Roccat Kulo ReviewManufacturer: Roccat
UK price (as reviewed):
£47 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed: $86
The last product we reviewed from Roccat was its Kone+
gaming mouse, which didn't quite tick all the boxes as far as design, features and value were concerned. The Kulo is Roccat's take on a compact gaming headset. Despite its small size and relatively low weight, it retails for nearly £50.
This puts it between Corsair's well-priced HS1A
and Razer's awesome Carcharias
in terms of cost. As such, the Kulo is under a good deal of pressure to deliver, given both the aforementioned headsets scored highly and picked up awards.
It's not often that testing a product is physically unpleasant. You're probably conjuring up images of us having to test the latest hardware with our lab filled with snakes and spiders, or maybe that we actually test our products in the middle of the Sahara desert. Thankfully, James isn't quite that sadistic - despite reasonably comfortable surroundings (now that the air-con has been fixed) the Kulo managed to make testing it an objectionable experience all on its own.
Click to enlarge.
The supra-aural ear cushions are perhaps the worst offenders here. In particular, the flower-shaped cut-outs in their centres. They feel as if they've been cut to shape using a blunt pair of scissors - resting on your ears they're about as comfortable as cheese graters. As if this wasn't bad enough, the fake leather material they're made of is fond of suffocating your ears, not allowing them to breath and dispel moisture. As such, after a few minutes use, everything gets a bit sticky.
Public enemy number two is the headband. It's flexible and adjustable, and the hefty metal band that runs through it looks positively bombproof. However, the cushion feels like an over-used pillow, with large ripples causing some sections to dig into your head.
Click to enlarge
What's more, the headset seems very unbalanced - if we leant forwards just a little, the headband would start to want to droop over our eyes. The Kulo also has what can only be described as the worst in-line volume control we've ever seen. It's stiff and has a pathetic amount of movement - less than 8mm - meaning fine tuning the volume is impossible.
These objectionable features are a shame, however, as the Kulo is otherwise quite good. Despite being one of the smallest headsets we've tested, it feels extremely rugged in every area except the slightly wobbly earcups. The compactness and strength should have made the Kulo ideal for throwing in a bag for LAN. There's a sensibly sized microphone boom too, which rotates neatly out of the way, and the 3.5mm headphone and microphone mini-jacks are at the end of a 2.5m cable, which is plenty long enough.
The sound the the Kulo produces isn't going to knock your socks off, but its 40mm drivers were capable in all but the busiest scenarios. The mid-range suffered on occasions and the bass regularly lacked the range we're used to, but the sound is sufficiently decent that had the set been comfortable to wear, we wouldn't have minded using the Kulo every day or at least on long LAN weekends.
Unfortunately, comfort is of huge importance with anything that you physically interact with, be it a mouse, keyboard or a headset. The Corsair HS1A
and Razer Carcharias
don't just sound fantastic, they're supremely comfortable too. The Kulo is one of the most uncomfortable headsets we've used and we wouldn't recommend buying it, even if it's to sit in your backpack waiting for the next LAN party. The fact it costs nearly £50 makes it particularly bad value, despite the decent audio quality.