Would it surprise you if I told you that there is an absolutely massive amount of gaming headsets on the market? I’m guessing not. That’s because of exactly how big the market for them is. With well established brands like Razer, Astro, and Turtle Beach stealing the vast majority of the spotlight, competing headset manufacturers need to develop products that are able to hold their own in such a large market. Enter the Sennheiser PC 373D high-end PC gaming headset.
Sennheiser’s PC 373D features an open and comfortably designed set of earpads. Upon initial inspection of of the PC 373D, it would look like a closed-headset, but thanks to the earpads, it’s actually the opposite. The pads are porous enough that sounds pretty easily escapes through them while wearing them, and outside sounds freely intrudes in. If you are the kind of person who wants/needs to hear what’s happening around you (which I am) then the fact that some sound will travel in and out of the headset isn’t much of a hindrance. For the person who wants this headset to block out any noise coming in, the the solution is fairly simple: turn that volume way up! Keep in mind that the people around you will still be able to hear what you’re listening to on the PC 373D. While sitting about 20 feet away, my wife could clearly make out Gerry Rafftery’s Baker Street with the volume only around 75% of it’s maximum. So, by no means, the sound does not isolate within the earpads.
Even though there is some sound the can escape the headset at a high volume, the sound the the PC 373D produces is top-notch. Regardless of your choice in music, the Sennheiser delivers great audio, especially when the Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound option (which conveniently has a toggle placed mid-way down the cord) is enabled. The first song I could think to test it on was Panda Eye’s and Teminite’s Glitch Hop track Highscore, which was actually better without the surround sound. Keeping on the EDM scene (Electronic Dance Music for those of you who are unfamiliar), I moved onto another Glitch Hop track: a remix by Samples of AC/DC’s Back In Black. This one is much better with the surround sound enabled thanks to AC/DC’s incredible musicality. I jumped around this sphere of music for a while and jammed out to a huge range of tracks by artists like Knife Party, Urbanstep, Malixe, Aero Chord, and a ton more. But it wouldn’t be fair if I just tested the PC 373D EDM, right? I listened to a range of music including my favorite Foo Fighters song, The Pretender, System of a Down’s Chop Suey, Drop Dead Cynical by Amaranthe, and Killswitch Engage’s My Last Serenade. I also took the welcome excuse to test it on some classical music, and went straight to Gustav Holst’s The Planet Suite, my favorite of which being Jupiter. Finally, I tested it out on (what might be) my favorite genre of music: video game soundtracks. I spent hours on end just listening to entire soundtracks for some of my most beloved video games including Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (one of my all-time favorites), and various Final Fantasy games. I have especially been enjoying using the headset during my writing by listening to ambient tracks from Journey and the Elder Scrolls games. Thanks to the fact that the headset is comfortable and broadcasts such superb audio (especially when using the surround sound), there were times that my brain didn’t even register that I was wearing the headset. Instead, my subconscious mind convinced me that the music was just around me, and not being produced by some technological apparatus.
The Sennheiser PC 373D’s main purpose is gaming audio immersion and communication via it’s microphone. As I hopefully have conveyed to you in the above paragraph, the audio on the PC 373D is exquisite, and that has a major effect on your gameplay. Before using the PC 373D headset, I just used my default harman/kardon speakers, which are not bad speakers. But having the ability to wrap the audio around you using the acoustic setup within the PC 373D, paired with a well-crafted surround sound system, makes games feel more immersive and mesmerizing that I have experienced in recent years. I enjoyed the headset while playing games that rely heavily on audio. DubWars is a great example of a game that really shinned with a good set of headphones (You can read Gamer Professionals review by my good friend Zack Harrington here). DubWars is a game which I have some background with (read more in Zack’s review) and is a great tool for testing because of my background with it. Having tested the game using headsets such as the Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma, I can compare the Sennheiser PC 373D against some other high-end gaming headsets.
The largest difference between the Sennheiser and the Razor sets is the caliber of audio. While the Razor Kraken does have good audio, the Sennheiser has stellar audio and the inclusion of surround sound that can be quickly toggled (because some audio applications don’t benefit from it). When using the Sennheiser for audio in horror games, it’s crisp audio built a tense atmosphere which my stock harman/kardons just aren’t able to do. Having tested it on one of my favorite horror games, Outlast, I found myself feeling unsettled and on edge, even though I’ve played the game several times and know all of the jump-scares. The game audio definitely had a large role to play in that. In action and shooting games, the gunshots coming from either my gun or my enemies registered powerfully. I’ve always played these games with a sense of ignorance toward how signification getting shot actually would be, but with how vicious each shot sounded, I found myself feeling more anxious about being on the receiving end of a bullet. This was doubly true for explosives like grenades. There was more of a sense of urgency to get out of the explosive’s radius because the audio itself helped portray how dangerous these were. I’ve played first-person shooter games like this and felt my adrenaline flow once I got really into the game, but I’ve never experienced so much of a thrill and have never been so absorbed into a game as when I had been using the PC 373D. Honestly, that moment is what sold me on the Sennheiser PC 373D.
The PC 373D’s microphone is one worth checking out as well. Any games I’ve played with friends (Left 4 Dead 2, Contagion, and a few more) benefited from clear communication. I’ve always enjoyed taking the commanding role in these games, and being able to give orders that everyone could clearly understand made the difference in several life-or-death situations. If a teammate disobeyed my order, or just did something plain ludicrous, the PC 373D’s microphone has a build in function where you can lift up the microphone stem and that puts the microphone on mute. Thanks to that, I could berate their action without them being any wiser. They always recognized that they did something unintelligent, and having my chastise them for it only would have built resentment on the team, but since I could quickly mute the microphone, announce their idiocy, and jump back into the action without any lingering frustration, it helped me get back to enjoying the challenge of the game and the reward for proper teamwork. This is mostly an example of my playstyle, but I feel it also highlights how supportive the PC 373D can be of whatever playstyle you may have.
Having used the Sennheiser PC 373D for multiple applications, and being satisfied with everything I’ve tested it for, I have very few demerits for the wonderful headset. With the price tag of $249.95, it is definitely geared towards a more hardcore audience. Though, even if you are just into casual PC gaming, having a peripheral device that involves you more in the game really causes games to take on new life. The Sennheiser PC 373D is easily worth the money spent on it, and if you’re looking for a tool to bring your game to the next level, I recommend you to check it out.