Gamers have always been the lot who are usually tagged as the heavy-spenders. And looking at the pricing of this new gaming headset from Sennheiser, I would not deny that. But does this new headset deliver performance worth its Rs 20k plus price tag? We pop these cans on and play a few rounds of Call of Duty to find out.
To be very honest, the 363D doesn’t actually look expensive. If anything, it looks like something you can purchase for about Rs 8,000-10,000. Yes, the construction is premium grade plastic, but it still has those run-of-the-mill looks. I’ve seen headphones below this price (both gaming and non-gaming) that do well to conceal screw ports, or use leather cushioning in the headband and ear cups. That said, the headset fits very snugly over the head and the ear cushions sit softly enveloping the ears. The 1.2m cable is fabric coated – we think that this reduces the chances of wired getting entangled and friction between wire and skin (or tables). Also, the microphone boom is one of the most well designed ones that we’ve seen. It’s fitted to the headpiece very efficiently and doesn’t feel even a bit flimsy.
This new headset supports up to 8 Dolby channels (7.1), but it does so through a USB adapter that virtualises these channels. This means that by default, the two 3.5mm jacks (one for the cans and one for the mic) support only two basic channels as any regular headset would do. To get the Dolby 3D surround, you’ve got to install a driver on your PC and plug in the 3.5mm jacks into the USB sound card, and in turn plug the USB into the PC. You can then choose the number of channels you want – 2, 4, 5.1 or 7.1, depending on up to how many channels your media supports. The sound card also comes with a switch, which you can flip to enable or disable Dolby Headphone. Volume can be controlled by a dial that lies on the right earpiece. Strangely though, there’s no mute switch for the cans. The microphone, however, can still be disabled by just flipping it up (you get a faint click in acknowledgement).
And once you fire up the audio, you know that this is a very expensive headset. While playing COD: Black Ops, I could feel the difference between this and the Astro A50, which I have used a lot during COD marathons. The bass is tight, deep and rich, and doesn’t give you one of those brain-melting reverberations in the process. The mids and highs too were perfect in every sense, making fired shots sound brilliantly clear. Suffice to say, the sound is very balanced and maintains clarity at even the highest volume level. The microphone is quite efficient in cutting out ambient noise, and my fellow gamers told me that the vocals are quite crisp.
Once you switch on the Dolby Headphone, the sound card virtualises a rather humongous soundstage and the resultant 3D Surround Sound is quite impressive. For First Person Shooter PC games, this is a brilliant accessory. However, the bass output does become a bit feeble with the 7.1 option (even if the media is supported by all the channels). The biggest problem, however, is sound leak. You might wake up sleeping roommates or disturb anyone around you who might need some silence. That said, the leakage occurs only towards the highest volume levels.
For its price, the PC 363D gaming headset provides really good audio for gaming as well as other media with the Dolby enhancement. Even with the sound card disabled, the headset gives good output, but there are other headsets that give you richer audio for less money that come without any enhancements. And at this price, Sennheiser should have packed in extra cushion cups and a carrying case at the least. How else would you carry these big, expensive cans to LAN parties?
Love – Perfectly balanced sound, rich surround effect
Hate – Sound leakage at higher levels, pricey