My SteelSeries Siberia headset is my favorite pair of headphones. As a gamer, it's important to have a personally compatible, powerful and reliable pair. After a long history of collecting pairs in what I label as my "headphone graveyard", these are the ones that have earned my trust. Longevity is important in something I use daily: audio peripherals have to be solid, and experiencing the deaths of multiple pairs (sometimes in the middle of a game) led me to really love this pair. They are extremely comfortable, sound good, look beautiful and can withstand daily use. By my standards, they are magical. These fit the bill for two of my requirements in new hardware: beautiful design and quality function. While not completely free of a few stylistic hiccups, they absolutely deserve a closer look.
SteelSeries is a Danish manufacturer of gaming peripherals and accessories. The brand was created in 2001 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The SteelSeries Siberia v2 is a full-sized gaming headset with a built-in USB soundcard. They are closed ear style, with an extending, noise-canceling microphone. Included on the cord is a little volume control panel, and a microphone on/off switch. The frost blue illumination is customizable in the downloadable software by SteelSeries, with a variety of added features.
The first thing that drew me to these headphones were its aesthetics. They are quite beautiful. They are all white, with frost-blue illumination on both earcups with 16 bright, glowing LEDs. The pulsing light has customizable intensity (low or high), speed (fast or slow), or they may be fixed to pulse in parallel with sound. While the wearer can’t see the effect while they’re worn, there is something about knowing you look like a pulsing-blue-flame of light that makes you better at gaming. If your gaming setup has an all-white theme like mine, they fit in beautifully. The lights can be disabled entirely, too. While the glowing LEDs are a nifty, playful feature, they aren’t enough to inspire loyalty or love for any headphones. The white theme is simplistic, beautiful and has a minimal-like feel to which initially stole my heart. My only wish as far as aesthetics is that they came with other color options or rainbow fading scheme. If the hardware is sufficient to show blue, certainly they could have added a collection of other colors. I adore the RGB theme that has been coloring the sphere of PC customization. White is still a nice change from the typical all-black or grey color scheme of hardware.
The soul of any headphones is found in their audio quality, which is their whole purpose. Before buying this pair, I was looking for something that could meet my different needs. I wanted something that I could use to: game (with a microphone), listen to music (different genres), watch movies, and work with. The built-in sound card features 50mm driver units offering pristine delivery of sound variance: high, low and mid-tones are executed in a holistic, uniform way. However, when isolating each tier of sound on its own, the mids and highs fall behind. These headphones excel with lows and have deep, heavy punch, but the mids and highs are slightly inferior. In gaming, they are more than ample to provide a sharp, aural perception of your surroundings. The software comes with an equalizer, leaving the user the option to play with the settings. Before this pair of headphones, I alternated between a gaming headset (Razer Carcharias) and a pair of high quality audiophile headphones (Audio-Technica ATH-M50S) for bass music. I wanted a pair of headphones that could operate as the singular twin of those two pairs put together. That’s exactly what I found in the SteelSeries Siberia v2.
I have experience using these headphones for a variety of different games: MMO’s, FPS and RTS games. I’ve used and loved them for: World of Warcraft, Team Fortress 2, and more recently, Tekken 7.
For music on YouTube, .mp3 or .FLAC, these are wonderful. They shine the most with bass-heavy music, not so much with mid or high range music.
For typical media consumption, these headphones are ideal. They are comfortable and can be worn for hours.
If you’re anything like me, the first thing I do with a new pair of headphones is put them on and ask “how do they feel?”. This is the most comfortable pair of headphones I have ever worn. It’s an important and yet most subjective part of a good pair. The extended hours of playing, working and living with them on: they have to be comfortable. There is also that notorious and expected “breaking in” period with new headphones, however, this wasn’t the case with the SteelSeries. They were extraordinarily comfortable right from the beginning. I can wear them comfortably for many, many hours. They don’t lose structural integrity over repeated use or adapting to my head, either. The earcups feature a noise reducing foam that is gentle and comfortable against my ears. They feel like a cloud cuddled itself around my head. Sometimes, I forget I am wearing any headphones at all. The headphone anatomy is simple: there are two steel cables reinforcing the strap that goes over my head. They adjust depending on their stretch, meaning they fit the unique shape and size of my head without pinching my skull or feeling unstable. They rest firmly and comfortably, like they were made to fit me.
The USB input/internal sound card can be a pro or con depending on preference. For me, it’s a pro. They don’t require an amp or an external power source, the headphones are portable (I can use them on my laptop) and they are easy to start using right out of the box. The USB source makes the pair feel more portable, too. The last time I was on a plane, they easily fit into my carry-on backpack (no bulky wires, amps or sound cards to carry).
They have external volume control along the wire, though, this is hardly used by me. My normal protocol is to max out the volume via hardware, and edit volume levels in software. While gaming, I usually have the following sound inputs: game, music and voice. It’s important to have the power to edit the levels in a way that harmonizes with my preferences. The external volume control is handy if I have to mute everything in a snap.
The microphone is a strength. Being retractable in the left ear cup, it is easily hidden. The microphone line itself can be maneuvered, and it feels sturdy. I like this customizability because when a microphone is fixed in place, it might be too close or far away from my mouth, altering the sound quality. I don’t want to sound like I’m eating my mic, or like I’m miles away. My voice sounds crisp and clear. The microphone has not lost any structural durability from constantly being retracted or extended, either.
While it could be due to me overanalyzing, the on/off switch is confusing. The plate is a tiny square that can slide up or down, and it simply says “mic”. Beneath the square plate is a red line, or, if pushed in the opposite direction, the white layer beneath it. I couldn’t tell whether the red line showing meant the mic was on or off. This was important because I didn’t want my friends to hear me yelling at my cats during a particularly stressful boss fight. (That’s never happened, I swear).
The cord length measures shy of five feet long which is too short. My tower sits behind my monitor on my desk, and the wire length is not long enough to reach without being pulled taut. It was easily remedied using a USB extender, however, it would have been perfect if they had added another foot or two to the length of the cord.
I ordered my Steelseries Siberia headphones in July 2015. Nearly two years later, other than some squeakiness (which I attribute to being well-loved, like The Velveteen Rabbit), they are in pristine shape. This is from daily, repeated use for extended hours. While I always try to be careful with my hardware, admittedly there are times I’m less than fragile in their handling. Not only am I happy they can withstand regular, daily use, they regular and imperfect human use. The truth: I have dropped them multiple times and they have been fine. There haven’t been any structural changes or weakening of the parts, they are durable and last for years.
With the headphones comes the optional SteelSeries software engine (which deterred me at first, but the software is not bulky, annoying or hard to navigate). The purpose is direct and straightforward: user customization for both the aesthetics and audio parts of the headphones. The equalizer lets me choose different presets, or tinker with the levels myself. The LED button opens a panel that allows for playing with brightness and light effects: breathe, steady or the audio volume trigger (sound transmitted into light effects). They are fun to play with. My preset is always on breathe at its slowest, brightest level. The software doesn’t pull a lot of memory, so it is easy to keep open 24/7.
The SteelSeries Siberia v2 headphones are beyond ideal for my needs. When at my computer, I’m a myriad of different things: a PC gamer, a writer, an internet surfer or simply someone who listens to music. I game, play, work, and spend hours upon hours at my desk. They are comfortable, high quality (in both sound and design), playful, beautiful, portable and durable. The fact they are so versatile and suit my different purposes elevated them to be my favorite pair of headphones. The pros outweigh the cons by more than a slight margin. I only have two minor dislikes, and neither of them are serious enough to dissuade me from genuinely loving or recommending them. My dislikes are only design features that caused me to wonder what their purpose was (cord length, microphone on/off switch). Of course, any hardware comes with an acclimation period that includes personal tweaking or adjusting: that’s how we make our new toy into a tool, and that’s how we make it ours. Whether I’m blowing stuff up in-game while laughing with my friends, listening to music or getting work done: in the headphones world, these are the ones I always reach for.
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