SteelSeries Siberia Elite Anniversary Edition - Hardware Review

Tournaments are a frequent theme this time of the year, and with them comes a good deal of conversation around peripherals such as mice, controllers and keyboards. While headphones themselves might not be considered a competitive advantage the way the aforementioned items can be, they are still a valuable part of the PC gaming experience, and having a good set can make your session a good deal more enjoyable. When you have a great set? Then we get the have this conversation, because the Siberia Elite are fantastic.

For those of you who have read my previous articles, you will already be aware that I find the audio to be one of the most important aspects of the entire gaming experience. For those of you who are new to the page and may be a little less familiar with my attention to audio, I would like to give a little background. Ever since I was a whee little one I have had relatively sensitive ears; I could not stand loud noises, aural commotion, or bad music. As I grew up my particular sensitivities tended to be in direct conflict with certain habits or favorite past times (I love heading to the gun range, and music, movies, and games are better louder) and in order to accommodate both my love of loud movies and my sensitive ears, I discovered quality speakers and receivers. Once I was old enough to get a job, one of the first things I invested in was a good set of headphones; after that it was a good stereo.

Eventually I got my first car and the first change I made to it was a good head unit, speakers, and a couple of subwoofers. Fast forward 12 years and my obsession with good audio has exploded to every device I own; from the Pioneer Elite receiver to the 100% custom-made Leon Speaker 515 system. I love audio. Here I am now, years later, still using a set of Plantronics circumaural headphones that I bought about ten years ago, looking for something more. Looking for something that could provide real audio while not ruining the pocketbook. Along comes SteelSeries with the Siberia Elite gaming headphones. Priced at $299.99, the Siberia Elites are in the upper echelon for pricing, though for audio aficionados it is a price to pay to get good audio. The real question is whether it is good audio or not, read on to find out if they are worth the investment, or whether you should pass on these headphones.

Upon arrival, the SteelSeries Siberia Elite is shipped in a giant box. This is a good thing, as when I opened the standard shipping box I was greeted with one of the most wonderful sites ever. Bubble wrap. After a moment of gleeful popping, I dug out the large and hefty unit box and was greeted by the familiar black and red-orange box of extremely high quality that SteelSeries ships their gear in. After pulling of the sleeve and opening the box, the headphones are nestled safely in a felt-covered circular protective case. The fact that SteelSeries packs a protective case in a high quality box, which is then put in another box full of one of the greatest inventions of mankind ( BUBBLE WRAP!!! ) and then carefully shipped, is a testament to the care and commitment that SteelSeries has towards both their product and their customers. They do everything possible to ensure their customers are well cared for and to make sure their products and service are worthy of the money their customers are spending. I truly felt like I was important in every interaction with SteelSeries and that alone will grant them my business for as long as I am around.

On to the gear itself ... physically the Siberia Elite is the aural equivalent of bacon, but not just any bacon, the top shelf bacon that costs and arm and a leg to buy but is worth every single penny. The headset is of amazing build quality. A singular lightweight metal frame is the backbone that holds cups that are made of the highest quality and provides a rigid structure that holds the whole unit together. The flat wire that connects to the left cup where you plug the headset, via micro USB, into the provided USB soundcard is soft, flexible, durable, and lightweight. The headphones come with a number of different connectors, from an extension cord for the micro USB cable to a hybrid 3.5mm Stereo/Mic connection (generally used on MacBooks and Tablets) and the classic dual-tipped 3.5mm Stereo audio and microphone connection.

The cups have LED lighting built into the exterior that you can change to one of 16.8 million colors (no different than the customizable lighting for the SteelSeries Sensei Wireless Mouse that I reviewed here), while it is a childish want, I really wish you could program the lights to react to the audio. Childish yeah, but there is something neat about watching a light react to the pitch and bass of music. The microphone is built into the left cup and extends out of the cup into a 5-inch long flexible-steel, noise-canceling boom. Ambient noises are minimized and your voice is clean and clear with no feedback and nearly no distortion. The headset sets so well on the head that after a moment or two the headset, and all the ambient audio in the room simply disappear. Nothing but you and the rich sound that the drivers are pouring directly into your ears. The SteelSeries Siberia Elite is a perfect example of pure nirvana.

The important part, though, is the audio and how well the SteelSeries Siberia Elite is able reproduce quality sounds. When you first start up the SteelSeries Engine 3, which is the management software that SteelSeries provides for their products, the audio setting is set on a default setting that is flat across the board. A moment of playing with the presets is all it will take to turn the subpar audio that is initially generated by the headset and turn the unit into one of the best sounding pieces of audio equipment outside of my five-figure audio system. Rich mediums, clear and clean highs, and gorgeous deep lows are all perfectly reproduced out of the noise-canceling headphones. Crystal clear and clean tones are fed directly into your ears with wild abandon in a symphony or pure, undulating bliss. No matter what type of audio, from explosive action to lounge music, to a symphonic score, the Siberia Elite champions its cause and makes short shrift of those other wannabe gaming headsets.

The Siberia Elite by SteelSeries is a perfect example of what audio equipment manufacturers should aspire to be. Not just gaming peripheral companies, but others as well. The Siberia Elite stares brands like Bang & Olufson, Sennheiser, Audio Technica, and Yamaha right in the eye and says "We can do it, but we can do it better." I have always wanted the best aural experience that I could get out of every movie, music video, or video game and now, with the SteelSeries Siberia Elite, I can. In every single way the Siberia Elite surpasses other units in the same price bracket and is easily worth far more than the cost. I would happily pit this headset against headsets that cost twice as much, so good is the audio that this headset provides. With the extremely clean and clear audio that you will get out of the Siberia Elite, this is a headset that anyone, whether they are gamers, movie buffs, or audio aficionados, absolutely has to have. Save the pennies, take on a second job, do whatever it takes to buy this headset.

10 out of 10

Review by Robert

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