There are three main areas to address when it comes to a headset, they are Comfort, Audio Quality, and Microphone performance. I’m going to start off with what I consider the most important, and that is comfort.
From a design point of view, the Kave XTD Stereo is of the conventional headband type, with the only real twist being the small amount of horizontal adjustment where the headband meets the ear cups. The padding is thick enough and the material is a good balance between soft and supportive; combined with a pretty reasonable weight for a stereo headset this all makes the headset fairly comfortable for long term play.
I have two main issues though, the first and more significant is that for me there was not really as much room in the ear cups as I would have liked in terms of depth which meant my ears were pressing against the fabric of the driver casings. Though not explicitly uncomfortable I do find the sensation annoying and it always seems to take you out of the game a bit because it makes you more aware of the headphones being there. What ROCCAT need to do here is either recess the drivers into the cups a bit more like we saw on Corsair Gaming H1500 or alternatively make the ear cup padding a bit thicker.
The second issue which is a bit more subjective is that I really lament the absence of replacement pleather ear cups as personally I feel fabric ear cups are a bit unpleasant to use. Again this is obviously a personal choice but the product which I would consider one of the Kave Stereo’s main competitors, the Kingston HyperX Cloud, does come with pleather pads and at a lower price point so there is no excuse really.
Both those issues are just me fulfilling the reviewer’s job description of being picky though, overall this is a comfortable headset and the weight savings ROCCAT have implemented from the first generation are definitely appreciable.
ROCCAT have done plenty of boasting about the audio quality of the headset and are touting its 50mm drivers as being able to provide rich, crystal clear sound. So with the help of my ASUS Xonar U5 I set about testing those claims.
In music testing I have to say I was pretty pleased with the performance of the headset, you can tell its a gaming headset because the sound is definitely bass heavy but with a bit of equalisation I got the Kave Stereos to the point where I was perfectly happy with the listening experience. In vocal music with a more subdued bass line the drivers definitely do produce nice crisp mid tones and pretty clear highs, its only in more bass heavy music like EDM where the large amount of bass starts to muddy the water slightly in terms of clarity. There is always a compromise with gaming headsets though as a small loss in music clarity due to bass biased sound reproduction often leads to a more immersive gaming experience.
Indeed that is the case here, I’ve been playing a lot of Skyrim recently with the excellent Sounds of Skyrim mods installed and everything from the chirping of birds in the woods to the groaning of the dungeon dwelling draugr was produced very well and felt immersive which combined with the light weight of the headset facilitated a few multi-hour grinding sessions. Jumping into a bit of masochistic COD:MW2 I found that the sound directionality was also as good as any stereo headset I have heard with the drivers picking out things like footsteps and silenced weapons well, so for FPS players I’m sure this would be a great headset for more competitive play.
The microphone can often be an area of neglect in headsets but that is not the case here, the flip up/down boom mic seems to do the job pretty well by offering a good depth of sound but also not being too sensitive to background noise. Really as far as gaming headset mics go this is about as good as I expect them to be regardless of price, it will likely be the settings in your VOIP programs and background noise that define your experience with the mic on this headset, in my usage I found it to be perfectly good thanks to its good noise isolation and solid low volume response.