Say it quietly, but gamers like to make excuses. Be it network lag, input lag or any other flavour of lag - not to mention accusations of hacking/cheating - there's always something that's setting the odds against them. And, though we're generally pretty sceptical about many things, if there's one area where a really good gamer can obtain a genuine advantage, or simply increase their enjoyment and immersion, it's through good quality audio. It's a line that's been peddled to much success by the likes of Creative and though its soundcards are a core component of any truly excellent gaming rig, it's for nought if you don't have something decent plug into them.
This is where the likes of Sennheiser come in and it's a company that shouldn't require much introduction. We've reviewed, for example, a number of its earphones of late, including the CX95 Style and CX400 canalphones and MX560 regular earphones, all of which did very well. In the gaming headset arena we were also impressed by the PC 166 USB, which combined decent audio performance, a plug and play USB soundcard and a reasonable price to great effect. Can Sennheiser's latest effort, the PC 350s, impress as much?
Initially, undoubtedly yes. Upon removing the set from its rather smart looking - if a bit fiddly - packaging it's hard not to be impressed with the quality on offer. Compared to the none too flimsy PC 166s this set feel infinitely more solid. A closed circumaural (ear enclosing) set the cups are large and well padded and moulded out of reassuringly expensive feeling plastic. Likewise, the microphone is large and securely fastened providing a decent level of adjustability, though it can't be removed.
Another sign of the overall quality is the cabling, with the three metre long and allegedly "Kevlar reinforced" cable proving every bit as strong and secure as it sounds. All this looks good, too. If its size didn't make the set look suitably "professional" - it does - the classy gloss black finish is enough to show that this is something a little extraordinary.
Unsurprisingly, however, all this high quality finishing and construction comes at a pretty hefty price - one that varies in heftiness depending on where you look. There are a number of online retailers listing it for pre-order at around the £80-90 mark but given that the SRP is £150 these prices seem unrealistic. Komplett, however, is listing the set at £107 and Overclockers also has it available for £10 more, so you needn't pay out for the suggested price.