SteelSeries has some nifty headphones and tech out for gamers to enjoy. I had the chance to test out one of their Siberia 800 wireless headphones and came away thoroughly impressed. Come inside to check out my full review!
Okay, let’s get some of the technical bits out of the way first here. The SteelSeries Siberia 800 comes with these features for gamers to enjoy:
Closed-back ear cups for superior accuracy, clarity, and detail
Dolby virtual 7.1 surround sound technology places you in the game - for PC/Mac PS3/4 Xbox 360 and Apple TV
Retractable, directional mic on gooseneck with mute indicating light
Two hot-swappable Li-Ion batteries for unlimited play
Sound Share lets you share the audio with a friend
Click wheel enables control of the volume and menus from the ear cup
Memory-foam ear cushions and headband padding with smooth-as-leather surfaces for comfortable fit
When you first open up the box it feels a little overwhelming. You’re confronted with a box, the headphones, and a plethora of wires. The instruction manual that comes with it gives only the barest amount of instructions on how to connect everything, and I initially thought I was going to mess it all up.
Thankfully, however, the reality of setting up the Siberia 800 headphones is WAY easier than it looks. Merely plug it in the way it tells you, and the screen on the wireless connection box (which you use to relay information between the headphones and whatever you’re linking it to) walks you through the rest. You’ll navigate the options via the dial on the box, doing the most basic of setups, and from there all you have to do is turn on the headphones!
The set comes with two battery packs, and are recharged within the connecting box, so if one starts to die, you can swap them out quickly and easily. As I mentioned, the amount of wires included can seem daunting, but also convenient as it means you’re able to connect to virtually any media device you have in your house. Hell, it also comes with an assortment of wall plug-in adaptors, so you could power your device all around the world!
To say the Siberia 800 is versatile is something of an understatement, as you’re able to use it for your consoles (even the previous generation), TV, PCs...whatever. While the connections are designed to be somewhat easy to swap out (if you have multiple devices you’d like to use it for), you might be better off picking one system to use it on primarily. There are a lot of wires that would require moving from place to place, and while they aren’t necessarily difficult to change out it can be something of a hassle to move a bunch of cords/cables around, especially since I already have a number of cables to move around to begin with!
Aside from the massive amount of cables to deal with, the only other downside for this set is the price. For a gaming headset that’s mostly black without any “flair” to speak of, I could see some being put off by the price point. That said, they work incredibly well and I know a few gamers who would consider it worthwhile.
Form and Function
What good is a pair of headphones if they aren’t comfortable? It’s something gamers who use them frequently have to take into account, and in this regard I’m happy to say the Siberia 800s are very comfy indeed. From the padded connecting band to the cushy ear muffs, you’ll hardly notice them on your head. They’re light and cushioned enough to not cause any strain while wearing them, making it easy to use for long periods of time.
The earpieces themselves are large and fit nicely over the entire ear. As someone who wears glasses all the time, finding comfy headphones is always an interesting task. Over the years I’ve had the chance to use/test out a number of them, and it’s one of the first things I try and check. Oftentimes, the headphones are relatively comfortable, but end up putting some much pressure on the glass frames around my ears that I couldn’t wear them for long periods of time. Thankfully, I never encountered this issue with the Siberia 800s. Their large size and big cushions made it super comfy on my glasses, without putting too much pressure on them.
On top of the headphones comfortable nature, the most important aspect is how the sound comes through. The headphones built in surround sound effect is incredibly effective and fully immerses you in whatever you're playing/watching. It's hard to explain except to give an example that really highlighted the quality of sound during my playtime. It came while I was playing through Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.
During the mission where you have to escape the enemy base in Switzerland, there are a number of ways to plan your escape and sneak around the enemies (I play stealth without killing). I was using a large pipe to slip past a handful of enemies. The pipe I was using was an electrical one, meaning I had to rush past intermittent arcs of electricity in order to make my way through.
Coming to the exit of the pipe landed me in a utility closet of sorts with a pair of guards just outside. Here's where the surround sound made its biggest impression on me. When I opened the hatch to exit, I paused to check the surroundings before going further. When I faced the door, I could overhear the conversation between guards, muffled through the barrier. In the background, I could hear the sizzle of the electric arcs buzzing on and off. When I rotated my point of view, I could hear the shift around me, as the conversation dimmed and the buzzing grew louder.
It's a small thing really, but the fluid way the sound wrapped around and changed from ear to ear, fully encompassing the background noises and such, made a big impression on me. It was so natural, it felt as though I were in the game and turning my head around in real time. While this experience remained the norm throughout my playthrough, it was one of the first times I really stopped to appreciate it. This sound is great, and puts you in the middle of the experience without any real drawbacks.
This is going to sound kind of ridiculous, but one of the “neat” factors with this set, is the built-in microphone. The mic itself actually extends from, and retracts into, the headphones themselves. When you want to talk, all you have to do is pull the mic out of the side. It’s just really freaking cool from a design standpoint.
More than just looking neat, however, the microphone works incredibly well to boot. The headphones do a great job of balancing the sound during multiplayer chats. The game’s soundtrack tones down while members of your party are talking, but boosts back up when things are silent. This automatic balance makes it easy to stay focused on the game, without completely taking you out of the gameplay either. You’re not having to adjust volume back and forth manually, and able to enjoy the conversation and the game equally.