SteelSeries Siberia V2 Review

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Brand: SteelSeries
Model(s): Siberia V2 Heat Orange, Siberia V2 Frost Blue
Where to buy: Heat, Frost

SteelSeries is a company with a fine gaming reputation, offering some of the finest peripherals such as the Ikari mouse. SteelSeries was founded by two people who saw a need in the market to provide enthusiasts and professionals alike with high grade gaming equipment. SteelSeries has now grown into one of the largest peripheral manufacturers worldwide with many of their products being used within eSports teams of various games.

With me today I have the latest themes of the famous Siberia V2 headset, the models being “Frost” and “Heat”. This headset has been recognised by many to be very capable and perfect for gamers. The Siberia has been adopted for use by several eSport teams including team EG and Fnatic. The Heat model was designed by and with team Fnatic, and as such it follows their colour scheme.

In my review today I’ll look at how it performs for all purposes including gaming, voice communication, music, and finally movies.

Headphones

  • Frequency response: 18 – 28000 Hz
  • Impedance: 40 Ohm
  • Cable length: 1.2m / 3 ft.
  • USB Cable extension: 2m / 6.5 ft.

Microphone

  • Frequency response: 50 – 16000 Hz
  • Pick up pattern: Uni-directional
  • Sensitivity: -38 dB
  • Active noise reduction: Up to 20dB



Each box has a very similar overall theme, with the only real difference in the packaging being that each different product has a photograph on the front of what it looks like. The box is very informative offering a product description and specifications in all the major European languages; I assume they use different boxes for different places in the world. The front of the box is also a door which is quite a common thing on retail boxes these days; on the inside of the door it comes complete with close up photography and a few choice words.

The first thing I noticed when I started to open it is that the box isn’t made of the typical thin retail style cardboard but full thickness cardboard. This made a bigger difference than I could have ever imagined it would, when opening the box I genuinely felt like I was pulling out a quality product, rather than struggling against a poorly designed box.

After sliding the tray out of the box my experience went downhill slightly; as the tray used to hold the product in place within the box is somewhat flimsy, but for protection during transit it should be more than adequate. I was a bit unhappy to see the tray didn’t come with a proper location to put the cables and accessories, although they fitted in just fine. It just lacked the personal touch I’ve become accustomed to from brands like Sennheiser.

Included within the box is:

  • 1 x SteelSeries Siberia V2 Headset
  • 1 x USB Extension Cable
  • 1 x SteelSeries sticker
  • 1 x User Documentation





Taking a look closer at the headset itself you can see the Siberia has a design which isn’t all that common on gaming headsets. The headset makes use of an interesting headband system where the it isn’t hard at all instead it’s made of a soft material. The rigidity of the headset is actually from the two poles which the cans are attached to; the idea is that the soft headband is more comfortable while the poles hold the actual strength of the headset. The only company I’ve seen to consistently use a similar design is AKG.

Aesthetically, it’s hard to find a flaw in these cans; the colour scheme looks fantastic and with the lights in the side adding that little bit extra to the product. The only downside to this is that all the light seems to do is annoy me when they reflect from nearby walls. Seeing as you can’t actually see how great you look while wearing them I personally found myself just leaving the lights disabled via the bundled software.

Moving on to the build quality, I will say that the plastic used on the cans is top notch; feeling rock solid to the touch. The sleeve on the pole however was a different story as it doesn’t feel remotely solid due to the fact that the rubber covering isn’t tightly fitted. The ear pads are of a decent quality although I think I would have been happier to see a fabric a little more breathable; however I imagine if this was really a problem you could have some custom ones made after purchase using some more premium fabrics or materials. Looking at the cable it’s your bog standard rubber coated cable – it would have been a nice addition to see a braided cable as the difference they make in the overall feel of the product is a lot bigger than you would expect. One minor niggle on the note of the cable, is that the extension cable included with the headset does not match the one on the actual headset being thicker, harder and a darker shade of grey.

Looking now at the in-line controls of the headset, they look good including a large mute toggle switch and a volume control to make it easy to find and configure your sound on the fly. The feel of the in-line controls is good feeling sturdy and not feeling empty like many on the market, the location of the cable is also perfect even for someone of my height who tends to get the raw end of the deal as most in-line controls they end up being at my shoulder. On a side note, changing the volume using the wheel isn’t as linear as one would expect, this is due to the fact that when reducing volume the curve changes exponentially.

The first thing I will look at is the comfort of these cans; with their soft headband they’re quite comfortable on my head not being too tight or loose. The ear pads on the other hand are another story, as comfortable as they are I find my ears overheating very quickly which means every hour or so I find myself taking them off to give my ear a “breather”. On the weight side of things they feel great coming in at only 271.6 grams including the cable, when compared to headsets like the Roccat Kaves at 800 grams it’s certainly not bad! Even on a head as big as mine, the headset fits perfectly, and because of the style of headband I genuinely cannot feel the headband during long sessions, the only issue being the cans which you can always feel during use.

Test Bench

  • DAC/Soundcard: Audio-GD NFB3.1
  • Amplifier: Neco Soundlabs Mosfett Amp
  • Comparison Headphones: Ultrasone PRO 2900s, Audio Technica ATH-M50s, Sennheiser HD555s

Note: The Siberia sample I have is USB and as such the inclusion of the DAC and Amp are only for the purposes of showing what I was using on my comparison headphones.

Highs

The high tones are a little bit recessed with no real definition or presence. At higher volumes this changes slightly as the highs characteristic moves towards being a little bit piercing but still having a resounding lack of definition or presence.

Mids

The mids are definitely one of the strongest elements of these cans, despite being a little bit muddy which is the best way I can describe my experience. They manage to be a powerful element tying in the lower spectrum and the highs quite successfully. With that being said however, there is still a fair bit to be desired in this area.

Lows

The low range is definitely one of the most disappointing areas of the cans as they lack all forms of presence and definition, the bass covers this weakness well but in some tracks this is very audible. For the most part this is covered up well within the mid-range.

Bass

The bass has good presence but isn’t remotely punchy at normal listening levels, a little bit of EQ solved this problem somewhat, however the overall sound signature suffered when using the equalizer. The quality of the bass overall is a little bit disappointing with a lack of definition.

Summary

The sound quality of these cans really isn’t that bad for the price of them. My opinion on the performance might sound a little bit brutal because of the big boys they’ve been compared to; with the HD555s being the only ones which even come close to the same value. As these cans are specifically marketed at gamers the music/audio performance certainly isn’t the most important part of any discussion. It’s just that I feel a more neutral sound signature would improve both the musical characteristics and the gaming performance. With that being said I do feel they perform relatively well across the board and the problems I have had are quite marginal in their difference between each other.

Microphone

The microphone is good value for money, but I will add that on the sample I received people were hearing a slight clicking noise sometimes; I was unable to find out if this had some correlation to the microphone or was some form of ambient sound. Either way I certainly wouldn’t expect this to be a typical thing to get from the microphone, especially as I know several people who use them and theirs don’t exhibit the same kind of problems. Other than my slight issue I had an overall great experience with the microphone using voice communication over Skype and TeamSpeak. The quality was certainly high enough for that purpose, offering clear voice when used. Skype did perform slightly worse compared to TeamSpeak but I’d expect that due to the codec differences.

Software

The software offered by SteelSeries is definitely a point of praise for this headset as it comes with pretty much every feature you could ever want for your headphones all within a functional but not extravagant GUI.

The software comes with profiles built in, the profiles can be imported, exported, have copies made, have the icons set, renamed and also be set to load with user set applications.

When opening the program the first thing we see is the massive equalizer in the settings, coming with presets for:

Balanced

This is what I did all of my testing on as it seemed the fairest option for actually testing the cans correctly. The balanced setting is, as the name suggests, a preset which offers a completely neutral platform which has no bias whatsoever.

Performance

With slightly reduced bass and increased highs, mids and lows this preset is obviously intended for increasing gaming performance by increasing the volume of the harder to hear sounds and reducing bass to make them more obvious.

Immersion

Immersion is a very slight U curve with bass and highs being the higher volume in general. Not a bad idea and works quite well at improving the experience as it makes voices in games very crisp without harming all other sounds. It basically does what it says on the tin in regards to this.

Entertainment

Entertainment boosts bass, lows and highs. It’s very similar to the Immersion preset in terms of sound but has a straighter curve giving a bit more linearity on the higher end of the audio spectrum.

Voice

Reduced bass, almost non-existant lows and very loud mids and highs. This preset should only be used when listening to voice exclusively or when game sound isn’t important to you as it really will degrade the listening experience by making everything sound a little bit tinny due to losing a big chunk of the sound spectrum.

Music

Makes the highs very piercing and reduces the bass significantly. For some genres this might make it sound a little bit better but for all intents and purposes it isn’t the solution to the lack of presence in the audio quality. I recommend tuning the custom preset to what you suit your needs. Personally I enjoy listening to music at a more neutral EQ as I prefer to listen to music without bias.

Overall the presets on the EQ are relatively well done but some of them are a little bit extreme for the purpose on the other hand I also feel that some are a little bit underdone on the effects. Maybe the inclusion of some smarter filtering would be beneficial but I’m not sure how such a solution could be implemented realistically. For a starting point I recommend you increase the 4k and 14k spectrums by a few decibels as the recessed highs and lows are a problem which can be remedied this way.

Next are the illumination settings for the lights on the side of the cans. It comes with two different drop downs to select both light intensity and the pulsation. The options included are actually quite comprehensive offering three different light levels. The option to turn them off is a welcome addition which many manufacturers seem to forget sometimes when adding lights to peripherals. As for the pulsation options they come with a fair few; the most interesting of which being the trigger option.

Steady

A bit of an obscure phrasing of this one but it just means that the lights are on all the time rather than pulsing or otherwise.

Slow

Does pretty much as described it slows the pulsing to have both a large delay and makes the lights actually slow to turn fully on.

Medium

Being a fair bit slower than the “Fast” option this was my preferred option when using the pulsation option as it wasn’t too distracting in a darkened room.

Fast

With a very small delay between the lights turning on and the actual build-up of the lights turning on this just felt a little bit too fast with the led switching on motion just being too fast making the entire motion not smooth.

Trigger

This is by far the most interesting option; I’ll admit the naming isn’t the best as at a first glance I thought it had something to do with shooting whilst in-game. I was just a little bit wrong though, what it actually does is match the lights flashing with sound happening. The only issue I’ve found is that at normal listening levels the lights don’t flash on, so you have to increase the volume on the PC and reduce it on the line controls. Other than that minor niggle this feature works really well and I’m definitely more than pleased with it.

Overall the lighting options offered on the headset are very comprehensive, offering pretty much every kind of customization you could want bar actually changing the colour which unfortunately is impossible on the models available on the market today.

Although I don’t have anything else from SteelSeries to check with it seems the software also supports the controlling of all their other products from inside the same window. This is an option which is ignored by so many manufacturers today which instead make you download many applications to customize your product. It’s good to see SteelSeries making slight tweaks which can tremendously increase the quality of life of the user.

SteelSeries really have offered a product which can compete on every single level here offering great aesthetics (arguably one of the best), decent build quality and audio quality which can rival that which is offered at similar pricing brackets. When I first got my hands on it I genuinely expected a quality product just from the packaging and the fact that many professional esports teams use SteelSeries.

The first thing I’d like to address is the build quality, with the little squeaks and such on your head it doesn’t really feel as strong as it is in reality. Although it may exhibit the feeling of being of a low quality when you’re fiddling with it on your head I assure you that the build quality of the actual product is actually rather impressive, in addition the soft nature of the headband makes it quite good at protecting itself from shock thus improving durability. The string used to attach the headband to the headphones is also of a quality which the photos don’t do justice. It’s made of what I assume to be nylon but to the touch it feels very strong and not like the flimsy piece of cotton it seems.

Next is the aesthetics, I don’t think I’ve really praised how great they look enough. The white “Frost” version being my least favourite of the duo, however both look quite frankly amazing with their simplistic design. In regards to the overall aesthetics I really can’t find a fault other than the fact that I prefer matte over gloss! The lights on the headset also function incredibly well with a great colour and the pulsation effects which work fantastically on all but the “fast” preset.

The comfort of the headphones is probably the weakest point in their design but only due to the longevity as your ears tend to get hot after a few hours. The short term comfort however is amazing with the low weight offering the feeling (or lack of) that you’re wearing nothing on your head which is an attribute I’ve only ever seen on the highest end of headphones and never on a headset. In addition to this the earpads are so soft that I’d like to curl up and go to sleep on top of them, unfortunately being 6 feet and 4 inches tall and not a pixie, this was impossible.

Moving on to the actual audio quality of the headset, which is arguably one of the most important aspects. The audio quality of the headset is a little bit lacklustre in certain regards lacking a little bit of definition in certain areas and a lack of presence sometimes. The biggest problem is the lack of bass and the overall low part of the sound spectrum as it is one of the issues which a little bit of treble can’t fix. To shine, this headset really does need high volumes, the only issue is that the high volume is not worth damaging your ears for, if it was the analogue version I had here I imagine there could be some merit to putting the headphones through an amp to make the difference. My opinion is likely to sound very critical, but that’s because I’m really picking into the quality with a fine tooth comb, most users will be able to put this headset on and think “wow” but the simple fact of the matter is that the more subtle details I bring out the more informed you can be.

The EQ settings can make a big difference to the sound offered by the headset but the simple matter is that all audio products sound better when tuned to what they have to output which is why all testing was done on the balanced preset which isn’t biased.

Finally, on the note of the microphone, although mine seemingly had a fault in regards to the clicking sound, the overall quality is fantastic when you consider that it already performs great for the money excluding the microphone, and with its inclusion it is certainly a winner. With its superb clarity and excellent noise blocking properties anyone who is listening to your voice in unlikely to hear any background noise. With the inline controls it makes muting your microphone at critical situations very easy and because of the wider button you won’t find yourself for lack of a better phrasing “missing the button” when you least want to.

To conclude my overall experience with the Siberia V2’s is that they offer fantastic value for money simply because of everything they bring to the table. They do suffer from the “jack of all trades; master of none” sort of situation but they cope with it incredibly well ensuring that they are very well rounded with no particular weakness that I can think of. The exceptional software offered by SteelSeries makes customizing the product to your precise needs very easy.

Due to the amount of performance they’re packing in to this product at such a low price I’m going to give it a value award. In addition to the value award I’m going to give it a design award because of the superb aesthetics and good overall design despite a few minor niggles.

  • Performance
  • Design
  • Value

Summary

With its fantastic design offering great comfort during short to medium length sessions, great aesthetics and competitive audio performance it’s very hard to beat for the value.

4.3

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