Gioteck EX-05 ReviewManufacturer: Gioteck
UK Price (as reviewed): £30.47
US Price (as reviewed):
With its preliminary focus on console gaming, peripheral manufacturer Gioteck has yet to appear on our radar here at bit-tech. Its wired EX-05 headset (a wireless version is also available) has come to our attention, however, not just for being one of the cheapest headsets we've ever looked at, but also for its universal compatibility with PS3 and Xbox 360 as well as PCs and Macs. Any headset that costs £30 is immediately at an advantage in the market, and providing it's not dreadful it could provide a simple solution for gamers who use multiple platforms, although our focus will naturally be on its performance in a PC environment.
When you first remove the EX-05 from its box, it's fairly clear that it's a budget headset. There's a lot of cheap plastic around the earcups, minimal material used for the headband and the in-line controller in particular feels very flimsy. The build quality isn't terrible as such, but the headset doesn't feel like it would survive more than a couple of rage quits.
Comfort is a mixed bag of pleasure and irritation. On the plus side are the earcups, the padding for which is well positioned and cleared our ears without fuss. As they can tilt and turn left and right a bit too, it should be easy to position them securely on most heads. They're certainly comfortable enough for a £30 headset, although don't expect them to match the levels of more expensive leather padded ones.
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The padding is advertised as breathable, and while we didn't encounter problems with overheating in extended sessions, noise as well as air permeates the padding. Therefore, leakage from the headset is quite high and it also provides minimal passive noise cancellation despite fully covering your ears. The headband, in contrast to the cups, lacks any padding. Though it's lightweight, the two rails are actually quite solid and can be uncomfortable where they touch your head. It's not unbearable, and the effect can be minimised by extending the earcups slightly, but we struggled to find a position that wouldn't begin to annoy us after a little while.
The microphone isn't retractable, but it can be moved out of the way to a vertical position on the right earcup to which it's attached. It's rubber coated and flexible, and probably the most durable element of the headset, although it does have a rather limited range of positions it can be set in. It's also noise isolating in use, and we experienced no problems with clarity or background noise in Skype or game voice chats.
The in-line controller features the usual microphone mute button, along with an input switch to change the headset from Xbox mode to PS3/PC mode. With a PC, you simply plug the headset in via USB and away you go. However, consoles use a combination of USB and RCA audio plugs which enables the headset to separate voice and game audio, and hence the controller features a volume slider for each (on PC, the voice slider controls all the volume). The cabling between the headset and the connections is ridiculously long, which can lead to tangling, and has clearly been designed to favour console gamers who tend to sit further from their screens.
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Sadly, sound from the pair of 40mm drivers is poor on a PC. In music, the bass is very underwhelming, and consequently the high end, which is admittedly quite clear and well defined, dominates the overall sound, an effect that is particularly noticeable and painful at high volumes, where it starts to sound very tinny. The mid-range lacks details and sounds muffled, and games and films lack clarity as a result. The situation is improved somewhat on consoles, with the audio input from the RCA connections seemingly benefitting the headset, but only in a way that takes the sound quality to acceptable, even for a £30 product.
We weren't expecting greatness with the Gioteck EX-05, and to be honest we didn't get it either. Its appeal lies simply in what it is – a £30 voice-chat headset that functions across the two major consoles and PCs. As a replacement for the Xbox headset or a tacky bluetooth PS3 ear piece, it's not a bad purchase, as it's easy to use and provides acceptable levels of comfort and sound quality for the price.
However, those sticking with the trusty computer but who are also on a budget will want to give this headset a miss and give instead some consideration to Corsair's cheaper headsets like the Vengeance 1100
or Vengeance 1300
. Though the latter is £20 more expensive, the investment is in a product that doesn't need regular upgrading and will see a lot of day-to-day use, and is thus a sensible one.