The Roccat Kave XTD 5.1 Digital sound great, look great and function well for the price
Summary : The three drivers and 12 degree angle mixed with the soundcard and software gives this headset some amazing sound qualities. The price fits the average gamers budgets. If you have cats that like string and cords, you might want to wrap the cables with something tougher.
I have only recently started to get more and more into PC gaming. It took a while. Mostly due to lack of equipment that was capable of playing higher end AAA titles coupled with the fact that I was never very found of playing online with other people. One can only replay the same single player story line for a game so many times before you need to venture to a the mulitplayer side. As gaming progresses, I am finding that there are more and more titles that are bringing online multiplayer only or mixed story-line with a heavy emphasis on muliplayer. To get the most out of these games you need to be able to communicate with others verbally. Let’s face it, trying to type out where you are, what you are doing or what you see really hinders your game play. To get the most out of it all you really should have a good headset and the Roccat Kave XTD 5.1 Digital offers a solid mix of looks, feel and usability that can deliver that gaming experience you are craving.
The Control Unit
When pressed, the knob will mute your audio. You are also greeted with the same volume lights flashing to visually remind you that you have done so. There are a few other quick access buttons on the control unit as well. One will put the audio into a pre-set configuration for Movie enjoyment. The other will toggle the sound from the headset to an external speaker source, if you wish to wire one up to it. To do that, Roccat has provided a series of 3.5mm plugs on the rear. You will also find a “Channels” button for quick switching between Front, Center, Woofer and Rear speakers. The button to the bottom right will mute your mic.
The mic has a blue LED light on the tip that is visible from your peripheral vision that lets you quickly see if the mic is muted or not. Another great addition that helps keep you from being the obnoxious gamer who wants to talk when needed, but doesn’t want to drive everyone crazy with your barking dogs and screaming kids in the background. The mic is also noicse cancelling, so even if you don’t mute it, a good amount of noise won’t cross through to your game.
Inside the headset we find another great design quality that makes the sound superb. Each earcup carriers 3 drivers all angled at 12 degrees. This triple driver and angled approach is part of how this headset delivers a 5.1 digital surround sound experience to your ears while sitting on your head.
When you take the time to set up the software you can create an extremely dynamic gaming experience. For instance, in Battlefield 4 I can now hear the direction of footsteps, gunshots and vehicles. In the Evolve Alpha I could hear the creatures, the bids and the sounds from the game along with which way they were coming from.
The voices from other player in-game were always crisp and clear. At least as much as it could be depending on their equipment. Those with decent quality audio and mic devices came through sounding great. I asked a few of them during gameplay of Evolve how I sounded and they all said I was crystal clear with no muffled sounds or distortion. The same went for phone calls over Bluetooth. No one noticed I was on a headset and I was even told I sound clearer than usual. That is a real perk, especially since I was play The Crew beta during many of those calls.
I didn’t notice a huge difference in movies over gaming when switching to the Movie profile on the control unit though. It is possible that my gaming set-up was so close to the movie set up that it wasn’t drastic enough of a change for me to pick up on.
It is hard to judge or interpret the quality of sound from something like this since so many variables can come into play. You have your sound console for the headset, you have your PC and its sound settings plus you have your game or media sound settings. You can quickly over do everything is you amp up things in all areas. I found that setting the PC and game sound settings to defaults and then tuning the headset to work out best for me. That might be different for you. It is worth mentioning thought that there is a vibration driver buit-in. When you get into those big wrecks and big bombs explode, the headset literally vibrates on your head. It is the craziest experience ever.
Roccat included a fun little extra in the main settings control panel called XEAR Magic Voice. You guessed it, it is an outgoing voice changer that can make the manliest man sound like a woman or the girliest gamer sound like a man. There is also a monster and rubber duck in there for good measure.
Under the Advanced and Equalizer tabs you get even more control to your sound and mic.
The Build Quality
The cord distance from the USB plug to the control unit is adequate for most people. We generally keep our PC towers fairly close to us. The cord from the control unit to the headset is also ample in length for my use where the control unit is just to the right of my mouse for fast access.
I do have a few conflicts with the physical cords though. Due to the nature of how the headset works, the audio cable from the control unit to the headset is hardwired in. Not usually an issue. However, the cord is wrapped in a traditional rubberized material that is easily bendable and easily cut into. This, in particular, can pose a rather stressful situation and one that I have found myself in. The wires inside the cord are thin and rather fragile, if bent or snipped at all, then you are hosed. In my case, a new cat in the house found the dangling cable a delightful toy and clawed and chewed on it a bit, rendering the headset useless now. Being that the cable is hardwired into the control unit there is no way to replace the damaged cable without buying a whole new headset. I would love to see any future headsets offer braided cable cords or, at the very least, be a proprietary USB cable of sorts that can be purchased separately for a respectable price. That wouldn’t be a terrible idea especially if they sold them in various colors and lengths. As it sits right now, everything is black with blue lights and a small blue Roccat logo on the earcups.
The Roccat Kave XTD 5.1 Digital are listed for a regular retail price tag of $169.99 but are showing up on Amazon for $136.99. Even at the regular suggested retail price you get a lot of bang for buck. They are superbly comfortable for long periods of gaming, the audio is crisp, clear and fully customizable, you get a multi-channel sound card built-in to the control unit with multiple outputs, quick and easy button access, Bluetooth connectivity for your phone and noise cancelling fully removable mic. For the price they deliver everything a novice to hardcore gamer could need. You could easily spend more on a set of headphones that don’t offer half as much or sound half as good.
I did not kill the cat in the making of this review. However, the thought of giving it away or sending it packing did occur to me on multiple occasions, pretty much every time I want to game for a little while. I do still have the Kave XTD’s hanging by my desk, for now the control unit serves as the output for my other, more traditional, headphones. Everything about them was great. The cord wrap and being hardwired in, is my big let down. I understand why a traditional 3.5mm output jack just wouldn’t work for the Kave XTD’s, 3 drivers and 5.2 digital sound needs more that what a headphone cable can carry, I would still like some sort of replaceable option. I can see these getting damaged quite quickly from being run over by your chair or getting caught in the arm. The cable issue is the single biggest complaint and the primary reason the design and build quality scores suffered.
By all means, pick up a set as soon as you get the chance. You will be amazed at the difference a quality gaming centric headset can bring to your life and your gaming.