Testing & Results
Headset Testing Methodology
The ROCCAT Kave XTD 5.1 Digital headset was tested with a variety of games, music and movies/TV shows. Since sound perception is very subjective, for my testing I decided to focus primarily on the perceived sound quality as well as the functionality of the features listed on ROCCAT’s website for this headset. This headset was tested with World of Tanks, Battlefield 4, Titanfall, and Borderlands 2 for 30+ hours respectively.
Motherboard: ASUS Sabertooth Z87
System Memory: Corsair XMS3 4GB x 4
Processor: Intel i7-4770K Haswell @ 3.5 Ghz
Audio: N/A (As this is a USB Headset)
Video: XFX Double Dissipation R9-290X (4GB)
PSU: Corsair HX Series 1000HX
Monitor: Dell UltraSharp U2412M IPS 24? x 3 @ 5760×1200
Operating System: Windows 7 Ultimate (64-bit)
Headset Test Results
Real 5.1 Surround Sound: I do understand the marketing here about the 5.1 surround, but unfortunately, a real 5.1 surround does not have the subwoofer and center channel drivers act as one. Now I’m not saying that you don’t get some surround sound effect, just not what I would call “real” 5.1 surround. The surround sound mode proved effective for gaming and movies, but quite tinny when listening to music. The directional effect that you try to obtain with surround sound gaming was there, but not as dynamic as I would have liked.
Premium Inbuilt Multi-Channel Sound Card: The sound card that is built into all USB headsets is sometimes very very good and sometimes very very bad. The sound card built into the ROCCAT Kave XTD 5.1 Digital is on the good side of that equation. It’s not audiophile quality by no means, but it is better than many other headset manufacturer’s sound cards currently on the market. I found that the software that controlled the sound card to be well written and loaded with features.
Smartphone to Headset Bluetooth Pairing: This feature in one word is awesome. Having the ability to answer your phone while gaming, or listening to music or a movie is very convenient. There were only two things I found lacking about this functionality, it’s that your “computer mic” doesn’t mute while you’re talking on the phone and that sound from the computer completely mutes. Now don’t get me wrong, in some instances I’m sure you would want all of your sound to mute while your using Bluetooth, but then again if you’re in the middle of a game, you might want to still be able to hear a little something.
Fully-Equipped Desktop Remote: This is marketed as “total audio control at your fingertips” and it does just that. You can control many of the basic functions, such as front, rear, subwoofer sound levels, directly from the remote without starting the software. You even have a preset “Movie” button on the left hand side of the remote to enable movie mode which changes the listening dynamics to better suite while watching a movie.The remote also features buttons to control your smartphone, mute all sound or mute just your microphone. There are even speaker jacks on the back for you to hook up your desktop speakers and create a pass-through function that you can you enable/disable with the “SPKRS” button on the upper right of the remote.
Supreme Comfort: Ultra Light Design: This feature statement I can completely agree with. The lightweight and plush padding makes long gaming sessions a breeze. Although the ear-cups material is a faux leather and will probably not last the test of time.
Noise-Canceling Mic with Mute LED: The microphone on the Kave XTD 5.1 is very, very nice. Noise cancelling, maybe some, but the best feature is the clarity of your voice being transmitted. My teammates had no problem understanding me and reported not hearing any anomalies or any “hallway” effect to my voice. The mute LED is a nice addition that gives you a visual indicator as to rather or not you microphone is live. All I can add is a thank you for ROCCAT not making that LED be illuminated all the time as it would be quite annoying sitting directly in front of your face.
Robust and Durable Engineering: This is a bold statement that many manufacturers make. I do agree with the statement to some degree on certain areas of this headset. Primarily the cans and headband don’t seem as if they would break easily. The remote seems very sturdy as well, but the ear-cup material leaves a lot to bet desired as the faux leather material will undoubtedly fail long before the rest of the headset does. But only time will tell.
5.1 Speaker Ports Feature in Remote: This feature is actually quite cool, and a little misleading. When I first read it on their site, I assumed that it would power and control a set of speakers, but as the only power source for this headset is one USB cable, that could not possibly work. Still, nevertheless, it is a really cool feature. You hook up your existing system to the back of the remote instead of your PC and you have a nice and easy switch between headset and speakers.
Tangle-Proof 3.6M Cable: This feature is to help with distraction free gaming and keep your cord tidy. While I agree that it does not seem to tangle easily, it does stick to skin quite a bit. A braided cord would have been a nice and needed addition to this beefy cable.
Sound quality, as mentioned before, is very subjective. My perceived impression of the Kave XTD was that it did well with the Lows and High with a somewhat muddy mid-range. The vocals did come over very well, as did the instruments. Clarity was better than most headsets but not as good as mid to high end headphones. For the price and considering that this is a headset and not headphones, it did very well. See Final Thoughts for more of my opinion on headsets.