Not long ago I brought you my views on the ROCCAT Kone AIMO mouse, well today I expand on that set of peripherals with ROCCAT’s Khan AIMO RGB headset which features 7.1 surround sound in addition to the same intelligent reactive lighting – it would hardly be part of the set without that after all. Of course, it takes a lot more than pretty, sparkling lights to make a headset any good especially considering that you won’t actually see the lighting when it’s in use, so join me as I delve deeper and discover if this lightweight headset is a lightweight (you’ll get that joke later). First though, in time-honoured tradition, the specifications as found on ROCCAT’s product page.
|Measured Frequency response:||10 – 40000Hz|
|Max. SPL at 1kHz:||99dB|
|Driver unit material:||Neodymium magnet|
|Measured Frequency response:||100 – 10000Hz|
|THD% @ 1kHz:||2%|
|Sensitivity at 1kHz:||-40dB|
|Resolution:||24-bit @ 96kHz (max)|
|DIMENSIONS / WEIGHT|
|Windows® 8, Windows® 7, Windows® 10|
|Internet connection for driver installation|
|USB 2.0 Port|
Looking at the packaging, we see that the front of the imposing black box has a large image of the Khan AIMO which is very subtly illuminated – I can promise you that the LEDs on the product itself are much more vibrant. There are the same grey handwritten annotations on the image that I disliked on the Kone, which is very hard to read in some places and impossible to read in later images. The sides have the same black-on-black glossy text to let you know the main features of the headset which again can be very difficult to read.
Around the back we have a smaller header image of the Khan which also shows that it’s an ‘over the ear’ style headset, the LEDs in this shot also seem very washed out, but that’s not what you’ll get when you power the product up. The features are listed clearly below the image and are also repeated in a multitude of languages.
Aside from the design features the box is meant to keep the headset safe and of course, we don’t usually test to see what punishment it can take, but you can be assured that on this aspect ROCCAT has nailed it. The courier that delivered the headset suffered from a major flood and the delivery packaging was utterly destroyed by water. Even though the retail box was also rather wet on the outside when it arrived, the internal packaging which features not only a tightly fitted plastic-on-plastic clam-shell design as well as an included silica pack did what it was supposed to do and kept the Khan perfectly safe and dry.
With the Khan AIMO totally exposed we see that ROCCAT has included an ‘Information Document’ which doesn’t give much info at all about the headset but does tell you how to dispose of it and warns against loud music etc., along with the briefest of Quick Start guide sections I’ve seen from any company.
What we can see so far about the Khan AIMO is that it’s a sturdy plastic affair as you would expect which comes with a nicely braided cable and two pairs of RGB LEDs on the earcups that cover the full spectrum of light. To perhaps reinforce the fact that these lights are for your observer and not for you, the large vertical strips are located around the back of the headset with the second pair being smaller downlights just below the risers.
The earpads have a nice thick layer of memory foam and though I can’t find it listed anywhere, the headband also seems to comprise of memory foam. The foam is covered with a high-quality pleather that’s very soft to the touch and feels like the real thing.
The left earcup holds the flip-down mic as we have come to expect and it is mostly a flexible rubber that holds its shape when you bend it to your preferred position. The right cup has some limited controls for volume and surround effect selection and printed on the earcups is the ROCCAT name and logo.
The extension risers on the Khan AIMO are fitted with a sturdy stainless steel reinforcement which has been left in its native colour but has a subtle brushed effect.
There’s not much feature to the top of the headband unless you get it in the right lighting and notice the glossy black ROCCAT name printed over the satin black plastic that comprises most of the headset.
As part of the AIMO series, the Khan uses ROCCAT Swarm software to give the user full access to the features and benefits. You get control over the built-in DACs graphic equaliser along with an impressive list of gaming-focused profiles and the option to add your own as well as specifics like focusing voice or audio clarity. The Surround Sound selection is fairly simple, allowing the choice between stereo and 7.1 surround but also has the added inclusion of letting you choose between your preferred focus of either balance or clarity. Additionally, you can also set your preferred settings for the mic including noise cancellation and higher frequency sampling, there’s also a handful of playful voice modification effects which will appeal to a certain demographic of gamer and could also be fun to use for streamers by allowing them to add different characters to their shows.
The illumination tab might be familiar to you if you read my previous ROCCAT review as we have the same group of predefined presets that can be tweaked in terms of colour and speed of change, though as all four LEDs display the same colour you can’t set up any zones like you can with the Kone. The party piece of the lighting is of course the AIMO setting which actively changes the lighting of the peripheral based on what the user is doing. This gives you a gentle wave of random colours when idle but instantly comes to life if you start hammering the keyboard or mouse even if you only have one AIMO device connected.
Performance and Testing
I’ve been using the ROCCAT Khan AIMO now for a couple of weeks to analyse just how it performs and I’m rather impressed on the whole. Starting with a very soggy package and discovering that the headset had survived the harsh conditions of the courier’s flooded warehouse showed that ROCCAT have put thought and effort into the packaging that goes far beyond simply the marketing that we would normally report on – of course, testing packages to destruction to see what the box can take and whether the item inside survives is not likely to appear as a regular feature so don’t go looking forward to that.
Lets kick off the product analysis with the AIMO lighting and the Khan’s LEDs in general, of course, I’ve covered the AIMO system previously so I won’t go into detail but unlike the implementation in the Kone mouse, the Khan headset doesn’t feature lighting zones, so even though AIMO looks massively impressive on the mouse it is less so on the headset as there’s no blending involved in any flow of light shades from one zone to the next. I think ROCCAT have missed a trick here as if they have used two or even four addressable lighting zones then the AIMO system would have looked a million times more impressive as you would be able to see all the subtle changes that are featured on the other AIMO peripherals. The lack of zones also goes to somewhat mute the impact of the lighting for the other profiles as well not that there are many to choose between and those are rather basic, but personalising the lighting is not as involved or as impressive as it could have been.
The earcups themselves rotate 90 degrees to lay the headset flat and this helps with when it comes to fitting. Extending the risers reveals the stainless steel plate which serves an important function strengthening the headset and helping to make sure it survives anything you throw at it as well as being a stylish addition with its gently brushed surface.
Once the headset is on your head, the lighting doesn’t get seen so it makes it a little moot in retrospect, but more importantly is how it feels and sounds. The memory foam earcups do an excellent job of passive noise cancellation, blocking out background sounds nicely even before you start listening to your favourite tracks or start gaming. They are not only supremely comfortable but also fit nicely over my rather large ears and also allow enough cushioning that my ears don’t rub on the cloth protecting the 50mm drivers which are a massive positive for me and something that doesn’t often happen. At 275g the headset isn’t exactly light for a headset, but considering the tech packed into it and the size of the drivers it’s certainly not heavy and ROCCAT have done well to reduce the impact of wearing the headset over time as far as pressure from the earcups goes. The downside of that weight saving is that the headband and that memory foam cushion are much more narrow than my previous headset, the Sennheiser GSP 303, and so after a long gaming or music session of say 6 hours or more you start to notice the pressure on the top of your head and the longer you wear them the more distracting it becomes as you start fiddling to move that pressure to a new spot before it turns painful. I wonder if an elasticated retractable band design wouldn’t have been a better choice as far as comfort goes since there would have been a trade-off in removing the steel reinforcements from the risers to save overall weight.
The listening experience though is truly sublime due to the 50mm neodymium drivers which get fed by a 24-bit 96Khz DAC. There is an abundance of volume for those who want it, and even at the highest volume I’ve not noticed any distortion at any point whether gaming, listening to a variety of music or watching TV and movies. Of course, it’s not just about pumping out the volume, the clarity of highs, mids and bass is all there depending on what you are listening to and are further enhanced by the ample selection of EQ presets even before you click the button to specifically focus on these frequencies for better voice or more bass. The 7.1 audio implementation is also really well done, and after a bit of time training my ears to recognise what the headset was telling me, it became second nature to be able to react and pinpoint enemies on the battlefield. Movies really come alive with 7.1 active as you get fully immersed in what’s going on in and around the focus of the scene.
Although there isn’t an abundance of touch controls on the headset the important ones are present, you can mute the mic automatically by folding it to the top and volume control is handled by a wheel allowing you to dial up the noise as you see fit. The last control that ROCCAT chose to include is one that turned out to be more useful than I first expected; a simple button to toggle between stereo and 7.1 audio might not sound much but being able to listen to music in stereo as it was recorded and then move on to a Blu-ray movie or game that supports surround sound without the usual hassle of going into the software to change the setting is something that I found to be quite useful. I can appreciate that some people will just set the sound to 7.1 or stereo and forget it but given the choice, I think that little button on the side of the Khan AIMO will get a fair amount of use.
Lastly, I’d like to talk about the mic which provides very clear sound to the other party at both sampling frequencies. I couldn’t find any sign of a second mic to sample the background noise so I am assuming that the noise cancellation feature is purely software based but that’s not to say it’s useless, far from it, it does precisely what it’s meant to do but maybe not as well as if a second mic had been used.
- Comfortable earcups with plenty of room for large ears
- Powerful 50mm drivers that go up to 11
- Distortion-free sound at all frequencies and volumes
- Classic gaming style with added RGB
- Quality mic with reliable noise cancellation
- Implementation of AIMO and other RGB profiles would be better with zoned LEDs
- Uncomfortable headband after a (very) long game session – this is not going to be your preferred ‘all day’ headset
I’m split on whether or not I like the LEDs on the Khan. They are vibrant and if you are lucky enough to have the full set of AIMO devices on your desk then the effect is really quite amazing, even when typing a simple review the AIMO system comes to life in an engaging way. Sadly, the way that ROCCAT have gone about adding LEDs to the Khan is something that doesn’t really fit with my interpretation of what AIMO is all about and although it supports and uses the system you don’t get anywhere near the same effect that you do when compared to the mouse which comes alive in each lighting zone. I would have much preferred the use of zoned LEDs to allow the AIMO and other profile effects to be fully featured and not simply supported.
If you ignore the LEDs then you have a good quality and well-made headset that is going to serve you well and should last for many years due to the high standard of build and materials chosen, like those stainless steel supports on the risers which add a touch of style to a simple reinforcement structure. The ROCCAT Khan AIMO looks great when its on the stand (and possibly while it’s on my head as well) whether or not the lights are turned on and it sounds wonderful and feels great for the first few hours, but if you are listening to music as you work through the day then you will notice the headband and it will become an annoyance.
When it comes to value, you have to see whether or not the Khan AIMO stands up to the competition at its price point. The headset is available at Game in the UK for £89.99 instead of £110 from most other stores; in the US it is about $120 from Newegg and Amazon.com. This puts it in the same bracket as some great surround sound headsets like the Corsair VOID Pro RGB and HyperX Cloud II Pro and I think it deserves to be there.
The ROCCAT Khan has great 7.1 sound, a quality mic, supremely comfortable earcups and vibrant LEDs and is well-deserving of a Gold award. It is a great choice for someone who games through the evening. If I could wear it comfortably from morning till night and the LEDs were zoned then my commendations would have been higher still.
I’d like to give a huge thanks to ROCCAT for sending in the Khan AIMO 7.1 RGB gaming headset for review, stay tuned because as you might have guessed I will have the ROCCAT Horde AIMO keyboard for you to read soon.