The quest to find that perfect balance between performance, features and sound quality has driven gamers all over the map when trying to find that next stellar gaming headset. Audio manufacturers have tried to one-up each other by throwing in nuances that will help their line of headphones stand out among all the rest. But when gamers do their research on the best option that meets their needs inevitably one question does come to the forefront of their decision making. Is it better to go the budget route and save room in the pocketbook for other accessories or does the attraction of a better performance lead them into making a more expensive choice? While ultimately the thought process is different with everyone, the GSP 550 7.1 Surround Sound Gaming Headset (Sennheiser, MSRP $249.95) brings to the table some features that might make it difficult for gamers to pass up.
This isn’t the first time we have had to give our thoughts on this issue. In the past among the many headsets we have reviewed here, a similar finding could be said about the Audio Technica ATH-ADG1X headset we covered which has been used in many of our broadcasts you can hear today. That headset was listed at the time at an even higher price point but still proved that going the extra mile on cost can still have its benefits when it comes to gaming headsets. With the Sennheiser 550 for the most part, the same can be said because it too offers a decidedly better performance than what can be found by headsets we have reviewed over the years that cost substantially less. The already mentioned 7.1 Dolby surround sound provides an almost cinema-like atmosphere to any game, movie or video gives great context to those who weigh in on the debate whether to go to a standard stereo format or utilize something more dynamic when taking in their next headset experience. A provided cable that can reach out to over five feet long and an adjustable volume setting that’s utilized by turning the right ear cup of the headset to the right or left are features that will allow gamers to spend more time concentrating on their gaming and less on trying to find a right volume or an extension from their local electronics store.
One of the reasons why Pop Culture Cosmos has continually stated good things about the Audio Technica ATH-ADG1x was not only a quality audio sound but a headset microphone that sets it apart from many other headsets that also matches up with a lot of stand-alone microphones. When it comes to the GSP 550 headset, there was a concern after listening to hours of audio, video and gaming that when we would put the microphone to use that it would not meet the high standards already set by the superior sound quality that we continually experienced. Fear not as the bi-directional microphone (rated at 10–18,000 Hz) provides a solid recording experience that can be used for streaming, multiplayer or even a podcast without hesitation.
The design of the GSP 550 is where for better or worse the headset has some noticeable differences to many of its competitors. The aforementioned microphone is not detachable but swivels up and down depending on the use. Lifting the microphone up until an audible click can be heard will automatically mute the headset from transmitting. While this can be a convenient feature it also can be somewhat awkward if the arm should be accidentally knocked down or the user might not be aware if they are transmitting/muted if they do not have the arm at a 9 or 12 o’ clock angle and they did not sense when the microphone clicked into a different mode. There is a dongle software attachment that provides a minimal amount (music, e-sport, game) of options and variations and like many other headsets that utilize a similar basic structure, it can definitely use some expanding to allow the user to better customize their audio experience. The color of the unit itself (a dark green) can be debated upon but with the lack of available colors, maybe a more neutral choice might be the difference for those who sometimes place aesthetics above all else.
When it comes to the search for a better audio experience for their video games, the choices that are out there are plentiful, with the variance in quality seemingly being just as diverse. Despite some curious design choices holding it back from perfection at the end of the day the story when it comes to the Sennheiser GSP 550 is its performance. And with a sound quality virtually unmatched in its class and a microphone ready and willing to take on your longest streams, the Sennheiser GSP 550 7.1 Surround Sound Headphones provide a strong answer to anyone that is debating on making a small or large investment in their next gaming headset.
(Please note that for this review, Pop Culture Cosmos/Game Source did receive a review code/model/sample from the company/developer/public relations firm responsible for distribution to the press.)