Reviews

Siberia 200 Headset Review – Speak Now, Or Forever Mute Your Mic

 

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The Siberia 200 might look rather familiar, and that’s because it’s a relaunch (kind of) of Steelseries’ much loved Siberia V2, a headset that earned itself a lot of fans over the years before it was discontinued in favour of the radically different V3. Steelseries haven’t opted to change the formula very much for this new rendition of their classic, tweaking a few things here and there rather than radically overhauling an already successful design. The end result is impressive, delivering great audio, especially for its price, but there are a few flaws that need chatting about.

I admit to having a bit of love for the Steelseries brand as their H Wireless (renamed the Siberia 800) is my favourite headset to date and is the one I use everyday for watching movies and playing games. It’s the perfect solution to not having a large space in which to plonk down a surround sound speaker system. They tend to produce quality gear, so I was keen to see what the Siberia 200 could bring to the table.

We kick off with the packaging which isn’t anything special. A light cardboard box stores the plastic tray that the headset sits in, so protection during shipping isn’t great. This isn’t a headset that sits high on the pricing ladder, though, so exceptional packaging isn’t a high priority for companies, so there’s nothing really surprising here. In contrast the Logitech Artemis G933 that came in for review has thick card, a lift-off lid and a solid shell that the head sits neatly in.

Seemingly the seven different colors that the Siberia 200 comes in have all been selected by E-sports professionals, which is a sales pitch that I seriously doubt will influence anyone. Ever. I got the plain white version with some black detail on the earcups, and it looks…okay. Since I’m on a Star Wars binge I appreciate the vague Stormtrooper emotions the straight white paintjob brings out in me,  but I can’t say I’m a fan of the styling. It looks like it was put together with bits and bobs rather than lovingly designed, giving it a clumsy feeling. As always, however, there will doubtless be others who appreciate the aesthetics far more than I.  The whole thing is made of a lightweight plastic that doesn’t inspire massive confidence when it comes to daily abuse upon first touch, but after playing around with it the Siberia 200 seems to be quite tough, Only time will tell if it holds up to the rigors of everyday use, though.

Rather than have a standard headband the Siberia 200 plumps for something a little different with two plastic tubes running from each earpiece that house those lovely sound delivering wires. These tubes don’t sit atop your lovely noggin, though, rather there’s a thin cloth headband that’s suspended by four elasticated wires, so rather than adjusting the headset to fit the wires simply stretch to accommodate you. It’s actually rather comfy, and while the earpieces themselves sit just a little too low for me, leaving a small gap at the bottom of each, a quick move around gets them into position without a bother. They do grip the head a little tight which could potentially be an issue for those with bigger noggins, and the fact that the suspended cloth band isn’t leather does raise some more questions about durability. The headset isn’t overly very heavy so for those long sessions the Siberia 200 doesn’t begin to feel like an anvil is strapped to your head. A respectable amount of padding around the earcups finishes the whole thing off by ensuring your ears never touch the drivers themselves and don’t get too hot, either, although the occasional cooldown break is still suggested because nobody enjoys having sweaty ears.  It’s just a shame they aren’t a tad bigger, as even for my relatively small ears they were quite close to being too restricted within the padding.

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The mic is housed within the left earcup and slides in and out with a slightly rough action which could do with being smoothed out. It’s a system I’ve always been partial to over the more typical detachable mic as it just feels a bit more elegant. As for the actual sound quality of the microphone it’s not very good, lacking the clarity you’d hope to find. Your teammates will be able to hear you and make out whatever commands or insults you’re spewing, but that’s about it. Without a doubt the mic is the worst aspect of an otherwise strong package and although it’s still adequate for the job if a strong microphone is a must have for you then look elsewhere.

A short way down the 5ft cable you’ll find a small plastic set of controls that let’s you adjust volume and mute the microphone without having to fiddle around at the source instead. The little plastic housing feels cheap, but being able to have in-line controls is still very much appreciated, although there’s no way of muting the volume entirely, so even at the lowest setting you can still hear faint audio, hardly a massive problem but worth mentioning anyway. The cable itself isn’t braided or anything, but is nice and lightweight and doesn’t seem to get caught on anything. Provided you aren’t a dick to cables it should manage to remain strong. At the end of the cable we find two male 3.5mm connections, with an included Y-connector being used to unify the two connections if needed.

Noise cancellation through the earcup padding isn’t great, but there’s enough to muffle the sounds of life passing you by. Still, in a noisy house expect to have to ramp the volume up a little bit more to compensate for the sounds of human beings doing human being things.  The same goes for the microphone which doesn’t seem to have any noise cancellation going on at all, so friends and enemies alike will be able to hear any children running around the place, dogs barking, wives yelling or murders being committed by irate gamers who forgot the mute the damn mic. Keep that in mind, folks, because nothing ruins a good old murder like people calling the cops.

But now we reach the genuinely important stuff. In terms of the listening experience I found the Siberia 200 to be entirely impressive for a stereo headset, especially with its quite modest pricing. Driving the audio directly to your ear holes are two 50mm drivers, the very same, I believe, that were in the original V2.  Steelseries have always opted for a bright audio signature that emphasises the treble so that things like footsteps can be picked out easily amidst the chaos, which when coupled with good directional positioning for a stereo headset lets you use the sound to your advantage when playing a multiplayer shooter. It’s incredibly satisfying to get the jump on a foe simply because you heard them reloading, or their footsteps.  The bass is warm and quite powerful, but does suffer from a little muffling from time to time. Still, it’s not overpowering, which is something gaming headsets tend to be as pounding bass has become a major selling point for companies trying to peddle products to the masses who have come to view massive bass power as a sign of quality audio rather than actual quality audio being a sign of quality audio.. Testing the Siberia 200 came at just the right time as Star Wars: Battlefront delivers some of the best sound design I’ve heard from a game ever, while Rainbow Six: Siege places a lot of emphasis on using sound to not only pinpoint the enemy, with the thud of boots alerting you to their position, but also to create tension for the defenders as they listen to the enemy slowly advancing. Across the board I was left impressed with the crispness of the audio and the amount of detail I was able to pick up. While they can’t match a professional level headset or high-end set, and do sound just a teeny-tiny bit flat, they’re among the most impressive stereo headsets I’ve heard, and considering the price it’s all the more impressive. The only thing I’d like to see is Steelseries open up the earcups a little for a bigger soundstage, but that is a pretty minor complaint.

All said and done this is yet another impressive headset from Steelseries, delivering great audio without breaking the bank, either. I don’t have much to actually complain about, which is almost disappointing because I do rather enjoy a good moan from time to time. While I still have some doubts about the build quality the level of comfort is solid. The microphone ultimately leaves a hell of a lot to be desired, but frankly the rest of the package is superb value for money, although as always actual cost doesn’t come into my final verdict because good value for money is a purely subjective concept. Not that it actually matters because the Siberia 200 earns a hearty recommendation from me regardless. If you’re in the market for a new stereo headset, it’ll do the job nicely.

Reco

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