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Review: SteelSeries Diablo 3 headset shines

Review Steelseries Diablo III headset shines ANY
There is a lot to like about SteelSeries' Diablo III headset, giving players a solidly built peripheral that sit snugly on the ears and provide strong sound. I'm the kind of gamer who never wants to take off his headset because of the activity going on around me -- it's one of the only ways to get any semblance of peace and quiet. In addition, voice chat and Mumble have become hangout tools rather than just gaming features, making a good, durable microphone that much more important.

This isn't the first time I've tried out this particular offering from SteelSeries. When I went to BlizzCon 2011 and stopped by the SteelSeries booth, the representatives wanted me to try it on immediately. Something about ear cups and weight displacement, I don't know. There was a lot going on. To be honest, the biggest factor in choosing a headset for me is whether or not I can wear the thing for, like, eight hours straight. So, that's what I did. For you.

Comfort is king

As I am writing this particular paragraph, I'm at hour number seven or so with the headset, and things are about as you would expect. While I have allowed myself the relief of taking off the headset to engage in bathroom activities, responding to important phone calls (sorry Adam, no offense), and prepare food, I've kept them on all day. Do I want to take them off? Not necessarily. Can I keep playing? Yes.

Comfort is king. If the thing isn't comfortable I won't recommend it. For instance, I can't stand Turtle Beach ear cups. Don't take that as a slight against Turtle Beach and its products, because it makes awesome headsets and you should go out and buy them. But this is a case of "it's not you, it's me." Reviews are subjective, so keep that in mind.

The Diablo III headset feels very lightweight sitting on your head. I liked the clampy feeling I got when the headset essentially "locked" into place. There wasn't any real issue with the cups slipping or sliding off my head, even when I initially thought I would have that very issue. It didn't happen. Size can be adjusted in the usual way and accommodates plenty of sizes.

I'm a sucker for the red. I know, I'm a 12-year-old boy. If it glows red, it goes faster and is more powerful. As a fan of the Diablo aesthetics and coloring, that aspect of the headset goes a long way for me. It might not be as important as sound fidelity or volume, but it matters.

Cords on SteelSeries products are great. The braided cords that Steelseries, Razer, and other companies have transitioned to over the last decade or so really upped the quality of a lot of gaming peripherals. Maybe I missed the moment when we made the transition to braided cords, but I love them.

This is not a garbage licensed product

Diablo III was not the only thing I did with the Diablo III headset. Most of the time with this headset was spent listening to music, playing the trifecta (WoW, LoL, Diablo), and watching a whole bunch of Netflix. The audio was clear, the volume got pretty loud, and for my personal tastes, fidelity was good.

My issue with branded, licensed items and peripherals like this headset is that the look does not feel timeless. I know, I know -- it's not the last headset you're ever going to own if you're anywhere near a semi-serious gamer, so talking about timelessness is stupid. However, there is a way to do generalized licensed products that looks great while still conveying the parent-licensed product's vibe.

SteelSeries does a great job with matching the look of the item to the world that it's invoking. The Diablo III headset could very well have been renamed the Demon Slash Red headset Special Edition, and you'd still be out buying it. Do you like the look of the Diablo III fire emblem and intricate demonic rune-work? Me, too! Then guess what? You won't get tired of this. Not now or after you stop playing Diablo. Do you like your peripherals to glow red? This is your stop.

Hidey-hole microphone

Every gaming headset that I've owned has had the microphone on the rotating arm attached to the left ear cup. When SteelSeries decided to change how the microphone was positioned, I was skeptical, because frankly I don't like change. Having the microphone in the up position allows me to be talking without blasting into the mic. After using the extendable microphone on the Diablo III headset, I was surprised at how I didn't care about fiddling with the microphone arm.

The microphone includes in-line mute and noise cancellation, which seemed to work well when those ambulances decide to tear down my street. Having the microphone retract into the headset also protects the mechanism when the headset falls off your desk, gets pushed off the desk by a needy, desperate cat, or gets thrown across the room because your hardcore character just died.

Software

Sometimes I use the included software to a large degree, like with mice or other pinpoint devices. With my keyboard, not so much, considering I use a bare-bones mechanical monster. With the headset, I didn't think I would have any use for the software -- it's a headset -- but there was a noteworthy gem to discuss. Most of the headset's general settings can be tinkered with directly from the Diablo III menus, making this product integrate seamlessly with the game you're probably already spending way too much time on.

Bottom line

If you're in the market for a cool-looking, feature-solid gaming headset, you can't go wrong with SteelSeries' offering. If you're a Diablo fan in addition to everything above, then it's a no-brainer.

Show off your fandom or just your love of stuff that glows red. All the regular features are present. The braided cord never ceases to amaze me, and I wore the damn thing for eight hours for you. Then another eight hours. I used it for a week straight, as usual. If I got to keep it, I would.

Pros:
  • Windows or Mac
  • USB
  • Retractable microphone works well
  • Diablo III branding isn't obnoxious
  • Sounds great, use for gaming and other activities
Cons:
  • A little pricey if it's your first gaming headset

Filed under: Hardware, Diablo 3

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