Manufacturer: SteelSeries
MSRP: $119.99
Sound Produced: Stereo
Type: Wired
Primary System: PC, Mac (Frost Blue not currently detected by SteelSeries Engine software on Mac)
Connection Method: USB

 

Basic Description

The SteelSeries Siberia V2 comes in a number of flavors, two of which are getting the RipTen Gaming Headset Buyer’s Guide treatment. They are very similar, but have key differences that we’ve addressed in a product-specific section toward the bottom of both writeups. You will, however, see text reiterated. If you’ve read one Siberia analysis, be sure to check out the special section below that addresses the distinctions.

The SteelSeries Siberia V2 is designed with PCs in mind and, at the time of publication, also functions aptly (but not perfectly) with Macs. We received the new Frost Blue design. It’s sleek, with a uniquely contoured headband that makes the SteelSeries Siberia V2 perfect for extended gaming sessions, especially for those people that can’t seem to ever find the right adjustment setting for their head shapes. This unit differs from the 3.5mm Siberia V2 in that it also offers adjustable illumination on the outer grills in a number of different configurations.

 

What’s in the Box?

Headset with USB connector with integrated sound card and in-line volume/mute control, USB extension cable (2 meters)

 

Aesthetics and Durability:

The SteelSeries Siberia V2 is an extremely attractive looking headset. It features glossy white on the majority of the earcups all the way up to where the adjustment point would be on most units. There is also a grated white plate. Illumination emanates from beneath the firm, meshed pieces. By default, this pulses slowly, but via the SteelSeries Engine software, it can be configured in a number of ways. The glow can be left on at all times, pulse at different speeds react to the volume and intensity of sound and, of course, be turned off entirely. The earpieces swivel a bit, but the true comfort comes from the cushy grey leatherette padding on the circumaural cups.

Additionally, the headband is uniquely designed. This feature sets the SteelSeries Siberia V2 apart from everything else we’ve looked at so far. Instead of having traditional, discreet adjustment points, this unit features a two-piece band. The cups are held in place with two rigid, white bands. These do not come into contact with the wearer’s head.

Rather, there is a very lightweight cross piece that is connected via four points. The wires appear to run through the middle of the contact band and allow dynamic sizing. Additionally the padded piece can be moved to different points on the skull. On one hand, this allows for better shaping to the user’s skull. On the other, it’s not as simple as setting your headset up and having it fit identically every time.

The placement of the band matters and does (as intended) impact comfort. Spending a few moments every time you put the unit on will be rewarded with a more personalized fit. My only concern is that if even one connection point for the top band were to detach that the unit might be rendered entirely unwearable.

The Siberia’s retractable, flexible microphone is fantastic. When squirreled away inside the left ear cup it cannot be seen by others unless they they are seeking it out. Extending the mic and positioning is easy, even if you do it when wearing the unit. The headset features an in-line control unit for volume and muting.

 

Ease of Setup and Use:

Setup is simple. Plug the headset directly into a USB 2.0 port (or into the extension cable first) and you’re all set. The SteelSeries Engine is a simple tool to use, providing six different presets along with the option to create your own custom equalization. The illumination can also be adjusted for different intensities and pulsations. The “Trigger” option is particularly interesting, as it links the lighting to the sound coming through the headset. This functions best in a dark room. Otherwise you won’t be able to see the effect unless you play in front of a mirror, and that would just be odd.

Users can create different profiles linked to executable files, which makes prioritizing different frequency ranges for different games possible. There are also presets for music and entertainment, for those times when you want to put your controller down.  Unfortunately, while the SteelSeries Engine is available for Mac, the Frost Blue isn’t detected by the software. Until there is an update, Mac users are stuck with the standard equalizer settings and pulsating illumination.

 

Sound Quality and Performance Notes:

The Siberia V2 creates an impressive soundscape. The headset’s closed architecture means that it does a great job of blocking out external sounds when receiving an audio signal. The 50mm drivers pound a lot of bass, which is perfect for fans of big explosions and dubstep. You’ll get a bit more distortion with the larger drivers, but it’s a give and take. If you crave accentuated low rumbles, you’ll be quite satisfied with what SteelSeries has done here.

The Siberia’s microphone is fully retractable and completely flexible while still holding its form and positioning over extended gaming sessions. The element is hidden beneath a small, plastic shield. The recording quality, as you can hear in the sample below, is quite adequate for chatting. The unidirectional microphone did a fantastic job of isolating my voice from the ambient noise around me consisting of fans, children and a dog.

The microphone is also suitable for podcasting, though definitely not the best we’ve reviewed in the price range.  The sound quality came across as a bit hollow and distant. and sensitive to to subtle changes in my volume as I was speaking. As you will hear below, my voice is clear, but it doesn’t sound quite as rich as in some other samples.

Recording Sample

SteelSeries V2 USB Recording Sample

 

Comfort:

As we mentioned in the aesthetics section, SteelSeries seemed to have designed the Siberia in a room with a giant whiteboard upon which a single monolithic word was inscribed: COMFORT. Through extended gaming, music and movie sessions, this headset proved itself as one of the most comfortable we’ve looked at.

The dynamic fit of the flexible headband accomplishes its goal masterfully. More importantly, despite my typical dislike for leatherette earcups, the combination of a lightweight design and supremely comfortable padding enables me to give the unit a huge endorsement. If you’re someone who can never find just the right adjustment point on a typical headset, the Siberia might answer your call for comfort.

 

 

Differentiating Features:

The Siberia V2′s dynamic adjustment is what sets it apart from everything else in our guide.

Siberia V2 USB features not found in standard Siberia V2:

  • USB connection means that the device is ready to use out of the box with Macs
  • Sound card integrated into USB connector
  • Will not work with mobile devices at all
  • Better microphone (or at least USB connection improves recording quality)
  • For PC users, SteelSeries Engine allows customization of equalizer and illumination pattern (Mac client currently available, but Frost Blue is not supported at this time)

 

Accessories Recommended/Required:

None, but Mac users will be waiting until the SteelSeries Engine supports the Frost Blue on that platform to make the most of their headset purchase.

 

Conclusion:

The Siberia Series V2 is ideal for PC and Mac users that want a rich soundscape, a capable microphone and a flashy look. The unit is extremely attractive, and the blue glow underneath the grills perfectly complements the icy look of the glossy white plastic on the unit. The microphone retracts almost completely for a discreet look and balances malleability and rigidity perfectly.

The dynamic headband and light weight design are paired for a supremely comfortable unit, though I still worry about what would happen if one of the four connection points of the headpiece were to break. The wire is thick enough that you would have to do something pretty severe to make that happen, but it’s something to be mindful of.

Despite not offering surround sound, the Sibera V2′s stereo output is full and rich. For $119.99 (MSRP), the quality on offer is quite impressive. SteelSeries hasn’t packed in a ton of features, but what is here (great sound, comfort, a good unidirectional microphone and customizability via the SteelSeries Engine) makes this unit a significant value.

 

Products to compare:

 

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