As online gaming continues to be the norm, drawing in millions upon millions of players with each major blockbuster release, one of the nuggets of wisdom that is becoming more and more commonplace is that in order to succeed, one of the most vital tools of the trade is a quality headset. If you can hear your enemy more clearly, you can react and prepare yourself much like you would be able to in a real conflict. The gaming populace is always looking for the highest performance, the best deal, and the most features, and with the Roccat Kave XTD 5.1 Surround Sound Gaming Headset becoming available in North America, they have another quality option to choose from. If you want to upgrade your headset a bit, you’ll want to read our Logitech G930 wireless gaming 7.1 Dolby surround headset review too. If you need another option, consider reading our Turtle Beach Elite review too. If you prefer a headset partnered specifically with Xbox, read our Microsoft Xbox stereo headset review too. Before you make your final choice, you might want to also read our Astro A30 review.
Living up to its name, the most distinctive feature of the Kave is how far the speakers are recessed in the cups of the earphones, which have a thick, soft layer of padding separating the speaker from the ear. The padding stops about two thirds of the way in though, creating an acoustic effect that allows the sounds to come through clearly without pressing your ear to a speaker and distorting, or sacrificing any comfort when it comes to wearing them. With 5.1 surround, a built-in microphone with an LED that turns on when muted, and a desktop control panel to change levels, volume, and mute settings, the Kave lets you adjust your sound without taking a break from the action. If you want to upgrade to 7.1 surround, take a look at our MadCatz Gears of War 3 Dolby 7.1 surround headset review.
What’s even better, it offers real surround sound without the use of a USB sound card or software to link the Roccat Kave XTD 5 to your PC. IF you’re still not sure which headset you should buy, you should also read our review of Sony’s DR-GA500 headset: for the gaming elite.
As a surround sound headset, the Kave XTD 5.1 works like competitors at the top of its class, but one major issue I had with the set is its functionality when listening to stereo media such as music. While it does include 5.1 surround sound, the Kave uses a “vibration unit” to output the sound coming from the .1 of the surround. While this works great in its native environment, despite the fader for it being labeled as “sub,” the unit does not function as a subwoofer, so there’s no bass boosting when listening to music or older-format games and movies. Not a huge issue, but one that I definitely noticed immediately and went looking for the reasons why.
For the most part, wearing the Roccat Kave XTD 5.1 Surround Sound Gaming Headset is extremely nice. The plush padding of the ear cups provide ventilation and comfort, so there’s no heat buildup on your ears, and the use of three separate, flexible pads on the inside of the top headband keeps the pressure off the top of the head and feel good even after wearing for a long time. The only real drawback when it comes to the comfort of the unit is that it can be a little heavy, and it’s not easy to forget that when you’re wearing the unit. I’ve worn some more natural-feeling headsets, but the padding and ventilation go a long way toward rectifying this problem.
The Roccat Kave XTD microphone is receptive and the sound output levels are very strong for the most part, so in terms of functionality, the Roccat Kave has the goods to compete. It also has a nice look to it, with the bulky, durable thickness of the plastic chassis and the simple black of the unit save for the faint blue on the logo, the blue LED surrounding where the microphone plugs in, and the blue LED that turns on at the end of the microphone when it’s muted. The Roccat Kave looks great, sounds great, and feels great, and if you don’t already have a preferred headset for gaming, definitely consider trying one of these out.
Bottom Line: The Roccat Kave XTD 5.1 Surround Sound Gaming Headset is exactly what you need when using the product as directed. For gaming online, integrating voice chat, and getting a clear sound from the game, it’s a pretty ideal headset. Being able to tweak the levels of each speaker to suit your tastes is a huge added bonus. The switcher that lets the sound change from game to movie though is a bit misleading, as while the sound quality I got using this headset for other types of entertainment was fine enough, but not really anything spectacular to blow away a mid-level sound system for music or movies. Comfortable, durable, and powerful, the Roccat Kave should be on the radar of any gamers you know looking for a superior headset.
- Recessed speakers allow for strong acoustic presence, sounds are clear and sharp while speakers do not press against ears, making the headset comfortable to wear over long periods
- Attached mixer allows for customization without having to back into any menus, as well as on-the-fly muting of both the speakers and the microphone
- Flexible headband with three flexing, padded “cups” make the headset a good fit for any adult head size or shape
- Headset does not have a true subwoofer on board, so listening to stereo audio will output weak levels of bass
- Microphone LED lights up only when muted – While this prevents a light from being a distraction, it always confused me every time I used the headset
- Because earcups are so large, the headset can be somewhat heavy, which is noticeable after a couple hours of gaming
The Roccat Kave 5.1 Surround Sound Gaming Headset is available from Amazon for $119.99.
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