Sennheiser G4ME Zero Review - Performance and Conclusion
If the build quality of the Sennheiser G4ME Zero is fairly obvious when you take them out the box, it is blindingly so when you actually put the headset on. The earcups are so large as to comfortably accommodate even the largest ears and although our ears just touched the lining fabric over the drivers it wasn’t at all distracting or uncomfortable.
The padding is also exceptional. It’s not as deep as on the Qpad QH-90 but it’s as soft if not softer and because of the carefully considered shape of the earcups the overall effect is one of squishy comfort. Notably even wearing glasses we found the foam simply absorbed all the pressure. The headband is equally well padded. We’ve worn these for at least 3 hours non-stop on multiple occasions and not become at all uncomfortable, which is something that can’t be said for many headsets. A crucial part of this is that the headband doesn’t squeeze your head either.
As hinted at earlier, both the microphone and volume control also work superbly, with both feeling instantly natural and comfortable to use. The quality of the microphone is also second to none with its noise cancelling working very effectively and audio coming across with clarity and depth. We’re still talking about ‘headset quality’ here so you probably won’t want to dictate an audio book or record your latest hit using it but for gaming and skype purposes it’s very good.
Sound Quality - Music
Given the largely positive impression so far we had high hopes for the sound quality of the Sennheiser G4ME Zero and although in many ways its headphones do deliver, they’re definitely not flawless. Quite simply, they seriously lack bass.
Now clearly taste in headphone/audio preference varies from person to person. Some like all the bass they can get, others like a much more crystalline, detailed sound signature. We tend to like something in the middle, and the G4ME Zero is decidedly lacking in the bottom-end for our liking. This makes it a rather unsatisfying listen when it comes to Dance, Hip-Hop, Heavy Metal, Rock and most Pop – there’s just not very much oomph. It’s not completely absent - indeed the range is very impressive - but more often than not we were left wanting just a little bit more. This can be countered a little by using an EQ but the results are nothing compared to using just a more bass-heavy ‘phone in the first place.
However, if your tastes are more towards Acoustic, Classical, Folk and Jazz then the clarity on offer will be right up your street. A huge amount of detail is delivered with a smoothness and sparkle that can be quite astounding. Stereo separation isn’t striking but still good for a gaming headset. We're still probably only talking £100 headphone levels of clarity here but that's still good for a headset.
For those that have the PC350 this will all sound very familiar as that headset ‘suffered’ from exactly the same issue and indeed a quick Google reveals a host of users exchanging tips on how to modify that headset with holes to boost the bass performance. Suffice to say this isn’t something we tried on this headset but in theory the same modification should work.
If you do want more bass the G4ME One (and PC 360) deliver it in spades though there are other considerations such as the open-back design so it's not just a straight swap.
Sound Quality – Gaming
The flip side of this lack of bass is that it boosts the overall clarity of the G4ME Zero and it’s this fact that makes it so good for gaming. Compared to the vast majority of bass-heavy gaming headsets out there, the lightweight sound of the Zero is far, far superior for hearing and pinpointing the origin of sounds in games. This makes it much better for competitive gaming. Likewise it's quite good for watching TV and movies as you can generally make out more clearly what people are saying, though again the lack of bass takes a little out of the action sequences.
We’ve used the Zero for playing, in particular, Team Fortress 2, Counter-Strike and Battlefield 4 and while we can’t say our scores actually improved our overall perception within the game was markedly better than with the likes of the Roccat Kave and Func HS-260, for instance.
The other big advantage of this headset is that the closed-back design – which is what contributes to the low-bass response – does a good job of reducing background noise. It by no means eliminates it altogether (Sennheiser's claim of "block[ing] out all outside noise" is a wild exaggeration as we could still hear the hum of our computer in a quiet room) but it definitely takes the edge off, and of course it stops you disturbing others by leaking sound to the outside world.
The Sennheiser G4ME Zero achieves exactly what it sets out to do; be a class-leading gaming headset. It’s supremely comfortable, has an excellent microphone, a really handy volume control and great clarity. If that’s all you want and money isn’t too much of a concern then go for it.
However, in focussing so directly on that goal Sennheiser has missed the mark on making this a good all-rounder for all your PC audio needs, and for such an expensive headset that’s a bit of a problem. Of course if you prefer a sound signature with minimal bass then the Zero will probably still suit you just fine, but if you like a warmer or bass-heavy sound then they fall well short. The lack of removable microphone and cable also means that can't effectively double as headphones.
The final reason why this headset misses out on a higher score is because quite simply it’s rather expensive at the moment. Although it adds a couple of improvements over the Sennhesier PC350 headset – the better volume control and auto-muting microphone, at some £30-£40 more expensive we’re not sure they really justify the premium.