Sennheiser recently loaned us one of their newly-revised PC 350 Special Edition gaming headphones. Sennheiser is known for high-end audio products, and I was hoping that these headphones would prove worthy of their $249.95 dollar price point. So, when the loaner unit arrived, I gleefully un-boxed it and found a very nice carrying case. The case is black, with the Sennheiser logo tastefully displayed. Best part? It has a carrying handle! The PC 350 SE is geared for pro/tournament gamers, so the portability is very important. The case is also firm enough to protect it from moderate impacts, which is nice (form and function, as they say). Opening the case, I got my first up-close glimpse at the PC 350 SE headphones. They were folded up for travel (another nice feature), and I promptly removed them from the case.
…the earcups completely surround your ears…
When unfolded, the Sennheiser PC 350 SE gaming headphones are very impressive. The unit exudes gunmetal grays and silver accents and has a hard plastic body save for its metal, inner headband. Its cable is of the sturdy and braided variety, and measures an impressive 3 meters in length. This is so your headphones can connect to the console or PC while at a tournament or LAN event, no matter how far away it is from you. If you don’t need that much cable length, it does come with an attached cable wrap to take up some of the slack. While the design looks classy and sleek for a pair of “cans”, the most distinguishing feature of the headphones are the strangely angled earcups. The earcups are rotated back slightly from what you usually see on a pair of headphones. This rotation allows the earcups be larger and more naturally-fitting than more conventional designs. Putting the headphones on, the earcups completely surround your ears – not touching them, mind you, but comfortably encompassing them. The earcup padding is very comfortable and the cans gently squeeze the sides of your head in order block out as much external noise as possible. Connecting the headphones to your PC or PlayStation 3 is as simple as plugging in the headphone and microphone jacks into appropriate 3.5mm ports.
My first experience with the headphones was in playing some simply podcasts from my iPhone – not exactly the aim of these headphones (which is pro-level gaming). Even before pressing play to start the podcast, I was very pleased with just how much external noise the headphones block out. Sitting in my office, typing away on some stories, the headphones brought me into my own little intimate “cone of silence”. Usually with gaming headphones, the maker attempts to pump up the bass levels as much as possible to make up for lower-quality speaker drivers. With the Sennheiser PC 350 SE headphones, however, fragile voices were delivered perfectly, and without distortion, into my ears. The whole experience was very impressive. Moving on to music, it was more of the same – the speaker drivers are very good at delivering both the highs and the lows without distortion. Their quality is very apparent. Adjusting the headphone’s volume is accomplished by an embedded rotary control on the side of the right ear cup.
The isolating effect of the headphones is just incredible…
To start using these cans in a gaming situation, I lowered the lights a bit in my office after everyone else had left and fired up Born Ready Games new Strike Suite Zero. The isolating effect of the headphones is just incredible – it almost feels like you are in a soundbooth. This isolation lets you experience the game audio a lot more clearly than normal headphones allow. After a while, I switched over and began playing some Skyrim. Talk about engrossing! I coupled the headphones with Creative Labs Sound Blaster Z sound card as the higher end hardware would be more noticeable on these headphones thanks to their quality. There were so many moments that I actually jumped in my chair slightly when rounding a corner in a cave system only to find a big spider descending from the ceiling.
Now, private gaming in my office is one thing but the Sennheiser PC 350 SE headphones are geared for tournament/pro level play. So, I plugged in the microphone port and fired up Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops II Multiplayer. Setting the microphone input to play through the earcups (so I could hear myself), the headphones performed excellently over about two hours of game sessions. Muting my audio could easily be accomplished by simply rotating the microphone boom into a vertical position. Swinging the microphone boom down un-mutes it.
Overall, the Sennheiser PC 350 SE headphones are my new favorite PC gaming headphones thanks to their fine sound clarity and ability to keep out external sound, leaving you to concentrate only on the game at hand. I am rating the Sennheiser PC 350 SE headphones a 5 out of 5 stars and granting them our first seal of excellence. Frankly, my only regret is having to send them back.
- Frequency Response: 10 Hz – 26,000 Hz
- Impedance: 150 Ohms
- Sound Pressure Level: 108 dB
- Total Harmonic Distortion: < 0.1%
- Speaker Type: Dynamic, 38 mm, Nd magnet
- Speaker Type: Noise Cancelling
- Frequency Response: 50 Hz – 16,000 Hz
- Sensitivity: -38 dBV at 94 dBSPL