Sound in video games I would argue is almost as integral as the visuals themselves - it's what sells the experience and gives it added emotional depth. The dissonant clash of strings that hauntingly play in the background when you are being chased and the crashing sound of guns and explosions are what really help to keep you fully immersed. For this reason, and many more, it's important that you have a capable headset to help you get the most out of your gaming sessions, whether you're tearing it up on the track in pursuit of your next gold medal or blasting demons in the face with your super shotgun in hell.
Recently, I got the chance to review the EKSA E900 Pro headset which currently retails with an RRP of £44.99 (although it won't take you long to find it a bit cheaper than that, including on the official EKSA site where it's currently discounted). The device functions with all modern platforms (PC, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One) including mobile, and it offers both stereo and virtual surround sound playback. We tested it extensively on PC and on console, and for the most part, everything worked flawlessly, although sometimes the connection over the 3.5mm jack wasn't great and it took a bit of fiddling to get it working when it was connected to an Xbox One controller, for example.
The EKSA E900 Pro won't stand out too far from the crowd with its presentation, but that said, it does have a pretty nice minimalist design. The headset is mostly black with highlights of red both around the exterior and on the inside of both ear cups - a pretty standard design. What is nice is that when it is plugged in via USB, red three bars on the side of each cup glow up. It is a shame, however, there are no options to change the colour and the way that it flashes as this would have allowed more flexibility in terms of its appearance.
However, looks aren't everything and I found the headset awfully comfortable to use over long periods as it was cushioned with a soft and squishy memory foam material on the earcups and the headband. It's also lightweight and I found it rest comfortably on my head with it weighing just 250g. Considering the price, the build quality is also great; it feels robust and not like it would snap or break if you were to accidentally step on it or roll it over with your chair, for example. Its design, as well as being robust and comfortable, felt practical as the mute switch and volume control could easily be adjusted being positioned on the back of the left ear cup.
Inside the box, the headset came with a pseudo-leather carrying pouch and a 3.5mm cable splitter. I found the headset fitted easily within the carrying pouch, and it doesn't scream as being cheap or hastily put together. If you're concerned about your headset being damage though I wouldn't rely on this for protection and would instead invest in something a little more robust.
Along with its surround sound capabilities, the ESKA E900 Pro distances itself from other budget headsets as it lets you replace different components. The microphone, USB-C cable, 3.5mm jack, and padding around the ear cups can all be replaced which is a huge plus for clumsy people like me. The headset also ensures its longevity by providing all purchasers with a two-year manufacturer's warranty.
The headline feature is that it features 7.1 surround sound, which is something I have rarely encountered on similarly priced competitors. I found audio the quality to be solid here in both stereo and surround sound, whether I was just listening to music or playing games with my friends. Nothing stood out to be particularly tinny or muddy and I found there to be a great degree of clarity overall. It should be noted though that the surround sound can only be accessed when the device is connected via USB so it cannot be used on mobile and Nintendo Switch, for example.
The 7.1 surround sound can be tinkered with by downloading the EKSA Surround 7.1 software from the manufacturer's website. This software, whilst admittedly looking a little bit dated, is simple to use and allows you to tweak aspects, such as the EQ and the positioning of the sounds around you. I did encounter an occasional issue, however, where the software would not open with resetting my PC, but when it was behaving it functioned just fine.
The noise-cancelling microphone is made of an extremely flexible material that makes it easy to find the right position to capture your voice. As mentioned earlier, it is completely detachable too so you remove it when you just want to sit and listen to music casually. I found the mic to do a respectable job both when playing with friends and streaming for Gamereactor. I never encountered any problems with the audio when watching my streams back, and the clarity of my voice was never flagged up as being an issue when taking calls or talking to friends on Discord. Sure, you will probably need something better for working on professional projects, for example, but it still serves its purpose as a solid gaming mic.
With its virtual surround capabilities and replaceable components, the EKSA E900 Pro really has the edge over many other budget headsets that fall within its price range. It's awfully comfortable to wear too, and its microphone and overall sound quality helped to become a mainstay within my PC gaming setup. It is disappointing, however, that the surround sound and lighting are the only functional on PC, but these flaws don't hold it back from being an impressive product that delivers on its promises.
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