Game On (And On) With These Stunningly Superb Siberia Elite Gaming Headphones [Review]



Gaming headsets are quite the rage lately, with products from Turtle Beach, Logitech, and Sony gracing any decent gaming aisle at your favorite retailer.

Siberia Elite Gaming Headset by SteelSeries
Category: Headsets
Works With: Mac, iPhone, Android, PCs
Price: $199.00

SteelSeries has a long history of providing high quality gaming peripherals, like mice, keyboards, and controllers, for the high-end PC gaming market. They’ve recently made some fantastic forays into iOS gaming peripherals, as well, like the SteelSeries Free controller for iPad and iPhone.

These Siberia Elites, then, have a fantastic pedigree at a fairly competitive price, and I’ve fallen in love with their sound, build quality, and fancy extras.

First up, a set of gaming headphones should sound amazing. Anything that costs more than a pair of Apple $20 Earpods, in my opinion, should sound good enough. A pair of two hundred dollar headphones? Yes, they should sound that much better.

They just sound amazing.
They just sound amazing.
Luckily, SteelSeries got this part of the equation dead on. The Siberia Elite headphones sound amazing. The secret, in addition to the large, high quality speaker drivers, is in the USB digital sound card. Yes, this is a set of headphones with its own portable sound card. I simply plugged the white dongle into my Mac’s USB port, chose the headset in my sound preferences, and I was up and running.

Add to that a fairly intuitive software package to customize the sound with the 10-band EQ presets and available Dolby ProLogic IIx with up to 7.1 channel surround sound, and you’ve got a perfect audio environment for all kinds of games, especially those like first-person shooters that use spatial sound cues.

The SteelSeries Engine 3 also provides control of the LEDs on the outside of each earcup, letting users create their own visual style with a steady, pulsing, or volume-responsive LED light show. While it’s definitely on the “extra” side of things, it’s fun to at least easily choose a color that I like, rather than be stuck with the default orange, which doesn’t look too bad in any case.

Purple LEDs rule.
Purple LEDs rule.
The other thing that expensive headphones should do is provide a great user experience. I’m not a huge fan of fiddling with an inline microphone control on the wire of some gaming headsets. The Siberian Elites have a clever resolution to that issue: controls on the earcups. Want to mute the mic? Turn the knob on the left earcup. Want to turn down the volume to hear your spouse calling you for dinner? Turn it down (or up!) with the rotating knob on the right ear cup. Each dial is large, and easily used without having to look at it.

The mic is a fully functional noise-canceling affair that stores inside the left ear cup easily and quickly. All I had to do to activate it was pull it out towards my mouth, adjust it slightly with the bendy arm, and I was talking trash with my teammates in no time. The end of the mic tip even lights up so I know it’s working. Brilliant!

I’ve fallen in love with their sound, build quality, and fancy extras.

There’s even a headphone port in the right ear cup itself that lets users attache a second pair of headphones to share the audio coming through the Elites. It’s a fantastic nod to gamers who like to play with others in the same room.

Sooooo comfy.
Sooooo comfy.
The comfort of these headphones cannot be overstated. The self-adjusting headband allows for a rather diverse fit across a range of head types, and I really enjoy not having to manually adjust the headband every time I let my kid try the things on. The ear cups are huge, plush, soft things, full of sound-isolating memory phone and covered by a soft leather. The headband is made of a similar cloudy joy, and I forgot I was wearing the headphones during a particularly fantastic evening-long session of Borderlands 2 the other day.

In addition to all of the above, there are two included adapters in the box, with a Apple iOS-style three banded 1/8 inch headphone jack that attaches easily to any iPhone or iPad (or other audio out port) I found in the house. The second adapter would allow me to attach the headphones to an older Windows PC, with separate mic and headphone jacks, not that I own any such thing these days. There’s also an included extension cable which came in handy when I played said Borderlands 2 on my Mac mini connected to the giant TV in my living room.

This excess of attachments and dongles comes with a price, of course, in that I was hard pressed to keep track of them all. Having to manage the headset adapters means that many users will end up leaving these at home when they head out into the world, and may forego using them if the correct audio dongle is unavailable.

Overall, the Siberia Elite Gaming Headset, available in both black and white variations, is an excellent choice for its lower cost, incredibly well made design, comfortable wearability, and high performance audio.

DSC04944Product Name: : SteelSeries Siberia Elite Gaming Headset
The Good: Extremely comfortable, incredible sounding, customizable LED and audio, compatible with any sound source
The Bad: Too many dongles.
The Verdict For those looking for a best in class wired gaming headset for a competitive price, the Siberia Elite is a fantastic choice. The comfort, quality, and pure sound performance of this gaming headset rivals much more expensive models.
Buy from: SteelSeries



Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.