SteelSeries Siberia 350 Headset Review
The SteelSeries Siberia series has become my most used headsets over the past few years. The Siberia v3 raised the bar in terms of features and quality over the older v2 model, however it only lasted around half a year before I lost sound in one of the ear cups. The Siberia v2 however is still going strong, and that’s with over 4 years of consistent use.
The 4th generation of the Siberia series has replaced version numbers for a set of digits. The Siberia 200 now replaces the v3 model, featuring some ‘quality updates’, of which I hope addresses the issues I experienced in my last Siberia v3 review.
In this review I look at their mid-range model – the SteelSeries Siberia 350. So let’s find our how high its makers have raised the bar this time…
Once again, SteelSeries consistently bring their striking Danish design to the packaging and general aesthetics of the Siberia 350. Sliding the headset out of the box I was surprised to notice the lack of additional peripherals that you expect to get with headsets these days. Inside the box you’ll find the headset itself, manuals and stickers, and that’s it. The Siberia 350 is a USB only driven headset, but it was a surprise nonetheless to find just the headset inside the box and no supporting cables or adaptors.
Being a USB-driven headset, the Siberia 350 is only compatible with PC/Mac and Sony’s PlayStation 4 console. Having read there was PS4 support, I was expecting to be able to plug the headset into the 3.5mm jack of the PS4’s DualShock 4 controller; but with just a USB connection, and little else available in the box, I was forced to plug the USB cable of the 350 into a USB port on the PS4. This brings me to my first complaint: With only a mere 1.5metres of cable, and no bundled extension cable or 3.5mm adapter, you’re going to be gaming pretty intimately with your PS4. An extension cable wouldn’t have gone amiss here, and I think it is safe to say that this headset is predominantly aimed at desktop gamers, who are playing on a PC/Mac, and do not require such a lengthy USB cable.
To cement this view even further, is a feature of the Siberia 350 that comes to light (if you excuse the pun) as soon as you connect the headset to a powered USB socket – the illuminating ear cups. This is a feature that is mainly aimed at PC/Mac users, because it requires the installation of the SteelSeries Engine 3 Software. Once installed, the software allows you to customise the heck out of the LED lights located inside each ear cup – picking from any hue from the RGB (Red Green Blue) colour spectrum. With around 16million colours to choose from, picking an exact colour that suits you is pretty easy, but you are only going to appreciate your chosen glow of colour when the headset is off your head. So I don’t see the point of this, really.
The Siberia 350 offers a light show around your ears. Fully customisable and dynamic to your gameplay
The one area I do see the benefit from having illuminating headphones is with e-sports, or the less competitive LAN party. Using the SteelSeries Engine’s custom software options, you’re able to connect your on-screen gaming actions to the lights on the headset. So for example: imagine you’re spectating a team match and someone gets shot or killed, you can make the headset turn red when a player is hit or is dead and out of the game. That would be pretty cool right? I think so too…but back in reality, in a home or office environment, it’s only the people around you that will be appreciating the glowing light-show that’s emitting around your ears.
As comfort goes, the Siberia series are one of my favourites. This is thanks to a regular feature to the series – the suspension headband. Separate to the main headband, the Siberia’s suspension band sits and stretches comfortably over the top of your head, removing any sense of pressure that many fixed band headsets tend to give over long periods of use.
The main headband above keeps the headset ridged and secure around your ears, whilst the suspension band fits snuggly around the top of your head, keeping everything in place and evens out any pressure points. This means you can wear the headset for many hours without feeling uncomfortable or feel the need to take it off. It’s great, and it is a headset system I cannot live without nowadays.
Long-lasting comfort is made possible with the floating headband and soft-padded ear cups
The ear cups look very similar to the size and construction of the Siberia v3 and are just as comfy, thanks to the memory foam padding. Unlike the v3, this time my ears didn’t feel as lost inside, with sound coming through evenly, and without the need to reposition the ear cups around my hears to get the perfect stereo sound. Inside each ear cup is a different story to the v3 though, because inside we have a pair of DTS Headphone X compatible 7.1 surround sound drivers, all packed into this headset.
DTS X 7.1 Surround Sound
Given the right source of audio, the Siberia 350 sounds superb. It has a good range throughout, with enough bass to rattle your eardrums and high enough treble to hear vocals clear and crisp, and bullet shells chiming as they hit the floor. Give them a 7.1 DTS X source, like some YouTube demos or the film ExMachina, and the headset comes alive, giving you an even more immersive sense of sound that isn’t found with more traditional 2.0 stereo headsets.
The Siberia 350 is DTS X compatible. So listen to supported content for the best experience
I’ll be honest, I’ve yet to blown away by any surround sound headset, and the 350 headset joins this camp too. Even with all the surround technology available around my ears, I still do not get the same effect as having a set of dedicated surround speakers sitting around and behind me.
A more immersive surround sound experience via headphones has resurfaced recently though. Decade-old binaural research and technology has come on leaps and bounds, and it can give an even greater sense of surround presence from just a simple pair of stereo headphones. Sadly though, it’s support in games is still scarce at the moment; but in future, with more binaural sound support in games, such as the upcoming Hellblade, there won’t be a need for anything more then a simple 2.0 stereo headset.
Once again, the 350 has a retractable microphone boom and mute switch, both located on the left ear cup. It’s still a great design feature that’s carried over the series for some time now. There’s no need to detach the microphone when you’re not gaming or heading outside. Simply push it back into the ear cup when you’re not using it, and whilst stowed away it also makes them look like a traditional pair of audio headphones. If you’re planning on wearing these out on the bus or train though, connecting the USB cable to your mobile or tablet will be difficult, if not impossible without a 3.5mm adaptor.
Common features of the Siberia series – the retractable microphone boom and mute switch
Like the previous models, the 350’s recorded audio sounds clear and crisp, but still nothing too ground breaking. Muting the microphone is as simple as sliding the switch located on the left ear-cup. A new feature to the series is an in-line volume control, which will interact with your system’s volume when its dial is rotated up or down.
As build quality goes, the 350 feels on par with the v3; maybe a little better if I’m honest. The glowing ear cups -although a bit gimmicky for me – does looks smart and can add a bit of fun and a talking point at gaming events. It’s still early days to say whether this headset will last as long as my v2 has, or whether it go the same way as the v3 did – time will tell. But for now, my impressions over the first few weeks with the Siberia 350 are good. I can see the 350 serving me well.
On reflection of the series so far. This mid-range edition to the Siberia series is a sound headset (sorry). It’s consistent set of features that has carried over into each revision has continued to be fine-tuned and tweaked, and has made what was great even greater. I don’t know how much 7.1 content I will be listening to in the future, so I struggle to recommend this headset to anyone else that doesn’t, when something like a much cheaper 2.0 headset, such as the Siberia 200, could fit the bill more. If DTS X and 7.1 is common place around your ears though, then I would definitely give the Siberia 350 a worthy listen.