Sennheiser GAME ONE Review
Pros: Comfortable, great microphone and audio quality
Cons: Expensive, doesn't block background noise
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
Claiming the top spot overall, the GAME ONE narrowly edged out the Razer Kraken and the HyperX Cloud II. The Kraken is the undisputed champ for audiophiles that want to get the most out of the soundtrack to games, but its microphone quality isn't the best. The Cloud II did a little worse than the GAME ONE in terms of microphone and audio quality, but is a bit more comfortable. However, the GAME ONE and the Cloud II both retail for about $70 less.
To rank and score these products, we did tons and tons of research, then bought all of the best headsets on the market today to test side-by-side and compare their performance to see which is truly the best. We tested out both the microphone and sound quality of each headset, as well as how comfortable each one is to wear and how convenient it is to operate, with the GAME ONE's full results shown below.
Accounting for the largest percentage of the overall score at 40%, Comfort is our most important testing metric. Many people will wear these headsets for quite a long time, meaning that even the most crystal-clear audio is totally useless if the headset is too uncomfortable to wear. We had a panel of judges try out each headset for an extended period of time, rating the overall comfort of each product, as well as focusing specifically on the ear cups and the headband. Additionally, we also had testers that wore glasses try on each headset, to see if any unpleasant pressure points were created. The GAME ONE scored quite well and is one of the more comfortable headsets that we have seen, but it isn't quite the best, earning it a 7 out of 10 for its results.
The velvet-padded headband is quite nice, holding the headset very comfortably on your head, while also securely holding the GAME ONE on your head without any wobbling.
The ear cup padding is also covered in velvet and is a bit on the firmer side, but the vast majority of our judging panel was more than happy to wear the GAME ONE for extended periods of time — even for upwards of 10 hours.
We found the ear cups to be plenty spacious, measuring a little over 1.25" across and about 2.6" tall.
We also liked that the open ear cup design kept you from getting overly sweaty when wearing them for long periods of time.
Moving on to how the GAME ONE actually sounds, we put it through a set of benchmark tests, as well as judging how clear voice and music sounded and how accurately it could convey the position of a sound. Additionally, we also scored it on how well it did at blocking out external noise. This headset again delivered an excellent performance, earning an 8 out of 10 — although it couldn't quite claim the top spot.
The GAME ONE did alright with positional sound that was originating in front of you or to the sides, but it can get a little muddled when the sound is behind you, with a handful of testers incorrectly identifying the location of the sound.
Voice from other players comes across exceptionally loud and clear, though the deeper tones sounded slightly more muted. However, the open back design on this headset makes them abysmal at blocking out any external noise, allowing you to hear every side conversation or noises like fans or music playing in the same room you are playing in.
This headset also does a great job when listening to the soundtracks or music, delivering well-balanced sound with only a slight emphasis on the mid-range tones. It has a slightly airy sound due to its open back, but provides an exceptionally immersive experience, especially when playing games with a rich, orchestral soundtrack.
Moving on to our suite of benchmark tests, a bass quality test, driver matching test, binaural test, and a wiring test. The GAME ONE didn't do the best when the bass was boosted to the max, failing to display any parasitic buzz, instead actually rattling the headset around. The frequencies both sounded extremely centered in the driver matching test and all of our judges were usually able to identify the location of the sounds in the binaural test, again, much more accurately when the sounds were in front of you, rather than behind.
Moving on to the microphone quality, the GAME ONE again scored very well and meriting another 8 out of 10 for its top-notch performance, putting it right at the top of the group in this set of tests, which are worth 20% of the overall score.
We started off by having a panel of listeners rate how a recorded message of the same person reading the same script sounded, without knowing which headset generated the recording. We also gathered the opinions of the recipients of our messages when using a common voice chat program. In both cases, almost all of our judges thought the GAME ONE sounded exceptionally great. Only a few judges noticed a tiny amount of buzzing and one noted that the recorded voice sounded slightly flatter than it did in real life. There was only a small amount of feedback when the microphone was tapped and it doesn't overemphasize "T" or "S" sounds.
The microphone also does a solid job of only picking up your voice and filtering out external noises. While it will pick up sounds of you eating or a background fan, you can type away on a mechanical keyboard without issue. There is only a slight amount of noise on the other end when you mute the mic and while it will pick up the sounds of other people talking in the room with you, the side conversations are transmitted at a much lower level and won't overpower the sounds of the game you are playing.
Ease of Use
For our final testing metric, accountable for 10% of the total score, we looked at how easy it is to actually use and operate each of these products. We based the score for each headset on the presence of onboard or in-line controls, the cord length and if it is detachable, and the convenience of using the microphone. The GAME ONE again is one of our favorites, earning a 7 out of 10 for its excellent performance, again putting it near the apex of the entire group.
This headset has onboard controls right on the headphones, allowing you to both adjust the volume and mute the mic, which is done by simply lifting the mic up and out of the way. The cord on this product is plenty long, measuring in at 9.65 ft. and is detachable. However, the mic is not detachable and it doesn't have the ability to enable a mic sidetone, but we never really found this to be a problem with the open back design.
While this is an excellent headset, it isn't the best value option, pairing a premium performance with a premium price.
All in all, you can't go wrong with the GAME ONE — if you can afford it. It's comfortable, has great audio and microphone quality, and is incredibly easy to use. Additionally, you can also consider the GAME ZERO — essentially the identical headset with a closed-back design, if you are too bothered by ambient noises while playing.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer