Review

Gaming in Glorious Surround Sound – Logitech G430 Gaming Headset Review

Gaming in Glorious Surround Sound – Logitech G430 Gaming Headset Review

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As you may or may not be aware, Logitech launched a campaign this year with the goal of unleashing aesthetically pleasing and a more varied line of gaming products for the PC. While many of the mainstay mice and keyboards received overhauls over the months, there was one thing that I did not keep track of and that was the line of gaming headphones. I regret that decision. Although Logitech did pump out a steady line of gaming headsets over the years, I was always into my reliable Sennheiser HD555 and Zalman ZM-Mic1 and managed to ignore everything else related to audio. Now that the refresh is in full swing, I couldn’t help but notice new G430 headset. By chance, I was recently presented with the opportunity to get a closer look so…read on!

The first thing you notice is the color. Logitech has decided to go for a bit of flash here with the unique blue-ish color found on the ear cups. I’m not sure how I feel about that color since Logitech has traditionally used solid black and silver for so long. Once opened, you are presented with the usual manual, warranty information, USB adapter and the headset itself.

Logitech G430 Gaming HeadsetLogitech G430 Gaming Headset

The headset doesn’t feel flimsy but it’s also very light. The cups can be turned 90 degrees to allow the headset to be place on a flat surface for when it is not in use. The microphone folds up and out of the way when not in use and the arm is partially constructed of fairly stiff rubber, which allows for the additional adjustment of the mic. The microphone did a good job of picking up my voice during gaming sessions and didn’t pick up background noise while I spoke. The sound quality of the headset itself is decent. Although I wouldn’t call it audiophile quality, you have to keep in mind that this headset was designed and intended for gaming. In that area, this headset excels.

Logitech G430 Gaming HeadsetLogitech G430 Gaming HeadsetLogitech G430 Gaming HeadsetLogitech G430 Gaming Headset

Initially, I coupled the headset with my current sound card – Sound Blaster Z. I previously used an Asus Xense but I had to switch due to the fact that I needed a SPDIF pass-thru. I did this because I wanted to enjoy my Playstation 3 on my desk while using my monitor as opposed to hogging the TV when my wife wanted to enjoy “So You Think You Can Dance.” Either way, the Sound Blaster Z offers better sound quality than most of the other cards out there. Using the 3.5mm jack, I found that the headset, while providing an overall good audio experience, did not provide that “Wow!” factor. I had to adjust the equalizer to reach any sort of acceptable levels of lows and highs for gaming and listening to music. I wasn’t surprised really, since the headset’s features cannot be taken advantage of via 3.5mm audio jacks. Well, the included USB adapter that I mentioned in the beginning of this review allows Logitech’s new gaming software to automatically detect the headset. This in turn allows you, the gamer, to take advantage of emulated 7.1 surround sound and Dolby Digital. The result is a more immersive gaming experience especially if you’re into first person shooters such as Battlefield 3. You can hear footsteps of enemy players, jets swooping overhead and other various noises in glorious surround sound.

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I enjoyed a few rounds of Battlefield 3 without any sort of discomfort thanks to the cloth ear cups and the lightweight construction. In addition, the cups were spacious enough to accommodate my big honkin’ ears too. The built-in volume control and mute switch are also very convenient. The cord is long which I found to be great since my rig sits on the floor under my desk. I even stood up a few times without realizing I still had the headphones on and took a few steps before realizing my terrible and potentially disastrous mistake. A broken USB adapter or headphone plug can certainly ruin anyone’s day!

Logitech G430 Gaming Headset

With all the positives aside, I have to point out a few things here that may put a damper on any potential purchases out there. If you have an expensive audio card installed in your PC, I would have to recommend that you steer clear. The USB dongle allows for the use of 7.1 surround sound and Dolby Digital but that also means that you are bypassing that awesome discrete sound card as well. I know this may be a point of contention for a few readers but the cord being so damn long can be a hassle to manage. I literally could not figure out a way to manage the cord in an aesthetically pleasing way and ended up just wrapping the cord and tying it up with a Velcro strip which is luckily included. I think it’s great that Logitech took into account the possibility that gamers may have their gaming rigs sitting on the floor or even wall-mounted (which seems to be a thing now) but if you’re gaming on lets say…a laptop, you’re in for a fun time trying to handle the slack.  Lastly, some folks may not like the feel of the textured cloth cups as most gaming headsets tend to be equipped with faux leather or velour.

I have to admit that I would definitely recommend the G430 to friends and family members who enjoy gaming. Many folks I know actually stick with the built-in on-board sound processors so switching over to the Logitech headset would definitely improve the experience. I initially would have recommended the headsets to mobile gamers but the extremely long cord may be off-putting to the road warriors. I know there were some mixed reviews regarding some of the older gaming headsets that Logitech released a number of years ago but with the G-Series refresh, it looks like they’re working hard to position themselves as the go-to solution for all high end gaming peripherals. If you don’t want to shell out $100+ for a decent headset and microphone separately, and if you enjoy gaming, buy this headset.

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Yup.  Long.