Opening the box and seeing the Siberia Elite for the first time is like opening the suitcase in Pulp Fiction. Only one word crosses your mind as your eyes desperately try to adjust to the pure awesome shining at you, the tips of your fingers stroking the smooth grace of the ear cushions…
Big and white, clean and bright, they looked gorgeous to me. The show gets better once the headphones are plugged in, as everyone around you is treated to the disco glow of (selectable) colour that shines like a halo around your ears. They are, in short, the most stunning headphones that have had the luck, nay, the privilege of sitting upon my crown.
While I would call the Siberia Elite an objectively gorgeous headset, some of its features rub me the wrong way. The bracket that gives the headset shape and plenty of room between the head-cushion is one small flick away from sending a metallic ring through your head. To be fair, I only found this out because I accidentally headbutted my desk, and the situations in which this will actually affect your gameplay experience is minimal.
The headsets connection cable is a tapered cord, a design choice I sincerely dislike because it looks so frail. Don’t get me wrong, it’s sturdy as, but I’m the kind of guy that, when offered a baby, immediately imagines a future where I sneeze and all I’m left holding are bloody entrails and baby blue eyes that seem to scream ‘WHY!? WHY WAS I TAKEN SO YOUNG!?’.
To increase the volume, you turn the dial over your right ear, and to mute, you turn the dial over your left ear. It is, quite possibly, the smoothest and coolest way ever to perform these functions…but just one thing, and yes, I understand that this is all on me, and that it’s weird:
I use my right hand for my mouse. There is no time I want my hand away from my mouse while I’m gaming. Yeah, I know I’m not a pro, but when I’m playing, I just don’t feel good about having to step back from being able to look and shoot.
Lastly, I have a love hate relationship with the microphone on this headset. It delivers great sound, and when it’s tucked away, you barely even notice it’s there – you could legitimately use this as a day to day headset and no-one would know its primary purpose was gaming. But to get the mic out of its slot, you’re going to have to pull it uncomfortably hard. When I was trying to get it out originally, all I could think of was how much it was going to suck when it snapped or broke. There was a point where I thought the mic was actually supposed to stay in – that’s how hard I had to yank the thing out.
Further, the mic’s arm is a spongy, barely springy dead thing. It doesn’t want to hold a particular shape…trying to adjust it feels like you’re attempting to get a particularly apathetic slug to move into shape. For the price of everyday use, this may just be something you’re willing to overlook (and probably will).
The Siberia Elite emphasises higher pitches, to the point where when I first put them on I wasn’t entirely sure what I was hearing. When you’re in game, this difference actually becomes really noticeable in the best of ways. Heavy gunshots, once dominated by the deep bombardment of bass, became fuller, the sharp cracking recoil edging off the sound. It actually really helped me appreciate the effort the developers went into for World of Warplanes, as the cacophonic sputtering of engines were noticeably different from plane to plane.
However, when watching a show or a movie, this emphasis isn’t exactly appreciated, as there’s never quite enough sound going on for the Elite to contrast with. If you’re feeling like you want further control over the settings of your headset, you can download the SteelSeries Engine, which allows for amatuer-ish manipulation. If you’re a master of soundboards, it might not be exactly comprehensive, but for your average gamer, it will allow you to customise as you see fit.
In terms of overall quality, the Siberia Elite is unquestionably excellent.
You can either plug in the Siberia with the usb attachment, like a gamer, or you can plug it in using separate speaker and sound jacks, like a neanderthal. It comes with a heft extension cord, which I found essential to my particular set up. The original length of the cord is perfect for connecting your headset to the device in your pocket, but not so good for letting you sit further than 30cm away from your monitor.
I don’t think that my personal dislike for the arrangement of the features of the Siberia Elite are things that will affect your average consumer. Unlike most other high-end gaming headsets, the Elite can be used for regular use, and will look phenomenal to everyone else on the bus. Seriously. You will slip in their drool.