There are gaming headsets, and then there are “premium” gaming headsets. I’ve had the opportunity to check out quite a few different options over the last several months, and it is fascinating to hear the differences between them. I tend to be a skeptic when I see the word “premium” put before any product. So when I saw this word advertised for the new Roccat Syn Pro Air gaming headset, I naturally wanted to see and hear if there was a difference or if clever marketing was at play. Is it truly a premium headset? If so – why? Only one way to find out – read on.
First and foremost, the Syn Pro Air design is a MAJOR step in the right direction for Roccat. My biggest complaint about the Elo 7.1 Air is what Roccat bragged was great about them. The Elo’s have a metal headband that was designed to automatically adjust and create a great fit. The problem is – it kind of sucks. Not that it didn’t fit right, it just made all kinds of noise if you happened to move your head that echoed in your ears, disrupting any semblance of a serene or intense gaming session. Thankfully, Roccat abandoned this fit and instead chose a more simplistic and far more comfortable accessory.
It is surprisingly lightweight but not to the point where it feels cheap. I guess I just won’t be tossing them off in a fit of rage for fear of the risk of damage. The earpads are made up of a memory foam that feels slightly itchy at first (Similar to the Turtle Beach Recon 500 set) but allows for long sessions without complaint. I like the option to adjust the volume at the bottom of the left ear (pretty standard), but I can also adjust the volume of my mic on the right ear cup. The microphone is removable and flips to mute (finally!). Honeycomb style RGB lighting adorns the outside half of each ear cup as well – as expected, the light is adjustable through the new Neon app, which I’ll touch on later. Synching RGB lighting should still be featured through Neon/AIMO as well. The headset takes on fingerprints and smudges easily. I’m not completely OCD, but it does annoy me when I see them. Users akin to Adrian Monk may not appreciate this fact, though I’m not sure how you survive as a gamer if you can’t handle prints.
Overall, Roccat has truly created a headset that both looks and feels great. Sure it takes on some fingerprints, and it might be a tad lighter than a premium headset “should” feel, but I prefer the lightweight approach as long as they sound good. The less I physically feel them on top of my head, the better. The biggest challenge I faced was getting the Syn Pro Air to sync up after turning them off for long periods of time. In fact, I’ll be reaching out to their customer service to help determine if it’s a known issue.
So how do they sound? That is the purpose of wearing a headset, right? You can have all of the features in the world, but if the quality of sound isn’t there – who cares. The Syn Pro Air headset has polished, premium quality sound.
I received this set before the full release of the new app, and no equalizer was initially available (it’s there now), but gaming and music listening is a pleasure. Featuring Turtle Beach’s 50mm nanoclear drivers and immersive 3D audio, I feel like I am part of the game. Turtle Beach includes their “superhuman sound” feature in the included app to allow me to enhance the details that become crucial in a game like enemy footsteps. Audio balance is great here too. I don’t need to turn the headset down for certain situations – in other words, if an explosion is happening and creating more low tones, I don’t have to adjust the volume down for a shrill sound that may come soon after.
The music felt tangible. Van Halen’s “Jump” intro pulsed and synchronized in my brain – the mids and the highs just feel so well balanced and wonderfully crisp – similar to a great pair of noise cancellers. I can simply hear more detail than I can with lesser sets. The bass? Not muddy – but not quite there without some adjustment. After Roccat added an equalizer to the new Neon app, I was able to adjust the low end, and there was a giant improvement here as well.
The microphone sounds good; I received no complaints from peers during games. Keep in mind I don’t stream, hence the brevity here. My favorite feature, though, is the ability to simply flip the mic up to mute it. I have so many interruptions during games this is a need for me, and it works without flaw.
A New App
Roccat is replacing its standard Swarm app with a new app called Neon. Swarm was definitely clunky, but I didn’t hate it. Neon will not be fully backward compatible with all Roccat products, and this is a shame for those who have older accessories they may still want to use. You can easily google what will be supported, though, if this could impact you. You can still adjust settings within the software on the fly, including lighting, 3D audio, Superhuman hearing, and a handful of other features. The software is a simplified view and has a less confusing interface than Swarm, but it will take time to determine if it is much better. Time will tell, but the future certainly looks hopeful here.
So what’s to love about the Roccat Syn Pro Air? The awesome sound and multimedia experience. Both music and gaming sound amazing on this device. What’s not to love? There are a few things Roccat still needs to work on. First and foremost is the connectivity of their wireless headsets. Like the Elo 7.1 Air headset, I had issues syncing the device after longer periods of non-use. The only solution was to unplug the wireless dongle and plug it back in (sometimes multiple times) and turn the headset back on. Second, I would improve the quality of the ear cup attachments. They have a single source connection point, and I honestly wonder how they will hold up over time. I certainly question what would happen if I dropped them from a significant height. That being said, at $150, I’d buy them in a heartbeat over the Elo 7.1 Air based on their improved design and sound.