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A few weeks ago we had the pleasure of a visit from some of the folks behind Steel Series, the defacto standard 'pro' gamers' choice for keyboards, mice, and gaming surfaces, who were here to demonstrate some of their latest products. As well as new keyboards and mice, which we hope to be taking a look at very soon, the company also had a new headset it was keen to show us, the Siberia Neckband.
As the name suggests, the key selling feature of the set is the headband that, rather than resting on top of the head like a conventional headset, wraps round the back of the neck, in what's apparently called a circumaural manner. The reason for this method of retention is not some profound discovery that it makes you a superior gamer or that the reduction in scalp pressure prevents premature hair loss, but simply that they seem to be the fashion. Indeed, a third of gaming headets sold in the US are apparently of the neckband variety. Maybe it's because they're more compatible with hats?
Either way, if you prefer the idea of a conventional headband, Steel Series also offers a number of other alternatives from the same range like the Siberia Full-Size Headset and Siberia SK USB Headset. These both use identical speakers to the neckband set so sound quality should be identical and the choice is merely a matter of preference.
Considering their fairly high price tag, it comes as no surprise that the Siberia headset came well boxed with a full set of high quality accessories. For a start there's a compact inline passive volume control, which also acts as an extension cable. The cable on the headset itself is only 125cm long, which is fine for use with an mp3 player but would struggle to reach round the back of your computer. The extension enables you to add another 165cm to this, giving you plenty of slack to play with.
One of the things that particularly excited me about the Siberia headset is its inclusion of an Xbox 360 headset adapter. What's great is the headset provides a long cord for taking the audio signal from your TV and piping it to your headset so you can enjoy great quality audio without disturbing your neighbours. The microphone and headphones can then be used to replace the usual in-game chat functions of the standard 360 headset.
Unfortunately the size of the adapter plug prevents it from connecting to our Guitar Hero III guitar so we weren't able to use it in conjunction with this game. Of course, you could argue that it's near sacrilegious to play Guitar Hero without disturbing the neighbours so there's no need for a headset when playing it and there's also little cause for chatting over Xbox Live while playing the game. However, if either of those activities did appeal, let it be known you won't be doing them with this headset.