Introduction & Closer Look
You might not have heard of Sandberg, the company based in Denmark behind today’s review, and this may surprise you after you discover that this family business has been going since 1985. They provide all kinds of peripherals and gadgets for the IT community from keyboards and mice through to the cables that connect them. They’ve even started to produce gaming chairs but today I’ll be looking at the Derecho which is their top of the range virtual 7.1 surround gaming headset priced at a rather modest £54.99 MRP but I’ve found them available from around £40. With its RGB LED earcups, foldaway mic, volume control and bass boost that adds physical vibration to the mix the Sandberg Derecho seems to tick all the feature boxes required for a mid-priced headset, but the important point will of course be how well it performs when the audio starts playing.
The Sandberg Derecho comes well packaged and nicely presented with a large clear plastic shell and half cardboard slip cover which gives the details of the headset while also being able to see the finished product rather than just photoshopped images.
The headset is rather large with over-the-ear type cups. The cable is nicely braided and although it’s not of the best quality I’ve seen, it certainly is not the worst. The cable ends in a standard 2.0 USB connector with no fancy gold coating. Included in the box is your software installation disk that is compatible with everything from XP to Windows 10.
The headband is of the floating elasticated variety that fits any size head – well, within reason. It’s branded on the top with the Sandberg name and there’s not much padding to be seen or felt. There is a pair of strong metal wires that keep the Derecho in shape. I tried twisting and overstretching the headset and it fought back with surprising force yet is doesn’t feel tight when worn.
The Sandberg Derecho’s ear cups have the company name as well as a LED light show on the outside and a healthy amount of spongy padding so comfort shouldn’t be a problem even with no padding on the headband.
There are only three controls on the back of the left earcup, they are a vibration/bass boost switch, the volume wheel and the LED on/off switch. The LEDs are fully automated and flicking the switch starts the pre-programmed rotation of colours.
The front of the left ear cup of the Derecho is where you will find the flip-out microphone which is off when closed and turns on automatically when opened up, so although there’s no mute button available to us you can at least put the mic away if you need a private chat with someone in the room.
– Virtual 7.1 surround sound
– Fold away microphone
– Elasticated headband that automatically adjusts to fit
– Multicolour LEDs in ear cups
– Built-in volume control
– Bass boost with vibration
– USB input
- Cable: 2.2 metres nylon braided
- Connector: USB A Male
- Multi-colour LED lights
- With vibration function
- Driver unit: 40 mm
- Frequency range: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
- Impedance: 32 Ohm
- Type: 6mm dia. electret condenser microphone
- Direction: Omni-directional
- Frequency Response: 30 Hz – 20 kHz
- Impedance: 2.2 k Ohm
- Sensitivity: -46 dB ± 3dB
The first page to greet you when starting the software is the volume and fader controls. A right-click grants access to the other pages which is not as useful as simply having tabs available.
You can choose to increase the sample rate of the audio to 48KHz from 44.1KHz.
The equaliser page is pretty familiar to most of us and Sandberg have provided a number of preset profiles as well as the option to make your own profile.
You can simulate different listening environments such as concert hall as well as simulate the size of the room by moving the virtual speakers closer or further away.
The next tab gives you much more precise control over where each virtual speaker is positioned and how much of a power boost you want to give some over others.
The SingFX panel gives control over the pitch of the audio you hear as well as using the equaliser to make vocals more or less prominent.
To enable the virtual 7.1 audio you need to select it in the last of the Speakers options.
The mic volume panel is a really important one to find, this is because the monitor on the right is enabled by default so you will get ambient noise picked up through the mic and played through the speakers. You’ll probably want this off unless you’re testing the mic quality or singing karaoke.
The sample rate for the mic can also be changed from 44.1KHz default to 48KHz for better quality.
If you want to give your voice a bit of a digital makeover you can add echo as well as vocal effects to change your voice.
Lastly, we have the mic boost page which is enabled by default.
The elasticated headband on Sandberg’s Derecho is just the right strength to allow the headset to fall to my ears and the spring to hold them in place on your head is firm enough that it won’t fall off with most movement but without too much extra pressure, this added to the spongy ear pads make for an instant fit out of the box as well as great comfort even after hours of continuous use. Turning on the LEDs gives you great hope for the possibilities, but as you may have noticed from the absence of a ‘Pretty Colours’ tab in the Software section they are set permanently in an ever-changing set rotation. It is more interesting than just one colour but this would have been so much better if they had been able to be controlled by the user in the way we have become accustomed.
When you first connect the Sandberg Derecho gaming headset and whack up the volume with the on-ear controller with the mic down there’s a really annoying hiss that seems totally out of place, even without any audio playing. That is until you install the software and realise that one of the tabs shows a monitor function that’s pre-selected at a low level but still high enough for the general ambient noise in the room (PC fans, TV, and whatnot) to be picked up and played back. Turning this off instantly improves the quality of the audio at all levels. So where most USB headsets are plug and play and so is this to some extent, I would strongly suggest installing the included software because it vastly improves the audio quality of the Derecho. You may find that you have to install from the CD even if that means you have to hunt for an almost obsolete ROM drive and reconnect it to your PC since try as I might I couldn’t get the downloaded version of the software to recognise the Derecho as being connected to my computer. Even with this in mind, it’s well worth taking the trouble to install.
Frankly, the software installation and the monitor pre-select are the only issues I’ve found after some quite extensive listening through many different audio sources. For a headset in this price range and from a relatively unknown company I call this a win.
Anyway, on to the audio performance of the Sandberg Derecho…
My mainstay is somewhere between rock and heavy metal, so this has of course been what has mostly been played through the Derecho and oh wow, the added thump from the vibrating bass function really makes you feel the music. That said, with the musical genocide of 2016 that hasn’t been felt since perhaps the day the music died, there has been plenty of nostalgia and wishful thinking along the lines of bands and artists that I’ll never hear live, or never hear live again. I won’t list them, I shouldn’t need to after all the press reports, but it’s safe to say I’ve given this headset a full workout even putting up with David Bowie’s Dance phase and I almost enjoyed some jazz until I caught myself. If you have an all-encompassing musical appreciation then you will find some benefit from the Sandberg Derecho. If you almost entirely listen to anything with bass, be it Sade or Slayer, then you will be hard pressed to find a mid-range headset that can compete.
Movies and gaming sound so much better than usual especially with the virtual 7.1 enabled in the software and I think it might become my current daily headset simply for the added bass in action flicks as well as to hear and feel the thump and bang from gaming. While listening to conversations whether from online TV or group chat such as Skype or Discord there’s very little in it between this and my other day-to-day headset, the ASUS Strix 2.0, and from chatting with family and friends over the holiday period again with Skype or sometimes Facebook Messenger there were no complications for the other parties as far as understanding what was happening at my end. Again, it wasn’t a screaming success with regular extorts of amazement at the quality, simply an absence of complaints and so as far as they knew there was no difference in my set-up until I made them think by asking outright about the quality which again was usually ‘no different to usual’.
A Derecho is defined by Merriam-Webster as being “a large fast-moving complex of thunderstorms with powerful straight-line winds that cause widespread destruction” and after listening to anything with a strong bassline with the vibration turned on and the volume up I can certainly see their inspiration.
With a bit of shopping around you can easily find these going for under £45 in the UK so while the Sandberg Derecho isn’t cheap but it’s not likely to be out of anyone’s reach either. Since it’s Sandberg’s fully featured flagship model there’s very little premium for the rather decent feature set. In fact when talking about value it’s really difficult to fins another 7.1 surround headset at this price point.
You get all day comfort, great quality audio and a favorable mic supported with bountiful software options that give birth to the virtual 7.1 channel sound. The bonus features, thumping, vibrating bass which is excellent and the LED light show add even more to the mix. It would have been nice to be able to control the LED colours and effects but having the option of cycling colours is better than none, or more to the point having the option to choose is better than none.
The microphone quality is nothing really special and we’re not talking about audiophile quality sound either, but it’s good enough that using the Dechero is an enjoyable experience for all sides of the conversation. It’s pleasant on the ears in other ways too, the fake leather is not sweaty or itchy, there’s easily enough foam padding to provide adequate comfort and the headset neither squashes, nor slips off your head. The only downside is the headband which would have benefitted from some padding if only for aesthetics, it’s not uncomfortable, it just looks flimsy.
So, if you’re looking for a headset which combines solid audio and long-lasting comfort backed up with a ton of software features then you can’t really go wrong with the Sandberg Derecho. However this comes with a caveat, the software at the moment needs to be run from CD as no matter what I tried I couldn’t get the downloaded file to recognise the Derecho as being connected to my computer when going through that install process.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Sandberg for providing us with the Derecho 7.1 Gaming Headset for review which walks away with our Value Award, and we wish them every success in the future.
- Good audio from the speakers as well as the mic
- Solid support from the included software, which in my opinion is essential
- RGB LEDs provide a bit of eye candy as they follow their rotation
- Vibrating bass function greatly improves the effect of bass in music and movies
- Very comfortable even after 12 hours of continuous wear
- good value for money
- Software can only be installed from supplied disk (The downloadable software from the Sandberg website did not work at all for me)
- RGB lighting is autonomous and cannot be adjusted
- Microphone monitor function is on by default and requires software to turn it off.