It's not exactly a secret, but we're willing to bet that not too many people remember that Plantronics began life as a supplier of headsets for the avionic and space industries.
That heritage has never been more obvious in a Plantronics product than in the GameCom Commander. Constructed from industrial plastic, the matte finish and functional design make these look as close to a pair of military helicopter headphones than most of us are ever likely to get.
The Commander is a hard-core gaming headset that's built for serious gamers, from its noise-cancelling ear cups to its noise-isolating mic. If there was such as a thing as "match grade" when it came to a gaming headset, this would be it.
Features and design
The GameCom Commander is a limited-edition headset and even arrives in a box with a "laser-eteched limited-edition serial number". Inside that you've got the Commander packed into its ruggedised nylon carry case, complete with carabineer clip.
The bundle has the headphones, obviously, plus two cables: one for your PC, with volume and mic-mute controls and one regular 3.5mm headphone jack that most people will probably use with a smartphone.
The cables swap in and out using Plantronics' proprietary QuickConnect system, so don't go losing either of them.
There's also the now familiar USB Dolby sound card for virtual 7.1 channel sound if your own PC sound isn't up to scratch.
The padded headband is covered with a removable "identity patch". The idea is that pro-gamers can replace the Plantronics logo with their own gamertag or sponsor logo, presumably. The rest of us are most likely to keep it in the carry case.
The build quality on everything feels incredibly solid, with even the cables having an almost industrial heft. Packed up in its case, the Commander looks more like camping equipment than a gaming peripheral.
The 40mm drivers on the Commander have a great range and provide some impressive audio reproduction for gaming. Sound was clean and sharp, and if we have one complaint with the audio, it would be that the bass could have been a little deeper — but that can easily come down to a personal preference rather than an issue with the Commander.
The passive noise cancellation helps a lot here — the cup design cuts out an incredible amount of background sound. The voice quality was also great, both in terms of how the microphone transmitted our speech and how the headphones reproduced other voices.
But at around 350g these are a heavy set of cans, and they certainly aren't the most comfortable we've worn. We found the left cup had a tendency to slowly slide down our head as we played, and we weren't able to find a simple way of stopping it.
The closed-cup design also generates a fair bit of heat, so long gaming sessions may turn out to be a sweaty event. This, combined with the non-removable boom mic, also means that the Commander isn't likely to get much use as a standard set of headphones, despite the smartphone cable.
The price also needs mentioning. The RRP is AU$349, which puts them up the higher end of the gaming headset market. However, we've seen them online for as cheap as AU$250, which is a true bargain for this sort of quality.
If your gaming takes you on the road to LAN parties and events, then you will probably appreciate the sturdy construction and rugged carry case. Those who game at home certainly won't be disappointed by the sound but may find the GameCom Commander to be overkill.