There's a huge market out there for gaming headsets. What was once the territory of a few specific brands has exploded into market full of headphones, microphones, and combined headsets offering all manner of features at a wild variety of price tiers. Still, some players want nothing more than a pared-down headset with decent audio, and that's where Snakebyte comes in.
The German manufacturer of gaming accessories produces a number of different headsets, and the Head:Set Pro is the company's latest and greatest. Following the release of the PC-based Head:Set Pro, Snakebyte is now offering the Head:Set X Pro and Head:Set 4 Pro for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 respectively. I was able to give the Head:Set 4 Pro a run for its money, and for better or worse, it's safe to say Snakebyte's latest offering is still firmly planted in the budget category.
Fit and Finish
Being who they are, gamers seem to love bright lights, sharp lines, and striking colors. The Head:Set 4 Pro has none of those. Instead, it's a simple black plastic headset with a blue accent around the drivers, situated between the earcups and the headset itself — more on that in a moment. It's a fairly spartan design, and if you ask me, that's usually a good thing. With that said, the Head:Set Pro isn't exactly a looker.
The headset cable is non-detachable, but that's not surprising at lower price tiers. It does at least include an in-line volume wheel and a quick toggle to mute the microphone, which is a convenient touch, especially for console players. The earpieces themselves swivel, which is something often seen in DJ-style headphones, and it makes the Head:Set 4 Pro ideally suited for travel. The microphone also folds up into the left earpiece, which should help keep it safe when the headset is tumbling around a backpack or even being thrown around the living room.
Getting more comfortable
The most unique feature to the new Head:Set Pro headsets is the ability to swap out earcups. Two come packed-in: One set appears to be made of cloth, while the other is the typical pleather-type covering. Both are filled with a type of memory foam, and it must be said that they're very comfortable, particularly the cloth offering.
However, the way these earcups connect to the headset itself feels distinctly cheap. The earcups have a plastic backing with small nubs which align into cutouts into the headset. Once in position, magnets snap and hold everything together. The design is such that it adds a lot of plastic into the mix, giving the headset a rather bulky design that comes off something like a child's headset. What's worse, if you grab the headset around the drivers themselves, the earcups are likely to fall right off, possibly sending the cans tumbling to the ground.
Sounds like a problem
Small concerns with the fit and finish, even the unusual earcup design, could be forgiven if the sound was excellent. Unfortunately, the Head:Set 4 Pro just doesn't sound very good. The drivers have a very flat-sounding tone, with overemphasized mids and under-emphasized lows. These are not headphones for audiophiles, especially not bass lovers, despite their generous 50mm drivers.
To make matters worse, the way the earcups connect to the headset leaves a distinct and noticeable gap around the entire earpiece. Snakebyte advertises the headset as having passive noise cancellation, but there's none of that to be found, not unless buyers consider all headphones to have passive noise cancellation by virtue of obstructing their ears.
There's a silver lining here, though: Positional audio is excellent. Maybe it's by virtue of the large drivers or perhaps a misfeature of creating such a large gap around the earcups, but the Head:Set 4 Pro makes it very easy to identify the locations of sounds. I daresay they have the widest sound stage I've heard in a long time, at least outside of my Sennheiser HD 480s.
Consider your needs
The Snakebyte Head:Set 4 Pro is exactly what it's advertised to be: An inexpensive and relatively cheerful headset that will get the job done without breaking the bank. The audio quality certainly leaves a lot to be desired, but the comfort and wide sound stage help make up for an otherwise flat sound. The fit and finish won't turn many heads, but it is at least a good value, especially with the replacement earcups as well as the packed-in microphone splitter and headphone stand.