Fantastic looks and great sound, but rather heavy for prolonged gaming sessions
We’re used to gaming headsets making a bold first impression, but the Siberia Elite immediately caught our eye with its oversized padding, brilliant white colour scheme and illuminated ear cups. That doesn’t mean Steelseries has ignored sound quality, though; 50mm speaker drivers, a USB sound card and Dolby virtual surround sound are the substance to back up the style.
Like previous Siberia headsets, the Elite has a suspension design that lets the flexible padded headband sit flush to your head. An untreated steel arc keeps everything rigid, but ensures pressure is distributed evenly across your head. This, combined with the incredibly thick padding on each ear, make the Elite very comfortable to wear, although we thought they felt a little bit tight. Even after several weeks of use, the metal arc band hadn’t deformed to create a looser fit. All that padding and metal mean the Siberia Elite is also rather heavy; at 454g we certainly felt them after a few hours of solid gaming, despite the otherwise comfortable design.
The leather material also gets rather toasty on the ears, although the thick padding completely covers your ears and creates an effective acoustic seal. It can’t compete with active noise cancelling headsets for blocking out noise, but it does an excellent job compared to other passive headsets.
The retractable microphone slots inside the left ear cup when not in use; it has a white LED on the tip to let you know when you’re muted, which you can toggle by twisting the control dial on the left ear cup. It uses active noise cancellation effectively to reduce background sounds, which worked well during our lunchtime Battlefield 4 sessions. Our voice was clear and our squadmates had no trouble understanding our orders. Headphone volume is controlled with a second control dial on the right ear – it’s much more convenient than an inline remote as it doesn’t add extra weight to the cable or drag across your desk while gaming.
In-game, the Siberia Elite sounded incredibly clear. Whereas most gaming headsets prioritise bass, the 50mm speaker drivers used here don’t focus on the low-end. Instead, the mid-range and high-end become the dominant part of the mix, so bullets crack and engines splutter but explosions don’t overpower them. Unfortunately this isn’t the best setup for watching films or listening to music, as certain tracks would certainly benefit from a bass boost.
The Siberia Elite ships with a USB sound card, which adds a user-customisable equalizer and Dolby headphone virtual surround sound capabilities. This makes a difference in games, making it easier to place footsteps in a tense round of Counter Strike, but doesn’t really add much to music or video so we kept it off until jumping on to a server.
The headset itself has a proprietary USB connection; this lets you attach the 2m extension cable or plug directly into the sound card. Steelseries sensibly includes a twin 3.5mm audio adaptor in case you want to use the headset with a more powerful sound card, along with a second single 3.5mm adaptor for connecting to a smartphone, tablet or handheld console.
You’ll need to use the USB input on the sound card if you want to use the lights built into each ear cup; the USB connection powers the LEDs, which won’t turn on when connected via 3.5mm. You can specify any colour within the driver settings, or set it to rotate through a series of random colours. Either way, they certainly draw attention, but aren’t as blindingly bright as some of Steelseries’ other illuminated headsets.
They look and sound fantastic in games, whether you opt for the black model or white version reviewed here, but the Siberia Elite is a rather heavy headset that won’t suit everyone. At £150, it’s one of the most expensive gaming headsets we’ve reviewed, and isn’t the best all-round headset for movies and games.
|Plug type||2x 3.5mm stereo, USB|
|Extras||inline microphone, USB sound card, smartphone adaptor|