Reviews
SteelSeries Siberia V3 Prism

By Jorge Figueiredo - January 27th, 2015

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The folks at SteelSeries are no strangers ‎to the creation of great audio products. I have reviewed a few of them before, as has Shaun Hatton when he wrote about a pair of Siberias. While I have never experienced the Siberia line in the past, I have heard lots of great things about them. A few weeks ago, SteelSeries sent Toronto Thumbs a Siberia V3 Prism to review. The V3s are not marketed as the highest tier in the line (that honour falls to the V3 Prism Elite), but they perform well and give PC gamers a nice enough option if they don’t already have a pair of good headphones, though they have a few shortcomings for the price.

SteelSeries products have always bee‎n nicely packaged, and the V3 Prism is no exception. It is always very clear what you get with SteelSeries, thanks to the clear front panel and the oodles of information printed on the remaining sides of the box. Accompanying the headset within the package are a Quick Start Guide and some stickers.

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Box contents.

The majority of the surface of the headset is matte black with a glossy inner ring on the outside of each of the earcups. The unit is composed mostly of plastic, and is sturdy without weighing a ton. The earcups and logo-emblazoned headband are both padded (the earcups contain a comfortable ring of memory foam) and offer some contrast with their leather exteriors. The result is a headset that is neat to look at, like some kind of futuristic architecture – most notably the SteelSeries Suspension, which helps the headphones to self-adjust to your head (a pair of suspension cables from the top of each earcup anchor hold the soft headband in place, while harder, plastic arches join the earcups to each other directly). Finally, the left earcup houses a retractable microphone (with a flexible stem) and a mute switch.

The headphones a‎re surprisingly light, given their size and “chunky” look. The ear pieces are large, and the earcups fully envelop the ears; and thanks to the memory foam, the earcups create a nice seal, reducing surrounding environmental noise. On the inside surface of the earcups, branded mesh fabric keeps the sound going and prevents your ears from touching any hard surfaces. The SteelSeries Suspension works very well, keeping the headphones in place without the wearer needing to make any adjustments (just place them over your ears and let the system do its thing). Overall, this headset feels really great to wear, thanks to the thoughtful construction and quality materials, and there is very little stopping one from wearing these comfortably for hours (short of having to go to the bathroom, of course).

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SteelSeries Suspension – effective!

As interesting as these headphones look when they are powered down, the real magic begins when your PC is feeding them juice through the 1.5 metre-long braided‎ USB cable. Perforations on the outiside of each earcup reveal LED lighting within. These lights can be configured using the SteelSeries Engine and can be set to any one of 16.8 million colours. You can choose to display a single colour, or employ a colorshift effect, which slowly shifts between different ranges of colours (either the entire spectrum or limited palettes that reflect your specific colour choice). As an added bonus, different colour profiles can be assigned to different applications and games automatically in the SteelSeries Engine.

The SteelSeries Engine also enables users to configure the type of sound that they hear, either using the five-band equalizer, or a series of presets via a drop-down on the menu. The retractable microphone can also be tinkered with in the menu. Aside from a mic volume dial, there is a section that grants the ability to utilize the SteelSeries DSP to enable microphone enhancements for better recorded audio. As with the LED lights, specific audio settings may be saved as profiles to be pre-loaded when accessing specific games or apps. While neat, I can give or take the LED lighting scheme – what matters to me is the sound, and with a decent amount of configurations tweaks made available in the SteelSeries engine, and 50mm drivers, I was looking forward to the audio experience.

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Retractable microphone – with mute switch on the side of the earcup.

The SteelSeries V3 Prism has decent sound, regardless of whether I am watching movies listening to music or, most importantly, playing games. With great clarity and clear mids and highs, the gaming experience is great, as clarity is what I value most for things like first-person shooters (nothing is better than hearing someone sneaking around and then laying waste to them when you figure out where they are – you can’t do this when you’re wearing crappy headsets). With that being said, though, I was a little bit disappointed with the low end. Given the reported size of the drivers, I wasn’t as moved by the bass as I thought I would be. Sure, while it’s not the most important feature, it certainly makes for a better immersive experience. On top of this, I was a bit stymied as to why there was no way to control the volume without using the Windows internal volume control. This seems to be something of a shortcoming that makes it a little inconvenient to deal with volume in-game (unless you have a break-out box). This same issue is apparent when using these with the Playstation 4 – having the ability to control your volume is even more inconvenient on the PS4, as you have to step out of your game and navigate through the menus to get to the headphone volume.

The microphone, too, was a bit of a disappointment. I played with it on different settings and found that it sounded a little hollow. I also noticed that the background noise never really went away – something I would think could be managed by the DSP. It’s not a bad microphone, by any means – it’s just not what I would have expected. If you’re going to be using it for basic chatting, then it will work just fine. However, you’re not going to create any high-quality podcasts with it.

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Give these your own personality with custom LED lighting!

The SteelSeries Siberia V3 Prism is certainly not a horrible pair of headphones – aesthetically pleasing, rugged, great mids and highs, clear sound and decent bass on both the PC and the PS4 – all strong points. However, I was expecting more from them given the price point ($139) and the reputation of the Siberia line. Bass levels could be richer, for one; and the microphone (and audio processing) could use a bit of an overhaul. If you don’t have an existing set of gaming headphones, these aren’t bad – but I would wait until the price falls a little before investing.

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