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The {Hardware} Evaluate – Sennheiser GSP 550 Gaming Headset


Sennheiser GSP 550

Out Now

Sort PC Gaming Headset

Value $250/£220/€250

Sennheiser. Simply the title ought to be sufficient to ship tingles down the backbone of any actual audio buff. The corporate behind an entire line-up of choices for the audio fan with every little thing from comparatively low cost however good high quality in ear buds to exchange the garbage that got here together with your cellphone all the best way as much as the legendary and downright audacious $55,000 Orpheus.

Sure, you probably did learn that proper, Sennheiser really made a pair of headphones that price greater than a automobile. In a day and age of publicly traded firms and boring sounding enterprise phrases like “return on funding” Sennheiser is without doubt one of the few privately held companies that takes a long term view of issues like this and infrequently will go utterly bonkers with an providing like Orpheus to easily present what it could actually do if it lets its engineers unfastened to simply make the most effective headphones they will with the expectation that halo merchandise equivalent to this may occasionally include applied sciences, improvements and learnings experiences which can ultimately filter all the way down to extra mainstream merchandise.

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Earlier than I get too carried away with simply how good an audio firm Sennheiser is then, let’s relax a bit and have a look at the state of play in different areas. For a very long time, Sennheiser ear/headphones had been the mainstay of many an individual wanting first rate audio from one thing in a private area. In some respects nevertheless, one facet of the non-public audio market barely appeared to move them by and that was the gaming area. In an space dominated by firms with little to no provenance in severe audio, Sennheiser appeared concerned, however maybe not overly . Early mannequin criticisms in regards to the lack of the power to vary between audio setups geared in direction of positional audio, explosions, dialogue and all the opposite issues that make gaming involving from an audio perspective gave technique to some discovering them irritating to make use of underneath sure gaming situations.

I’ve had a number of completely different gaming headsets since I got here again to PC gaming in earnest 5 years in the past, largely with various levels of “semi-lapsed audiophile geeks shouldn’t purchase gaming headsets” conclusions. Don’t get me improper, a few of them will not be dangerous, however there’s quite a lot of very common, overpriced package on the market which sells as a result of somebody received a pair of bathroom commonplace mediocre headphones plugged a mic in and slapped the tag “Gaming” on them with a snazzy emblem and perhaps some RGB. Razer Tiamat 7.1 discrete, HyperX Cloud II and naturally the by no means materialised Ossic X which collapsed after crowdfunding have all graced my private “gaming audio” story. I’ve toyed with the thought of getting a correct amp and hooking it as much as my PC however haven’t had the time so I’ve typically stayed considerably disillusioned with gaming audio headsets.

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Non-gaming headphones and earphones nevertheless have been a distinct matter and several other pairs of excessive finish Sennheiser, AKG (earlier than they went all mainstream), Beyer Dynamic and others have given me glorious listening experiences through the years.

Sennheiser’s Gaming providing has been round for an excellent few years now and I’ve managed to get my fingers on a pair of the most recent excessive finish providing they’ve, particularly the open GSP 550, so let’s dive in.

Sennheiser GSP 550 – Within the Field

Sennheiser shipped me not simply the headphones themselves, however the free mouse mat they’re presently providing on their website, together with the GSA 50 headset hangar which mounts on desks as much as 3.4cm thick. Pulling open the field you get the effectively packed headset itself with a small field on the base containing the USB cable in addition to the Dolby 7.1 encompass connector which plugs into the headphones themselves, together with some instruction pamphlets.

Not for Sennheiser the stickers with logos, additionally (barely) oddly not for Sennheiser, the choice to make use of the GSP 550 with a 3.5mm jack (not less than out of the field). That is really a gaming headset (sans RGB after all) and USB is the place it’s at. The headset has a few prospers which mark it out as a “gaming” providing, most notably the prospers of olive inexperienced which adorn the edges and microphone increase.

Specs break down as follows:

  • Impedence: 28 Ohms
  • Connector: USB
  • Microphone frequency response: 10 – 18,000 Hz
  • Headphone frequency response: 10 – 30,000 Hz
  • Sound Stress Stage (SPL): 107 dB
  • Cable size: 1.7 m dongle, 1.2 m USB
  • Weight: 358 grams
  • Decide up sample: Bi-directional ECM
  • Microphone sensitivity: -47 dBV/PA
  • Headphone sort: Open
  • Whole Harmonic Distortion (THD): Lower than 0.07% (1kHz, 100 dB SPL, 200 mV RMS)

Okay, initially. Holy cow, after I appeared on the Sennheiser web site I used to be barely nervous as a result of it didn’t record THD. It is a big annoyance for me with regards to gaming audio merchandise as a result of NONE OF THEM EVER LIST IT! Both as a result of they’ve examined it and it’s so dangerous in comparison with actual audio merchandise that they don’t wish to publish it or as a result of they didn’t check it. Each are dangerous. Fortunately, upon wanting by the documentation included with the GSP 550, it really lists a really respectable THD.

Construct high quality is often glorious and I’m happy to notice that ear pads and the inexperienced aspect covers will be changed. The increase microphone has an inbuilt swap which permits or disables it as you drop it down or elevate it up so if the NSA, China or James Bond occur to have hacked your gaming PC, they received’t have the ability to decide up audio from it whereas it’s within the up place. A delicate quantity dial caps the proper cup with a pleasant bump to disable every little thing. The open backed nature of the headphones is barely restricted and encompasses roughly the highest third of the headphones.

Sound and Listening to Temporary Intro

Lots of audio package will are likely to deal with or round what I consult with because the “commonplace” 20-20 vary. That is speaking in regards to the frequency response from the low finish to the excessive with 20 Hz to 20 kHz. “Excessive definition audio” will are likely to attempt to lengthen that vary considerably, going from as little as single digit Hz as much as 40 kHz or much more (100 kHz for the Sennheiser Orpheus).

Realistically, as individuals age, their potential to genuinely hear the extra excessive ranges disappears, low ends in all probability begin at about 50 – 60 Hz for most individuals and can high out someplace round 20 kHz. Under this it’s extra about “feeling” fairly than listening to the bass and above the highest finish it’s possible you’ll get a bit extra vary in splendid situations with no different background noise and many others however this, coupled with the truth that many individuals will likely be listening to lossy audio codecs on a spread of variable high quality telephones, sound playing cards, audio system and many others imply that if you need a severe excessive definition audio expertise, you’re unlikely to simply have a look at shopping for a set of audio system or gaming headset for a PC. That a lot stated, the GSP 550 does transcend the conventional generic gaming headset ranges and into extra of a excessive definition audio territory. Worthwhile provided that these are geared toward gaming, not someone who had a nasty 128kbps mp3 rip so the additional vary is appreciated.

On the off probability that you just’re not conscious of how a lot you lose within the conversion to mp3, I encourage you to go to:

The place you may take heed to what will get misplaced within the compression technique of Tom’s Diner (one of many management songs for the event of the unique mp3 commonplace). You’ll clearly realise from this that you just lose fairly a bit.

Sennheiser GSP 550 for Music

I’m glad to notice that Sennheiser didn’t give out a assessment information with the GSP 550. Seemingly trusting within the enthusiasm of their reviewer base to grasp audio in addition to assured sufficient of their product to let or not it’s thrown at regardless of the reviewer needs to attempt. Normally after I get audio merchandise with a assessment information, I look it over and have a tendency to chuckle a bit to myself earlier than instantly consigning it to the bin. I’ve my commonplace set of sources I exploit for testing audio merchandise so I’ll dive proper in.

First off, I’ve put in the Sennheiser software program and check out it out with every little thing off. We’re listening to stereo music right here so Dolby encompass will get disabled (for now) whereas I throw my favorite, notably difficult piece on the headphones. I often begin with this piece as a result of it’s so exact that it tends to simply journey up gaming headphones that are tuned for booming bass with numerous explosions so Tchaikovsky’s Symphony #6 Allegro Molto Vivace (the third motion as recreated by Herbert von Karajan conducting the Berlin Philharmonic in 1964 when you should now) is often a catastrophe for gaming headsets, but additionally one thing I’m anticipating the Sennheiser’s to do effectively at.

The short, delicate and exact instrumental piece is reproduced in default settings with glorious accuracy and brightness, because it ought to. The recording is kind of impartial and if heard taking part in correctly you may inform it’s recorded in a live performance corridor, setting the Sennheiser software program to “Music” mode modifications {that a} bit. Bass appears stronger and the general piece sounds much less shiny. Esport mode dials the bass again to the purpose of just about non-existence and makes the highest finish sound too shrill whereas Sport mode sounds fairly much like Music.

First check handed with flying colors, time to maneuver as much as one other instrumental piece, however on the reverse finish of the spectrum. Eddie Van Halen’s ode to the electrical guitar that’s Eruption. Eddie rips by the guitar as I’ve heard numerous instances and as soon as once more, precision and audio copy in default settings mode is great. I attempt Music mode once more and spot a barely heavier bass however the track doesn’t have a lot provided that it’s largely Eddie on the guitar with occasional drum backing. General it sounds prefer it shifts the frequency response vary downwards so the highest finish is certainly much less shiny and the bass is stronger. The GSP 550’s come throughout excellently once more and I’m actually stepping into having first rate headphones related to my PC for… oh in all probability the primary time.

On to the final audio piece. Pink Floyd’s Echoes. 23 and a half minutes of superb audio experimentation encapsulating an enormous vary of various audio kinds and sounds. I lock the household out of the examine and put together to take heed to all the factor twice, as soon as with no particular equalizer setting and as soon as once more with Music chosen. “Off” once more seems to be the most effective setting and I’m discovering myself questioning precisely what sort of music the “Music” setting ought to be used for.

Experimenting a bit all through my music assortment, there’s really an affordable quantity that sounds higher in Music than not together with such numerous tunes as Led Zeppelin’s When the levee breaks, Leftfield’s Phat planet, Daft Punk’s Get fortunate, AC/DC’s Thunderstruck and 50 Cent’s In da membership, whereas conversely, Aerosmith’s Eat the wealthy, Purple Scorching Chili Peppers’ Venice queen and Smashing Pumpkins’ 1979 all work higher with default settings.

I’m fairly happy, I’m the sort of man that if given an equalizer with numerous choices will spend years looking for the most effective mixture for various songs I like whereas really not having fun with listening to them so the power to simply click on by a few choices in a GUI and know that one in every of them ought to be just about on the cash is sweet. Dolby 7.1 encompass for stereo audio is as poor it ought to be.

Sennheiser GSP 550 for Video games

So we’ve successfully answered the query of how are the Sennheiser’s for stereo audio with a convincing sure. Thus far so commonplace (though it needed to be finished after all). Now to attempt its hand at gaming. My commonplace line-up barely modifications right here as Alien Isolation (regardless of its nice use of audio to create a soundscape) is getting a bit lengthy within the tooth now so Murderer’s Creed Odyssey steps in to the breach together with Doom (in 2016 guise) and Star Citizen (3.Three PTU for some voice motion). I flick the Dolby 7.1 to enabled by way of the USB dongle (additionally out there within the software program device) and swap to “Sport” equalizer mode.

Odyssey is the primary Murderer’s Creed recreation I’ve gotten into shortly. It’s an honest residing world which is consistently altering with audio cues to what’s happening all through. In recreation positional audio is great and a few experimentation reveals first rate copy from the 2 audio system for location with the sense operate in recreation and the little twinkle sounds which trace at the place the sport has discovered one thing relative to the participant’s place. A thought strikes me as a good friend of mine really helpful Dolby Atmos for the PC. I’ve received it on my cellphone, however by no means thought to get it on the PC. Sadly wanting into it, recreation help for Atmos is extraordinarily restricted. It’s additionally considerably stunning to seek out that many video games don’t notably record their supported audio codecs in any notably straightforward to seek out location. I believe that the majority video games are in all probability utilizing some 5.1 combine, perhaps 7.1.

Strolling across the recreation and interacting with individuals, battling Athenians and Spartans the sound which comes from the GSP 550 is startling for its readability, accuracy and punch on the low finish. Sure, Sport mode does appear to anticipate a thumping baseline and delivers it with aplomb. There’s a however coming nevertheless. In cinematic storyline lower scenes, speech is somewhat quiet. It’s a little bit of a shock to me initially however after I give it some thought, maybe it shouldn’t be. Basically, after I’ve had 5.1 or 7.1 programs for house cinema I’ve all the time tended to seek out I wanted to pump up the centre channel considerably to get speech that actually matches the quantity stage of the remainder of the film, it appears to be the case with recreation primarily based multi-channel sound too however there isn’t a capability to manage the channels individually by way of the software program.

Taking part in round with different modes, I lastly choose “Music” as really the most effective sounding for centre channel cinematic scenes and likewise fulfilling for common gaming because it additionally boosts the low frequencies considerably.

Doom is a good recreation and maybe extra importantly for this assessment, it has glorious audio. Right here, the GSP 550 really excels. Sennheiser is a good audio firm not solely as a result of it makes glorious purist/audiophile grade tools but additionally as a result of it caters to what its prospects need. My lengthy serving pair of IE 80 earphones with adjustable bass are glorious and for those who need a barely bass heavier setup to common impartial sound, Sennheiser delivered it in these. The identical is true right here. As a lot as audio purists might scoff on the bass heavy sound which comes out of videogames, we play quite a lot of these video games for motion and, explosions, heart-pounding moments which scare us half to dying and we love them.

Sennheiser has finished an important job of delivering what avid gamers need with the GSP 550. Downtown Demonville could be very successfully populated with all the audio cues you’d anticipate and weapons all sound bigger than life, as do the accompanying gory results. Samuel Hayden’s voice comes by sounding as amazingly grizzled and robotic because it ever did if no more so. Doom feels just like the sort of recreation the GSP 550 was made for.

To Star Citizen then. Mates aren’t round to play whereas I’m testing. Some will clearly name me a fanboy however I really like this recreation for its selection, each in taking part in in addition to audio. Lumberyard (aka CryEngine, Amazon forked version) had an excellent place to begin for audio within the first place as a longtime recreation engine after all however Star Citizen itself delivers a big number of audio each when it comes to music in addition to results in ship and on foot/EVA. Assault rifles, whether or not ballistic or vitality sound nice and positional audio works because it ought to.

Software program, Voice, Open again and Non-Sound Components

I used to be barely nervous upon putting in the software program. It’s no nice secret that many glorious {hardware} firms fall down exhausting with regards to making software program and I used to be sort of anticipating this to be one other of these conditions. Fortunately, Sennheiser has finished an excellent job with a easy and intuitive interface that lets the consumer deal with what they should. Do I want there have been extra choices? Positive, however on the identical time it’s straightforward to simply throw every little thing on the wall and see what sticks whereas on the identical time giving the consumer a really difficult, unintuitive and troublesome to make use of system.

Voice utilizing the microphone from a number of calls was glorious (as my household can all attest to!) Noise discount takes a few of the sharp edge off what the microphone picks up and the “Sidetone” settings of Off, low medium and excessive allow you to hear what you’re saying as a part of the audio that is available in by way of the headphones or not as you would like.

It’s been ages since I had a pair of open headphones however now I’m remembering why I liked them up to now. Audio simply sounds extra… proper one way or the other. There are downsides after all. Sound filters in from the true world and when you’re sitting subsequent to somebody, they’re additionally going to have the ability to hear what you’re listening to however when it comes to audio high quality.

So to the ultimate level that’s extremely necessary for any gaming headset, consolation. Sporting headphones for an prolonged session generally is a ache even when the sound is great ought to the producer not do an excellent job right here. Fortunately, Sennheiser have finished. I want them on the excessive stage of attain to suit my head and was a bit nervous as some headphones I’ve work like that may be too tight however Sennheiser have put some sliders within the headband which stiffen up or loosen the contact stress of the headphones in your head so that they’re straightforward to regulate and comfy for in all probability most head sizes. The opposite good factor is the fabric on the pads isn’t too scorching or sweat inducing, in addition to the open nature serving to to chill inside a bit.

A braided cable would have been good however realistically isn’t that massive a deal.

Wrapping Up

So I’m in a barely troublesome spot. These are glorious headphones and ship stereo audio in a method that no gamer model I’ve ever tried may ever hope to ship. They’re additionally extraordinarily succesful for in recreation audio and comparably priced to flagship headsets from gamer firms that make audio merchandise tuned explicitly for as a lot bass as they will probably thump into an eardrum. In order a gamer, I really like these headphones and would half with my hard-earned for them with out query. My problem arises in that I additionally know what Sennheiser is able to having owned quite a lot of their non-gaming merchandise through the years and I really feel like they will do higher than this.

On the identical time, it’s additionally a query of what sort of value level the market will bear. $250/£220/€250 is an affordable amount of money for lots of people however I’m keen to wager that Sennheiser can do extra within the gamer area, cost extra for it and nonetheless shift models. It’s maybe unfair of me to carry Sennheiser to a better commonplace as a result of they’re Sennheiser however on the identical time, you may see a automobile journal that offers a Ferrari 9/10 and also will give a Prius 9/10. Horses for programs is an applicable phrase and no person is anticipating a Ferrari to return Prius MPG or a Prius to do 0-62 in Three seconds.

As such, the GSP 550 earns a totally deserved Really useful award from me however with an 8/10 to go along with it. I do know Sennheiser can do greater than this and I utterly hope they may. Players deserve it.


A wonderful gaming headset, simply as at house listening to stereo music or 7.1 combine encompass.



Design & Aesthetics8



  • Glorious stereo music copy
  • Glorious in recreation positional audio
  • Excessive construct high quality
  • Mic flip off if pushed up
  • Inbuilt quantity
  • Replaceable pads, cable
  • Open backed
  • Adjustable tightness
  • Intuitive software program


  • Software program may have extra tuning functionality
  • We KNOW Sennheiser can do higher (hey Orpheus Gaming Version?)
  • Braided cable can be good

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