Hello fellow nerds! This past April I attended PAX EAST where the nice folks at Plantronics were kind enough to give me a set of Plantronics GameCom 780 Surround Sound Stereo PC Gaming Headset to review. Now, before this my best pair of headphones were the ones that came with my Ipod so needless to say I was thrilled. These headphones have a noise-canceling mic, volume control on the earpods, and are SUPER comfortable. I looked online and found them for between $60 and $80. Plantronics sells them for $79.99 while the site selling them for $61.09 claims they’re new in the packaging… It’s on the internet so it must be true…
I myself am not a super serious gamer however I do play a World of Warcraft and I am in a raiding guild which means that Ventrilo is a must. I like to have the TV on while I’m raiding (since unfortunately raiding coincides with Once Upon a Time) and these headphones are prefect for that. The earpods let normal noise in so you can hear what’s going on around you while at the same time canceling out noise when you speak so your guildies can’t make fun of whatever embarrassing show you happen to be watching. Since these headphones are connected with USB it’s necessary to go into Preferences (on a mac at least) and change your output if the program you’re using doesn’t have that option itself. It’s a little annoying to have to change it every time you plug the headphones in, but not aggravating enough to outweigh the positives.
Since I am not the most serious gamer in the world, I asked my brother to try the headphones out as well. He is a fervent Starcraft and League of Legends player and sometimes he can be online playing with friends for up to eight hours at a time. He also loved the headphones, since the earpods are large enough to go around your ears and not on them, they don’t cause the normal chafing you get with more conventional headsets. He said he was able to wear them all day without any discomfort. One thing my brother and I both experienced is that this headset is on the louder end of the spectrum. While I was on Vent I had to go into the settings and manually turn down my guildies individually because my computer volume was already as low as it could go and it was still loud enough to be uncomfortable. However, once you’ve reset the volume levels that ceases to be an issue.
The headphones also came with software, I’m assuming for the surround sound portion. I own a MacBook Pro with Lion and I couldn’t get the software to install on my computer. Unfortunately, I don’t have any PC friends to try it out on but I did look at other customer reviews in order to get an idea as to how successful it is. Different users had different pros and cons about the headset but none had bad things to say about the audio quality. All were very impressed with the crispness of the sound and all were very happy with how the sound indicated where their enemies were and where the action was. Here is an excerpt from one review by UnchainedGun1 I found particularly helpful:
“I play online games like Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, and Batllefield 3. Sound is important because it tells me where the enemy is and how far away. Previous headsets always broke because they were made of plastic and that plastic eventually cracked if you were not super careful. I purchased the Gamecom 780 to replace my broken Gamecom 777. The difference is night and day. Honestly I shouted “Wow” when I tried them out playing Battlefield 3. My wife started laughing, because I was so surprised by the performance. Overhead aircraft sounded so real. I could hear them approach, roar overhead, and fade into the distance. Explosions have a bass boom that literally made me jump! Footsteps crunching as I walked sounded so realistic. The squeaky metal gears of my tanks tracks sound like the real thing. The concussions of my weapon firing and of my brass hitting the ground after firing my weapon were so realistic and amazing, I was absolutely dumfounded that I had played games for so long without this type of sound clarity and realism. The difference between what I had been using for headsets and the Gamecom 780 was stunning. I called my son downstairs (he also plays BF3 using a Logitech brand). After taking the 780’s for a test drive, he was blown away. He started saying “did you hear how the helicopters sound? What about the sniper rifle..did you hear THAT?” I am so surprised by this product! The sound is above and beyond my expectations.”
So in conclusion, while I might not splurge on headphones for raid night, these headphones are ideal for games that use sound as in integral part of the gaming experience. They are comfortable, durable, have great sound, allow you to game without being isolated from your environment, and help cancel out noises that will interfere with you communicating with fellow players.