes. We’ll take the headset to a test over Mumble and Skype to see how clear and effective the headset is during regular chatter.
- Podcast Recording: We’ll record a full episode of a high-quality podcast to see how the mic holds up compared to other episodes and lesser quality microphones.
- Eminent Technology Multimedia Speaker Test: This test runs a few different wave tests through the speakers just to see how well the range is and what the headset can support. As well as how clear they all come through.

With all that, the headsets should have a thorough review profile to compare to other headsets with and hopefully provide you with enough information to drop a bit of money on a decent pair. We’ll be kicking this review session off shortly, so stay tuned!

SteelSeries Goes “Pink” For a Great Cause

SteelSeries, a leading manufacturer in gaming and entertainment peripherals announced today that one of its popular gaming headsets, the Siberia v2, is now available in the color pink in a limited edition run. Coupled with the The Breast Cancer Research Foundation® (BCRF), in which 10% of all purchases of the new SteelSeries Siberia v2 Headset Pink Edition that are made on SteelSeries’ Web Shop, will be donated to the non-profit organization.

“We’re proud to be working with The Breast Cancer Research Foundation and are thrilled to be giving our customers a chance to purchase a premium-quality gaming and entertainment headset that will also benefit a cause that is recognized and important to so many,” said Bruce Hawver, SteelSeries CEO. “It is our goal to reach, and hopefully exceed, a donation amount of $10,000 between now and October which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, for BCRF from this campaign.”

Available now on the SteelSeries website, you can purchase your own for the retail value of $89.99 USD or €89.99 MSRP. Note as well that all customers purchasing the product are also offered the option to include an additional cash value donation of their choice to the BCRF. If you’d like to show your support, don’t hesitate to pick up your own headset now.

The Breast Cancer Research Foundation®, founded by Evelyn H. Lauder in 1993, is an independent not-for-profit organization committed to funding scientific research to achieve prevention and a cure for breast cancer in our lifetime. In October 2011, BCRF awarded $36.5 million to 187 scientists across the United States, Canada, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, Australia, and China.  With over 90 cents of every dollar donated currently being directed to breast cancer research and awareness programs, BCRF continues to remain one of the most fiscally responsible charities in the country.  BCRF holds a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, its tenth such designation since 2002.  Additionally, BCRF is the only cancer organization designated as “A+” by CharityWatch. For more information about BCRF, visit www.bcrfcure.org.