I’m only distracted by a pretty face for so long before I start to look around for something with a little more substance. Such is the case with the SteelSeries Diablo 3 Headset: it looks cool as hell (see what I did there?), but it’s not going out of its way to do anything that special.
If Looks Could Kill
The matte black color, sharp edges, and blood-red highlights nail the whole Diablo 3 vibe, and the pulsing red lights add to this devilish aesthetic. They’re also really comfortable, sturdy, and lightweight — something the entire SteelSeries brand manages to excel at — which makes them great for long hours of clicking away at demon hordes.
Like most good headsets, the guts of the Diablo 3 set have a 50mm magnet driver in each earpiece that delivers a pretty good mix of highs, mids, and lows. It’s too bad the entire sound experience is in stereo instead of surround, especially when you consider that you can get the Tritton AX 720 7.1 surround-sound set for around the same $120 price. The noise-cancelling microphone is serviceable, and it has the added bonus of being retractable.
I would have preferred the USB cable that dangles off of the headset to be longer than three feet (it feels like a one or two feet short), because the included 6.5-foot extension cable makes it too long, increasing the likelihood of stepping or rolling over it. The volume control dial located on the headphone cable feels awfully cheap, which is in stark contrast to the sturdy nature of the rest of the headset.
For being a USB-powered stereo headset, this is priced pretty high. Under the Diablo colors it’s functionally identical to the $90 Siberia V2 headset line, and the only difference is its lack of a standard 3.5mm headphone plug. For a wired headset I consider this a misstep because the USB-only connection will replace your existing default soundcard settings. So if you have a card that’s powered by a powerful audio chip (like the Recon3D’s we recently reviewed), make sure you’re okay with these taking control of your PC as your default audio setup when they’re in use.
The downloadable software package that the packaging makes a big deal out of is an incredibly generic inclusion that does little to help justify the high price. It’s little more than an EQ slider that allows you to save your settings and adjust how much you want the red lights on the outside of the headset to pulse. There’s no pre-set profiles (e.g. music, game, or movie), and compared to other headset software packages like Creative’s TacticProfile EQ software, it all feels incredibly useless.
It’s hard to justify the cost of this headset unless you’re a Diablo 3 superfan, and even then I’d probably recommend you look for something that provides a better sound quality experience for the price tag.
Pros: Good stereo sound; light, comfortable, and sturdy design; looks cool as hell.
Cons: Expensive; no 3.5mm plugs; weak software; volume control feels cheap.