Review: Roccat Kone, Kave and Isku Gaming Accessories.

Kave 5.1 Gaming Headset


You really don’t need headphones to get through most games. Of course, you might not do very well either. The sense of sound helps immensely in most games. Sure. You can use a cheap pair of earbuds or crappy desktop speakers, but even those leave a ton to be desired. Upgrading to a decent gaming headset can not only make music and video consumption more enjoyable, it can make the difference between playing a game and feeling like you’re actually in the game. Does Roccat’s Kave headset deliver?

Design & Fit

Like the Kone gaming mouse, the packaging and attention to detail is immediately present when opening the box. Out of all the headsets we’ve been testing as of late, we’d have to say Roccat’s are both the most subdued in terms of outward appearance but also the nicest. The matte black, soft robber coating found on the Kone is again present on the Kave headset. Those looking for fancy graphics will want to go elsewhere, obviously, as Roccat is focusing on what really matters - performance. But more on that in a moment.

The Kave houses a main front and rear 40mm driver unit in each ear (20-20,000Hz) as well as a third 30mm “vibration” unit (20-100Hz) dedicated solely to very low-end rumbling in an effort to really make you “feel” the game/movie. A fourth driver is used to simulate the center channel.

The microphone is ingeniously designed in that it is not only easily moved out of the way with it’s liquid smooth turning joint, but said joint can actually come completely apart in a heartbeat thanks to its simple plug-n-play design. While hide-a-way designs such as the one found on the Diablo III branded gaming headset by SteelSeries (review are as equally functional, something about Roccat’s design just feels nicer and more convenient.

Unlike many other gaming headsets in this price range, Roccat didn’t stop with just a USB connection. Instead, 4 other connections for the various analog sound channels are implemented. This is bittersweet. On one hand, if you don’t have a decent motherboard (or higher end, stand alone audio card), the Kave isn’t going to work for you. On the flip side, we feel that this (admittingly) more clumsy method of getting multi-channel sound ultimately performs better.

Despite packing in multiple drivers, higher quality materials and ample, cushy padding, the Kave never felt overly heavy or too tight on our melons. In fact, we’d say those marathon 6 to 8-hour gaming sessions could be done entirely within the Kave’s confines and you’d still come out feeling a-ok without any headache to speak of. Similarly, the actual ear cups are spacious and comfortable, easily wrapping completely around our ears.

Performance

We painted a pretty convincing picture above for blowing your allowance/small cash reserve in your couch, right? As much as we love the fit and finish that Roccat put into the Kave, actual audio performance is another story.

When we first tried not he Kave, we thought the sound was a bit flat and muffled. EQ’ing the hell out of them remedied the situation slightly, but it was still missing something. It was only when we started doing A-B (and C!) testing with the Diablo III headset and Cavimanus (review coming soon) 7.1 headset that we realized just how lacking the Roccat headset was. We’ve spent literally a solid hour playing with in-game sound settings as well as the baseline Windows audio controls and have yet to get anything close to what we’d call “great”.

If you’re looking to grab a headset for multi-purpose use music/movies/games, look elsewhere. The Kave have poor bass extension, muffled mid ranges and rolled off highs. Tinkering with EQs for a while can bring back some lost qualities, but ultimately it’s still not that good to our ears. (**We’ll note that we tried all sound tests in forced stereo mode and full 5.1. Both were nearly identical.) Movies were a bit better in that they are designed for multi-channel setups. But much like the music, the sound just wasn’t there. Gaming scenarios are really the only area we’d recommend the Kave headset. It is here that those individual drivers are finally put to good use and give you a decent awareness of the game around you.

Missed Opportunity

For as awesome as they look and feel, to say we’re let down is an understatement. We’ve been waiting for this headset to hit our doorstep for quite some time and now we’re already ready to move on. That said, the Roccat Kave 5.1 headset isn’t necessarily an automatic “No” when it comes to purchase time, but the $109.99 price tag is going to be met with some serious contemplation. For game-only shoppers, the Kave are an OK choice. But toss anything else into the mix (music/videos) and they fall apart.

Our request to Roccat: Go back to the drawing board with the Kave. We really want to love this headset but simply can’t in its current state.

Gadgetsteria’s Rating: 4/10

Gallery

Pages: 1 2 3 4