Posted by drew10 on Dec 21, 2010
Hardware Review: SteelSeries Spectrum 4XB Headset

Hardware Review: SteelSeries Spectrum 4XB Headset

The market is currently flooded with different types of gaming headsets, yet when SteelSeries (Famed for their high end PC gaming peripherals.) offered us the chance to review their latest headset for Xbox we jumped at the chance.

The Spectrum 4XB boasts an impressive feature-set for its price-tag of around £40, a retractable microphone, separate chat and game volumes and a cute little feature called ‘Live mix’ but more on that later.

First impressions though were less than favourable. The white plastic outer casings look cheap and a black version would be much preferred, especially as Xbox’s are now also black. Although SteelSeries do have another model the 5xb that is black and comes with extra features such as detachable cans, nice!

Setting up the Spectrum 4XB’ s is pretty straight forward with a USB cable running to the Xbox and also connecting to the audio outs at the back. At the other end of the USB cable is the ‘Audiomixer’ a black connector that plugs into the controller. This in turn is where the headphones themselves plug into.

The Audiomixer also feels cheap with poor feeling switches and volume dials but the way it connects to the controller is poor and feels like it does not quite fit correctly. There are lots of wires everywhere once you have set these headphones up and the whole thing looks pretty unattractive.

Obviously any gamer worth their salt doesn’t care what headsets look like as long as it delivers in terms of audio reproduction. Luckily the 4XB performs well in this area for a headset of its price-point. The bass reflex works well, recreating some deep sub-tones. Top end is a little flat and lacks crispness and sparkle but is generally okay for most tasks. Sound reproduction overall is pretty descent although at higher volumes the speakers do suffer with some distortion. Still it is probably a good idea not to have the volume that loud anyway. One issue picked up on quite early was the background buzz that accompanies the headset even at low volumes.

The headset itself is lightweight and comfortable to wear. The ear cups themselves fit nicely over your ears and the cloth ear cushions do not seem to suffer with sweat as others do.

The 4XB is designed to use with both Xbox 360 and PC and therefore comes with connectors to achieve both. The headset connects to the Xbox controller via the Audiomixer which in turn connects to the Xbox via a suitably long USB cable and a connector which plugs into the audio outs on the back of the machine. The 4xb’s Audiomixer connects to the controller in much the same way as the standard Xbox Live headset. Into this you need to plug the two jack plugs that would be used for PC communication. This leads to a slight problem however as the connector jack plugs in the Audiomixer stick out quite far and, if like me, you play with the controller in your lap it can be quite annoying. A pair of angled plugs would have reduced this issue. The Audiomixer allows for separate control of voice and game volumes as well as the ‘Live Mix’ feature mentioned earlier. Switching this feature on will automatically adjust the mix between the game volume and chat. It is a feature that works surprisingly well and means that you will never miss some important team instructions due to the noise of battle.

One other slight issue we found was the amount of ‘spill’ you get from the headset. When playing at a decent game volume the sound is clearly audible from outside the headphones.

These slight issues aside and especially for those on a budget the Spectrum 4XB is about the best you can gaming headset you can get for under £40. Sound reproduction is faithful if lacking a little definition at the very top end. The ‘Live Mix’ feature is a particular highlight but as with all the best headsets the sound is the most important and for the price these perform admirably.

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