On our desk this week - 7

Written by Wil Harris

May 20, 2006 | 10:49

Tags: #laser #mouse #notebook #portable #ups #wireless

Companies: #linksys #microsoft #sennheiser

Sennheiser PC160 stereo headset

Cost: £60

Sennheiser is a brand well known for audiophile-quality gear. We recently took a look at its noise-cancelling portable jobs, and found them rather cool. Whilst the company has a reputation for this kind of high-end audio-only products, it's now branching out into things like computer headsets. This is a headset designed for pro-gaming in conjunction with SK-Gaming.

The headset retails for £60, pitting it right against the Plantronics DSP-500 which we previously reviewed and loved, and sells for around £40. How does it measure up?

On our desk this week - 7 Sennheiser PC160 On our desk this week - 7 Sennheiser PC160 On our desk this week - 7 Sennheiser PC160 On our desk this week - 7 Sennheiser PC160
The headset is sturdy, and is perfectly capable of being thrown around a bit, useful for those used to the rough-n-ready LAN party environment. The headband has a really nice padded top, which makes the headset comfortable to wear. The earpieces are also very spongy cushion material, which sit well on the ears regardless of the size of your particular appendages. This is a pleasant change from the DSP-500s, which have very hard earpieces which are not particular comfortable. The Sennheisers are definitely comfortable to wear for long periods of gaming!

Unlike the DSP-500, this isn't USB and so sports two jacks on the end of the cord to hook into your sound system, whether integrated or discrete. The dongle on the cable also has controls for volume and microphone mute, as well as a clip to hook onto your shirt. As a matter of personal preference we're not great fans of dongles, due to the fact they often act like a pendulum and swing distractingly when you're trying to game. The volume control is also nothing more than a variable resistor that can distort the signal, leading to a reduction of audio quality. However, if this doesn't bother you, then you might find the handy volume control useful.

In terms of audio quality, the headphones are pretty darned good, far better than the Plantronics. They're not what you'd call high fidelity, but they are perfect for gaming, with strong, boomy bass that is perfect for recreating the gun battles on screen. If you intend to listen to any music with these, you won't be able to hear the subtle nuances in music by artists like Wishbone Ash or Lemon Jelly, but you're sure to get a rocking experience out of Green Day and Funeral for a Friend.

The quality of the mic, however, is not quite as awesome. Our tests in Skype and XFire suggest that it's clear and great for gaming, but that the input isn't as clean as on the Plantronics which, to be fair, sports a mic far better than its price suggests it should. If you are looking for a headset for podcasting, for example, we'd definitely say to go with the Plantronics. If you go for the Sennheiser, we also found that the sound was better with the foam padding on the mic removed.

All in all, the Sennheiser headset is good value for money, comfortable for extended gaming sessions and will give you great quality for the price. If you want the absolute best in mic and audio quality, however, look elsewhere.
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