t’s finally here. After being blown away by the stereo audio peformance on the crimson-clad G230 headphones from Logitech, we’re back with the 7.1 surround version. They’re not colored in the same sexy red-on-black motif. But these new Logitech G430 Dolby surround headphones are immensely impressive–though they could benefit from a more original styling. Big brothers tend to stomp and pout when made to wear lil’ bro’s hand-me-ups. But they offer enhanced sound and features in a very familiar package
The Logitech G430 are colored a bright topaz blue where the G230 are doused in red. On the headband just above ear piece where G230 headset features it’s model number etched in chrome is the same place on the G430 where you will find it’s model number also emblazoned in chrome lettering. Nothing about this look or initial aesthetic design is different than the stereo audio G230 offering. With similar styling comes identical comfort. The G230 sustains long consecutive hours of use without the slightest comfort hiccup. The cloth around the ear cushions is porous and fights ear and head perspiration very well. They can also be removed for cleaning. Also like the G230, you can lay the ear pieces flat since they can pivot for added comfort when not in use. The mic flips up out the way, which is nice. But it doesn’t mute when doing so. Instead there is a switch found on the in-line control. It’s sufficient, but can be hit accidentally confusing users and listeners alike.
Ok so the design is nice but we’ve seen it before in the G230. Where these two great products hit the fork in the road is at Performance. The joint-travels end here as the G230 is hopelessly outpaced. The G430 are a high quality 7.1 surround sound unit. Logitech is using 40mm drivers, capable of 20Hz-20Khz frequency response with 32 Ohms impedance. The microphone is a pickup-pattern unidirection mic, which is a Pressure Gradient Electret Condenser. To get all that tech to do 7.1 Surround you will need software assistance. Unfortunately the headphones themselves are capable of much more than the downloadable software will permit with my onboard sound.
Travel to the company website for the Logitech Gaming Software download. It’s the same application for the their G19s and G510s keyboards. The software is much more comprehensive than what’s offered for the Macatz F.R.E.Q. 7 Dolby Surround headphones. You can adjust overall volume, Bass, treble, 7-different speaker volumes and set EQ sliders. Yet with all that the headset still works off your system’s volume control, which is quite possibly a less worthy solution than say an aftermarket amplifier or soundcard.
I should note there are two ways to use the Logitech G430. You can connect the mic jack and headphone jack into the corresponding stereo plugs on your PC or soundcard. Or you can use the included USB adapter. Insert this into a free USB port and then plug the 3.5mm stereo jack and mic jack into the adapter. Each of these ways will allow access to the Logitech Gaming Software. But I found that my SoundBlaster Z soundcard or the 7.1 THX amplifier/receiver that ships with the Sound Blaster Recon 3D Omega wireless headphones set to both be better 7.1 processing options than the software on offer from the website.
Don’t misunderstand. The G430 headset is wildly impressive solution. It’s fairly comfortable and easy to use. When using onboard sound and the Logitech Gaming software, I found, while the overall volume was lower than I wanted, the all-encompassing surround effect was great. The end result is a more complete soundstage in games. It definitely wraps the user in the playback sound that is surprisingly balanced across games, music and movies. There are no presets for these 3 use scenarios. But the expanded EQ lets you adjust extensively. In music the G430 actually hold their own against other headphones that specifically tuned for music. Yet it’s clear games are their bread and butter. Explosions have added punch and depth, positional audio is handled very well with more attention to detail in ambient sounds than there is to perfect pitch across low-high ranges. Plus this headset has great active noise cancelling performance. All of this is amplified with more voluminous sound and distinct clarity when using a high performance soundcard or another amplifier as mentioned above. The mic, although seemingly obvious, flips up out the way, which is nice. But it doesn’t mute when doing so. Instead there is a switch found on the in-line control. It’s sufficient, but can be hit accidentally confusing users and listeners alike. That said, the unidirectional mic works really well, and helps to cancel out some the ambient noise from all the fans and other whirring electronics in the office.