Sennheiser has been making excellent audio equipment for quite some time. Though it is relatively new in the video game headset space, they have made a number of quality sets that give even the industry veterans a run for their money. Recently, Sennheiser released a few new models in their line of gaming headsets, and we got to take a closer look at the Sennheiser PC 333D.
When you get the headset installed and ready to go, the sound quality is one of the first things that makes you take notice, and that is always a good thing. The PC 333D performs at a high level and will impress gamers with its nicely mixed sound that never does too much or too little. The bass is full and deep, but it is light enough to allow the mid- and high-range sounds to come through clearly and evenly. The quality is always there, whether you are listening to a conversation, taking in the score of the latest AAA title, or communicating with your squad mates during a death-match. The headset always seems to sound great, and that is one of the things we love most about this model. Especially when you consider the size of the drivers, its performance is impressive.
The headset is able to perform at such a high level because it boasts a range of 14 – 22,000Hz. This massive range gives the set the flexibility to play a wide variety of sound without distortion or muddying. In addition to the physical attributes of the sound production, the virtual Dolby 7.1 surround sound works quite well under all the applications we tested. We were able to clearly hear a number of different sounds and from what direction they were coming from. It performed the exact way we expected, and it was nice to see the set live up to the hype. We would recommend you install the disc that comes with the headset before playing games, since it does give you more control over your headset. It also makes sure you get the most sound out of your set, which is the most important part of any headset purchase.
The PC 333D is unfortunately light on the features you would expect from a headset of this price range.
Let’s start with the good. The headset comes with an inline sound card that creates the excellent Dolby 7.1 surround sound that makes this headset sound great. It also allows you to turn the Dolby effects on or off with the slide of a button on the sound card itself. If you are running an older computer, or you just don’t have that great of a sound card, this is a wonderful option to have. The mic itself works great and automatically mutes when placed in the up position. We didn’t experience any problems being heard or having people hearing us. The headset also has the ability to be used as a standard headset. Simply remove the stereo jacks from the sound card and plug in your iPod or other stereo device. Music and movies sound great with this set, though considering its size, it isn’t very portable. Finally, the cups themselves are quite powerful and produce clear, full sound. It is very impressive for such a small headset.
Unfortunately, there are some features that are painfully absent in this model. There is no in-line or on-the-set volume controls. There is also no way to control the mix between mic volume and sound volume without playing with software. Having these controls on the set or in-line is very important for a good gaming headset, and it just isn’t here on this model. This one item doesn’t seem like it is a big deal, but when you are in the heat of battle, having these controls is crucial. Nothing is more frustrating than having to play with software because you can’t hear your teammates.
The MSRP for this headset is $179.95 at the time of this review. We feel that this is a little high for the features on this headset. It isn’t that the Sennheiser PC 333D doesn’t provide a quality product, but at that price point, there is some stiff competition. Sure, the in-line sound card is a big plus, and the headset sounds great, but with no in-line sound controls and a lack of comfort features, it is hard to justify this price point. At $179.95, this set gets placed in the high-end category, where the set starts to get out-done by competitors that offer wireless options, true 7.1 Dolby decoding, and larger drivers delivering a better sound experience. It is a shame, because the Sennheiser PC 333D is a quality product, and with a price reduction, it could have dominated the mid-range space with its performance.
Ease of Use / Comfort: 4
Unfortunately, the PC 333D was not very comfortable at all. This model is an “on-the-ear” model, not an “over-the-ear” model. The headset was great at keeping sound close to your ear without letting much of it spill out; however, that feature came at a sacrifice to comfort. After about fifteen-minutes, the headset really started to hurt our ears. After about a half-hour, we had to take them off. For something that you want to keep on for hours at a time, this set just doesn’t let you do that. When you consider the price you’ll pay for a set like this, you expect a better noise-cancelling solution than the strategy employed by this headset. It really is a shame when you consider the quality of the sound that it can produce. Luckily, the headset is very easy to use, and though we recommend you install the disc if you don’t have a good sound card, if your rig is up to date, this set will work great for you immediately.
Overall, the Sennheiser PC 333D fell from what could have been an outstanding score to one that is just above average. The set is a quality product, as we mentioned earlier, and with it you get something worthy of the Sennheiser reputation. The sound quality and performance is excellent, but when you consider the price, the lack of in-line controls, and how uncomfortable the headset is to wear, the score was negatively impacted. In the end, we are left with a mixed bag of excellent quality, but a severe lack of features. Since there are a number of quality products at much lower price with more features, it is hard to give this set our full recommendation.