SteelSeries have not been resting on their laurels when it comes to gaming peripherals. Whilst not being content with creating high quality PC mice and gaming surfaces they have decided to create a suite of quality gaming headsets for gamers too. In this review I will be covering their flagship headset for the Microsoft Xbox 360 console, the Spectrum 7XB Wireless Headset.
Fresh out of the packaging you can instantly feel the solid and sturdy quality of this headset. There are no creaks to be heard or cheap, tacky materials used on these well crafted pair of cans. On the top is a soft faux leather padded headband, which helps to ease the pressure on your noggin, whilst the removable over-the-ear leather cushions surround the ears so well that they even do a good job in dampening any outside atmosphere noise. All of this is achieved with the extendable headband and the ability to be able to twist and turn the earcups to create a perfect fit around your ears.
Being a wireless headset the 7XB needs power to wake them up and entertain you. By dropping in the two supplied AAA batteries into the top of the right earcup, you are good to go. Powering up the headset is done by holding down the power button located on the right earcup, this will turn it on and it will begin to look for the wireless transmitter box. A reassuring bleep tells you when the headset is activated, and thanks to the headset coming pre-paired to the bundled wireless transmitter box, getting connected is immediate, easy and a lot more streamlined compared to pairing other wireless headsets on the market.
The SteelSeries 7XB Wireless Headset is a perfect companion for any gamer
The compact wireless transmitter box simply plugs into a USB port on the Xbox 360 to power itself, whilst the bundled passthrough phono cable connects to your console to feed the game’s audio. Alternatively you can connect the included 3.5mm jack cable into a TV or Hi-Fi audio/headphone socket, which also means you can connect this headset to a PlayStation 3, PC, Mac or any other device that accepts a 3.5mm connection – bonus!
Utilising a retractable system, the microphone boom can be neatly tucked away when not in use, or can be easily deployed by pulling out the microphone boom from its home in the left earcup. The 7XB uses a uni-directional microphone that helps to reduce the overall background noise that may also be heard. It is unfortunate that the microphone can only be used on the Xbox 360, however because this is an Xbox-focused product I wasn’t expecting it to, but it would have made this headset so much more appealing to multi-platform gamers if it did.
Using the microphone with the Xbox 360 console is a simple process of connecting the included voice regulator unit into the Xbox 360 controller (which also features a mute switch and separate voice volume dial) and connecting the attached lead to the left earcup of the 7XB headset. Voice chat in-game is very clean and clear, thanks to its uni-directional microphone and LiveMix system. With the LiveMix system turned on, by a button on the right earcup, voice chat in games is enhanced by automatically dialling down the game’s audio while someone is speaking, which is a very welcome feature during explosive and gunfire moments in shooters.
The SteelSeries 7XB retractable microphone system
Gaming on the 7XB is exceptional. The 50 mm driver units in each earcup deliver an excellent bass response, and audio positioning in first-person shooters is very good when using one of the pre-set settings. The ExactSND button on the headset allows you to toggle between four different sound equaliser pre-sets. From the four settings: Normal, Performance (high tones for FPS), Immersion (for enhanced explosions and game music) and Entertainment (for music, movies and general games), I always found myself rolling back to the Performance setting, with its enhanced treble and clear bass.
Should you venture away from your gaming throne, whilst wearing the 7XB, you’ll have around 9 meters (32 ft.) before you get a loss of connection between the transmitter and the headset. Throw in a few walls between you and the transmitter and you’ll find this figure effected by a few meters. Quality is paramount with the 7XB, and with the headset’s intelligent frequency, which hops between channels 344 times per second, it is able to maintain the best audio quality going into your ear holes.
If I was to nitpick, I would say that my main issue with the 7XB headset is that it isn’t chargeable via USB. Expect to be replacing the two AAA batteries after around twenty hours of continued use. Thankfully though, after five minutes of inactivity the headset will switch itself off to help maintain good battery life. For a casual gamer you will have many gaming sessions before you’ll run out of power, but if you are a dedicated gamer you might find the need to replace batteries on a regular basis. Being able to play and charge via a USB cable would have been a perfect solution here.
The SteelSeries 7XB Wireless Transmitter Box (left) and Headset Control Buttons (right)
The SteelSeries 7XB Wireless Headset certainly raises the bar, not only for an Xbox 360 headset, but for general use too. Its excellent sound quality is matched with superb build quality, and with its comfortable headband and earcup cushions you can game for hours with very little discomfort. In short, with a current selling price below £100 (£84.99 from Amazon) it is very easy to recommend the SteelSeries 7XB to any gamer who wants to treat their ears to a superb wireless headset.