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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Gadget Review: SteelSeries Siberia 200 (PC)

The SteelSeries Siberia 200 has a familiar look and feel to it - and with good reason. This is an refresh or an update on the popular Siberia v2 gaming headset. It's a welcome return, considering that the Siberia v2 has been among one of the best budget headsets for PC users in recent years.

Eventually, the StelSeries Siberia will come in seven colours, though not all are available at this time. Currently there is black, white and Alchemy Gold. I personally preferred the understated black, which has an orange underside to the headband, the familiar SteelSeries logo on the side and everything else a nice dark black. Future varieties will include Forged Red, Gaia Green, Proton Yellow and Sakura Purple.

Powered by 50mm speaker drivers, I would classify the sound as very good. Keeping in mind that these are an eighty dollar headset, the quality is better than a lot of comparably priced models out there. It is not slanted towards overwhelming bass, so if you are looking for that deep, rumbling growl of an explosion or gunshot these will prove adequate but hardly best in class. However, if you value clear, precise sound, these are among the best I have seen for under a hundred bucks.

The cups securely wrap around my ears, pressing flat to my head while the range of sound gives an immersive experience. While they do not fully cancel out noise from the room, they did a very good job of keeping the sound I wanted in (games) and the sound I didn't want out (kids). I tested with a variety of games, but first-person shooters are my go-to for trying to gauge environmental sounds. Footsteps, subtle rumbles and gunfire are all well represented in this headset, and they were far better are representing directional audio than comparable headsets of the same weight class.

Some of the design choices are standard fare for SteelSeries, but then, why would they change what already works? The retractable boom microphone has a flexible design that holds firmly in place when extended. It picks up audio quite nicely. It is unidirectional and I did not note any noise cancelling when I was in group chats with friends. That made for crisp audio that they could hear from me, though there were times ambient sound in my room (also known as kids, again) was picked up by my party. The padded earcups use a leather-like breathable material that is very comfortable. It's not quite as soft and fluffy as the SteelSeries Siberia Elite Prism headset, but honestly few headsets are that comfortable. Still, I was able to wear this headset for a couple of hours and change straight, and while my ears were a little warm, my head did not hurt from the pressure of the cups nor were the sides of my head a big sweaty mess.

One of my favourite SteelSeries designs makes a return as well in the suspension headband. This evenly distributes the weight of the headset, but more than that, it also offers a perfect fit every time with no manual adjustment. If I want to sit down and use them after my son has, I do not need to stretch out the bands and try to get a good fit. I just put them on. Because the weight distributes so well, like the aforementioned earcups, I could wear this set for a good long while and never really grew uncomfortable with them.

One big difference from some of the other SteelSeries headsets is that this one uses 3.5mm male connections for the audio and the microphone. It also comes with a Y-adaptor to unify the connection for those working with a mobile device or some laptops. The lack of a USB connection was something of a surprise, but this makes it more versatile and is worth calling out.

If you are in the market for a new PC headset and are operating under a lower to midrange budget, the SteelSeries Siberia 200 is one of the best you are going to find in this range. Admittedly I am grading on a curve here. If you are looking for a wireless connection or even greater range of sound and are willing to spend, an offering like the $300 Siberia 800 or $150 Siberia Elite Prism might be more to your liking, but in this range the Siberia 200 is about as good as it gets. The sound quality is great overall, especially for gaming, the build design is comfortable and light and continues the SteelSeries trend of offering some of the most comfortable headsets in the business.

- Nick H.
US Editor

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Gadget Review: SteelSeries Siberia 200 (PC)
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