Page 3 - Subjective Audio Analysis
There are many challenges when it comes to reviewing headphones, because of how subjective the experience could be. It takes experience and time to train your ears to be able to make a proper judgement for an audio review. These challenges force us to take quite some time to listen and compare it to other sound equipment to have the best results, and to be able to give it a fair observation. Unfortunately, since different people have different tastes in their headphones and what they should sound like, it is hard to come to a truly objective conclusion. As such, the SteelSeries Siberia 200 headphones were put through a series of subjective tests to come to the best final conclusion. All tests were done through the Auzentech X-Fi Bravura sound card's dedicated headphone circuit.
At first, the headphones were broken in to ensure during testing, they are performing at its best. All tracks were uncompressed CDs, FLAC, or LAME encoded MP3s at 192kbps or higher. Since the SteelSeries Siberia 200 is a gaming headset, I spent some time gaming with it. The tests were conducted in DOTA 2, Sid Meier's Civilization V, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Personally, headphones should perform best in a game such as Counter-Strike, because of how important it is to hear where the enemy is in relation to yourself. For games like DOTA 2 and Sid Meier's Civilization V, the sound is a nice added feature, but will not directly affect gameplay performance.
Most gaming headsets have their bass boosted a bit to help accentuate certain in-game sounds. In Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, as well as many other first person shooter games, the footsteps were heard in the bass region, so having an emphasized lower end helps to pick up the footstep noises better. The SteelSeries Siberia 200 was no exception, with its bass being increased. I found the low frequencies to be solid and deep. It was present and easy to hear, but at the same time it did not completely overpower the rest of the sounds. When I jumped into a game of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, the emphasized bass helped me to hear footsteps clearly. Overall, the bass characteristics and quality was good.
Unfortunately, the midrange did not perform as well as the bass. At first, it sounded a little raspy, which did not always allow for crystal clear vocals of your teammates. The midrange also sounded a little recessed, which made it sound relatively blanketed. The bass did not overpower the midrange, but it was missing some range. Ultimately, the sound came out slightly dull. It was reflected in games with sounds such as gun reloading and shooting. Fortunately, these effects could still be easily heard, even if it was not as clear as I would have liked. For music, instruments were heard generally clearly with some warmth. For this purpose, the music listening experience was not the best, but the SteelSeries Siberia 200 is a gaming headset.
At the top of the frequency range, the sounds came out mostly clean and clear for a gaming headset. The overall listening experience was good in the context of gaming, which the SteelSeries Siberia 200 was designed for. Since the treble was slightly recessed, it did not reach the sharp sounds of effects liked shattering glass in the higher frequency range. Much like the midrange, it sounded a bit blanketed. The soundscaping was generally defined, and the direction was good. This was important in the gaming tests; in-game sounds were easy to hear and tell from the direction they were coming from. The soundstaging, on the other hand, was a little lacking, and slightly narrow. Overall, the soundstaging and soundscaping was acceptable for a gaming headset.
All three major sections could use more precision and detail, which made the inner layers seem a bit stuck together. The bass was deep, and each of the major sections were defined, but unfortunately, when the full range was being played concurrently, the sloppiness in resolution became more apparent. This is not a significant issue for gaming, but if you plan to use the Siberia 200 for music, then it leaves a bit to be desired on the table.
The seal the SteelSeries Siberia 200 was able to provide was also good, but at the bottom of the earcup, it lifted a bit, due to how tight the headset sits at the top of the user's ear. I found it rather annoying to feel the headphones lift off a bit at the bottom, but overall, it did not affect the listening experience significantly. The noise blocking the headset offers was decent, as it kept a good amount of noise out. Thanks to how light the headset is, there was no strain after prolonged periods of use, and the Siberia 200 was very comfortable. The microphone was good for voice chats online, while reducing most background noise. I like the retractable microphone, and it was very flexible to adjust to anyone's needs.
Overall, the SteelSeries Siberia 200 was a bit dark sounding in nature. The bass was a bit heavier, but it was solid and deep. The balance of the rest of the frequencies suffered a bit because of the emphasized bass, even if it was not overpowering, making them sound more blanketed. The SteelSeries Siberia 200 is a gaming headset, and it performed according to its purpose in gaming sessions. Due to the average soundstaging and soundscaping, the listening experience has room for improvement, but the SteelSeries Siberia 200 generally will not let you down for the purpose of gaming.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware
3. Subjective Audio Analysis