Gaming headsets are one of the most voted-for product types on Massdrop. From Beyer’s MMX 300 to Astro’s A50 and Kingston’s HyperX series, we get thousands of votes each month for gaming headsets at every level. Sadly, most of these headsets have flaws that are initially imperceptible, but manifest after several months of use, making it difficult for us to list them, despite the votes. Why are gaming headsets this way? I can’t say for sure, but I’d guess it has to do with gaming headsets being viewed as an accessory, a peripheral, for most companies producing them. Understanding the desire from our community, and the undesirable state of gaming headsets as a product segment, we partnered with Sennheiser Gaming to produce the PC37X: a gaming and communications headset, not a gaming accessory. As a competitive gamer (DOTA2, CS:GO, Battlerite) I understand the difference good audio cues can make, via the headset, and to teammates over the microphone. Working with Sennheiser and our community members, we quickly arrived at a short list of the most important features for this headset: 1. Sound stage, stereo imaging, accurate location cues. There are a lot of different terms we can use, but putting it into practice, if you’re making a run for B through the upper tunnels on dust_2, and someone starts walking up the stairs from the lower tunnels, the drivers need to be good enough to pass along the audio cue in time for you to 180 one-deag that fool. The PC37X drivers utilize the same overall design as those from Sennheiser’s audiophile HD family, positioned at a slight angle in the housing. The combination of driver quality and positioning achieves the stereo imaging necessary for the highest levels of competition. 2. Shielded mic, optimization for high volume, low distance, and intuitive mechanical design so you always know whether it’s on or off. Often when manufacturers produce gaming headsets, they use generic microphone capsules designed for another task (like teleconferencing). Manufacturers generally do this because developing microphones is very hard, and they don’t have the infrastructure to undertake such a project. Sennheiser, on the other hand, owns Neumann: the most well respected microphone developer and manufacturer in the world. To be clear, the microphone capsule used in this headset is not branded Neumann; it’s the same capsule used in the 373D, but it’s a capsule developed by Sennheiser specifically for high volume, low distance recording. Finally, nearly all gaming headsets feature a mic mute feature, which is often a small switch attached to the cable. These switches work, but one of the most consistent things we heard from community members was how often people would turn it off to eat, for example, then forget it was off. With the 37X, if the mic is in front of your mouth, it’s on. If the boom is pushed up and away from your mouth, it’s muted. Simple as that. 3. No signal processing or simulated surround sound that interact poorly with built-in audio optimization. At this point, most manufacturers of gaming headsets build in some kind of simulated surround sound because they think it’s the best way to produce better locational awareness. If this was 2008, that’d work pretty well. Back then, major game developers were smaller, and just starting to build in audio optimization of their own. At that point, simulated surround sound would interact positively with their un-optimized audio and often produce good results. As time went on, developers grew larger and audio optimization became a higher priority. Now, nearly all competitive games have built-in headphone modes. Stacking simulated surround sound on top of these pre-existing optimizations can produce a lot of undesirable interactions—and generally worse results. To avoid this, the 37X features no such processing.
Ultimately, our goal with this project was to make a gaming headset with performance suited to competitive play, with comfort and aesthetics that make for an enjoyably casual experience, and a price point that makes it as accessible as possible. How do you think we did?
DJAT
296
Jan 12, 2017
So are the drivers the same as of the HD600s, except for the lower impedance?
leezor
2
Jan 12, 2017
"Made with drivers that are positioned at an angle, which is typically seen in much more expensive headsets, the PC37X delivers more clarity in your games and tunes. Modern games have headphone optimization built in, so we’ve removed the PC 373D's simulated 7.1 surround, leaving headphone optimization to the game creators rather than layering effects on top of their work."
Well, that blows.. I had just picked up PC363D's off Amazon a few months ago for +$200..
I wouldn't go as far as to say they're the same drivers as the HD600, I don't think it's fair to say these use the same drivers as any specific Sennheiser headphone.
What I can say, is they use the same architecture for the voice coil and magnet structure. If you were to take this and the HD600 driver out of the housing and put them side by side on a table, you'd notice some different acoustic treatment on the front of the driver HD600 driver (looks like silver mesh), but the HD600 driver is also positioned flatly in the housing vs the PC37X drivers are positioned at an angle.
brodie7838
43
Jan 12, 2017
You forgot to mention that the volume control is on the left set, eliminating all in-line controls from the cable entirely.
That's a huge plus for me; that thing will get caught on just about anything, and is usually the first thing to start breaking.
amboyscout
3
Jan 12, 2017
My god yes, i've broken 3 headsets because of in line control.
TheCourier911
8
Jan 13, 2017
Is this drop going to be limited? like how the HD 6XX was limited to 5000 units
cr4yo
9
Jan 13, 2017
These look very similar, if not exactly like my PC360's. The volume knob is on the right cup which is very convenient. But that same knob was the weakness of the PC360 headset. Dust can infiltrate the mechanism and cause some static noise when you adjust the volume. Hopefully they insulated the affected parts underneath the knob. Otherwise, they are amazingly comfortable and the mic is perfect.
Tainen
12
Jan 13, 2017
Same here, using a PC360 set, love it to DEATH.  Curious if this has the 7.1 surround processing like the HD373?  Guessing no because they are not USB
cr4yo
9
Jan 13, 2017
It does not have the 7.1 Surround:
"Modern games have headphone optimization built in, so we’ve removed the PC 373D's simulated 7.1 surround, leaving headphone optimization to the game creators rather than layering effects on top of their work."
Thanks for pointing that out! In-line controls sound like a good idea, but overall it seems our community isn't interested in them : )
CoollDave
46
Jan 13, 2017
Did they fix the microphone quality from the regular 373D or is it the same exact mic?
ScooBeR
1
Jan 13, 2017
I game on PC and console. With a 50 ohm impedenace and a -38db sensitivity, will these be loud enough if driven by my stereo controller output on xbox or will i need to use an amp?
Hey Will, I think Massdrop & Sennheiser did a stupendous job on a $120 headset with good sound and mic. I agree that "headset" was considered a instant indication of a lack of quality on Head-Fi, and most people would easily be better off buying a music headphone and adding a separate mic, with the exclusion of the Beyerdynamic MMX 300 and Sennheiser PC360 which were (respectively) a DT770 with a cardioid mic and a HD555 with a cardioid mic. This PC67X seems a little unique... was the driver in the HD598 angled, or tuned the same? I look forward to writing a review on the PC67X!
Another question: I didn't own a PC back in the days of OpenAL and 3D surround. I got into audio mostly for surround on consoles, which was all based on emulating a 2D home theater surround setup on headphones. What PC games have you found to have good/great headphone surround, especially with height/3D surround? The Surround experience is so much more immersive for me, and the cheap dongles included with many headsets left much to be desired so I'm curious what a good built-in headphone surround game would be!
eisengard
14
Jan 13, 2017
Hi Will, i've a question i'd like to ask personally, how can i contact you?
Energizer
4
Jan 15, 2017
would like to know about this too!
CoollDave
46
Jan 16, 2017
One more question Will, does the PC37X come with software to control presets and monitoring, similar to the PC 373D?
Jack87
6
Jan 16, 2017
Overwatch is designed with the idea of using stereo headphones and Dolby Atmos for optimization. You can read about Dolby Atmos if you search online. Seems pretty cool! https://www.dolby.com/us/en/categories/games/overwatch.html
Nope, this headset has no software features
Shoot me an email, will@massdrop.com
Thanks for your enthusiasm and questions!
I believe the most recent version of the 598 features angled drivers, I'm not sure about the tuning but we're working on a few comparisons now as many folks have asked.
If you're looking for games with good headphone optimization, I'd recommend CS:GO, BF4/BFONE/Battlefront (DICE is killing it on the HRTF front), and racing games by Codemasters (DiRT, F1 Race Stars).
That said, if you're also interested in games that sound good (no optimization, just good recording and sound track), check out Transistor, Bioshock, and Owl Boy.
Tons of enthusiasm! Review tonight! And after the review is up, I'll add some comparisons to other headphones I thought were heavy hitters... Spoiler alert, the PC37X hangs with the best of them at this price point, AND has a mic!
And yes, the DICE games since BF3 have had pretty good built-in headphone surround, so did "The Last Of Us," "Thief" (the reboot), Overwatch (Dolby Atmos!). BioShock and Borderlands 2 also were some of the last to support OpenAL, a fully 3D surround "library" that freely positions audio without being constrained to the "7.1 speaker" positions of a home theater. I don't think full headphone surround integration is common yet... but it's definitely gaining momentum, for the better!!
Would you be interested in joining me for a Twitch Stream of some PS4 + PC37X gameplay, answer the burning questions of gamers live?
CoollDave
46
Jan 16, 2017
Thanks man!
CoollDave
46
Jan 16, 2017
YES. When will you be live?
Hoping to finish the review and put it up first, but maybe in an hour and a half, 2 hours? 10pm Eastern? Will probably will have clocked out for the night, at least I hope so, but I'll still stream. Maybe we'll get a surprise guest (via the magic of time zones!).
my Twitch profile is also EvShrug. How about an hour of CoD: Ghosts (great sound cues), then an hour of Rocket League... and we'll see what whims will us where after that, eh?
Energizer
4
Jan 17, 2017
hope to be there to listen to that mic!
Posting review here, now! I reserve the right to edit what is basically my first draft, and add stuff like a sound leak sample, photos, and listening notes later ;)
What did you think of the mic? It was much better plugged into the G5 than the DualShock4, wasn't it? IMO the quality tested last night from least to best was DS4<Bluetooth Adapter<G5 connection. I also think the PC37X's mic was better suited for the task than the also very good sounding but much less directional Blue Microphone I plugged in at on each point.
Sorry the stream stopped every time I switched a game, and I didn't realize Rocket League had an update. But, overall I think it was a fun night!
Energizer
4
Jan 17, 2017
yeah the mic quality was really nice, day and night compared to the PC373D reviews I've seen, bought the headset the first second it became available thanks to your stream, thanks for the review! Can't wait to get my hands on it now!
CoollDave
46
Jan 17, 2017
@WillThis is not really important, but if I was one of the first to get these, will my serial number reflect that? For example, if I was on of the first 100 to buy them, would my serial number be in the 1 to 100 range?
These aren't for sale on Amazon, it's a Massdrop Exclusive. the closest model on Amazon is the PC373D, which has a USB dongle instead. I prefer the analog input on the PC37X, it ends in two 3.5mm plugs; one for audio and one for the microphone.
jermmmmmmmmm
0
Jul 18, 2017
Headset is comfortable, I love the design and I love the sound when gaming in shooters. But, unfortunately I've noticed the left driver randomly distorting and sometimes the right as well (not together and intermittently with the headset @ 50% volume and the source outputting at 50% volume). Kind of unfortunate and not what you'd expect for a Sennheiser headset =\
Hmm, 50% volume? are you using a sound card, or built-in headphone jack? I use a bunch of different sound cards including one that costs just $60-$70, and on that one I only need like 20-24% power to get listening level volume. It may seem like an obvious question, but is the headphone plug seated all the way in your jack? Does the issue persist on other sources, like your phone's headphone jack?
If not, customer service is where companies really test their mettle. Here's the USA repairs page: https://service.sennheiserusa.com
moosedawg
0
Nov 24, 2017
They look great, how do these compare to the Game One? They look and sound very similar. I just ordered a pair of Game One from Amazon due to arrive on Monday, and of course now I see these today - figures! Any info on how similar they are would be greatly appreciated.
Ayrton
0
May 18, 2020
THANK YOU! i was trying to figure out why the surround sound version on amazon was cheaper than the game ones, and witch one was better and this was the only thing that helped me understand why. A little more $$ in canada but my pc37x's are on the way!
What “surround version on Amazon” is cheaper? This basically IS an all-black Game One, or a PC373D without the in-line USB Processor. If you want surround (I definitely prefer it!), you can always add it to the signal before it gets to the PC37X, but if you didn’t want the surround, the value in this model is concentrated into the parts that matter most for sound quality. Either way, the fundamental design and quality of this headset is better than most mainstream “gaming headsets.”
(Edited)
Oh yes, the PC373D. So, the headset is exactly the same, the difference is that the cord has a built-in (analog) Amplifier, DAC (Digital to Analog Converter), DSP (Digital Signal Processor), and (Digital) USB connector. What happens is 7 “channels” of direction is sent digitally over USB to the DSP, which processes what we call a “binaural” mix (a 2-channel headphone surround mix that accounts for what surround sounds like by the time it reaches your two ears), then the DAC transforms the digital 1’s and 0’s signal into a smooth analog sine wave with varying strength (amplitude) and pitch (frequency), lastly the amplifier provides more power to the analog signal and allows us to control the volume (usually through voltage). Now, you may have already known some or all of that, but basically you can see the surround comes from the DSP part. That processing can be done on your computer with the right software (or in your game console or smartphone if the game has binaural software built-in, like Battlefield 3 & 4 or The Last of Us), and then you can use your computer’s built-in DAC and amp (every computer or monitor with a headphone jack has a built-in DAC and amp). You can also do all that with an external device, like the cable that comes with the PC373D or a bigger (better) unit like the Sennheiser GSX 1000 or one of the Creative Labs Sound Blaster products (BlasterX, SuperX-Fi, etc). It’s an extra feature, and some people like to buy an “all in one” bundled solution like the PC373D package, or just buy the headphone (PC37X, Game One) and save you again to buy a better quality DSP/DAC/Amp later. I have ones that cost $35, $200, and even a super top of the line one that sells for over $4k (I got it super early bird on Kickstarter for $1k four years ago), and they can get amazingly realistic (in the case of the expensive one, it’s intended for music producers to be able to simulate a concert stage... but it gives me glee to use it just for being submersed “IN” cool games like The Witcher 3 or CoD Warzone. It makes it all to easy to hear exactly where the loot crates are or people are walking on the other side of walls. Muah hahah. EDIT: Sennheiser GSX 1000 (in Canadian dollars): Sennheiser GSX 1000 Audio Amplifier https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B01LDTP484/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_VNbXEb95E83JG Also, Drop sometimes has Creative products here, hit the request buttons
(Edited)
Ayrton
0
Sep 9, 2020
So i definitely should have bought the cheaper ones from amazon but whatever here we are... after months of waiting i finally got them along with a soundblaster x like you said and I have no idea why but everything sounds not right like echoing and buzzy not good at all idk whats wrong please help :( I have the blaster x connected through usb to my pc right now.
Buzzy? If there is a buzz or hiss even without any audio from the game or computer playing, then you may have a defective BlasterX. It could also be that your headphone plug isn’t inserted all the way... sometimes the jacks are really tight and you have to “click” the plug all the way in echoes... sometimes I notice echoes when using the surround processing on 1 Dimensional (stereo) content, like YouTube videos. It’s usually best to minimize the surround effect or turn it off for stereo content, but when you’re playing a game, make sure Windows is set to use the SoundBlaster card as a “7.1 surround device.” Which product in the BlasterX line did you get? The G6? Creative Labs’ tech support should be able to provide any further service.
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