When it comes to lasting comfort and exceptional audio, SteelSeries’ Siberia line has little competition. Perfectly blending affordability and quality, the Siberia V2 earned their title as one of the best gaming headsets on the market when they launched in 2012. Two years later, SteelSeries demonstrates once again what it takes to dominate the industry. They’ve set out to refine an already amazing product with improved design and sound quality without making any sacrifices. While not as feature-rich as the recently reviewed Siberia Elite Prism, the V3 Prism offer remarkable auditory performance at a significantly lower asking price.
Electronics and shiny surfaces don’t match. While beautifully designed, the V2 were a fingerprints haven and impossible to keep clean. Luckily, that’s no longer an issue. The Siberia Elite V3 Prism are matte with only a thin glossy ring accenting the exterior ear cups. The overall design is beautiful. It’s an extension of V2’s sleek construction with small sophisticated refinements that make the set look far more expensive than it really is. The upgraded memory-foam ear cushions (which isolate external noise wonderfully) and the classic headband suspension system ensure comfort during long gaming sessions. Even after an entire day of non-stop use, the V3 doesn’t cause headaches nor generate much heat.
"Two years later, SteelSeries demonstrates once again what it takes to dominate the industry."
Unfortunately, the short USB cable is problematic when connecting to a console. Five feet may be a little too short for gamers who have their couch far from the entertainment center. Additionally, the V3 Prism’s lack of external volume control is a questionable design decision. This isn’t much of an issue when listening to music on the desktop, but it can be frustrating when gaming. But these minor concerns are a small price to pay for such superb sound quality.
As with all SteelSeries products, the installation is quick and effortless. The SteelSeries Engine 3 Software boasts a customizable illumination scheme and several useful equalizer presets. With 16.8 million colors and various lighting modes, the V3 Prism has something for any personality and mood. Similarly to the Elite Prism, the equalizer presets are beneficial for quick adjustments, but can’t replace proper manual tweaking. A racing game isn’t likely to benefit from the same settings specifically calibrated for first person shooters. The same goes for music. Switching from dubstep to acapella requires different level adjustments. Fortunately, manual settings can be saved so that each application launches its corresponding modifications.
"The V3 Prism exhibits incredibly natural sound and powerful bass, while maintaining clarity during volumetric shifts."
Gaming headphones typically struggle in properly balancing sound channels. Either the bass is too high and the voices too echoey or vice versa. The V3 Prism exhibits incredibly natural sound and powerful bass, while maintaining clarity during volumetric shifts. Explosions in action games are deep without ever losing details, while singing voices (or simple conversations in films) are crisp and clean without the odd metallic side-effects heard in the Turtle Beach Ear Force Z60 and many other gaming specific sets. Racing games are particularly impressive, with deep roaring engine sounds perfectly emulating the sensation of sitting inside a monstrous race car.
"Gamers can enjoy rich explosions and realistic-sounding gunfire as they dodge bullets from every direction in first person shooters, while music lovers can savor the instrumental and vocal details of their favorite artists without degradation in quality."
It’s somewhat unfair to label the V3 Prism as just gaming headphones as they handle music and movies equally well. An audiophile may argue that headphones specifically designed for music have clearer and more accurate sound production, while gaming headsets solely emphasize cool looks and audio positioning to emulate dimensionality. While this is true in many cases, the V3 Prism (much like the entire Siberia line) serve as an exception. Gamers can enjoy rich explosions and realistic-sounding gunfire as they dodge bullets from every direction in first person shooters, while music lovers can savor the instrumental and vocal details of their favorite artists without degradation in quality.
"Their balanced performance across all media combined with iconic looks and unrivaled comfort make them the definitive headset for gamers seeking both style and quality."
Of course, a good set of gaming headphones is nothing without a quality mic. The V3 Prism may not rival the pricier Elite Prism microphone, but it’s certainly better than anything we’ve tested in the same price range. Whether it’s used for professional podcasting or casual multiplayer chatting, the microphone delivers phenomenally clear sound without picking up too much background noise. The retractable neck is also a nice touch as it tucks away neatly when not in use.
At a reasonably priced $139.99, SteelSeries’ Siberia V3 Prism are the best sub-$200 gaming headphones money can buy. Their balanced performance across all media combined with iconic looks and unrivaled comfort make them the definitive headset for gamers seeking both style and quality. Gamers who’ve enjoyed the superb V2 will appreciate SteelSeries’ immaculate audio refinements and new matte surface. While a longer USB cable and external volume control would have made the set even better, there are very few gaming headphones that can match the V3 Prism’s sound quality...and that’s ultimately all that matters.
Review by: Tin Salamunic