SteelSeries has been making gaming headsets and accessories extremely successfully for a number of years now, establishing itself as one of the staples of the gaming industry.
The SteelSeries Siberia V3 not only has the company’s standing to go on, but it also follows on from the notoriously reliable SteelSeries Siberia V2 headset released back in 2009.
What you get is a great all-rounder headset, with a fairly understated design, fantastic audio and a retractable microphone – all for under £100.
If you’re familiar with the SteelSeries Siberia V2, the design of the Siberia V3 won’t come as much of a surprise. The over-ear cups are connected by a pair of lightweight structural bands atop a floating headband that rests on your head without the need for actual adjustments.
For the average-sized head this is a fantastic design. It’s lightweight and doesn’t apply pressure to your ears – something that we find is often an issue with gaming headsets.
The earcups are lined with memory foam and finished with a leather-effect lining. Because of this the earcups lie a lot closer to your head, minimising external noise and improving the seal without increasing pressure.
We did find that the memory foam blocked out external noise quite well, but it didn’t limit any audio leak from the inside out. The people around you might hear a bit of what you’re listening to if you’re wearing them at work, on public transport or at home when someone else is around.
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The Siberia V3 is a well-built headset, but there is a lot of plastic on the exterior of the earcups. SteelSeries has obviously chosen to do this for weight reasons, as other materials like aluminium would have added significant bulk to the headset. We would have preferred more matte plastic on the headset rather than the added gloss. Compared to some of the neon lights you get on headsets, this is an understated design that’s only available in black and white.
Overall the lightweight and pressure-free design all amounts to a headset that you can wear for hours without any discomfort.
However, we tried this headset on a variety of our pals’ heads and discovered the fact you can’t adjust the floating headband means it won’t fit anyone with a slightly small head. There’s nothing you can do about that either – it’ll either fit your head or they won’t.
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There’s also the issue of the headset being a little on the large size aesthetically too. Although this is a headset that is compatible with a wide array of devices, the earcups and supporting bands are pretty chunky, making us feel a little self-conscious when wearing it out and about.
The Siberia V3 connects to your PC/Mac, mobile devices and PS4 via a 3.5mm headphone jack connection. There’s an Xbox One-specific version coming at a later date, but this one will work with Microsoft’s latest console if you purchase the separate Xbox One Stereo Headset adapter that plugs into the base of your controller.
We particularly like the fact that there’s a microphone mute switch built into the left earcup; the same side as the retractable microphone itself. Just reach up behind the wire and push the switch up to mute the microphone when you don’t want to be heard.
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What we love most about the SteelSeries Siberia V3 is the fact that it gives you flatter audio that most gaming headsets. Straight out of the box, you can know that you’ll get a clear audio soundscape without having to fiddle about with EQ settings.
This is what made the previous V2 model popular and the same is true of the V3 – no bass-heavy audio.
The Siberia V3 has the same 50mm drivers as its predecessor, but SteelSeries has readjusted the placement of the drivers themselves, in order to minimise the bass thump. Because of this, you get a headset that offers great heights, trebles and mid-range audio.
Although some of you may think a lack of bass is a bad thing, it’s definitely not a problem in our eyes. You’ll only really notice it in games like Battlefield 4 or Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare or with select action movies – and it’s only a slight bass deficiency at that.
You can attempt to tweak the bass a little in the SteelSeries Engine software for PC and Mac, but to be honest we believe the Siberia V3 offers a perfect soundscape that compliments the majority of games.
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One of the major downsides of the Siberia V3 in comparison to the previous V2 model is the removal of the inline volume control. SteelSeries may have decided to move the mute button the headset itself, which isn’t a bad thing, but the decision to remove volume controls altogether may have been a mistake.
That means you’ll need to manually adjust the audio on your PC, Mac or other gaming device, which is much more of a faff than it needs to be, especially when there are other headsets at this price that offer such features – including the Polk 4Shot and Turtle Beach Ear Force Z60.
This is also not a headset that will give you virtual surround sound. Although you might get DTS virtual surround sound in other headsets at this price, you aren’t getting anything of the like in the SteelSeries Siberia V3. You’ll need to decide whether this is an issue for your gaming, as otherwise the audio quality on the V3 is superb.
When playing FPS titles such as Far Cry 4, determining shot location isn’t an issue, while exhaust notes in titles like Forza Horizon 2 are clearly distinguishable from the music, as they have such a pleasingly throaty growl.
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As for the microphone, the SteelSeries Siberia V3 features a retractable boom microphone that stores neatly in the left cup when not in use. All you need to do is pull it free from the left earcup whenever you fancy having a chat with your online pals. The microphone itself is adjustable too, so you can position it wherever it feels most natural.
What we will say is that it is a little on the quiet side. You’ll either need to tweak the SteelSeries Engine software to boost the mic, or speak a lot louder than you would normally in order to make all your taunts and jibes heard.
But for this price, we think the microphone is more than adequate. You won’t be heard crystal clear 100 per cent of the time, but with gaming you don’t need a stellar microphone in order to make yourself known.
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The SteelSeries Siberia V3 is a lightweight headset that sounds absolutely fantastic straight out of the box – no tinkering required. The design is one of the most user-friendly and comfortable around, although you might want to try it on first before you buy, thanks to its supposed “one size fits all” floating headband design.
There are other excellent headsets in this sub-£100 price range, including the Turtle Beach Ear Force Z60 or the Plantronics Rig Surround, but they don’t offer quite the audio excellence of the V3 – even if they do have a few more features.
Due to its 3.5mm jack connector, you’re also looking at quite a versatile headset, even if it is a little large for you to want to be seen on the streets wearing it.
Anyone looking for an incredibly comfortable headset with great audio on a budget should consider the SteelSeries Siberia V3 as one of the best buys out there.