Gaming Headset Final Thoughts
This was my first experience with any headset from SteelSeries. I’ve been impressed with the other SteelSeries peripherals I’ve used (mice and keyboards), and I expected more of that SteelSeries touch with the legendary Siberia line of headsets. First, and most importantly, I love the sound stage. It’s incredibly immersive, it’s powerful, it makes gaming more fun. It lacks a bit on the low end, but that helps everything sound more crisp anyway. I also consider myself fortunate I finally got to sample the notorious comfort of the SteelSeries Siberia headsets – even with glasses I didn’t experience any discomfort after 5+ hour gaming sessions. I’m sure there are better headsets out there, but I’m satisfied with the sound and comfort of the Siberia 350. It’s a bit unfortunate that any USB headset can’t take advantage of dedicated sound cards for even more audio punch, but something like the Siberia 350 is perfect for my mini-ITX gaming build (which doesn’t have room for one).
The microphone was a different story. Perhaps it was the USB3.0 port I was using, but the microphone was bad enough over TeamSpeak3 to have some online friends immediately complain (and request that I switch back to my previous headset/mic). This was using both the Opus Voice and Opus Music codecs, and the same settings as all of my microphones. While my voice was clear enough, the quality just wasn’t up to par – especially considering the price. There is always the possibility that I missed a setting somewhere, but switching back to my previous headset solved my issue. It wasn’t that my teammates couldn’t hear me, they just all preferred the sound from my previous microphone rather than the harsher (but still very clear) SteelSeries mic. I tried speaking with all manner of volume settings and with the auto optimization feature on and off, but nothing prevented me from sounding “tinny.” To be fair, in a vacuum, no one would have likely noticed – and whatever compression SteelSeries is using to get their “crystal clear” sound is more than likely removing the lower frequencies from my voice in order to clean up the signal. The best tone I got was about 50% mic volume with the “Mic Auto Optimization” feature turned on – again, it likely wouldn’t have been an issue if this was the only headset I’ve spoken with my teammates online, but coming straight from another headset the difference was impossible to ignore.
I hesitated to add this next bit, given the new status of the drivers in SteelSeries Engine 3 for the Siberia 350, and it could be something with my configuration as well – but it’s worth mentioning, as it appears I may not be the only one. I had trouble changing colors and other settings within the Siberia 350 configuration tool – most settings could only be changed once, and it generally required a removal/reinsert cycle to “take.” All of the settings seemed to work, but after that first change nothing else seemed to actually function until you unplug the headset and try again. I would anticipate if this is an issue with SSE3 it would be resolved eventually, but that isn’t something a new recipient of a $120 headset is going to appreciate.
EDIT: For what it’s worth, a fresh install of SSE3 on a Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit system didn’t experience the same issues as the Windows 10 system above. I was able to configure all settings as expected and without any problems – I’ve adjusted the final score up from my initial figure, but those with Win10 machines may want to take note regardless. Given the rapid adoption of Windows 10 as an OS, it’s something many users may still encounter.
SteelSeries Siberia 350 Conclusion
Before I conclude, there’s a few things to keep in mind. Headsets in general are pretty subjective – all the graphs / curves / features won’t make a difference if you don’t like how they feel on your head (or if you don’t want to be seen wearing them!). Everyone has different tastes and opinions for how their favorite music and games are supposed to sound, so personal preference ends up playing a big part with any headset. If you demand the absolute best sound, you really shouldn’t be looking at devices under $300 anyway – there’s obviously better sounding headphones available if you’re willing to pay for them, but this review was written with computer enthusiasts in mind that want a single device to game/chat with their friends/listen to music. With those things in mind, let’s talk about the SteelSeries Siberia 350.
The Siberia 350 headset performed well. I wasn’t completely blown away, mind you, but for single-player games or any game that spent any time on their audio, the enhanced sound stage provided by the DTS: Headphone X tech added that extra layer of immersion and really made playing games a bit more fun. Other than a very slight buzz/white noise when connected (it’s virtually inaudible and may just be a result of using a front panel USB port – the cord isn’t long enough to reach to the back…) I don’t have any complaints about the audio delivery, but the microphone – while clear, and probably okay with nothing to compare it to – garnered a few complaints from fellow gamers on TeamSpeak compared to other headsets.
I’ve always like the appearance of the Siberia headsets from SteelSeries, and the Siberia 350 is no exception. The added splash of LED color and overall design makes for a very attractive bit of kit. Some headsets look clunky or boring – the Siberia 350 is svelte and interesting. It’s a very good looking headset, in my opinion.
That appearance reflects an overall level of quality. I didn’t experience any issues with the construction of the Siberia 350 headset, and I got the impression it would hold up just as well as any gaming audio device on the market. In addition to the solid construction, they were very comfortable in use – I’d easily rate them among the top three of any headset I’ve personally tried for level of comfort.
The functionality provided by the Siberia 350 is adequate, but your personal tastes will make or break this category. If you are after some GameSense features or really like the Prism/LED lighting, the Siberia 350s will provide that – along with some DTS surround technologies – in a familiar Siberia package. If you aren’t looking for that extra bit of lighting customization and prefer to use a discrete sound card/amp with your headsets, the Siberia 350 won’t have the functionality you’re looking for.
I think the reason why I’m so torn on the Siberia 350 is due to the final category: value. As of May 2016, the SteelSeries Siberia 350 retails online for $106.99 (Newegg | Amazon). While that’s a bit down from the launch price of $119.99, I can’t shake the nagging feeling that I’d have a better experience purchasing an older Siberia v2 headset for $50 and spending the difference on a dedicated sound card to attain the Dolby/DTS technologies and effects. If it’s the lighting that makes you tick, Logitech’s G633 Artemis RGB headset is a $20 jump up from the $120 retail price of the Siberia 350s, or an equal jump down to $100 nets one of Corsair’s Void Wireless 7.1 RGB headsets. Really, the price isn’t out of line with the rest of the gaming headset market – I just wasn’t as impressed with $120 of gaming headset as I felt I should be. Your experience might very well be different, but I found myself reaching back for my Func HS-260 headset towards the end of my experience with the Siberia 350.
While I still enjoyed solo gaming with the SteelSeries Siberia 350 headset due to the plush comfort and immersive sound, I feel like you’d have a better audio experience with a $50-$80 headset and a dedicated $50 sound card to drive them. For a certain range of (mini-ITX) builds or for those that appreciate the lighting effects, this type of USB headset might make a lot more sense. For me, I’m not sure I would have moved past the $80 range to attain the extra features of the Siberia 350 over the Siberia 200 or other similar headsets. Those that are looking for the specific features offered by the Siberia 350 more than likely won’t be disappointed, but there are some remaining issues that make me wary of paying full price for this headset over other similar offerings.
+ One of the most comfortable headsets I’ve reviewed
+ Self-adjusting suspension headband is legendary for a good reason
+ Memory foam ear pads are luxurious
+ Sound is truly immersive, enhances gameplay
+ LEDs can be customized to match any system with potential for in-game effects
Software struggles to adjust more than one setting a session (EDIT: Doesn’t seem to be an issue on Windows 7)
– Microphone – while clear – drew complaints from teammates
– Relatively short USB cable, not compatible with any other audio device (mobile, etc.)