It’s always interesting testing out different features of headsets and how they affect the music I listen to daily. This time though, I wanted to see how it affects gaming. Now I don’t consider myself a gamer, but I must say, I play (or used to play) an unhealthy amount of Call of Duty. Not only that, but I’m going to be trying an open-back pair of over-ear headsets as my first gaming audio review: the Sennheiser PC 373D.
Before we get started let me briefly define open-back. Most of the headsets you own are probably closed-back. Closed-back headphones isolate you from external noises and environments (noise cancelling headphones are closed), while open-back headphones don’t isolate external sounds and actually leak audio a bit. Open back headphones tend to sound more clear and spacious, and normally have a wider sound stage. Each have their ideal purpose and situations.
Audio is one thing, but first, let’s talk about how the PC 373D are made, which is completely of plastic. This has its on pros and cons, one of the biggest pros being that these are lightweight so that you can wear for hour without fatigue. The con being that the headset doesn’t feel exactly like a couple hundred dollars.
Some cool build items to note are the volume nob on the right earcup. This presents an easy way to change the volume quickly while in game. The mic can also auto mute when it’s in the upright position, and this presents another way to have less buttons to press on the headset. The velvet cushion ear pads are soft and allow for your ears to stay cool after even hours of playtime. However, the headband (made of velvet as well) can cause some pressure issues at time. Although minute, the red highlights on the mic arm and inside the ear cups are a nice touch.
As usual with some of the bigger audio companies, it’s tough to find specs on their hardware. The three most important things that Sennheiser does let us know are: frequency Response – 15 – 28K Hz, impedance – 50 Ohms, and (what I assume to be sensitivity) sound pressure level – 116 dB.
The wide response level is there to make sure you can hear any sound in the game, so nothing is out of range. The impedance is low enough that any game system or computer can drive the headset without the need of an amp. Lastly, the SPL is high, letting you know that these headsets get pretty loud, something I can personally confirm.
From a gamer level, these sound amazing. I used these to “sound-whore” in COD, much to my enemies dismay, for hours on end. The 7.1 Surround Sound paired with the openness of being open-backed was perfect for gaming. Sounds can easily be noticed as well as their depth and direction. The audio is loud and full too, and you’ll be able to feel some bass-y noises as well. Several times I thought some small sounds were coming from my room, but there were just the game letting me hear things I’ve never noticed before. The sound quality is definitely loud, clear, and refreshing.
To get slightly more in depth with the open-back aspect of the PC 373D — as that was the reason I chose these — the open-back is simply better than closed back for certain games. Games where you have to really focus on sound and the direction of where it’s coming (stealth, action adventure, fps) will really benefit from the wide open soundstage. Also, be aware that you’ll be able to hear external sounds, which I enjoyed just so that I could hear my roommate or music if needed — just enough sound not to be too distracting.
One place where the PC 373D could use improvement is the microphone. I noticed that using the microphone built into the 373D resulted in a more tinny or treble-y voice audio. Using other headsets, even from Sennheiser (including their less expensive pair) resulted in a more full and natural voice. That didn’t really jade me too much since I don’t have to hear my voice all that often.
Also these are a USB headset, not wireless at all. Luckily the cord is 3m (when plugged into the surround sound extension) so you can still be far from your audio source. The cable, as expected, is not braided but they don’t transfer audio from touching the cord. The surround sound extension has a LED light on it as well to let you know when you have 7.1 enabled or not.
If you game on PC, Sennheiser has some customization options for you to change the sound effects on the headset while gaming. While the options are pretty limited, they do change audio levels slightly. These levels aren’t offered on any consoles I’ve seen, and don’t revert when switching devices.
The Sennheiser PC 373D retail for $200. This seems to be on the higher end of gaming headsets, but since I’ve more familiar with audio headphones, the price doesn’t scare me a bit. I will admit, if you don’t primarily play the genres mentioned above or are planning on being competitive (joining Esports), then these headsets might not be the first pair to look at.
Overall the Sennheiser PC 373D is a great headset for any gamer to use, and one that I’ve started to use daily. They are comfortable, sound great, and allow you to experience your game on the next level. If you’re able to use these headsets then let us know how you like them!Buy from Sennheiser