While I try to pride myself on being "in the know" about gaming peripherals and hardware, I have to admit that I knew very little about GX Gaming prior to July 4th of this year. I first heard about this company when I read a press release stating that they would be providing a handful of prizes at QuakeCon 2014; I figured that they had to be really something to be featured at QuakeCon. When I reached out to them I was extremely excited to hear from them, since this is a company that I have not heard much about and they have some awesome-looking gear.
I always enjoy new and up-and-coming companies as interacting with them and sharing their stories has me feeling a little like the Captain of the Enterprise (Piccard for life!); kind of like forging ahead and exploring the unknown, going where no man (or woman) has gone before. It is exciting. When I was afforded the opportunity to try out the Zabius Gaming Headset I jumped at the opportunity, after all the Zabius gaming headset (found here) is a multipurpose headset, working with the PC (Windows or Mac), PlayStation 3, and the Xbox 360. That is an impressive array of connections and capabilities out of a headset that is very reasonably priced.
I will come clean right out front and simply say it; I did not know what to expect with the headset. I did not know if it was going to be some cheap piece of hardware that is simply trying to take advantage of the excitement around eSports this year, or if GX Gaming was trying to carve out a slice of the gaming peripherals market. If the Zabius is an indication of things to come, GX Gaming is not simply looking to take a slice of the affordable gaming market; they look to take the whole market. When I received the large cardboard box with the shipping label that had GX Gaming's offices on it, I was a bit startled at the heft of it, it just felt too heavy for a headset since more often than not, headsets try to be lightweight. Well I was in for a bit of a surprise as I opened the shipping box and pulled out this stunningly well made and solidly constructed box.
Thick, heavy and very durable, the box that the Zabius headset comes in is not only flashy, but it is classy; all too often flashy is far too close to gaudy but not here. The presentation was perfect and as I slowly and carefully cut the seals to get to the headset my excitement was growing. Here, I thought, was a headset that is trying to quietly assert dominance over other great headsets like the Sennheiser G4ME ZERO and the SteelSeries Siberia Elite, sort of how that unassuming and diminutive child that is six inches shorter than everyone else steps up to the plate in an important little league baseball ... then buries one deep behind the fence in left field for a walk-off homerun. That is how I imagined things as I was wending my way through what little packaging material there was in the box, and then I got to the headset...
I was shocked, a little confused, and quite dumbfounded when I took the headset out of its beautiful box. My first impressions with the wonderful presentation that the packaging gives, was now rocked and I was not sure how to handle it. Sort of like that little boy, confused as to why everyone was screaming and the third base coach was telling him to slow down while laughing; he did not know what was going on. Neither did I. My initial reaction was "This can't be right, this has to be a joke," as the headset that I pulled out of the box was so incredibly lightweight; the frame is this thick yet light piano black plastic and the large cups that can snuggle even the biggest ears, were made out of a material that I can only compare to that racing-style crosshatch material you will find on entry-level sports cars (a lot of Recaro seats are made out of it, but not the Alacantara stuff).
The thick red cables that attach to the large cups has a substantial feeling, it is almost like the majority of the weight is coming from the cable and not the headset itself. One thing I notice is that there is what seems like miles of cord and as I continue to pull the tangle-free cabling out of its packaging I see why as there are enough connections in here to give McGuyver a freaking field day. Once I saw all those connectors and cable bits out and laying on my very nice, very heavy and very real-wood table (none of that fake wood stuff for me), I sat back and looked at the spread and it slowly started to dawn on me. This is a sleeper. Not in the sense of, you know, sleeping, but that unassuming old lady driving that '86 Buick Grand National that has just regular pipes coming from it (no growl); this headset, like the Grand National, has one thing in mind... Taking the competition by surprise.
As I began to put things together in my mind I scrambled to get my laptop out and all set up; I needed to hear how the Zabius responded; since there are little goldmine statements mixed in (these cups are fantastic) with some ho-hum manufacturing (there is this rubber piece that is in inset to the primary frame that is a little cheap) I was dying to hear them. Once I get the computer up and running I turn on Spotify and immediately jump to (go ahead and laugh) Shakira's "Waka Waka" which was the 2010 World Cup Theme Song; one of the reasons I like it is a great song, but another is that in the first 10 - 20 seconds is this solid low tone that can really make speakers breathe ( r die). Plus Shakira is gorgeous. So I crank the volume up to 80 and hit play and I am utterly stunned. The lows that the Zabius can generate ... let's just say that they are ample. After a half-dozen songs varying from Sublime to Volbeat I was sold; these were some intensely rich 40mm drivers that mercilessly assault your ears with pure, undulating quality.
Once I was able to pick myself up from the floor and dust myself off I started up Steam as I wanted to see how the Zabius sings when I throw a game at it, so I did what any sane person does; I loaded up the brutally fantastic Dark Souls 2 as it has some of the best audio that I have heard in a video game. Ever. So the game starts and the menu pops up and I'm already impressed even though it was just the From Software logo, it was shaping up to be some high quality goodness and I could not wait. So I faithfully loaded my dex-build, T1ckles (his very name strikes fear into the cold, lifeless husks known as Hollows) and took to Dragon Aerie.
The very first thing I noticed with the headset was the responsiveness; fast and clean the roars from the dragons were spot on, deep and wonderfully recreated as they are being pumped directly into my ears. What really startled me though, was that during the fights with the dragons I was able to pick up the distinct crystalline jingle, which is the telltale sign that a crystal bug was around somewhere. I was confused at first, then impressed, then excited as it brought yet another way for a game with great audio to suck you in and not let you go. After a few stints in Drangleic I decided to load up some Fist of Awesome, a game where you have a beard and punch bears. In the face (it sounds as great as it is, my review will be coming shortly). True to form the Zabius faithfully churned out the extremely deep lows, hardy mids, and striking highs and that is when it dawned on me, the Zabius is that '86 Grand National sleeper that looks and even feels blasé but once you punch that go button, she gets up and goes in a spectacular fashion.
I will admit it, once I pulled the headset out of the packaging my expectations went from cautious to nil; at first glance the headset feels inexpensively made. Certain aspects and characters are extremely well made; take the cups for example, they are large and comfortable, durable and they provide just the right airflow. However the arms that the cups connect to, which swivel similar to DJ headphones, are loose and swing far too easily as there is no resistance. The piano black frame looks good but the outer frame has this really thing and flimsy rubber insert that has no purpose except to create some visual contrast from the shiny black to the matte black. Outside of these strange little details the only real issue I can say, is that the unit is not adjustable and therefore the headset sits a little low and presses on the top of my ears. After five or six hours of wearing them it can be a bit painful, so you may experience a little discomfort if you have a little head. Once you hear the audio that comes out of the Zabius Gaming Headset by GX Gaming you may not even care that they do not fit perfectly.
I can see why GX Gaming was featured at QuakeCon 2014, giving away some of its gear as prizes; the Zabius headset is excellent. At less than $100 USD, the headset is one of the best gaming devices for the money. While there are a few oddities with the quality of the build, the audio more than makes up for any shortcomings that the frame may have. You get a headset that not only sounds amazing, but the fact that it works with three different platforms (Computer, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3) right out of the box is an added bonus. The Zabius gaming headset by GX Gaming is a must-have for any serious, or casual gamer. Oh, and by the way, that diminutive child was me some 15 or so years ago.
Review by Robert