One of the Xbox 360-exclusive feature of the 7XB is the ‘LiveMix’. It quietens in-game sounds, relatively speaking, to amplifying in-game chat instead. It’s a neat little feature that works quite well and is sure to be lapped by clan members and tournament professionals.
Another feature, as mentioned before, is ExactSND. The cheekily named function carries three equalizer settings that are designed to improve either directional sounds, environmental sounds, or entertainment…err, sounds. I found the latter to be the best allrounder of the lot. While ‘directional’ pre-set helps, slightly, to enhance sound positioning, it’s only worth it if you are solely playing competitively. It kills the bass and thins out everything to give the sound sharpness; guns and everything sounds way off. The ‘environmental’ pre-set is completely the opposite – it has the bass cranked all the way upto 11, with a wider soundstage and boom. Again, everything sounds way off. It’s like you are drowning.
With the ‘entertainment’ pre-set selected, I paced the headset through various content: songs from Rockstar (a Bollywood movie with slight rock tones), Band of Brothers (yes, I have only started watching), and of course, Battlefield 3. It didn’t take me long to figure out that the 7XB was ridiculously amazing. Enriching and captivating are the words I would use to describe the listening experience with the 7XB. If not for it’s average comfort, the 7XB’s convincing aural field would have been engrossing.
And then I used the Roccat Kave…and everything changed. At least for Battlefield 3. To my surprise, 7XB fell short on many grounds when compared to Roccat’s amazing surround sound headset. The Kave was way more precise with ‘directional’ and ‘environmental’ sounds. I could feel every bullet zipping by me, and I would know where they are coming from. With the 7XB, the sound positioning felt flat. Neither of the pre-sets really helped. There was a general consciousness of what and where everything was coming from, but it wasn’t very convincing.
Am I wrong to compare a 5.1 surround sound headset with a stereo one? Could be. But the Steelseries 5H headset, for example, almost gave Kave a run for its money by producing equally good sound positioning. It can be done. The 7XB just doesn’t really do a fantastic job of it.
The biggest problem with the Steelseries Spectrum 7XB is the price tag. At AED 999, you could buy an Xbox 360 or PS3, or a graphics card, or even a good motherboard, or an entire set of hardware from Steelseries’ other lineup. Is it worth it’s price tag, though? Depends. If you have committed your being to the Xbox 360, the 7XB are a good headset to have. The comfort of the wireless and the innovation of the LiveMix is indeed a boon. But even after shelling out a grand, you cannot replace the 7XB as your main headset because the mic will not work with anything else. If these are the least of your concerns, and if you have starved yourself enough to save up for it, the 7XB come highly recommended. Personally though, I would rather use something else but equally good and put up with the crappy Xbox 360 headset.