Steelseries Spectrum 5XB Medal of Honor Edition Headset – Review

I’ve always maintained that every gamer should seriously consider investing in a good headset for themselves. There the perfect alternative if you don’t have the spare cash to purchase an expensive surround sound system and can provide sound quality that is just as good for a fraction of the price, and a fraction of the space. Plus, your wife/husband/dog/cat can read a book in peace while you have the volume ramped up as high as it can go.

Thanks to the large “Medal of Honor Edition” letters plastered across the box this version of the 5XB has a brand new paint job compared to the usual black and green design that they normally sport. This new paint job manifests itself as a grey camaflouge design with the Medal of Honor logo on the ear pieces. It’s hardly a fantastic look, but the simple design is pleasing enough to the eye. The headsets design also features a signature of the Steelseries products which is a mic that can be pushed into the headset itself allowing it to sit nestled into the earpiece and pulled out when required. It’s far more elegant than the usual mics seen on other headsets.

The 5XB can also be broken down into three separate pieces for easy transport, though it doesn’t come with a carry case. It’s a nice feature if you feel like taking your headset with you to a friend’s house.

My first thought about the headset as I fight to free it from its packaging is that it’s a fairly light headset which does give it a rather flimsy feeling. I admit that this is a rather odd complaint as the lightweight build makes the headset far more comfortable to wear, but they certainly don’t have a sturdy feel to them, mostly due to the rather thin feeling plastic that they’re constructed from. However, it’s a deceptive feeling as they proved to be more than sturdy enough, as well as having passed the fantastic “Sit Test”, which means they must survive being sat on.

After I finally defeated the packaging it was time to set the headset up. It’s important to note at this time that the 5XB is a fully wired headset, so if you’re someone who just can’t stand wires you may want to go look at another headset. The basics are all easy enough to set-up and I had no trouble getting it all sorted out, but the 5XB does have a good few cables to plug-in so be prepared to do some wire tying. Next came the Audiomixer which plugs directly into the Xbox 360’s controller. This audiomixer contains the usual separate volume and voice-chat controls so you can adjust the sound to your exact specifications. However, it also has the LiveMix control, which when enabled automatically drops the game volume when someone speaks and then raises it again when they’re finished. That means no more being unable to hear your teammates during a firefight, or that twelve-year-old kid screaming abuse down the microphone.  It does have a bit of flaw though; should you encounter someone who has a mic that constantly bombards you with static then the system which kick in and practically turn of your game volume, but thankfully it can be turned off to ensure that you can still hear your game.  However, the Audiomixer is a pretty large piece of kit, not in weight, but in sheer dimensions. It takes up a sizable chunk of the bottom of your controller. I found it that it did get in the way of my fingers on occasion as I like to stretch them out a little at the back of the controller. I also found that single wire stuck out of the bottom of the Audiomixer which made resting it on my lap a bit tricky. Finally, the length of wire between the mixer and the actual headset is only one metre. This wasn’t a problem during a game but if I decided to put on a film I couldn’t place the controller on the table beside me, instead I had to hold it or rest it on the edge of my seat.

The Audiomixer, minus cables.

When it comes to comfort the 5XB’s don’t skimp. The headband features thick padding to ensure that those long gaming sessions don’t get too painful on the head. The ear pieces also feature thick foam padding that completely encircles the wearers ears to provide maximum comfort. Despite some massively long gaming sessions I never found that the headset became uncomfortable to wear. The only downfall to the padding used is it has almost no noise cancelling ability, so you’ll hear almost any sound that emerges from the room around you. This is slightly disappointing as I do favour a headset that features good noise cancelling so I can ignore whoever is trying to interrupt my gaming session.

As well as being comfortable the 5XB delivers in performance. The level of sound quality delivered is fantastic, delivering booming explosions, sharp gunshots, screeching tires and revving engines with clarity. It’s definitely geared toward games more than anything else as the sound is quite bassy which is perfect for delivering the explosions and gunshots that fill gaming today. It does mean that the headset isn’t as great for listening to music or films, depending on the film, but it suffices. However, the Audiomixer which enables the headset to work with the Xbox 360 as well does produce a background distortion that can be a little irritating. It’s not particularly loud and considering you’ll usually have the volume ramped up you will not usually notice it, but during any lull or quiet moment in the game your ears will detect it. Finally, the mic quality is superb, delivering a crystal clean transmission every time.

The Good:
+ Comfortable!
+ Great sound quality.
+ Livemix is great.

The Bad:
– Background distortion.
– Audiomixer is a fair size.
– Feels a bit flimsy.

Score: 8
The Steelseries 5XB Medal of Honor Edition delivers fantastic sound quality and great comfort with just a few flaws.

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