Sennheiser PC120 Review
Robust microphone for high speech intelligibility
Adjustable microphone position and ear clip
Wearable over-ear left or right
Internet telephony compatible
Unique “ear clip design”
In-line volume control and microphone mute switch
1 PC 120
2 adaptor to 3.5mm stereo jack for both voice and mic PC sockets
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Sennheiser and Ubisoft gave us the privilege to review the Sennheiser PC120 headset. Now before you go ‘Wah!…PC?!’ this headset is different, it works with your Xbox 360 too, but more about that later on. First off, let’s look at the device itself.
Being a PC headset user, owning 2 Sennheiser headphone/headsets, I was intrigued to find out what this ‘over the ear’ headset could offer this reviewer. On delivery of the PC120 and opening the easy to open molded plastic packaging (take note other manufactures!) what first struck me was the headsets design. In typical Sennheiser fashion we’re looking at the standard black and silver headset, the form factor itself resembles a Bluetooth headset found attached or most traveling salesmen found on the highways today. The headset can be placed on either left or right sides of the head and is held in place by a plastic arm that curves around the back of the ear, while the single ear piece rests on or inside the ear. Once positioned on the head the microphone boom rests alongside your cheek and can be tilted lower towards the mouth if needed. The PC120 headset connects to a PC using two 3.5mm jacks, one for the microphone and the other for sending monaural audio to the earpiece. In between the headset and jack is an in-line volume control and microphone mute switch, standard on most Sennheiser headsets and is an important feature that this reviewer uses on a regular basis.
So how does our Xbox360 come into this? Well let me bring you back to where I mentioned the in-line volume and mute unit. You see there’s an addition to this unit where the headset and 1 meters worth of its cable can be detached to reveal a single 2.5mm jack, and we all know what that means! No? Ok then, well you can attach the 2.5mm jack into the bottom of the Xbox360 controller and use the headset over Xbox Live chat. With the device’s looks and features covered, let’s see how it performs shall we?
Attaching the headset to your ear is a standard task if you’re used to using a Bluetooth headset on your mobile phone, but also like these mobile headsets, it can become a challenge on keeping them there. The fault of the PC120 in this department is its weight, it’s far too light. Bluetooth headsets used in this same fashion carry a battery and therefore this gives them some weight to stay firmly fixed on or in your ear. With the PC120 an accidental tug on the cable or a firm shake of the head leads to the headset failing to stay in place and can sometimes lead to consistent repositioning during its use. Once in position the device is comfortable to wear, sadly though, the ear piece is slightly too big and therefore the ear piece sits on the ear rather than in it. This leads to an impact on the earpiece’s audio quality when compared to the Xbox 360 official headset. Comparing the two, the official headset has a more bass audio quality compared to the more tinny performance of the PC120. If the headset featured ear buds found on some mobile headsets that go inside the ear, we would have had a richer and deeper sound quality that could match or surpass the official headset.
The microphone quality on the PC120 didn’t seem promising either when talking to a critical panel over Xbox Live. I decided to do a ‘blind test’ and asked the panel to name a favorite between the official headset and the PC120, while I switched between. The end results where unanimous, with the panel naming the official headset as their favorite headset quality between the two. Comments against the PC120 where that it sounded a little distant and some times harder to hear when compared to the official headset. This could be due to the length of the microphone on the PC120 which is a good distance away from the mouth or perhaps just a low quality microphone has been used.
While using the PC120 with the Xbox 360, one feature was lacking alongside the official headset and that was the inability to change the earpiece volume and mute the microphone. When detaching the headset from the PC in-line unit for use with the Xbox 360 this in turn removes the volume and mute features which are found standard on the official headset and may provide disappointing for Live chat users.
So what positives can we take from this experience? First of all the PC120 isn’t a dedicated Xbox 360 headset, it isn’t even marketed as one and there is no mention of it being Xbox 360 compatible on its website. All this aside though, it works, and it’s a feature on this headset which you may want to consider if you’re a PC/Mac user with an Xbox360. If you are a Skype or VOIP user and would like the option of being able to use the same headset on your Xbox 360 then this is a headset to look into. Secondly is the practicality of the PC120, I do prefer the easy one-sided use of PC120 over the official headset as it removes the hassle of having the headband wrapped over your head. The lightness of the PC120 (though sometimes cumbersome) feels as if you’re not really wearing a headset, were as you do with the official headset. Should Sennheiser consider entering the market with a line of dedicated Xbox 360 headsets, then we could have a PC120 type headset, featuring an ear-bud earpiece with the astounding audio qualities that Sennheiser are well known for and an in-line volume with mute control. With that, they could have a competing wired headset to rival the official Xbox 360 headset.