Beyerdynamic is synonymous with German precision and there’s little question that their headphones are favored among avid listeners. Then there’s the matter of gaming headsets, a category dominated by everything not subtle about audio with aggressive looks and even more booming presentation. Knowing this, the CUSTOM Game is a different type of headset than what we’re accustomed to.
Looks Like a Beyerdynamic
So what’s the difference compared to the likes of ASTRO (A20) or Turtle Beach (Elite Pro)? It’s apparent that the CUSTOM Game doesn’t stray far in looks and retains much of Beyerdynamic’s traditional cues. It’s wired and subdued with solid Y-shaped metal arms that pivot the leatherette over-ear pads vertically. The earcups themselves are heavily padded and the headband is equally decked out to comfortably fit all sizes of heads, the latter of which is plush and replaceable with Velcro fittings. What is different are the adjustable bass port sliders on each side, which work physically as analog reflex equalizers.
The boom microphone is completely integrated into the main detachable cable and separate from the headset itself — along with the in-line remote — that has a volume dial, mic mute toggle switch, and a multifunction button for phone calls. Because this is handled by a 3.5mm connection it is compatible with just about anything that has a headphone jack, and you also get a separate mic/line adapter for PC arrangements with a 6.35mm (¼”) jack as standard. Just be careful not to lose the microphone attachment or else you will be screwed.
One exterior feature that actually stands out are the flattened oval backs on each cup. This is where six included reversible covers can be swapped (with hex wrench) for a semi-unique appearance. Each tab is made of glossy cardboard paper with artwork on opposite sides for mix and matching, or you can even make your own. It’s an obtuse addition but it’s an easy way for people to show off their individuality, which is a thoughtful touch.
Bass and Reflex Ports
I want to jump right into what makes the CUSTOM Game different against its contemporaries. Other gaming headsets within this price range will pile on wireless features and often equipped with some sort of digital surround technology for extra oomph, but this headset opts for a straightforward approach that doesn’t bother with unnecessary gimmicks, although the bass slider mechanism might be debatable.
There is nothing complicated to how the bass slider works, as you’re simply opening or concealing ports with plastic levers to control low-end emphasis. The concept is completely analog but the execution is mildly effective with four levels to choose from: ‘Light Bass’ which covers all the ports for noisy environments, ‘Linear’ for wholly balanced frequencies, ‘Vibrant Bass’ is suitable for elevated bass along with ambient sound, and finally ‘Heavy Bass’ that opens up all the reflex vents for full-on gaming at home. For some people this approach to immersive audio might be a little convoluted.
Performance and Microphone
Audio performance is excellent overall, albeit sound balance is neutral as far as gaming headsets go. In many respects, this is a desirable characteristic among regular audiophiles who listen to music passionately. Prime examples were jazz renditions of Roberta Piket’s ‘West Coast Trio’ album and vocals from Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation 1814” put the CUSTOM Game right in their unaltered sweet spot.
But we’re talking about gaming and this is where things can go either way depending on your expectations. The CUSTOM Game has a profile that is clean to an absolute fault, that it’s hard to think of them as a gaming headset without the bass response enabled — in fact, if it weren’t for these adjustments then they’d actually come off as flat for H1Z1 or Overwatch. We quickly preferred keeping the ports all the way open for the best low-end effects and general presentation, everything from bombastic explosions and the punchy unloading of ammo into opponents was thoroughly managed. It won’t rattle your fillings or blow your mind to exaggerated levels, but lateral direction and stereo mixing is succinct.
If anything, for the relative downplay of acoustic drama the microphone is in a class of its own. This is probably the best attribute the Custom Game has to offer with transmission sensitivity correctly dialed in upon first use. Other game microphones I’ve reviewed prior can’t hold a candle to the CUSTOM Game on voice clarity, or rejecting background noise for in-game chatting or phone conversations.
We applaud Beyerdynamic for venturing out of their natural hi-fi zone with gaming headsets, and their CUSTOM Game is supposed to be the least expensive follow-up from the existing MMX 300 flagship. However, features like the bass response adjuster feels mildly experimental than breakthrough, while the microphone is oppositely one the best vocal booms I’ve ever used. It’s an odd contrast, but the CUSTOM Game works well enough to attract discerning players yearning for a blend of classier audio, we know they’re out there.