Sennheiser PC 161 UK price (as reviewed): £53.01
US price (as reviewed): $59.99
(excl. tax and shipping)
Ok, so first things first, the name isn't very catchy is it? Some would take it as a sign of quality, others as a sign of weakness, but no matter which way you listen to it the PC 161 doesn't sound quite as cool as the Creative Fatal1ty which, for all its l33t spelling, still sounds like something Jack Thompson would frown at.
And obviously, annoying Jack Thompson is something that makes us all happy.
Still, a rose by any other name would still get cow poo as fertiliser, so let's have a look at the design of the Sennheiser headset to start with.
The first thing to notice about them is that the headband connects to the earpieces at the very front, which gives them a chic, unbalanced look overall. It also meant that we kept putting them on back to front for a bit until we got really used to them.
The other thing to notice is that the microphone for the headset isn't detachable as it is on the Creative model. Instead, the microphone pivots upwards to swing out of the way. It feels cool to pull the microphone down like this, but it probably makes you look a bit of a prat as well.
The colour scheme used on the headset is also starkly different to the Creative headset. Instead of the black and red details which were probably added at Fatal1ty's insistence, the Sennheiser headset is coolly done in black and silvery metallic grey. The black and grey look definitely looks classier and doesn't reek of something trying to look badass, instead it just looks like a decent headset with a cool microphone on it.
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The headset is adjusted in the exact same way as the Creative headset, with extra length clicking out of the headband to adjust each earpiece, which can be useful if you've got one ear higher than the other or, more likely, if you want to have an ear partially free to listen for when your editor sneaks up on you.
The top of the headband has a cushion on the top of it so that it doesn't hurt the top of your head. Unlike the Creative head cushion though the Sennheiser is done over in a thin layer of leather that feels very smooth and stylish. It doesn't make much of a difference to how much your hair style gets messed up, but it does gather less dandruff on it, which is always a plus for those few times when the missus wants to play some Counter-Strike
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The Sennheiser has what it calls 'XXL Ear caps' (we call them 'really massive ear cushions') on the earpieces to make them more comfortable and to help block out sound. From the offset through we couldn't help but feel that they were a little too big though, the gap left for the speaker being just a little bigger than the end of my thumb. Headsets don't always need massive room around the speaker though, so we cut it a little slack until we tried it on.
Which is what we did next.