Expensive, but worth the cost?
What is the Sennheiser G4ME One?While Sennheiser’s high-end headphone range has picked up a sturdy audiophile reputation over the years, the prolific German company isn't really a brand that springs to mind when thinking about gaming solutions. That’s about to change however, as Sennheiser now sports a range of around fifteen different headsets tailored specifically for gamers, most of which have been introduced with a conspicuous increase in marketing budget. Their 2015 range covers the likes of the cheap PC 310 stereo headset (£44.99), the sturdy LAN-focussed PC 330 (£89.99), along with more exotic entries such as the 7.1 virtual surround of the PC 363D (£209.99).
Our G4ME One test unit sits near the high-end of Sennheiser’s gaming range (£189.99 as of today), and comes in the form of a gimmick-free stereo headset with an attached noise-cancelling condenser mic. So far so standard, but the G4ME One’s open-back design, frequency response of 15-28000 Hz, 50 Ohm impedance, relatively flat response and 116db SPL certainly hint at something a little more refined than your average plasticated monstrosity. Sennheiser’s marketing mentions “E.A.R Technology” as the G4ME One’s only real gimmick, which, as far as I can tell, just means that IO Interactive used these very same headsets when mixing audio on a previous Hitman title.
Given the price and specs then (and leaving aside the argument for simply buying a proper set of high-end headphones and bolting on something like a ModMic), the Sennheiser G4ME One delivers the fairly tantalising prospect of being one of a select few multi-faceted gaming headsets that could be equally at home with all sorts of media and content across platforms as diverse as the PS4, handhelds or a PC. But does it deliver enough for the asking price?
What’s in the box?In short, not a whole lot for your £180. The Sennheiser G4ME One slots into a cheap-feeling plastic tray, which is in turn nestled inside a standard cardboard box and outer sleeve. The headset is attached to a 3m cable which terminates in dual 3.5mm jacks for audio and microphone, but doesn't come with any accessories or adaptors to increase its versatility. If you want to use the G4ME One on an Xbox or PlayStation 4 and take advantage of its microphone capabilities, you’ll either need to purchase the PCV05 audio adapter direct from Sennheiser (£8.99), or else source your own dual-3.5mm jack to 4-pole device (which is relatively simple and cheap to do).
Comfort and useAs Sennheiser has opted for the very minimum effort in its packaging and accessories, you’d at least expect the G4ME One to show its expensive credentials with solid construction and stylish design; and it does, to a certain degree.
Finished with white earcups, a black headband and rich red trim, the G4ME One actually looks relatively classy in comparison to the rest of the gaming market. I'm not going to say that it’s a device you'd necessarily feel comfortable in when walking about the streets of your local town, but there’s certainly something to be said for a lack of LED lighting, military-inspired design or huge logos emblazoned across every inch of plastic. The G4ME One exhibits straight-forward, simple splashes of colour, and is designed with a set of curves that remind you solely of headphones rather than a star destroyer.
It is, however, all plastic; and despite the solid nature of its construction and generally appealing design, the choice of materials might disappoint those looking for something ultra-premium. The G4ME One doesn't feel cheap, but it certainly doesn't feel expensive either.
Moving into the details, The G4ME One’s circumaural earcups are spacious and feature an open-back design with an attractive grille, whilst the plush velvet earpads leave plenty of room to breath, even if they can occasionally get a little hot during extended use. Sitting at a lightweight 300g however, it’s all too easy to forget you’re even wearing it for any gaming or movie-watching session of a relatively normal length, and that’s never a bad thing.
Overall, the G4ME One offers enough adaptability to make for an easy fit on most skull sizes, although the earpieces offer limited horizontal rotation, making this a device that’s perhaps more suited for in-home use rather than travel. The headband attaches via white plastic forks into a standard plastic arch, with the same plush velvet cushioning sitting underneath to ensure a comfortable fit on the top of your head. There’s enough tension in the headband to make for a snug fit, but not so much that there are any undue areas of pressure. The overall effect of wearing the G4ME One can only be categorised as extremely comfortable. It’s light, spacious and sturdy.
Elsewhere, although the lack of accessories limit the out-of-box connectivity a little, it’s good to see Sennheiser adopting a sensible approach to the functionality of their headsets, with the G4ME One sporting its own independent volume wheel mounted on the right earpiece and a sturdy semi-positional mic that activates only when lowered to the mouth. There’s a satisfying “click” to lowering the microphone arm, and that little touch leaves you in no doubt as to exactly when you’re muted (or vice-versa).
Indeed, it’s only after you go back to other headsets that you realise just how useful those simple little features really are. Dialling in your volume mid-game is much easier with a quick twist of a wheel than it is when fumbling for an attached control unit and tapping up or down to get the desired output, whilst just swinging the microphone away from your face when you want to talk to somebody in the same room couldn’t be easier. Sennheiser might disappoint a little with its packaging and plastic construction on the G4ME One, but as a device for everyday use, those little details count for a lot.
How does it sound?To keep things consistent with other upcoming headset reviews, the G4ME One was tested in four different practical usage scenarios that hopefully offer a good cross-section of their intended market. Music was sampled at various bitrates on a Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and Sony Xperia Z1, while a cross-section of different games, video and other services were tested on a PlayStation 4, an Xbox One, and a PC with a clean motherboard-based audio output. In all cases I sampled the G4ME One in its basic state, but also connected up the relatively cheap Fiio E11K headphone amp to add a little juice where necessary.
As you might expect from a product priced at the upper end of the gaming market, the G4ME One gives a great first impression in comparison to headsets at the mid and lower tiers. There’s a distinct lack of bias towards the extreme highs and lows that usually characterise gaming audio (bass is pushed a little, but maintains good clarity), and whilst their well-balanced sound might not be to the tastes of competitive FPS players that rely on surgically-isolated highs and mids, the G4ME One delivers sterling performance when it comes to pretty much everything else.
Games as diverse as Forza Horizon 2 and Life is Strange sounded equally at home on the G4ME One, with the former’s throaty engines mixing superbly with its bass-heavy soundtrack and screeching tyres, and the latter’s dialogue sounding crystal clear when mixed with the softer, more ambient audio in its soundtrack. Nothing is unduly pushed to the fore here, and once your ears get used to that change from the gaming norm, it's tremendously difficult to go back to the alternative. The G4ME One is easily capable of rendering uncomfortably high volumes without distortion however, which aids the transition a little.
Moving into more traditionally difficult territory, the open soundscapes of Destiny and Battlefield 4 also sounded suitably spacious on the G4ME One despite a complete lack of surround audio, with a good amount of width and depth in evidence. Switching up to watch Fast and Furious for a little while, I found the Sennheiser's to be superbly capable for movie watching, with a good level of detail and clarity matched to the impressive soundstage. An ever-so-slight push to bass and lower-mid frequencies leaves the G4ME One a slightly warm tinge to its audio presentation, which I also found helped with my enjoyment of music no end. Vocals were clear but not harsh, while the likes of Rodrigo y Gabriela's acoustic material was delivered with a soft subtlety and impact where necessary.
The attached microphone is also superb, delivering its active noise-cancelling properties without softening or obscuring speech to any great degree. It's easily capable of the sort of quality that console gamers will demand, whilst those of you looking to stream on Twitch or record podcasts on a PC will also find the G4ME One to be everything you need, and a little bit more.
- Balanced sound
- Excellent microphone
- Easy volume and mute
- Comfortable & lightweight
- Too plasticky
- No bundled accessories
Sennheiser G4ME One Gaming Headset ReviewWhen purely looking at the audio response of the Sennheiser G4ME One, it's easy to find a lot to like here. This is a headset that might take a little while to get used to when coming over from the crushing bass and sharp upper-mid range of the competition, but the trade-off is absolutely worth it. The G4ME One sounds superb once you're dialled in to its presentation, managing to bring out hitherto-unheard effects in games and presenting the whole gamut of gaming audio in a balanced and energetic fashion.
However, it's difficult not to be a little underwhelmed at Sennheiser's design and the versatility on offer. While the G4ME One looks relatively nice in comparison to other headsets, it is also entirely made of plastic, which cheapens the effect to a great degree. Failing to include even a basic 4-pole adaptor in the package is also a disappointment, necessitating the purchase of a separate cable to enable chat support on Xbox One or PlayStation 4.
That being said, it's difficult to go back once you've spent some time with G4ME One's audio and gotten used to its headset-mounted volume and mute controls. Sure you might get more for your money if you purchase a dedicated pair of headphones at the same price, but the combination of excellent microphone performance and quality audio just about accounts for Sennheiser's £189.99 pricepoint.
Value for Money7
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