Let’s get serious about audio.
Roccat make a range of gaming accessories, including gorgeously functional mice and high quality gaming keyboards. They also make some incredible headsets for gamers, and GGUK are lucky enough to have spent some time with the Kave XTD 5.1 Digital Surround Headset. Bring on the noise…
Unlike most of the headsets that we have looked at over the years, the Kave XTD 5.1 from Roccat is fairly limited in its function. It is a headset for PC gamers only, with no additional cables for attaching to your shiny new console, or to a mobile phone for out and about audio. Because of this, there is only one single item to be found in the box, besides the manual. Mind you, it is pretty impressive.
In the box, the player will find the very good looking headset itself, which has a fixed connection to a large desktop remote. The desktop remote, which is also pretty nice, has another fixed connection to a USB cable, which is the only way to connect this headset. So, no cables to plug in or swap out. USB plug on one end, headset on the other end and a desktop remote in the middle. Pretty simple then.
But there is nothing simple about the way the Kave XTD 5.1 performs. It may give only the one connection option and not have all of the bells and whistles of other headsets, but what the Kave XTD 5.1 does, it does really, really well.
Let’s start with the headset itself. Although feeling heavier than some of the headsets that I have looked at, the Kave XTD 5.1 is as sturdy as they come. Some may prefer a lighter weight, but personally I find the weight reassuring. The build quality is second to none, and solid enough to suggest that the headset will undertake plenty of rough use without suffering damage.
All in a stealth black, the headset mostly has a matte finish, with the occasional glossy highlight. They are bold but unremarkable in their looks, which I like. The earcups are large and round, and the padding is leather, which obviously brings up the awkward matter of sweaty ears. There is small, understated branding on each of the ear cups. The headband is thick and very solid, with the Roccat logo on the outerside and foam padding on the inside, for added comfort. The left cup has a swiveling microphone attached. The microphone is removable and where it plugs into the cup is surrounded with a lovely glowing blue ring when the headset is powered up. There is also a blue light on the mouth piece of the microphone which lights up when the microphone is muted, and there is a handy piece of Velcro to hold the microphone out of the way when not in use, although this is not actually attached and could easily be lost.
Putting the headset on, it is definitely noticeable. The weight and solid construction makes the headsets presence known, although they are not uncomfortable. The earcups are nicely padded, although the round shape will mean that only the smallest of ears will be able to fit inside without being pressed against the side of the head. However, having used the headset for extended sessions, there was no pain from my ears or head, just a case of sweaty ear and a quick wipe down of the leather padding needed.
So far, so good. The Kave XTD 5.1 headset looks nice and is comfortable to use. They are well made and look like they will withstand punishment. However, what makes this headset stand out is the desktop remote, which also happens to be a rather nice USB sound card. Boom!! Added bonus!!
Looking like a little creature sitting on the desk, I cannot emphasize enough the handiness of the desktop remote. Firstly, slap bang in the middle is a large rubberized turny dial with which to adjust the volume, making it easily at hand should the on-screen action get a little too lively or subdued. If you have been messing with system volume controls or keyboard shortcuts in the past, this is a real godsend. It is also far superior to most other in-line options. Just below the volume dial is another example of lovely blue light displaying the volume level, and which of the speakers are being used. Being 5.1, you have front, center, rear and woofer. There is a mute button on one of the legs, a button for switching channels above the volume, and a button to switch between game and movie mode towards the back on one side. Then there is the speaker button.
Being a full sound card, users are able to plug their own speakers into the desktop remote, giving a complete audio solution. The user can then switch between the headset and their usual speakers with the speaker button, which is a much easier solution to mucking around in windows. The sound quality coming through the standard speakers is only as good as the speakers you use, but brings as much quality as the speakers themselves can handle.
The desktop remote has one more trick up its sleeve, and it is greatly received. The desktop remote has built in Bluetooth and can be paired with your mobile phone. A button on the other leg of the desktop remote will then allow the user to answer calls to their mobile using the headset, thus not disturbing the gameplay. I have used other headsets that offer a wired version of this function, but the Bluetooth functionality really makes a difference. The user can even make a call on their phone and use the headset, and the quality is much better than any hands free kit I have used.
The sound quality of the headset itself is impressive. With three driver units in each cup, angled with extreme precision, the real 5.1 surround sound gives a very believable impression of being in the middle of the action. As mentioned in another review, the games that support surround sound are relatively few, but find one that does and this headset will make the most of it. The Roccat software which comes with the headset allows the user to tweak the way it handles games which don’t support 5.1 surround sound, along with those that do. I am no audiophile, but to me the bass seemed a bit weak, which is something else that the software can tweak for those who are inclined.
The big problem with the Kave XTD 5.1 headset comes from it being such a complete audio solution for PC. The headset is not cheap, coming with an RRP of £149.99 (although they can be found much cheaper), and this is in part due to the excellent included USB sound card. However, if the gamer already has a decent sound card, they might not feel that this is needed.
Stylish enough for the serious PC gamer, the Roccat Kave XTD 5.1 Surround headset is an all in one audio solution for your gaming needs. Coming with a USB sound card which doubles as a desktop remote, and Bluetooth pairing with your mobile phone, along with excellent audio quality both for the headset and microphone, there really would be no reason to take these off whilst at your desk. However, if you already have a decent sound card, or have just spent out on a new one, then the included sound card will be unnecessary and the price too high. For the PC gamer who hasn’t upgraded their audio solution for a while though, the Kave XTD 5.1 Surround headset is well worth the asking price.