The Siberia 200 is SteelSeries’s spiritual successor to the Siberia V2, aiming to bring the ageing headset into the modern age with a goal of ‘reclaiming its title as the best gaming headset in eSports and PC gaming’. At £60 it’s not going to be the best and SteelSeries damn well know it, but what they’ve built here is certainly in the running for the title of best entry-level headset on the market at the moment.
It’s rather bizarre that we put so much stock into the appearance of a headset when we basically never see it, but we’re vain creatures and we want to look good, even when we’re sat at a computer by ourselves. The Siberia 200 is a stylish piece of hardware, offering up a series of curves and circles rather than any sharp edges and straight lines. The earcups themselves are circular rather than the more traditional, if somewhat vaguely termed ‘ear shaped’. The model that SteelSeries sent us was the descriptively named White model, but there are a range of colours to choose from to suit your style; I’m partial to the Proton Yellow model myself.
The Siberia 200 one of the more comfortable headsets I’ve worn, with a few caveats to that statement. The wide, polyester padded earcups offer a lot of room meaning that those of us with larger lobes won’t find their ears getting squashed uncomfortably into a space too small for them. Rather than opting for a mechanical, manually adjustable design SteelSeries have gone for a one size fits all approach with the Siberia 200. Underneath the over-arching support struts is a piece of soft padded material which rests atop your head, elastically attached to the headset allowing it to stretch to fit any head size. It seems like an elegant solution to something nobody thought was a problem though and I’d much rather have the option to adjust the headset myself. To conform to any head size, the Siberia 200 holds on to your head very tightly and this can be a little uncomfortable over extended periods of time, especially if you wear glasses as the frames get pressed into the side of your head quite aggressively.
So it looks pretty and it’s a bit clingy, but how does it sound? Well for my money, the Siberia 200 has the best audio quality of any headset in its price range and it beats out quite a few more expensive headsets too. I compared the audio quality of several music tracks and a few games to a pair of Bose ® SoundTrue Around-Ear Headphones that were knocking around and whilst there is a noticeable difference, it was nowhere near as big as you’d expect when comparing a £60 headset with a pair of £130 headphones. The specifications claim a frequency response range of 20-28,000 Hz and whilst our tests confirmed the low end, I’m not a dog so I guess we’ll have to take their word for it on the high end. With that said, headphones with a frequency response above the human audible range generally produce better sound quality within the audible range so it’s not wasted effort and the results speak for themselves.
Considering the extremely high quality sound output for headset at the low end of the price spectrum, I can’t help but be disappointed by the accompanying microphone. It’s not terrible by any means, but that it’s functional is all I can say. The microphone itself is retractable and highly adjustable, allowing you to position it to suit your needs, which is a good job because it’s also bloody fussy about where you position it. Put it too close to your mouth and your breathing will be picked up, but move it too far away and you’ll barely be audible so you’ll need to find that goldilocks zone. It’s a relatively minor complaint and a common one amongst unidirectional microphones but it’s annoying coming off the back off other headsets which feature built-in noise cancellation to counter the breathing issue.
Ultimately, the Siberia 200 is alright at a lot of things and bloody fantastic at one thing. Luckily for SteelSeries that one thing is the Siberia 200’s phenomenal sound quality at such a low price. You’ll find better sound quality out there for sure, but not without paying a lot more than their £60 asking price. The one-size-fits-all design of the model left me feeling a bit irritated at times and the microphone is pretty run of the mill, but when it really has to deliver, the Siberia 200 steps up to the plate.