SteelSeries should be an instantly recognizable name for PC enthusiasts as they have been around for quite some time producing various gaming peripherals. Their gaming headsets have been a solid choice for quite some time (the past 10 years), rivaling other top manufacturers. With that being said, SteelSeries has recently released the Siberia v3 gaming headset; the latest in the popular Siberia lineup. It may not be the best sounding headset on the market, but it certainly is well-rounded and without a doubt the most comfortable.
On first glance, the Siberia v3 looks very similar to the previous Siberia v2. In fact, the differences are negligible unless you know to look for them. It comes in two different color options, black or white, matching the options from the previous headset. The suspended headband provides a high level of support without awkwardly placing pressure on top of your head. Compared to the bulky Tritton AX720's, which I have used for the past few years, the v3 is incredibly lighter and designed with comfort in mind. It does lack adjustability, with only a little pull from the floating headband to place the headset over your ears. Joan tested it out, for an outside perspective, and she had no issues comfortably placing it on her head. I'm sure it won't fit everyone perfectly, so the lack of adjustments is an odd design choice.
The ear cups are fitted with soft, noise-reducing memory foam, and it's one of the best decisions SteelSeries has made with the v3. While I wasn't skeptical about the bold claim regarding comfort, I was amazed at how they felt after passing the three hour mark of a gaming marathon. The design helps to isolate external noises, removing any hard gaps around your ears. It's like putting tiny pillows around your ears.
Gone is the attached volume and mic controller on the single cable coming out of the headset. Instead, the backside of the left ear features a mic mute toggle that is easy to operate on/off in the middle of the most intense gaming session. While that covers the microphone, SteelSeries hasn't included any volume controls for the headset, instead requiring gamers to rely on software to control the levels. This keeps inline with SteelSeries's approach of releasing a versatile headset, making it easily accessible across multiple platforms.
The plug-and-play design approach works well, allowing you to connect the single 3.5mm audio jack to the included two-prong adapter cable to support both in-game audio and voice chat. Limiting the attached cable as a single prong jack helps the Siberia v3 to appeal to the mass market. With the rise of mobile gaming, this makes the headset a perfect choice for those looking to upgrade from earbuds on any Android or iOS device. As the DualShock 4 features an input for headsets, the Siberia v3 can be used by PlayStation 4 owners with very little effort. Testing with multiple controllers, I discovered that the retractable microphone wasn't being recognized through Party Chat on the PS4. A quick google search led to a handful of complaints without any official response. As it turns out, if you slowly insert the jack into the controller, voice will work while barely being plugged in, but you won't be able to hear anything. Plug it in fully and the PS4 won't recognize the microphone.
SteelSeries has knocked it out of the park with the design of their headsets, but the audio quality of the v3 doesn't quite keep up with competitors. Whether you are listening to music, your favorite podcast, or blowing things up in Call of Duty or Battlefield, the lows and bass won't be as vibrant. For the majority of games, the v3 performs well, providing crisp, clear audio. Michael Bay moments in games (those over dramatic explosions) tend to get drowned out. The placement of the 50mm drivers could be the culprit, especially considering the v2 the same drivers and had less issues with the bass.
As previously mentioned, SteelSeries has opted to alter the design of the microphone. It's now attached at all times, but it retracts inside the headset when not in use. The transmitted voice sounds clear when using different programs, such as Audacity, Skype, and even Google Hangouts, on both PC and iOS. The lack of bass is noticeable, so there is an airy quality to the recordings. I can't confirm the quality of the PS4 since the microphone refuses to be recognized.
If you've purchased a gaming headset from SteelSeries in the past, you should be familiar with the sound profile settings of SteelSeries Engine. Unfortunately the v3 doesn't support tweaking the sound profile. Remember it was redesigned to be a versatile headset across devices, not only on PC. This oversight and the lack of control options on the actual headset (besides mic mute) are the biggest drawbacks. The Corsair keyboard that I use at home has a easily accessible volume wheel, but not everyone will be able to increase or decrease the volume on the fly.
The Siberia v3 is versatile, well-rounded, and unmatched in the comfort category. It isn't the best sounding gaming headset at it's price range, but it certainly isn't the worst either. The v3 produces rich, clear audio most of the time, only lacking when it comes to the thumping lows. Even so, the lightweight plastic design ensures it won't ever feel heavy and I'll gladly take a great sounding headset with an unbelievable comfort level to one that sounds slightly better, but can't be worn for long periods of time.Note: A Siberia v3 was provided to for review and tested across multiple platforms.