A lot of you had asked me to review a product from a hardcore gaming accessories manufacturer. So today I'm pleased to have with me the latest offering from the legendary SteelSeries, the SteelSeries Raw Gaming headsets. Keep in notice that its not the old Prism but a totally new offering from the manufacturer.
SteelSeries has had a legacy of great quality headphones loved by both professional gamers and audiophiles alike. So lets dig in to the specs of this budget offering and see what the Raw Prism has in store.
On the sheet itself there are a few point to notice, it is a 4 pole 3.5mm jack headset in contrast to its predecessor and more expensive cousin the Raw Prism and even to the infamous Siberia V2 or V3. This puts this headset in an entirely different league. It is clear from here itself that it is not just a gaming product but covers wider audience of music lovers and even console gamers.
Packing and Content
The SteelSeries Raw comes in a nice steel grey box with hints of orange and white. Its a cardboard box thick enough to keep everything inside secured.
The front is accentuated by the photo of the headset itself and this time the ring is not orange since the headphone doesn't come with a RBG LED ring! The word SteelSeries Raw is clearly written in orange to make it distinguishing so as to keep you informed that its the Raw and not the Raw Prism. On the sides SteelSeries has clearly stated that it is compatible with a lot of platform like Windows, Android, iOS etc along with the fact that its a single 3.5mm jack headphone rather than being a USB one which we are used to receiving in the Siberia series.
Back has all the key features listed via a tidy diagram marked neatly underlining all the key features of the headset which is good enough. Rest of the stuff like which professionals gaming teams they support are not related to the product at all & just fills up the empty space on the bottom right.
Inside you come across the headset themselves seated securely in a molded plastic frame to keep them in shape and provide some rigidity. The box also contains a SteelSeries decal for you Gaming PC and a small manual is provided that actually gives you all the details on how to operate the product, we'll cover that in depth later on in the review.
Closer Look & Features
Closer Look -- Cool Looks, Not so Cool Feel
The Siberia Raw is designed and built on the same guidelines as those of the Raw Prism, atleast to a substantial extent if not entirely. It is a streamlined unit which is made out of hard plastic, which is a bit flimsy making it delicate especially for those who are constantly on the go, and is entirely white in color with adjustable headbands, surprise surprise tiny heads your wish finally came true! I do miss metal joints for the cups to slide upon but then these are the obvious trade offs to keep the price low.
For the cushioning Steelseries has opted a breathable fabric which looks like a Nike running shoes material but is quite soft and indeed adds not only to the lightness of the headset but also helps in resisting sweat and irritation over long gaming or movie sessions. On the down side its fragile and can sustain wear and tear way too easily even by rubbing against your specs or earrings if you wear any!
The ear cups are plain and simple with just the SteelSeries logo and a ring that seems to be a reminiscent of the RGB LED ring on the Raw Prism. The left cup on the other hand has a tiny stub for a microphone which doesn't distort the streamlined looks of the product. Even though they are tiny they are very sensitive and their reception is very good, a bit too good I'd say hence they pick up all the ambient noises easily plus since they can't be adjusted both in terms of position and reception they even pick up the sound of your currently playing music or worst the present gameplay session, this is surely going to piss off your fellow gamer I tell you. So bye bye Counter Strike and stuff!
During my test it picked up everything from my breathing to my typing and even the car horn honking on the street to something as minute as my PC fan's spinning.
Features -- Ok-ish I'd say4 Pole 3.5mm Jack: The SteelSeries Raw comes with a 1.2m rubber cable that ends in a gold plated 3.5mm jack rather than a USB port. This makes the Siberia Raw a perfect choice for Laptops and handheld devices such as Cell phones and Tablets, PC users will need an adapter to enjoy the benefits of mic and headphones combined. But the inability to use other Siberias with a dedicated soundcard for immersive audio experience is no longer a dream. This is a great thing as the Siberia Raw is not a hardcore gaming accessory but a set of universal cups.
But the grey lining in this is that the SteelSeries Engine 3 will not work with the Siberia Raw at all taking away the ability to customize the mic sensitivity as a main fall back.
Multi-function Button: The left cup on the headset comes with a button at the bottom which helps you in controlling a wide variety of features. You can see how and what you can exactly control with this button in the image below.
As you can see you can not only control your calling actions but also your music player app with this single button. Turning the microphone off is easy if you don't want you fellow gamers to hear whats happening around you. One thing worth mentioning is that if you hold the button long you are greeted with voice search features depending on the device you use it on, for example my Android phone presented me with Google Voice Search upon pressing the button for long. Talk about hands-free.
But yes the button is bit clicky and you'll have to bear the irritating sound of a plastic button clicking against your ears.
Lightweight and Comfortable: SteelSeries has definitely hit the mark on this one, the Siberia Raw is extremely light in weight and fits even on large ears, such as mine, easily. A good news for all the elephant ears out there! Since they are light you don't feel something resting on your head at all and the breathable fabric on the cups do make it sweat free and non irritating especially during summers or outdoors.
Noise cancellation isn't that great since they are fabric cups so nearby sound will be audible.
Sound and Bass: Its a budget headphone and works just like that, nothing more nothing less! The dual channel headset isn't a surround sound one but due to its flat design the waves spread out nicely and give you a panned sound experience. The bass is pretty damp especially on higher volumes, mid to lower volume range is still fine. I missed the depth in explosion booms in movies and games plus listening to music at high volumes created a trembling effect but that's only at full volume.
But I'm fine with all these since not only it is a budget segment product but also a SteelSeries product, you cannot expect sound quality of a Audio Technica, Sennheiser, JBL or Beats from brands like SteelSeries or Razer.
1.2m Rubber Cable: Its not the best I'd say rather too short if you plan to use it with a Play Station 4 or Xbox One, you'll be a standing gamer rather than a sprawled on the couch types! But for handheld devices it long enough and even during gaming its good enough even if you plug it to the back of your case to the audio card I/O port.
The cable is strong and thick especially at the joints so you can expect a long lasting experience out of it.
My VerdictSteelSeries has done something very praise worthy by bringing a new genre of Siberia lineup in the market with the Raw Gaming Headset. If you look at it as a budget gaming headset then maybe you'll find more downs in it than ups but with the 3.5mm Jack SteelSeries has made it clear that it is a general use headphone that happens to work well in games & carry the brand name of a gaming icon!
- Lightweight & Comfortable
- Budget friendly
- Cushion Fabric is breathable
- Single jack for both mic and headphones
- Compatible with wide variety of devices
- Damp Bass reproduction
- Fragile build quality
- Cushion fabric feels cheap
- Not for audiophiles
- Mic is very sensitive & non adjustable