Sony DR-GA100 headset £33
3rd Jul 2011 | 09:30
A reasonably priced gaming headset? There must be a catch
You may recall this very reviewer getting all grumpy a few issues ago about the overpricing of gaming headsets. Some manufacturers seem to think that by pairing a microphone and headphones and adorning it in gaming livery they create a money-no-object, ultra-desirable commodity.
Hand over your blank cheques, everyone. Hmm? The sound quality? Don't worry about that. And the splitting pain across your head is quite normal. It's well worth it to look that ridiculous.
At the £200 mark, things are ridiculous enough. You may as well buy a Shure SM58 microphone and a low latency soundcard to grief n00bs in crystalline clarity – which they'll listen to with their £10 headphones.
For the price of the most expensive headsets on the market, you could quite literally take all your guild members on holiday to Hawaii. So what attributes do gaming headsets actually need, when you take away game licensing and silly price tags?
Surely comfort comes first and foremost. After a few hours of gaming, you shouldn't even notice you're wearing them.
Sound quality is clearly vital, too. Sound is just as immersive as visuals in-game, and being able to hear footsteps in online shooters or your tyres and brakes in a racing sim can give you the edge over the competition. It would be nice to be able to listen to music and enjoy all the nuances it was recorded with as well.
You'll also need a clear microphone that's easily adjustable and some handy volume/mute controls that don't weigh a ton and throttle you. Enter Sony's DR-GA100 gaming headset. It ticks every box mentioned above, and it costs a very reasonable £33.
Even before you get to find out what the DR-GA100 is capable of audibly, the visuals hit you. At 120g it's a lightweight headset and separates itself from the pack, working the near-future military prototype vibe, rather than the 'Action Man's headphones' aesthetic many cans seem to opt for.
The smart black band holds a figure-of-eight microphone that stays in place once you've bent it to fit. It's noise-cancelling, and the mic's polar pattern minimises consonant pop sounds.
The volume/mute control isn't anything special and it's not easy to see when the microphone is actually muted, but at least it's small and light.
It does get better though. The biggest feathers in the DRGA100' s cap are sound quality and comfort.
The ear pads look and feel like little bean bags. That might not sound all that comfortable but these headphones don't cause any fatigue for a good few hours, either around the ears or across the band.
The frequency response range isn't quite as high as pricier headsets – bottoming out at 14Hz means the DR-GA100s can't handle low rumbles and sub bass as well as the best, but only the rabbit-eared will notice.
Sony has boosted and shaped frequency response in just the right areas to produce awesome sound from unassuming hardware. They're worth every penny. They might even be worth more pennies. Some are more comfy, some sound better, but none offer such a good package for the price.
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