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Posted by Caitlyn Muncy on Jan 23, 2012

Review – Roccat Kave 5.1

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When you’re looking for a headset, function and comfort are the main priorities. If it’s aesthetically pleasing to look at, that’s great and all, but if the quality is crap and it’s super uncomfortable, there’s no use in putting any money into it. To find a headset that encompasses all three aspects, and a reasonable price is somewhat of a rarity.

Roccat is a German gaming peripheral designer that has just come to the states this year, and made their big debut at CES 2012. They have an astounding eye for detail when it comes to packaging, and their product looks the part of a very professional grade. My review last week of the Roccat Kone [+] mouse was nothing but praise, and rightfully so, but I am sad to say that theRoccat Kave 5.1 headset doesn’t deserve such praiseworthy speech.

First Look

As I said in my previous review, upon first opening it, I was impressed by the quality of the packaging, as well as the look and feel of the product itself. It was immediately apparent that the ear cups folded up, which is great for whenever you’d need to travel with them. The exterior of the ear cups are coated in smooth rubber, while everything else but the padding was a matte plastic. The padding for the ear cups were covered in a sort of faux leather, as were the three headband pads. Roccat was very particular in stating that their ear cups had been hand sewn, and while I can’t tell hand-sewn from factory, it is certainly a noteworthy feature.

The headset is predominantly black, the only other colors being grey to delineate Left and Right, the title of the headset, and light blue for the logo as well as the company name. The mic was detachable, and has a LED ring to indicate which side the mic plugs into. It is on this side, about an inch under the mic that the 11.2 foot long cord is attached. That sounds exceedingly long, but is only because it is broken up by the desktop remote, and the splitter. Although it is powered by USB, the headset is actually analog, coming with four 3.5mm jack plugs.

The desktop remote is the central management for all volume functions. On the right side of the box is a switch to give you the option between game and movie mode, and sliders that give you the ability to adjust sub, front, rear, and center volume. All are hidden by a hinged door so they can’t be moved on accident. For the left side of the remote, there is a master control for the volume which is a smooth, rubber coated ring that clicks when turned. On the side of the box is a button that will mute your mic. A blue LED on the tip of the microphone will indicate that is muted, which is great for those of you who think you have turned off your mic, only to find out that you’re still live.

Comfort

This is the section that really sort of ruined these headphones for me. While the ear cups were extremely comfortable and fit over my ears perfectly, the three pads on the headband nearly gave me a migraine. They were put there for equal weight distribution so that it will fit your head perfectly. While it did fit snugly, if it wasn’t perfectly perched on my head, it was actually somewhat painful. I thought it might be something that I would get used to over time, but I made this my primary source for sound for a few weeks, and I’m sad to say that it is still as bad as day one. Maybe it’s just me, but this could definitely do with a bit more padding along the head band.

Audio Quality

The performance of these headphones was rather exceptional. The simulated 5.1 surround sound made sure that no detail was left unheard. Having vibration within the ear cups definitely further immersed me into whatever game I was playing. If a dragon was roaring at me, I actually felt the vibration of his roar. Not to mention that the padding was wonderful at isolation. You won’t hear the doorbell, or even your phone ringing right in front of you with these on.

Sound was also directionally precise, coming out of the 40mm speakers at a 12 degree angle, which means it’s going to be hard for anyone to sneak up behind or beside you, as you’re not missing a scrap of sound from any direction. Adjusting the sliders for specific parts of the volume was helpful, but I never noticed much difference between the game and movie modes.

Conclusion

Although I found the performance of this headset to be wonderful, I wouldn’t purchase them at their $110 asking price. The look and function were all above standard quality, but the fact that I was quite often aware of how painful the headset was to use really deterred me from it. However, there is the possibility that this is an individual occurrence, and may not have the same effect on others. If you are interested in the sound quality of this headset, I encourage you to try them out. It was painful for me on day one, so it should be very telling within a short amount of time whether or not they will be a good fit for you.

The Good

  • Professional standard
  • Excellent audio quality

The Bad

  • Extremely uncomfortable, painfully so
  • No difference between game and movie mode

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