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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Gadget Review: SteelSeries Siberia X300

I have had a solid history with SteelSeries gear, but arguably my favourite piece of gaming hardware from the company was the SteelSeries Siberia Elite Prism Gaming Headset. This is still my go-to headset for my PC gaming. It is light, comfortable and they produce outstanding sound. I have been using it for almost a year now, and in retrospect I probably would have upgraded them from 4.5 to 5 stars because they have been essentially perfect. Now SteelSeries has a new collection of headsets for console gaming - and the question I had upon opening the box was whether or not the Siberia X300 could match my expectations going in.

While the box says Xbox One, this headset can also be used for the Xbox 360 as well. Additionally, you can use these to listen a PC or mobile device, but in that instance they are more headphones than headset, because you are not using the microphone. What is inside of the box is of course what matters, and by all accounts the SteelSeries Siberia X300 is a very good headset.

I will start with the construction, which is both very light and also comfortable. The design is unique, similar to the double banded style of my PC Siberia Elite. There is a top supporting band that keeps everything in place, and a secondary lower band underneath that allows it to fit snug to your head. Because there are no adjustments to be manually made, that means taking these on and off and using them throughout the family is a quick process. My son and I both play the most video games, and he's half my age (and size). While being a teenager, you might assume he has a big head (maybe that's just me being a parent who feels like his kids constantly tell him they know everything?), but in actuality he is much smaller than me. It is handy to be able to just slip the headset on and not have to adjust anything.

On the left ear cup we have the wire that connects the headset to the controller, and also a retractable microphone. Maybe it is just the wired nature of the connection, but the quality of the sound people playing with me received was uniformly excellent. No complaints that I was too muffled, yet not so sensitive that the microphone was picking up a plethora of background noises. That it is a flexible microphone and not a firm one that simply flips up and down, allows better placement near your mouth. There is also a quick microphone mute switch on the back of the left earpiece that comes in handy.

The SteelSeries Siberia X300 makes a pretty bold claim to be the most comfortable console headset you can find, but all in all, I am inclined to agree. The quick adjusting band and light weight of the set obviously is a big help, but the pads are noise reducing memory foam around your ears and they rest quite comfortably for long periods of gameplay. Now, I will state that I think the ear cushions on my PC set are even softer (I would go so far as to say marshmallow-y soft) and thicker and more comfortable, but out of my stock of Xbox One headsets, the X300 is as comfortable as anything else I have worn yet.

Since the design is so similar to the PC Siberia Elites, I have to imagine that they will be just as durable. I know that when I first got that headset, I wondered how it would hold up to repeated use. It was light, and that is not to say that they felt cheap, but naturally people tend to equate weight with sturdier build quality. Since the Siberia X300 is so light, it is understandable to have those concerns, but given my experiences with the very similar style and weight set, I have no worries of my own on that particular front.

The sound being delivered by the headset is also worth taking note of. Bass is rich and rumbling, without crackling unless the sound is turned up all of the way and the scene is obscenely loud (like an earthquake scene with explosions and buildings shaking down to their foundation). In those instances you can hear a bit of distortion, but with all but the most extreme examples, you get get quality low bass. Middle to higher tones sound good as well, though perhaps not as pronounced as the bass. That being said, while the audio is quite good, I have heard some headsets that handle subtle surround effects better.

You use an adaptor that helps to hook the headset into the base of the Xbox One controller. It works well, but the buttons can be a bit touchy at first, making the mixing of chat or console audio just a little bit finicky. I love that there is the option to do so, and I tend to make my game sound more pronounced than the chat (I really do not need to hear my buddy Randy yelling in my ear when he tries to figure out how someone shot him from whatever angle). Through some trial and error, I was able to find a reasonable balance I was able to achieve an excellent blend that allowed me to hear my friends (even Randy) while the game itself remained crisp.

The SteelSeries Siberia X300 may very well be the most comfortable console headset I have worn to date. The self-adjusting headband is unique and innovative and it really helps this headset stand out from similar models. It is light, flexible and the memory foam pads not only help seal sound in and out, but are soft and can be worn for hours without discomfort. The sound quality of the headset is quite good, but not the absolute best in class I have worked with over the last few years. Those who like their audio low and full of deep growl will be satisfied when something explodes, but finer, more subtle sounds are not quite as pristine but still quite good. At about one hundred and fifty dollars, this is an excellent mid-range headset for Xbox players, and people with PCs that are happy to use a headset without a microphone.

- Nick H.
US Editor

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Gadget Review: SteelSeries Siberia X300
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