Klipsch Audio Technologies is an American loudspeaker company who have produced some high-end, high fidelity loudspeaker systems including some professional cinema speakers. So when I heard that they were going to stamp their expertise into the gaming headset market, it caught my attention – my ears were ready to go ears-on with one of their two flagship headsets – the KG-200 Pro Audio Gaming Headset.
The KG-200 is the wired variant from the duo of gaming headsets from Klipsch, and although you’ll be asked to pass over a RRP of £119.99, there is no expense spared in its quality of internal parts and its overall build. This isn’t Kipsch’s first venture into the gaming world, and neither are they absent from a little success – thanks to their bestselling ProMedia 2.1 multimedia speaker system. With support for all the consoles, current and last-generation, on paper at least, the KG-200 certainly looks like it could meddle with the already noisy, and quite overcrowded, competition of gaming headsets.
Plucking the KG-200 out of the box, my initial reactions were a little disappointing. For a professional gaming headset, costing over £100, I was surprised at the materials used in its outer casing. It’s combination of matt and gloss plastics, its inconsistent tones of black and grey, and its cheap-looking chrome hints on each ear cup, it didn’t give off that premium product feel to me. With all these materials considered, I was surprised that I wasn’t holding a creaky, loose fitting set of cans. Although appearances may look cheap on the surface, Klipsch has managed to build a solid-feeling headset.
Placing the KG-200 on my head, the soft rubber lining in the headband and the amount of grip in the ear cups assured me that this is a headset will not be falling off in a hurry. The ‘athletic mesh’ ear pads cushioned around my ears but, although soft to the touch, they have a texture to them that felt a little too firm for me. The fabric or pleather materials found in other headsets seem more comfortable, yet I can see this material being less sweaty. The cups are small in size, however if you have small ears like myself, they will just about fit inside, which helps to allow the cushioned pads to increase the amount of noise isolation outside.
Located on the right ear cup you’ll find an array of controls for the KG-200. These comprise of an equaliser function button that toggles between four modes (Fidelity, Combat, Stealth and Sport), chat volume, microphone monitor and game volume. Situated in the middle of the four main function buttons are a pair of rocker buttons, which allow you to raise and lower the volume of the mentioned options. I found the Fidelity option to give the best results for my listening, with good equal measures of bass and mid tones.
Situated on the lower side of the left ear cup is a 3.5mm jack that is poised and ready for the bundled microphone boom to plug itself into. Once inserted and locked into place the boom itself managed to reach around to my lips with additional wiggle room to spare. The arm itself can be bent into all manner of positions to fit your style, and a foam padded cover on the end helps to reduce any wind or ‘popping’ when speaking into it.
Sadly, if you’re planning on using the KG-200 on a Mac, you’re out of luck if you want to use the microphone, as the USB connection is only used to power the headset and both the sound and microphone analog plugs are still required. With the Mac only having a single input for this, you’ll have to buy a separate USB adapter to get both sound and voice inputs working. Oddly though, the microphone capture from the USB port seems to be supported for PlayStation users. As always, Xbox users will have to wrestle with many wires by plugging in the bundled cable into the red and white RCA connectors on the Xbox AV cable, to connect the KG-200 to the audio on the console, whilst a separate cable is used to connect the port on the right ear cup to the controller, to capture the microphone’s audio. Xbox One and PlayStation 4 compatibly is also supported, with the Xbox One requiring the use of the official connector and software updates.
So now we come to the all important question. How does it sound? Well, for a medium sized headset I was very impressed with its deep bass response. However comparing to other headsets in the same price range it doesn’t quite match their mid to high ranges, and as a result it doesn’t create an all round experience to your ears. In certain equaliser modes I found the sound can lack in places and at times audio can feel quite soulless. Switching back to the Fidelity mode evens the effect to a far more acceptable level, but it isn’t until you switch back to its competitors that you are highlighted to all what is missing from the KG-200.
Other than lacking in the mid to high ranges, my other biggest concern with the KG-200 is the amount of ‘hiss’ that is constantly given through each driver. Silent or quiet moments in games and/or music can be ruined with the constant white noise that this headset produces. I have used cheaper USB powered headsets, even wireless ones, that have handled this common issue with powered headsets much better – the wireless Turtle Beach PX3 being one of them.
For me, the active hiss, the lack of performance in the mid and high tones, and the overall build and materials used for the KG-200 spoils what could be a great overall package. It is a good effort for Klipsch’s venture into pro gaming headset scene, however it feels they need to knuckle down and play catchup in order to compete in this price range, and with a few future iterations they may put up a fair fight against the dominating competition that is out there.