Professional and Impressive
If the Master Chef wore a headset while he played his own games on PC, it would probably be the Sennheiser GSP 550 with 7.1 surround sound. Not only does this headset sound great, the durable design looks like an extension of John 117’s armor and is one of the most impressive headsets I have put on my head.
The biggest kicker behind this $249 unit is the included 7.1 Dolby surround sound support. This headset doesn’t sound great, it sounds awesome. Any hardcore gamer needs a headset like this as it drastically enhances the overall game experience. This Sennheiser system also sounds clearer in comparison to other headsets of similar price due to the multiple profiles built into the software that runs this headset. There is a setting for gaming, esports, an off position for neutral performance and even an option dedicated for listing to music. The user also has the ability to switch from 7.1 surround to stereo with the touch of a button.
Even though the sound quality is very high, my favorite element of this 550 unit are the ear cups. Each cup is made of thick, soft, but breathable material. The picture below doesn’t do it justice but wish my mattress was made out of this stuff. The ear cups are not noise canceling but that shouldn’t be a deterrent as the sound quality is so high. However, the ear cups wouldn’t be what they are without the uniquely designed headband. Housed within superb padding, the headband is adjustable on two axis to ensure they can accommodate any head size. This customization really is top tier. If you have the opportunity to wear one these headsets at a kiosk or something, even if you don’t buy it, it is still encouraged so you understand what a luxury headset should feel like.
The microphone also carries sound profile options just like the incoming audio. Making these adjustments in the software is easy and allows the user to modify the amount of sound coming from their own voice. Like many other headsets, muting is performed by lifting the mic all the way in the up position and is not removable. When tucked away, the mic will not interfere with the rest of the gaming experience as it stays in place and out of sight.
Another important aspect to mention is the overall construction of the unit. This unit is solid, again, just like an extension of the Master Chief’s armor. While I personally did not test it, the 550 feels like it would not only survive an accidental drop on a hardwood floor, it should hold up when bouncing around in a backpack or suitcase. For example, holding the unit from the headband and shaking back and forth reveals little wobble and the thick construction can be felt. This headset is designed for heavy use and is backed with a 2-year warranty as well.
As great as this headset is there are still some downfalls. First, and the biggest flaw, this headset is for PC gamers only; it will not work on your Xbox One or PS4. Well, to be clear, your new gen console will recognize the headset but it will treat it like the cheap mono-chat headset that came with your machine. In other words, you will only get mono sound and can use the mic to talk through Xbox Live or PS+. Not being able to pull the awesome 7.1 surround sound to the headset through your Xbox One or PS4 is a huge flaw and missed opportunity. The reason why consoles cannot take advantage of the outstanding sound features is that the unit needs software to run. This software is only available to be downloaded and installed on a PC, not a console. But it is through this software that the user can make adjustments to the audio profiles and unlock the 7.1 surround option. For $249 dollars, users might still prefer units like the Astro A40 (wired) or the wireless A50 for $50 more which can be used across multiple platforms. And even though this headset is highly durable, it would have been nice if a carrying case was included. However, the box that the unit ships in is compact as it is lined with thick padding; it looks like something James Bond would open. There is just no handle or anything cool that might come with a case.
There is no question that the Sennheiser GSP 550 is a great unit; this is high quality stuff right here. But limiting the impressive 7.1 surround sound experience to PC gamers is quite restrictive. If you only play PC games, yes, sure, here you go. But console gamers will need to look elsewhere which is a shame given the higher price point.