Review: MSI Immerse GH70 Gaming Headset

A set of gaming cans that can light up your life, but not your ears...

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Review: MSI Immerse GH70 Gaming Headset
Supplier: MSI
Price: $149.00

MSI is making a big push into the peripherals space, with monitors, keyboards, and headsets, all blinged up with the company’s signature Mystic Light RGB tech. The Immerse GH70 Gaming Headset has been on the market overseas for some time, but MSI’s only just dropped in the local market.

Is it worth the wait?

Well, out of the box, the Immerse GH70 is going to turn heads, I’ll say that at least. It’s a very large, very brightly lit, and very aggressively designed headset – MSI is not aiming for subtlety here. Rather than feature an adjustable headband that clicks to the right size, the GH70 has a single metal span supporting a padded, sprung headband. It looks like it should be really uncomfortable, but on your head – and my noggin is on the larger side – it sits lightly and comfortably. My work colleagues were rather… taken aback at the size and gently flashing RGB lighting, so if you prefer a lower profile look, maybe look elsewhere. You can turn the lighting off, of course, but then… why are you buying RGB cans in the first place? The lighting can also be set to sync with the rest of your PC hardware, too, so it can make for quite a striking display.

Everything’s great while they’re on your head, but the large size and metal band mean the GH70s are remarkably uncomfortable to have hanging around your neck. It’s like wearing a neckbrace. But that’s small bear compared to a far larger design fail.

The GH70’s are a USB-powered headset – you can’t have the fancy lighting otherwise – and feature an inline control box for volume, mic mute, and turning the headset’s virtual 7.1 on and off. It’s certainly handy, but for some reason MSI’s designed the box upside down; with rubber feet, it’s clearly designed to sit on your desk next to your keyboard and mouse, but leaving it properly inline sees all the labelling reversed. It’s no deal breaker, but it is a silly little oversight.

The true proof to any headset’s pudding, however, is sound quality. For a $150 headset I’d normally expect slightly better, but with the HG70s you’re very much paying for more than just sound. Music is crisp and full-bodied, though the mid-range does feel a little neglected, making vocal heavy tracks a little light on punch.

Getting into a game, however, and turning on the apparently built-in virtual 7.1 surround sound is… less than compelling. That was when I noticed the small-print in the Quick User Guide suggesting I download ‘software’ from the product’s website, where I learn that you need MSI’s Gaming Center software to get the 7.1 working.  This does deliver an improvement, but there’s still an echoing quality to playback – even in open game areas – that you don’t pick up with other virtual surround solutions. This does work very well for enclosed areas, but everywhere else feels like a distraction. The clarity of sound is certainly good, and you can pick out all kinds of discrete elements. But that echo… Yeah, nah.

There are some other neat features, like a carry bag for when you take your headphones on the road, and a very nice set of extra earpads, which feature a cloth mesh rather than the default leatherette pads that are fitted out of the box. But there’s enough distracting drawbacks that the GH70s don’t quite make the cut. When you consider that you can spend an extra $20 and get the excellent Corsair HS70 Wireless headphones, which are much lighter, smaller, and better-featured, the Immerse headphones look even less of a prospect.

PROS
* RGB lighting
* Comfortable design
* Spare ear-pads
 
CONS
* Poorly designed control box
* Echo-y 7.1 surround sound
* RGB lighting
7 10
Verdict
A big and bold statement from MSI, but one that fails to back it up with performance.
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