Excellent gaming headphone value from Creative!
What is the Creative SB Inferno?A reasonably priced wired gaming headset with analog connections that is compatible with PC, PS4 and mobile devices. Creative will be familiar to a lot of PC gamers of a certain age as Creative Labs, the force behind the excellent Sound Blaster sound cards that used to feature in pretty much every PC until the motherboards came with their own on-board sound. Now known as Creative Technology, they have recently refreshed two of their Gaming Headsets. Due in December 2014 are the 2.0 versions of the Tactic 3D Rage Wireless and USB headsets, which have been updated to offer support for the latest PS4 and Xbox One gaming consoles.
We hope to have these available for review next month, but in the meantime Creative have provided us with their SB Inferno Gaming headset for review. Available for around £35 (November 2014) this is very much aimed at the lower priced end of the gaming market compared to their more expensive Tactic 3D headsets, whilst still offering some pretty decent specifications such as 40mm Neodymium drivers, support for PC, Mac, PS4 and mobile devices via the 3.5mm (gold plated) analog connections, plush ear pads and an overall lightweight feel. Does this gaming headset offer what a gamer needs at what seems a reasonable price? Let's find out...
DesignWeighing just 222g the Inferno has a very lightweight feel about it. Comfort is clearly the goal here with very soft cushioned ear cups which have plenty of movement to sit in the ideal position over your ears. The headband is similarly cushioned and with adjustable straps meaning it should fit even the biggest of heads. Compared to other heavier headsets we use such as the Logitech G930, even after several hours of gaming in one go, we didn't feel uncomfortable or as if our ears were on fire. It's a very easy to wear and comfortable headset that shouldn't cause any issues for long gaming sessions.
The design follows the familiar theme seen across Creative's range of gaming headsets, that being a black finish to the majority of the headset with a glossy dark red to the outside part of the ear cups and red fabric covering the drivers. SB logos are seen on the outside of each ear cup with the cable coloured red. We do have a slight concern with the long term cleanliness of the headset due to the foam used in both the ear cups and headband compared to more expensive headsets which tend to use wipe clean cloth but unless you are a particularly dirty person, that shouldn't be a major issue. As a design it isn't overly garish whilst still maintaining that 'gamer' look.
ConstructionSquarely aimed at the affordable end of the market, for just £35 you aren't going to get a high quality feel and we haven't here. It's perfectly acceptable at this price point, but the headband in particular doesn't have that solid feel of more expensive headsets we have used, it almost feels like if you snatched at one end accidentally it might snap in half, although it would still take some force. The in-line controls feel particularly cheap too. But saying that the connections all feel secure, the detachable microphone with flexible boom feels decent enough and at £35 we can't really be too critical here. The build quality is appropriate for the price you are expected to pay.
Our only real disappointment with the headset is the complete lack of noise cancelling or sound deadening, both with external noises and from the headset itself. Even on low volumes if you are sitting near someone or even in the same room, they can clearly hear what you are listening to, almost as if you just had a pair of speakers strapped to your head, so definitely something to bear in mind if you plan on using them on the train or bus without getting dirty looks. We could also detect no difference in the level of external noise between having the headphones on or off. So if you have a particularly noisy PC, you will still hear it just as loudly with the headset on.
What features does it have?Most of the bases are covered here, at least ones that you would expect to see on a £35 headset anyway. We've got a detachable microphone with a flexible boom that can be easily removed or pushed out of the way if needs be and the quality of the microphone did not give us any cause for concern. Speech comes across clearly with no feedback or crackling for example and in-line controls are present for the volume and to mute the microphone.
The main feature to highlight is that the headset can be used across many devices. It is compatible with PS4, PC, Mac and mobile devices via the single 3.5mm gold plated analog connection. For PCs that can't split the audio and microphone from a single connection, the included splitter adapter will easily do that for you. We don't have a PS4 so were unable to test this feature, but it worked with iPhone, iPad and Samsung mobile devices without issue.
Is the sound quality any good?Creative's description of the 115dB/mW 40mm full spectrum drivers is that they can deliver audio that is 'professionally tuned for gaming -- every sound you can hear, these drivers reproduce'. Whilst this reviewer doesn't have a degree in sound engineering, nor can we tell you exactly what benefit the Neodymium magnets in the headset have over other makes without Neodymium we can subjectively describe how the audio comes across.
Whilst you might expect some sacrifices at £35 it didn't feel like that with the audio quality. Across all types such as music, movies and gaming the audio sounded very good indeed. On one of our favourite piano based tracks (from Lost) we could even pick up the sound of the pedals on the piano which we can't recall hearing before. Bass is present without being overpowering and we have to admit to being pleasantly surprised at just how good the audio sounds.
In gaming, which this headset is aimed at, the audio shines again and whilst for FPS games it doesn't have the audio positioning that you would find with more expensive surround sound headsets, all the sounds were clear and everything could be picked up such as an enemies footsteps as he was about to stab you in the back for example.
- Excellent value
- Decent sound quality
- Very comfortable to wear
- In-line controls
- Detachable Microphone
- No sound isolation
- Terrible sound leakage
- Build quality could be better
Creative SB Inferno Gaming Headset Review
Is it worth buying?For gamers on a budget who are looking for a good quality sounding headset, one that is very comfortable and has the features you expect such as in line controls then you can't really go wrong with the Creative SB Inferno gaming headset. At just £35 it is a very welcome addition to Creative's gaming headset range. There are negatives, including a slightly cheaper feel to the headband and zero sound isolation, which largely precludes using them on the bus or the train. However, providing you accept that you get what you pay for, then you can't really have too much to complain about for your £35.
What alternatives are available?At this affordable price, there are quite a few alternatives, although how their sound quality will compare to the excellent results we had with the Inferno we can't say. The most likely competition is from the similarly specced Logitech G230 although with cloth ear cups compared to the Inferno's foam which is available for just £38 on the net, Creative's own Fatality headset available for around £30 and the Corsair Raptor H5 at just £25. But based on our experiences alone with this headset for just £35 we have no real complaints. If you are looking for a budget headset, comfortable with excellent quality audio, then the Creative SB Inferno is definitely one to consider.
Value for Money9
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