For quite a while now, Coolermasterâ€™s Sirius headset has been my go-to favorite. Itâ€™s not the flashiest nor does it have the softest ear pads Iâ€™ve ever tested. But all around, itâ€™s a great headset. The performance, features and comfort all come together to form the perfect storm of awesomeness. But, Steelseries in particular has some very nice headsets of their own, with one new model thatâ€™s made its way to my doorstep being the Siberia Elite. Can it unseat CMâ€™s Sirius and become my new top recommendation (and is it in any way shape or form worth the sky high $200 asking price)?
Build Quality & Design
Steelseries is a unique gaming hardware manufacturer in that they cater to two sides of the coin: minimalistic in an effort to keep it simple and blend in as well as over the top and attention to detail. The entry level (and many mid and upper-end) mice and keyboards follow the former while headsets tend to go with the latter.
With the Siberia Elite, Steelseries went all out. For starters, theyâ€™re gorgeous to look at no matter which color you get. (I got white.) Something about them is just perfect. With the white model that I have though, the adjustable color that flows from the center of each ear cup just looks bolder and cooler. For those not into flashy lights, take comfort in knowing they can be completely disabled if you so choose.
Iâ€™ll go on record saying that the Sibera Elite have the softest ear pads Iâ€™ve ever felt – on any headphone, not just gaming headsets. You really need to feel it to understand. And thanks to the dual design, floating headband, the top of your skull will get just as much caressing as your ears. Speaking of which, the giant 50mm drivers mean these are strictly over-the-ear (the best kind) design. Outside sound wonâ€™t be getting in (much).
One final thing to note is specifc to the white version. Given that the ear pads are insanely soft, theyâ€™re no doubt magnets for small particles of dirt. Ditto for the soft headband. The black one will no doubt look the same after a couple years of use. The white model I have could very well look dingy and disgusting in six months – a possible problem if that sort of thing bothers you.
For as much attention to detail as Steelseries paid on the design, one would think a higher end headset would also ship with a lot of software and/or hardware features. But really, Steelseriesâ€™ usual minimalism shines through here. The driver for the Sibera Elite allows for only a few adjustments such as changing the LED color and lighting type (solid, breathing, etc.), adjusting mic volume and toggling Dolby HD on/off.
My previous favorite, the Coolermaster Sirius headset has a nifty wired remote that allows for individual adjustment of the different speaker channels (5.1) and dual-USB input. While the dual USB is nice as it allows for more power output (more on that in a minute), it is the added control that I really like. Sadly, while the Sibera Elite does ship with a USB mini-amp of sorts, itâ€™s incredibly simple. Basically, it looks like an adapter with a USB plug for your PC on side and a proprietary micro USB style plug on the other for the headphones themselves.
Two nice features that are the stand out ones include the retractable microphone that spools up inside the left ear cup and, more importantly, the volume control on the right ear cup. Itâ€™s located in the center and turns just as any dial would – a nice example of functional design.
Well, thatâ€™s it. The Coolermaster Siriusâ€™ reign is over. The lack of features and additional volume control via wired remote is a serious â€œdowngradeâ€ in my opinion. However, the sound quality more than makes up for it by itself. The CM Sirius isnâ€™t a bad sounding headset by any means. But it, like many headsets, sounds like a headset. Granted, theyâ€™re geared towards gaming, movies and multi-channel audio whereas traditional music playback headphones are designed entirely differently. Nonetheless, the Sibera Elite excel at both multi-channel audio and music playback.
The large 50mm drivers provide some pretty impressive low end in music. With a little EQ work, the mids and the highs come into place too and make for a great pair of headphones musically speaking. And thatâ€™s a good thing since Steelseries markets these as both a gaming headset and music headphones thanks to the retractable microphone.
Change gears to gaming and things are just as good. The increased bass response means stuff that sounded good on the CM Sirius before now sound great. In-game explosions, gun fire, squealing tires and everything in between sounds heftier and more real. And best of all, because the Siberia Elite are so damn comfortable, all-night gaming sessions are no longer a marathon between breaks to where you can rest your head/ears from the toils of too-tight headphones.
My only complaint with the Sibera Elite is that they only get just loud enough for my liking. Because of the dual-USB connection and wired remote on the Sirius, sound output potential was greater. I never maxed the Sirius out. The Siberia Elite, however, are running at max volume anywhere and everywhere I can find a slider bar. Granted, I am using my motherboardâ€™s onboard audio. But itâ€™s far from a low end model. (It is Gigabyteâ€™s top end Ivy Bridge/P67 model.) Splurging for an upgraded, dedicated sound card would no doubt alleviate my volume issues while also making sound quality even better. Still, most gamers wonâ€™t have a dedicated sound card and as such, might bump up on this volume limit far too often.
If youâ€™re on a budget or use price to factor in headset/headphone purchases, itâ€™s the Siberia Elite is a hard sell. There are many other headsets out there for cheaper, headsets that have very similar sound quality and/or even more features. For myself, though, the simple approach to software combined with the beautiful design, outstanding audio quality and a pair of the most comfortable ear pads ever nudge this to the top of my list. If you care about any of those things I just mentioned and can rationalize the $200 asking price, I wholeheartedly suggest you then proceed to the edge to take that leap of faith. You wonâ€™t regret it.
One of the best headsets on the market