Sound Produced: 7.1 Surround (Virtual)
Primary System: PC
Connection Method: USB
The Plantronics GameCom 780 brings the company’s industrial heritage to gamers with an attractive aesthetic, minimal color and serious comfort. The lightweight construction makes the GameCom 780 great for extended wear. As far as gaming headsets go, the feature set is extremely minimal, but for those looking for something that sounds great and is beyond easy to setup and use (at a great price), there is a lot to like here.
What’s in the box?
GameCom 780 headset and driver CD. Note: you are best off downloading the most current driver’s from Plantronics’ website.
Aesthetics and Durability
The first thing I noticed about the GameCom 780 is how utilitarian it appears. Plantronics got their start in aviation communications, and that sensibility permeates the design of this unit. The entire unit is black, with the exception of two small splashes of color. The cable that winds freely above the earcups and features a USB connector is a muted red. The light on the surround sound on/off button glows blue. There are also limited uses of red accents ringing the earcups and on the top where the adjustment points reside and underside.
The microphone is one solid piece that swivels up and out of the way for times when you don’t need to talk. Embossed on it is the only place you will find the Plantronics name. Across the top of the plastic headband is the GameCom logo.
The velour on the earcups and underside of the headband match the black of the largely plastic construction. The adjustment points are made of forked metal, giving a little brightness to the otherwise dark motif. The cans can swivel around to rest on your shoulders if necessary. These are stiff rotation points, and could stand to be just a hair looser.
While the unit is light, parts of the construction don’t feel as high quality as I expected. The top of the headband, the outer parts of the earcups and the interestingly configured adjustments (which are internal to the cans) don’t feel as sturdy as I’d like. I like the general design and feel of the microphone, but it limits flexibility. The element was always positioned just a bit too far from my mouth and can’t really be moved (and held) closer. Thankfully, things are better once the unit was on my head.
Ease of Setup and Use
To get started, install the latest drivers from the Plantronics page. Then plug in your headset to a free USB port. That’s it.
The drivers offer a small control panel to toggle between Game/Movie and Music settings, but that is the only thing you’ll require. The volume appears to be an analog dial, but it’s actually a digital switch. It appears on the underside of the left earcup with the mute button and the surround sound button. There are no inline controls, no presets and really nothing to fuss with. It’s extremely easy to setup, which is ideal for those that just want something that sounds good without the hassle.
Sound Quality and Performance Notes
Where the design and construction of the GameCom 780 might have disappointed me a bit, the same cannot be said for the sound quality. The 7.1 (virtual) surround sound pumped out by the twin 40mm drivers provided one of the most robust soundscapes with solid (but not overwhelming) lows, clear highs and a level of clarity and distinction in the mid-range that was truly impressive. Given the open construction of the design, you won’t get good isolation from the outside world, but that is by intent.
Even without the unit blasting, I could clearly hear the music and effects coming from the speakers when it was resting on my desk. I could also easily detect the sounds around me. If you’re looking to shut out ambient noise, you aren’t going to find it here. However, for those of us with kids that want to game in relative peace (but still keep an ear out for nightmare-induced hollering), it’s a good balance.
Again, the lack of presets and equalizer functions might turn off gamers who like to tweak their settings for competition. For the rest of us, especially those looking for a streamlined approach that lives by the word “accessible,” this is a solid option. Unfortunately, the microphone isn’t what I would consider ideal for anything more than in-game chat.
As you’ll hear from the sample below, when I recorded I got a bit of background noise that seemed to be created by the unit. The noise cancellation seemed to work just fine, but after adjusting settings and switching USB ports a few times, the problem persisted. This likely won’t be a major issue, unless you are hoping to use this for high quality podcasting. For streaming and in-game chat, I can’t imagine it being so overwhelming that you wouldn’t be satisfied.
This is another area the Plantronics GameCom 780 excels. I don’t typically like velour because it doesn’t breathe well and tends to be heavy. It’s not as sweat-inducing as leatherette, but isn’t as good as the soft fabric found on Astro Gaming products. I don’t know what about the material on the GameCom 780 is different, but it’s fantastic.
Given the plastic construction (something that I didn’t love aesthetically) and the open nature of the adjustments, the unit is very light. Combined with the pillow-like feel of the earcups and headbands, this product is a dream. I had no problem wearing it during multi-hour gaming sessions without any discomfort.
The most significant aspect of the GameCom 780 is the ease of setup and use. It sounds great, and there is minimal work to do (installation of drivers) before getting up and running.
The GameCom780′s largely plastic construction doesn’t make the greatest first impression, but I suggest getting to know it a little bit better before judging. If you are a gamer looking for a (relatively) affordable headset that sounds good and offers ease of use rather than an overwhelming feature set, this is a great place to start.