- + Comfortable Design
- + Surround Sound
- + Software Enabled Customization
- - Pricey
- - Endless Tweaking
- - Lacks Bass
*This headset was kindly provided to Start Replay by SteelSeries for review.
With a futuristic design, glowing LEDs and surround sound, the SteelSeries Siberia Elite Prism headset has the potential to be a real player in the PC gaming headset market. How does it fare when we put it to the test?
SteelSeries have crafted a beautiful and quality feeling headset to go alongside its £160 price tag. The ‘suspension headband’ that features on many of SteelSeries’s products, has made an appearance, but this time in a more premium form factor than seen on the less expensive Siberia V2’s/3’s. We also have SteelSeries’s fantastic looking ‘prism’ effect, that lets you change the colour of the glowing effect in the headband. The light is bright and really stands out, oh and don’t be worried about not finding the right colour, you only have 16.6 million to choose from. This is a truly wonderful feature, allowing you to match up your headset to the decor of your room, or the LEDs in your PC case. I enjoyed having the rich orange of Start Replay glowing onto my desk from the LEDs!
There is a premium feeling steel arc around the top that supports the headband. The SteelSeries signature ‘fit’ system where you simply place the headset on your head, adjusting in size automatically, is featured, and there is no messing around with adjusting headbands, making for a comfortable and perfect fit every time. The earcups certainly lean toward the large size. They aren’t necessarily huge in regards to where your ears are placed inside the headset, and so people with large ears may find their ear space a little cramped, but for the average person the space is more than adequate.
However, the diameter of the ear cups is certainly on the large side, so big that you’d be crazy to walk down the street listening to music on these, without looking like something from the distant future. Despite this, the more fashion conscious around us may see this as an opportunity to stand out. The size also makes travelling with the headset and carrying it round more difficult, due to the design’s weight and size.
SteelSeries have included some practical features that not many other headsets on the market can offer, such as a 3.5mm jack on the side of the headset that allows friends to ‘daisy-chain’ their headset to yours, essentially acting as a splitter. In practice, this feature was hit and miss and produced some varying results, however when things went smoothly it was certainly a great addition. Sound is controlled through a dial within the outside of the earcup on one side, with the other being a simple microphone mute dial.
In general, the design is comfortable. There is enough cushioning on the headband and earcups for long gaming sessions not to be too much of a problem. The weight of the headset is made easier to handle due to this cushioning, however we can expect a headset to be a little on the weighty side when it’s made of quality components. The headset did take some breaking in, and after use it became less rigid and sat on the head more comfortably.
This rigidness is down to the metal components, and one can’t help but feel that the less expensive Siberia V2’s/3 are more comfortable due to the more flexible and lightweight nature of the plastic they’re constructed from. You can tell this is a premium headset, the components used are all of a high quality, and small things like the tangle-resistant flat cable connected to the headset help to make using this headset a good experience from a design aspect.
This was the most surprising aspect of the SteelSeries Siberia Elite Prism. I had huge hopes for this headset’s sound quality; though the initial ‘out of the box’ sound quality wasn’t as expected. It felt empty, treble heavy and the acoustics just weren’t right, something that certainly needed tweaking. This is where SteelSeries’s Engine 3 software came into use. The software is sophisticated and easy to use, and allows you to tweak pretty much every aspect of the headset.
One handy feature is being able to store presets within the software. For example, being able to hear footsteps in CS:GO across the map, you’ll want to turn the treble up and the bass down. Alongside being able to set custom presets, you can select one of the pre-programmed modes, such as FPS, music, movie etc.
For the average user, the presets should provide you with enough control to find what you want, no matter what the task. However it is to be expected that a headset of this calibre will provide you with full EQ control, a feature audiophiles will relish. It is essential that you couple the headset with SteelSeries’s Engine 3 software to get the most out of this headset, and SteelSeries make this clear with the packaging they provide.
After spending a solid amount of time tweaking and playing with the settings within the software, I got results I was relatively happy with. I recommend that you leave the ‘Dolby Headphone’ mode off, as this just seemed to muffle the headsets quality. When required, the sound range of this headset proved to be good, providing adequate bass for explosive FPS action alongside heavy electronic music, but this is one area where the Siberia Elite Prism is let down slightly. It handled more intricate sounds better, mids and highs sounding clear and crisp. If only it could really kick it in the bass department.
The surround sound worked well, and I was able to locate where enemies were around me, and the size and depth of the ear cups certainly seemed to aid this. The surround sound helped to create an immersive atmosphere, more so than during my experience with other headsets, and unfortunately it’s the sound balance that lets down the overall acoustic feel.
Microphone quality is better than most headsets. It isn’t quite worthy of being used for voice-overs and commentary’s, however for talking to friends and communicating with teammates it was great. My voice was clear and due to features such as ‘Auto Mic Compression’ within the Engine 3 software, background noise was not an issue. It was also easy to adjust, and the small size helps to reduce the peripheral intrusion you get with other larger headset microphones.
All in all, SteelSeries have created a comfortable, original and quality feeling headset. The LEDs look fantastic, the signature headband and microphone designs are as good as ever, and you can tell SteelSeries spent a lot of time designing this headset. Having said that, the sound lacks that extra punch, and you would expect more in this department from a premium priced headset such as this one.