Sennheiser has toyed with the gaming side of headphones for quite some time. With a business that has delivered excellent headset technology for musicians, business and industry for years, as well as highly rated headphones from basic to audiophile, there's no question it should not also deliver the goods for gamers. But gamers are a fickle bunch so cracking just the right mix of design, features and specs is no simple task.
There's an immediate concern with the G4ME name. It just seems to be trying that bit too hard to prove they belong. But naming aside these headphones tick a lot of boxes for anyone looking to build a long-term relationship with a new set of cans.
We've spent a some time hands-on with the new G4ME ZERO and G4ME ONE headsets and we'll deliver deeper impressions soon.
In the past, Sennheiser has stuck to simple black designs with a few simple highlights. The G4ME series is a more elegantly striking design featuring bold whites with black and red highlights. It pops without going quite so crazy as the atomic greens you'll find over at Razer.
The headphones come with a noise-cancelling boom mic that like other Sennheiser headsets has a simple mute feature. Just flip it up to the side and it mutes and pull back down and you're talking again. On the other side is a physical volume dial for quick control. The volume down will never entirely shut off the sound, so you don't have to go searching for a 'just right' low volume. Again, this seems to be a good angle on fast and efficient control without fumbling about for cable controls.
The design is the key difference between the two new headsets, the G4ME ONE and the G4ME ZERO. The G4ME ZERO is the higher end model, featuring a fold up design that makes for easier portability and fully enclosed cans for greater noise rejection. The ZERO also features leatherette cups and head cushioning and comes with a sturdy carry case. For contrast, the G4ME ONE is a fixed arm headset so you can't fold it up and tuck it into a bag, has acoustically open cans and features velvet cups instead of leatherette.
This takes us to the critical questions of comfort and sound quality. One simple decision to make these headphone cups truly, genuinely large is a big win in our books. Yours truly has a lot of trouble finding cups that entirely cover my ears but both these headsets do the job nicely while also being neither too loose or tight. Overall the comfort is first class and even through over an hour of wear they remained very comfortable. The fully closed design did mean there was a little sweating around the contact areas, something the open design of the ONE alleviates thanks to better airflow.
As for sound, running through our standard range of test tracks these perform like great mid- to high-end headphones should. At high-volume there was no distortion and the dynamic response feels very uniform across the dynamic range. Those really big cans deliver a very open sound stage that gives excellent stereo performance. Good stereo sensing can be critical when gaming seriously in multiplayer and these headphones deliver a good sense of directionality.
We're yet to really spend serious hours with these in any single session to get a final sense of just how well tailored they are to gaming, but the experience so far definitely places them as the best gaming headsets Sennheiser has ever produced.
At $399.95 the G4ME ZERO headset ($369.95 for the G4ME ONE model) is going to be entirely out of range for many gamers and we wonder if we should be getting better than leatherette cup materials at that kind of price. But if you have that kind of money to get serious about your headset we'd suggest these should make your shortlist.