SteelSeries Siberia Elite Prism Review

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The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I was in the midst of reviewing Alien: Isolation when the Siberia Elite Prism arrived at our office. What better way to test gaming headphones than with an atmospheric survival horror experience. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that a product’s packaging quality oftentimes reflects its performance quality. A manufacturer that cares enough about their work will deliver it in such a way that it makes an immediate statement. As expected, SteelSeries knows how to impress. When they named this set Elite, they certainly meant it. Unboxing the headphones is the equivalent to opening a treasure-filled chest. Kudos to the packaging designers. Why am I talking about the packaging? Because the beautiful presentation extends to the headphones’ design. These are the kind of headphones that draw everyone’s attention. They’re artfully crafted with beautiful illuminations around each ear cup and sleek lines accentuating the masterful construction. 

But good looks aren’t what counts when it comes to gaming headphones. It’s the auditory quality that matters. After a week of thorough testing, I’m happy to report that the Siberia Elite Prism lives up to its name. The audio is fantastic right out of the box, but a little tweaking is necessary to truly appreciate everything this set has to offer. In fact, playing through Alien: Isolation with Dolby 7.1 surround sound is indescribably immersive. Being able to hear the creature’s precise location when crawling through vents can significantly impact one's gameplay strategy. 


"These are the kind of headphones that draw everyone’s attention. They’re artfully crafted with beautiful illuminations around each ear cup and sleek lines accentuating the masterful construction."

The Siberia Elite Prism comes with its own USB sound card and a plethora of cables that connect to the PC, Mac, Playstation 4, mobile devices and more. As with most SteelSeries products, the SteelSeries Engine 3 software is needed to fully take advantage of the headphones’ special features. The setup takes only a few minutes, although activating proper 7.1 surround requires users to go into the Control Panel and change the headphones’ properties via advanced settings. It’s also important to note that none of the special features, like Dolby surround sound and equalizer settings, work without the USB sound card. We tested both 7.1 and 5.1 surround via Realtek’s HD Audio manager since our sound card already supports Dolby 7.1, but we couldn’t get the levels to perform as accurately as with Siberia’s included USB peripheral. On the down side, using the sound card muffles audio significantly. Music in particular becomes too muted, with Dolby making the volume particularly low. As a result, we ended up using the audio jack, which ironically delivered richer, deeper and more detailed sound across most media (7.1 content excluded). 


"Since most games require individual tweaking for best results, being able to save specific configuration profiles that activate every time a game launches is undeniably helpful."

The software equalizer boasts a number of helpful presets, but we found that none of them work particularly well for games or music except the performance setting. Using the FPS setting when playing FPS games doesn't necessarily always yield the best results. The weapons sound too sharp and echoey with background noise lacking depth and detail. Same goes for music and watching films. The music preset muffles singers’ voices even when Dolby is turned off, and both the movie and entertainment presets produce inconsistent results when watching blu-rays. As a matter of fact, switching to the custom setting and cranking each dial to its maximum provides the most balanced results. 

Whether you're playing games, watching movies, or listening to music, the sound quality is unrivaled. Rewatching my favorite films in Dolby 7.1 surround sound was an entirely new experience, allowing me to hear sounds I never knew existed. Explosion-heavy action games are even more impressive. When playing Battlefield, I could actually hear individual rocks crumbling around me as buildings collapsed in the distance. It's not just for show either. Being able to hear where gun shots and player movements are coming from is stupendously helpful when playing competitively.

The one thing I’ve always liked about the SteelSeries Engine 3 software is the ability to save presets and change illumination colors. Since most games require individual tweaking for best results, being able to save specific configuration profiles that activate every time a game launches is undeniably helpful. However, it would have been nice if the equalizer settings were switchable externally like with the Turtle Beach Ear Force Z60. The 16.8 million illumination options are a nice touch too, even if users can’t see the lights while the headphones are in use. But hey, nothing wrong with a little bit of extra style.  


"The Siberia Elite Prism headphones come with an extension chord, a 3.5 mm audio jack and a dedicated USB sound card. Everything you need in one box."

The Siberia Elite Prism headphones aren’t exactly small, but they’re incredibly comfortable even after several hours of use. They fit snugly and adjust to any head size with ease. SteelSeries has also included a volume control knob on the right ear cup, allowing for easy amplification adjustments while gaming. This is particularly handy when using the headphones via Playstation 4, as accessing the volume control through the PS home menu is no longer necessary. Connecting the Siberia Elite Prism to a PS4 only works via the audio jack, however. While the USB sound card recognizes the headphones, the audio remains low and is only present in the right ear cup. But that’s not really an issue since the included audio jack delivers incredible quality, and connecting the headphones to Playstation’s controller directly is easier anyway. 


"The rich bass and environmental details when playing FPS titles like Crysis or Battlefield are difficult to translate into words and simply need to be experienced firsthand."

The Siberia Elite Prism comes with a rather impressive mic that performs beyond expectations. We tested the set by talking on the phone, via Skype and during intense FPS gaming sessions and the results were impressive. In fact, players on the other line could pick up my keystrokes and mouse clicks while playing Battlefield. The mic may be no professional studio-grade quality, but it’s better than pretty much every headphone mic we’ve used in the past. 

At $199, the Siberia Elite Prism is quite pricey, but it’s unquestionably worth every penny. The audio quality is exceptional and gives both PC and consoles games a new layer of depth and immersion. The rich bass and environmental details when playing FPS titles like Crysis or Battlefield are difficult to translate into words and simply need need to be experienced firsthand. SteelSeries has improved an already strong line of gaming headphones with better build quality, improved features and most importantly superior sound.  

Review by: Tin Salamunic



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4 comments :

  1. So there is no Dolby nor 7.1 channel on PS4 even connected via USB sound card?

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  2. You can only get full 7.1 channel via PC. But to be honest, the headphones deliver much clearer sound without the USB card. The USB sound card isn't actually compatible with PS4. It'll recognize the input, but won't deliver proper audio.

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  3. The last picture isn't the Elite Prism, it's the Raw Prism. Was that on purpose?

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  4. Ah! Thank you for pointing that out It was an error. :) Fixed!

    ReplyDelete