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-   -   Sennheiser PC165 gaming headset (http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/member-reviews/2489-sennheiser-pc165-gaming-headset.html)

Skyguy September 5, 2007 08:27 PM

Sennheiser PC165 gaming headset
 
For all of you gamers out there that are looking for a new headset because your current one is now busted from tossing it when you got owned in CS:S………well, today I’m looking at a product that might be of interest to you: the Sennheiser PC165 Gaming Headset.

Sennheiser is a name that is synonymous with quality audio products. The company has been a leading manufacturer of audio equipment for over 60 years, and is well known to audiophiles. Their jump into the gaming market was a logical move, and we’ll see today how well they’ve done with their flagship headset.

Specifications and Features:

First, a bit of info about the PC165s. If we look at the rear of the packaging, this is what we’re greeted with:

*Adjustable headband for total comfort
*For IP based communications
*Microphone can be adjusted and bent
*In-line volume control/Microphone mute switch
*Single sided cable wont bug your neck or chin
*USB adapter, no need for a sound card
*Noise-cancelling microphone
*Can be used with CD/DVD/MP3 player
*Compatible with Win98SE and above

Headphones
*Frequency response: 18 - 22,000Hz [/font]
*Impedance: 16 Ω [/font]
*SPL: 11 4dB [/font]
*Cable: 3.0m length[/font]

Microphone
*Frequency response: 80 - 15,000 Hz
*Pick-up pattern: Uni-directional
*Sensitivity: -38 dB
*Impedance: -2 kΩ

Features
*Developed for and with leading professional eSport gamers.
*Open air speaker system, like that of Sennheiser open headphones, provide sensational acoustics ideal for professional gaming.
*Detachable USB adapter with integrated sound card chip ensures superb sound regardless of where you play.
*Velour-padded ear caps for optimum comfort even after extended gaming session.
*The noise-canceling microphone provides for high speech-clarity and voice recognition by filtering
*In-line volume control and mic mute switch lets you decide volume intensity and have a side conversation in privacy
*Cable wind-up clip keeps excess cable wire - between headphones and adapter - out of the way when you play

Packaging and Components:
The 165s are packaged in a simple clear case, with minimal frills or extras. Clean and straightforward, which seems to follow the corporate image of Sennheiser.



Upon opening the package, I thought something was missing…..no manual or instructions included. As I soon found out, they were unnecessary……it’s as simple as plugging in the USB adapter and letting the computer recognize the hardware. That’s it, that simple, nothing else required. Talk about easy……

The next thing I notice is the detachable USB adapter. With this adapter, you can take your headset just about anywhere and ensure the exact same sound quality without any tweaking whatsoever, due to the fact that there actually a small sound card contained within the USB adapter itself. So any USB port willl accept this headset…..no worries about jacks, compatibility, optimizations, etc……just plug and play. A gamer’s LAN party dream come true.




There is one drawback, however, to this included soundcard: lack of adjustments. The settings are already optimized, but if they don’t suit your particular tastes for some reason, there’s no opportunity to tweak them. You get what you get. This lack of manual control/adjustment, however, probably won’t matter to the vast majority of users, as the sound settings are very good (more on that in a minute).

As you can also see in the photo above, there is an in-line volume control and a mic mute switch within easy reach for those times you need it. There is also a clip to fasten to your shirt or similar to keep the cable away from your hands. An included wind-up clip also helps keep the cables to a minimum length and out of your way when you’re busy fragging!

The headset itself is a rather minimalist design, no extra frills, no big swivel pads, etc like some other popular headsets. Other than the adjustable headband, this headset is quite simply in its design. It has a very clean design, strong lines, is very unobtrusive and quite lightweight. It has thick foam padding on the top-inside of the headset band, and thick velour-covered ear caps. The ear caps are not circum-aural; that is, they don’t completely cover around your ears (unless you have very small ears). Rather, they fit up against the ears. I’ve experienced many headphones where this setup creates either sore or sweaty ears after hours of gaming, but this headset is probably the first I’ve tested that has not caused those problems. Quite a feat really.





The microphone is positioned on the left side of the user’s face, and is not removable. It swivels approximately 100 degrees from vertical, so there are a wide range of possibilities that should suit each user’s preference. The microphone arm is actually quite unique in design and function. It swivels up and down (without any "clicking" into position) very easily but isn't loose...it stays in position very well. It has a cylindrical-shaped piece foam over the mic itself, very slim and not obtrusive. The mic arm can be bent closer or further from the mouth. Now here's the really interesting thing: the whole mic arm acts like a piece of rubberized material in a way. For example, if I whack the mic backwards, it bounces back into form where I had it. But if I forcefully move it slowly, it keeps its new position. So, if I bang it, drop it, or throw it, it will simply bounce back into place, preventing damage. But if I slowly bend the mic, it will stay where I put it. VERY unique, and extremely functional. It’s a bit unusual at first, but I find it to be a fantastic design solution for mic arms that always break for gamers (as often happens when you get owned and throw your headset at an unsuspecting desk or wall). Very well done.









Testing and Sound Quality:

I am not equipped to conduct laboratory-quality tests, and can only offer the following testing and comments in relation to a few other headsets I've used. As a result, while I cannot make completely objective, quantitative conclusions based on scientific tests, I believe the anecdotal and qualititative observations can be just as informative. That being said, let's continue......

As mentioned, no manual adjustment is possible when using the USB adapter. However, the optimizations are very good. Bass is not overpowering, but may seem a bit light to those who love bass and are used to having full control with a regular sound card. But in fairness, the bass is well balanced and adequate for games, though perhaps a bit light for music. Sound quality is very clear across the spectrum, highs and lows, no distortion when the volume is cranked up. Music has very good surround when listening to all types of music, from classical to urban. Movies have great clarity, and it was chilling to watch the battle and fight sequences from Revenge of the Sith, with an easy ability to pull out the individual sounds in full stereo.

The microphone produces very clear transmission of sound, very little background noise. Excellent sound in Teamspeak and Ventrillo. Your clanmates should have no problem fully understanding what you say when you’re in some clan match. Speaking of gaming, this is where the difference counts and where this Sennheiser succeeds or fails. After all, what does Mozart matter if you can’t boost your kill count in BF2142? Well, you’ll be pleased to know that this headset succeeds. BIG.

Effects are rendered very well, very clear, with a great balance between bass and treble. Sounds are not overpowering, but quite immersive. There is a very clear distinction between the sounds you hear beside you and those far away. In a first-person shooter, tracking enemies where subtle sounds make the difference between life or death is vital. And this is where this headset shines. The positional sound is unbelievable. When playing Call of Duty 2 multiplayer, I could hear an enemy reloading his gun......except that I could tell he was located behind me, to my left, behind a wall, in the basement on Carentan. Absolutely amazing. I could hear footsteps upstairs, and knew which room another guy was in, when I was outside!. I found myself constantly checking my compass to see if the sounds I heard was my teammate or an enemy sneaking around. It will definitely take some time getting accustomed to my new Super Hearing.

Conclusion:

Sennheiser is a name that is synonymous with quality audio products, and the PC165 gaming headset is another prime example of why. This headset works on multiple levels, from the ease of setup, portability, sleek design, comfort……….but most of all, where it counts: sound quality. This product is particularly useful for people who have poor onboard sound or need the mobility and can take these and plug n play in any computer anywhere. The innovative microphone arm will greatly reduce breakage from either accidents or getting slammed on the desk when you get owned in your FPS game. But they really shine in games where positional reference and sound is important. You know EXACTLY where everyone is, even halfway across a smaller map. This headset might not make you shoot straighter, but you'll sure know where your enemies are coming from!

I'd highly recommend the Sennheisers PC165's to anyone except true audiophiles/enthusiasts that crave high-end control. For the remaining 99% of the population, these cans are top-notch. This headset is not cheap, but you definitely get your money’s worth with these. An excellent product at a good price, which will satisfy demanding consumers that want the best bang for their buck.

Supergrover September 5, 2007 08:59 PM

First off , Nice Review!
Second I have a pair of PC-151's, whats the difference between the 151 and the 165? From what I am looking @ it's just the USB interface. I got to agree they are one comfy design my ears dont get sore and only a little sweaty. I tend to sweat while fragging. :) And yes you got to love the Mic.

Skyguy September 5, 2007 10:26 PM

Thanks. :canadianwave:

Yes, I believe it's the USB connector. The jacks fubar my speaker/media/gaming setup, so the USB's are nice......keep everything separate. Also great for plug-n-play and taking them anywhere on the go since they have a sound card built in.

I use them for long periods of time and my ears don't get sweaty much at all. They were a bit sore when I first got them until they got broken in a bit, but then after that it was great. Very comfy and cushiony.

I love the minimalist design, and they take a BEATING. I have 2 toddlers at home and they have chucked them more than a couple times......no problems whatsoever with the durability or sound quality.

Tigerdirect had them on sale for 50% off awhile back and I scooped 2 pairs :) 1 for now, 1 for later if my kids actually wreck them LOL.

abs0Lut November 12, 2007 05:39 PM

It is definitely a great headset and I do agree with the how good the sound quality is. I bought a pair of these for my little brother last Christmas and as soon as I had heard them in game and listening to music I was really impressed. Sennheiser FTW!:punk:


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