Hardware Reviews
Roccat Kave XTD 5.1 Digital Gaming Headset Review

Devin Connors | 6 Mar 2014 19:00
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The Control Panel software is only half the battle, as the XTD 5.1 comes with a desk-sitting controller. The sound card lives in the controller, and it also includes buttons for movie mode, speaker mode, channel selection, channel volume control, phone/Bluetooth control, and mic mute. The channel selection and volume controls allow you to adjust the front, center, rear, and woofer settings without jumping out of game. The master volume wheel also acts as the power button, giving you a fair amount of control over the XTD 5.1 without alt+tabbing. The phone control is a nice addition as well; smartphone pairing is a four-second button press away, and post-pairing control is standard fare (one tap to accept calls, one tap to end, and so on). The controller also sports the speaker input quartet, so you can use your surround or 2.1 speakers without plugging everything into your PC.

Comfort is vastly improved over previous Kave headsets as well. The original Kave 5.1 has pretty solid sound quality, but it's easily the heaviest PC gaming headset I've ever tried. At only 11.8 ounces, the XTD 5.1 has been lightened considerably, so the headset remains comfortable instead of turning into a chore to wear. The faux leather padding on the earcups isn't the most comfortable material I've put on my noggin, but I prefer it over cloth, for sure.

Sound quality, even with all the shed weight compared to its older brother, is pretty respectable on the XTD 5.1. It took some serious tweaking to get the mid-range close to where I like it, but the rumble feature represents the bass with gusto. The actual rumble can get a little annoying from time to time, but you eventually appreciate it like rumble feedback in a console controller. The XTD 5.1 ran the typical gaming gauntlet (Battlefield 4, CS:GO, TF2, and a little Titanfall beta) without causing any grief. Movies also benefit from the true 5.1 audio solution, especially files or discs with 5.1 audio tracks. Overall, the XTD 5.1 leans to the high-end, rumble aside, so keep that in mind if you'd rather swing low.

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After putting the mic through its Teamspeak and Mumble paces, the general feedback I got was "tinny and distant." That's not to say my voice wasn't coming through clearly, but the USB-connected mic wasn't representing my low voice as well as my ASTRO A40's. Clarity didn't seem to be an issue, just quality.

The Roccat Kave XTD 5.1 Digital Gaming Headset carries on Roccat's 5.1 tradition admirably, even after accounting for the speed bumps. The average mic performance doesn't change that fact that the XTD 5.1 offers solid true surround performance at a decent price. With so many 5.1 solutions eclipsing the $200 mark, a $170 offering will definitely appeal to your wallet. The sound quality, while on the brighter/higher side, can be bent to your will with some tweaking, and sound-heavy titles like BF4 shine.

The Bottom Line: The XTD 5.1's performs well, yes, but it's hard to say if it's a better solution than a 2.1 offering with virtual surround. I still default to the ASTRO A40 headset, despite the lack of true surround, so it's worth it to consider both virtual and true surround options when you're on the hunt for a new headset.

Recommendation: The XTD 5.1 performs admirably, and it's worth heavy consideration if you're interesting in buying a true surround-sound gaming headset.

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