Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Plantronics Mania!

The folks over at Plantronics were kind enough to send me box of their line-up of headsets and headphones for both PC and console gaming, so I’ll be taking a look at a select few and putting them through the paces.

In the past with our Plantronics headset reviews I found them be quite good at giving a reasonable sound at such an attractive price point. Plantronics generally offered great sounding headsets for the amateur to mid-level gamer on a budget.

Let’s kick things straight off with the Gamecom 380’s
Firstly, what an absolute effort just to get it out of its packaging, Plantronics have made a fair effort to glue shut the edges making your tear into the packaging just to reach it. Bit of an overkill to be honest and not sure as to why they wouldn’t have stuck with their packaging similar to the 777 and 780. A little heads up to Plantronics while I’m on the topic; gamers generally hate trying to fiddle around with the packaging just to open it! Make it snappy and quick to get into!
First thing I did was launch up iTunes and play through a selection ranging from different artists to genres, so a bit of everything to see how the headset fairs up. Generally it did pretty well. It gave me a good even sound across the board but it struggled with the lower end of the spectrum. Bass was seriously lacking and didn’t give that punch one would expect. It’s a shame really, because the 380’s really mimic the 7770 and 780’s so I’m not sure where they skipped to add in that extra kick of bass. Even with the lack of bass however I found it to be quite pleasing and surprisingly good. If I was to really get picky, I’d say the high end is a bit too much, but so little that most people won’t recognize it.

Gaming was surprisingly better than general music listening. Once I set up the audio as stereo within MW3 and launched up a level, the audio was surprisingly pleasing. Even though listening to music proved a bit of a letdown with the lack of bass, I didn’t really see that come through with gaming. I guess with music you expect a bit of a kick to the bass but with gaming, the rainbow clusters of audio being jammed into your head almost bypasses that feeling of no bass.
Comfortable they are, with velour padding ensures lengthy periods with it attached to your head. They fit nicely over your ears and sit snuggly. The mic could’ve used an extra inch or two to the length just to reach over my mouth, I could be nit picking though, my head is a bit big and I guess if you’re a smaller bloke it would be positioned quite evenly. The headset does come with traditional audio jacks, which is a massive plus for me. I really dislike USB powered headsets so when one comes along with good old fashioned tradition methods, I love it! 
Next up is the Gamecon 307
To put basically the 307’s are watered down version of the 380’s. They sit on top of your ears so a bit of discomfort will come from lengthy sessions. However if your suffering from Dumbo syndrome, these will be good in pinning back those ears!
The 307’s are as loud as the 380’s but don’t give the same clarity and audio definition as the 380. The drivers within the headpiece just aren’t as good quality as the higher end, and this is as expected. These are your entry level budget headsets but to be honest it does a pretty decent job in offering affordable and comfortable audio. With music, the 307’s provided decent listening especially with the added bass. The 307 definitely gives a bigger punch than the 308.
With gaming the headset didn’t favour as well. It lacked that extra bit that makes it special. The game just sounded flat and a lack of a broad range of frequencies became evident. The comfort of them also plays a bit of a disappointment from others. Sitting on top of your ears doesn’t give as much comfort as others; this also adds a lack of privacy feeling that’s associated with headset that covers your ears.
Plantronics Marque M155
Next up is something a bit different from the ordinary. It’s a Bluetooth Headset ideal for smartphones. The M155 is simply awesome. Not only did it take seconds to pair up with my iPhone but I was up and running with calls and music within seconds.
Making a call the voice came through quite clear and loud enough. The recipient reported my voice to be clear and with no breaks in audio. Answering phone calls with the headset was simple as saying ‘answer’ to accept the calls, pretty cool ey? I was pretty impressed with the M155, I didn’t expect it to be as cool as It is.

The rest of the range is your everyday run of the mill products. They offer their price point in terms of audio quality, so the cheaper you go you shouldn’t really be picky on the quality of what you get. Still, Plantronics offer great quality products at decent entry level prices aimed at all level users. One of the things I did notice on the packaging of the units was the unified design in labelling the headsets with large text that outlines what kind of environments the headsets are built for. Your options range from Gamecom, to Movies, Music & Voice (Skype / Windows Live). Another piece of heavy marketing on the labels is the Skype certified and Windows Live, iChat support labels. So basically Plantronics have created a range of headsets useful for potentially anyone with a PC or mac. You can also grab console specific headset like the X95 and X40 which are wired and wireless solutions for Xbox gaming. Unfortunately these Xbox headsets aren’t friendly with PC gaming so you’ll have to stick with one each if you go down that path.

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