Sennheiser GSP 600 Headset and GSX 1000 AMP
BEING wired for sound is as critical a part of the gaming experience as impressive graphics and fun gameplay.
To that end, there’s no shortage of serviceable headsets on the market, starting from “cheap and cheerful” and heading up towards “serious dollars” – providing something for all budgets and levels of audiophile enthusiasm.
When Sennheiser recently announced their GSP-500 and 600 wired gaming headsets and accompanying GSX-1000 amp, my interest was piqued – largely because the RRP on the combination ($399.95 for the GSP 600 headset and $349.95 for the amp) is about $750 and I was trying to work out what could possibly make a gaming headset worth that kind of money.
In a nutshell: Clarity.
Sennheiser has a reputation for audio quality and that is definitely present with the GSP-600s, which provided outstanding and clear sound across a range of applications including gaming, voice chat, watching streaming video, and listening to Spotify.
The GSP-600s have some of the best passive noise cancelling I’ve experienced on a gaming headset, blocking out a lot of background noise and creating a great audio environment.
The sound was excellent, clear, and well-rounded, and generally very high quality indeed, providing an impressive audio experience – albeit one I’m not sure the average gamer would consider was worth $400.
Initially, the unit wasn’t the most comfortable to wear – I was very aware that I had a gaming headset on, even when adjusting the feature that allows you to change the clamp force of the headphones over your ears. Once I got used to it, however, they become much more comfortable to wear, helped by the memory foam padding.
The flip-to-mute mic was surprisingly sensitive, though – I had to adjust my Discord settings as a result – and it can only be tilted up or down.
Construction quality was good too, with the unit feeling solid and well-made – and not having any issues during the testing and review. The metal parts connecting the headphone cups to the headband were also a welcome feature too.
The sound quality on the GSP-600s was already very good when being used as a straight headset for my Xbox One and PlayStation 4 and phone – as one should hope, considering their price tag – but the experience was even further enhanced when the GSX 1000 amp was added for PC gaming.
It’s an unassuming piece of kit – about the same size as a coffee coaster – with an LED display, a volume dial, and red lighting accents. It connects to PC via a single USB cable, and the headset connects to the amp via the usual 3.5mm audio and microphone jacks.
The amp takes an already good set of headphones and makes them truly impressive, adding virtual 7.1 surround sound to headsets, side-channel adjustment, reverb adjustment, surround amplification and the ability to choose between stereo speaker output or headphone output (depending on how you’ve got your setup organised).
Even more impressively, everything the amp needs is on-board – there’s no software to install or configure; it’s literally plug-and-play with a few straightforward settings tweaks in Windows Sound Manager.
I was surprised how effective it was, and how easy to use – it didn’t take up much space on my desk, didn’t need a separate power supply, and was generally pretty self-explanatory to use, with presets for gaming, movies, music and general use. There’s the ability to save up to four global preset settings, and it’s all managed via a touchscreen interface.
Generally, it all functioned well, but I did have to unplug and re-plug the USB cable during a gaming session after having some sound issues – although whether that was due to a glitch with the unit or the USB cable possibly coming loose from my PC was unclear.
The GSX-1000 also works with other headphones as well – I tried a pair of Logitech G433s, HyperX Cloud Revolvers, and Sony ZX110NCs and was pleased with the results across the board from them.
The only controls on the GSP 600 headset (besides the flip-up mic) are a volume control on the right headphone – an important feature, but it would have been nice to see user-customisable controls (for skipping songs, playing/pausing music etc) as are found on some other headsets.
Here’s the thing: On their own, the GSP-600s are good headphones but $399 seems pretty steep for them, considering there are strong offerings from other manufacturers including Logitech, HyperX, Turtle Beach and Astro – not to mention Sennheiser themselves – at lower price points.
Sure, those units don’t have quite the same sound reproduction as this unit (although they’re still pretty good), but by and large, they’re going to do the job just fine. So basically, you need to ask yourself if you’re a gaming audiophile or pro-am player for whom the higher level of sound quality and reproduction is worth the premium for you.
If it is, you will likely be impressed with these units – I certainly was – but if you’re working to a budget there are units out there which will do a good job and still leave you with money left over to buy more games too.
For what it’s worth, though, if you’ve already got a decent set of headphones then the amp is worth looking into as a standalone item.
Ultimately, if you want quality audio for gaming, the GSP-600 and GSX 1000 combination will definitely deliver the goods – just be prepared for the matching price tag.