Spoiled for choice is a term that comes to mind while browsing SteelSeries’ range of headsets. There’s several versions of their Siberia headsets available, in various colours and designs, one of the most recent being the SteelSeries Diablo III Headset. It takes the base design of the Siberia v2, adds some new features, and gets a redesign that makes it a worthy-looking piece of loot by anybody’s standards.
So, the beginning is always a good place to start — what’s in the box? Or even how is the box? I mention this, because the plastic insert that holds the headset in place is coated in a velvet-like feeling material — it was like opening a chest, lined with red velvet. Yes, the actual box had me feeling like I’d just opened something from within Blizzard’s game. Anyhow, inside the (loot) box is the headset, a 2 metre extension cable, a quickstart guide and a SteelSeries sticker. As ever, SteelSeries points us to their site for the most up-to-date drivers rather than including a disc.
Looking past the box. While the headset is based upon the Siberia, there’s barely a part of it that hasn’t been toouched by the hand of Diablo to create this beautiful piece of kit. The earcups are black and red, with little points and ridges that give off a gothic type of look. The cable is braided in red and black to match, while atop the suspended head-rest is a Diablo logo in a not-too-obvious grey colour. It just looks amazing, and really comes to life once it’s plugged in and glowing with red illumination around the earcups and on the arms. Anybody that sees this is definitely going to throw you a, “that’s a cool headset” comment, whether they know what Diablo is or not.
It has the featureset to match too. The 50mm drivers that sit in each earcup can be setup with a full equalizer that sits within the SteelSeries Engine software. The earcups themselves feature a leather-covered, noise reducing foam. The cable holds the expected volume control, as well as a switch to mute/unmute the microphone, which itself is retractable and disappears into the left earcup when you’re not using it. Quite possibly my favourite feature, though, is the active noise-cancelling microphone — which definitely works. I was certain that the other half’s decision to put the washing machine on would ruin my communication with teammates during a game of SMITE, but while I could hear it, nobody else could hear a thing aside from my voice. If you regularly game in a noisy environment, like me, this is really going to be a useful thing to have on your headset.
Things sound good on my side too. The earcups block out a certain amount of background noise while no sound is playing (my computer fans, for example), and the preset equalization options offer a totally simple way to adjust the sound depending on what you’re doing at the time. The ‘performance’ setting helps you pick out in-game sounds, such as enemies creeping up on you. ‘Immersion is great for those deep single player moments, while the ‘entertainment’, ‘music’ and ‘voice’ settings, are all pretty self-explanatory. If those don’t quite fit your needs, or you just like fiddling with things, there’s five EQ sliders that allow for fully customised settings. Being a USB only headset, I was concerned that bypassing my sound card might be a horribly noticable move, it really wasn’t. While sound is always going to be a very subjective thing, the Diablo Headset performs very well in a wide range of audio purposes, in my eyes (or ears). I noticed little background sounds in StarCraft II that I hadn’t before, and I play a lot of StarCraft.
Comfort is nearly as important as anything in a headset. It can sound like a real orchestra is performing inside your brain, but if the headset hurts your head and you take it off… you’re not hearing anything. As with the Siberia, this headset uses a suspension design to ensure as much comfort as possible. The part that sits atop your head is attached to the headset by a sort of extendable cable system. Rather than having to adjust the headset to fit your head, the cable naturally pulls out to the exact length required when someone puts it on. It’s comfortable to the stage where I’ve done that ‘getting up and trying to walk away from a gaming session, forgetting my head is still plugged into the computer’ thing. It seems pretty sturdy, the cabling is made of metal and I’ve given it a few good tugs — it doesn’t seem like it’ll break unless you really mistreat it.
As a typical Englishman, I’m always trying to pick faults with things I’m reviewing. But to find anything here, I have to be real picky. One thing is that the microphone mute switch doesn’t actually indicate which side is on and off, but after about three times you’ll remember forever that ‘up’ means the microphone is on. It’d also have been nice if the 2 metre extension cable was braided like the cable from the headset, but that’s also rarely going to be looked at when it’s plugged into the back of your PC. The only real problem for me is the price. Aside from the Diablo design (which I still think is strikingly good-looking), I think the new noise-cancelling microphone and the decision to use USB only are the only real changes from a Siberia v2 — with the asking prices being between 50-100% more than a Siberia, depending where you buy, you might have to really want that red lighting to justify the extra money.
This is one of the most comfortable headsets I’ve used, it’s definitely the best-looking, and I can’t fault the sound (unless I was desperate for a surround sound headset), but at the RRP of £119.99 I feel it’d be a tough purchase. I have seen it at a few retailers for around the £85-90 mark, at which point it becomes a whole lot more tempting. As well as more competitive in its price-bracket.
- 3.2m/10.5ft total chord legth (with included extension)
- Gold plated USB connection
- Leather-covered, noise-cancelling earcup cushions
- Adjustable red illumination
- 50mm drivers
- Uni-directional, noise-cancelling microphone which retracts into earcup