I’m going to be real for a second: we should probably work on abolishing cords altogether when it comes to peripherals. For all the shade I throw at consoles, I can’t deny that wireless controllers and headsets being essentially standard is one of the best things to happen to gaming as a whole in pretty much forever. I’d love to see the wireless paradigm spread to PC gaming as a standard thing rather than something you’d pay a premium for.
We’re not quite there yet, despite all the hay being made at Apple’s “courage” in removing headphone ports, so today let’s check out a wired headset from one of my favorite peripheral companies: SteelSeries’ Siberia 350 Wired Gaming Headset.
The Siberia 350 certainly looks and feels nice, assuming you can get past the whole cord thing! The lightweight “skeleton” style that Steelseries’ headsets are known for is present and accounted for here, and I didn’t have any issues with keeping this thing on through a couple of long sessions in Blizzard’s Overwatch. It’s also got RGB lighting on the ear cups; RGB is one of my favorite features because I’m basically a child who’s easily distracted by shiny things, so it was nice to see here.
As for the sound quality, when the headset’s working as it should it’s pretty solid. You’ve got DTS Headphone:X 7.1 surround sound, which I would assume is nice but which I’m not entirely sure I was experiencing because of the issues I’ll mention in a bit. Generally everything sounded great, though, and I had no issues with music, gaming or just watching videos on YouTube. You’ve got a retractable mic as well which does its job with few complaints, though comments from those I used it with suggested that my desktop-based Blue Microphones’ circular Snowball was superior.
This is where I’d go into specifics about performance and talk about playing various games with this headset…but there’s trouble in paradise, which you probably guessed if you saw the “Nay” rating up at the top of the article. What’s the main reason I’ll give things a “Nay”? Why, technical issues, of course! Those are present and accounted for here.
The elephant in the room is the fact that, both for me and for others I’ve seen around the Internet, this headset really doesn’t like its associated software suite. The SteelSeries Engine 3 software is surprisingly decent and works great in tandem with other SteelSeries products like the Apex M500 mechanical keyboard and the Rival 700 mouse…but if it’s installed, the Siberia 350 just doesn’t feel like working. This happened on both my desktop PC running Windows 10 Anniversary and my Surface Pro 3 running Windows 8.
No amount of tweaking and fiddling will get the headset to do its job as long as the Engine 3 software is present. The only solution I was able to find was removing the software completely, which, naturally, isn’t a great choice for numerous reasons. In particular, the aforementioned mouse and keyboard rely heavily on the Engine 3 software, so if you use other SteelSeries products then removing it’s just not an option. I’m also not entirely sure that the vaunted surround sound option works without the software installed. The headset works decently enough without the software, but it certainly isn’t an ideal solution.
Even after some software updates I still ran into this issue, so we’re kind of stuck. Which is a shame as it’s a nice-looking headset that works fairly well when it feels like working, but that sort of bug isn’t acceptable. Perhaps you’ll have a different experience with SteelSeries’ Siberia 350 Wired Gaming Headset, but as it stands, your precious $120 could get you a decent wireless solution from Skullcandy or PDP. At that price I’d expect a headset that’s still tied down with a cord to work perfectly and perform superlatively on any system configuration, and the Siberia 350…well, it just doesn’t.