Sennheiser is a highly respected manufacturer of professional grade audio equipment including monitoring headphones and microphones for live music, theater, studio, and broadcast applications. The Game Zero headset is a slight departure for Sennheiser from its core market, targeting the high-end gamer market with a well-designed, around-the-ear headset tuned for gaming audio applications. Let’s take a look at these headphones and see how they perform.
The Game Zero has several outstanding features which set it apart as a top choice for hardcore gamers.
First, these are closed design headphones which provide the user with greater isolation from outside noises allowing them to focus on the game action with fewer distractions. It also provides for a more immersive experience and allows the user to hear the finer audio details as the game designers intended. This design also keeps sound generated by the headphones from escaping, preventing others nearby from hearing your gameplay.
Next are the comfort features. The over-the-ear cans are oversized and well-padded with a soft leatherette material. Likewise, the headband is also padded with the same soft materials and offers ample adjustment and excellent compression tension to keep the headphones in place without exerting excessive pressure on the ears. This near-perfect combination allows for hours of uninterrupted gaming action without any discomfort.
High strength, durable materials are used throughout the construction of the Game Zero. This includes metal hinge joints and a flexible armature for the microphone. These materials will allow for years of use in the most demanding environments.
For portability, the Game Zero includes two unique metal pivot joints between the cans and the headband. These joints allow the headphones to be folded flat and stored in the exceptionally thin carrying case (included!) for easy transport or storage.
The microphone has a noise canceling design with excellent audio properties. It can be switched off by simply rotating it into the upright position above the user’s head. When moving it to this position, a positive click can be felt to give the user tactile feedback that the microphone is in the off position.
The right ear can is home to a rotary volume knob. By locating the volume control here, Sennheiser provides the user a control that is much easier to locate than one positioned on the lead wires. This positioning allows the gamer to make adjustments quickly during gameplay.
Speaking of lead wires, these are wired headphones with 3.5mm headphone jacks for connection to your PC/Mac or gaming console. The wires are long and will allow you to sit a good distance from your game machine without issue.
Finally, the audio properties of the Game Zero are tuned with a flatter response curve than headphones intended for pure audio use. This provides a better definition for the broad range of sounds and sound levels typically incorporated in a modern game.
|Color Options||Black, White|
|Impedance||Headphones: 50 Ω|
|Connector||2 x 3.25 mm for desktop/laptop|
|Microphone Frequency Response||50 Hz – 16,000 Hz|
|Headphone Frequency Response||15 Hz – 28,000 Hz|
|Headphone Sound Pressure Level||108 dB|
|Headphone Ear Coupling||Around-the-ear, closed acoustic design|
|Cable Length||3 m (PC/Mac), 1.2 m (Console)|
|Microphone Pick-up Pattern||Noise|
|Microphone Sensitivity||-38 dBV at 94 dBSPL|
The audio performance of the Game Zero is very good right out of the box. The flat response curve tuning of the drivers provides the sense of a wide audio-scape – allowing the player to discern subtle audio parts like distant sounds or voices. It1 also allows the user to accurately place them in space. With the flat response curve, these are not a good choice to moonlight as your audio headphones. Bass and treble are both lacking so most music will feel very flat and uninspiring. This is by no means a reflection on their quality but is instead an affirmation of their purpose-built design.
At 50 Ω, the impedance is on the higher side so the addition of a quality headphone amplifier can greatly improve the performance of these headphones, particularly when they are not being driven by a powerful dedicated audio card. Adding an amplifier is not 100% required and will increase your costs, but the benefits can be significant if you are looking for the best possible audio quality.
The microphone is designed to cancel out background noise. In practice, it is effective but not perfect. It does a good job decreasing background noise, but some background noise will still get through. The swing up to turn off feature is great, and the positive position click is a nice touch.
The can mounted audio control is very easy to locate and adjust with one hand and no eyes which is an excellent feature when you need to keep your eyes on the game. The volume control allows the volume to be turned down, but not off. There is no way to completely mute the Game Zero built directly into the headphones
The Sennheiser Game Zero headphones are high-end wired gaming headphones, and, as expected, come with a corresponding price tag. With retail prices set near $300 and street prices around $150, they are not cheap, but not significantly more expensive than competing high-end models from SteelSeries or HyperX. Lower cost competitors typically sacrifice construction quality, use lower grade materials, offer lower sound quality and can be less comfortable to wear. More expensive models can add features like wireless connectivity, but typically do not offer better sound quality, durability or comfort.
One cost issue that bears mentioning is that these are 2.1 stereo headphones, whereas competing headphones in this price range often advertise 7.1 stereo.
Why does this matter? Well, the 7.1 option is an illusion generated by software and not a feature based on more advanced or complex hardware within the headphones. In fact, Razer provides 7.1 software that works with any set of standard stereo headphones in a free basic package with a paid pro option. There are additional options available from other providers. 7.1 surround often degrades the overall sound quality to achieve the illusion. For these reasons, the lack of 7.1 in the Game Zero should not be a factor in judging the value offered by the Game Zero.
Overall, the Game Zero is an excellent balance of cost, features, and performance.
Headphones for the high-end gaming market are a crowded space dominated by manufacturers specializing in that segment. The Sennheiser Game Zero is an excellent entry in that arena from a company with an extensive and well-respected history of producing exceptional audio products. If you are in need of high quality, comfortable set of gaming headphones, the Game Zero should be on your list of contenders.