Drivers: 50 mm
Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
The Roccat Elo 7.1 USB is remarkably similar to other Roccat headsets that have come before it. While Roccat doesn’t command the same kind of attention in the headset space as Turtle Beach, SteelSeries or Astro, it’s always put out reliable gear that delivers slightly-better-than-expected performance for the price. That’s the case with the Elo 7.1 USB, which sounds very good and lets you customize a lot of software options, even though this headset falls a little short on comfort and fit.
In fact, the Elo 7.1 USB is one of the most straightforward devices I’ve reviewed in a while, even though it’s not one of our best gaming headsets. It provides good sound, doesn’t cost that much and could have been a little better.
Pick up the Elo 7.1 USB if $70 is your budget cap and you want a mid-range USB headset from a major manufacturer; otherwise, stick with a 3.5 mm headset, such as the Razer Blackshark V2 X. Read on for our full Roccat Elo 7.1 USB review.
Roccat Elo 7.1 USB review: Design
While the Roccat Elo 7.1 USB may sound good, its appearance leaves something to be desired. The headset’s black plastic chassis has odd, ugly angles just above the earcups, and a steel headband way, way above an elastic strap. The whole thing looks too narrow and thin to fit on anyone’s head — and, indeed, it’s not easy to get it to sit comfortably. The earcups do swivel and fold flat, though, which is convenient.
The Elo 7.1 USB connects to a PC via a long USB cable, so you should be all set, whether you connect through the front or the back of your computer. The left earcup has nothing on it; the right one is overcrowded with a volume dial, a chatmix dial right below it, a mic mute button right below that, and a removable, flexible mic in the front. The mic itself has a strange kink in the front, meaning that you’ll have to position it slightly farther away from your mouth than you’d expect.
It’s the proximity of the volume and chat dials that really causes trouble, though. Since the chatmix dial is closer to your arm, it’s the first thing you’ll reach for when going to adjust the volume — and it feels absolutely identical to the volume dial. During my days of testing, I don’t think I ever got the correct dial on my first try.
Roccat Elo 7.1 USB review: Comfort
The Roccat Elo 7.1 USB has only one major problem — how it feels. I appreciate the elastic-plus-steel headband construction, which lets you get a much better fit than traditional rigid notches. But the whole apparatus feels a little stiff, particularly the earcups, meaning that the headset is not going to sit perfectly around your ears, and it’s going to press down harder than you’d expect.
It’s a stretch to say that the Elo 7.1 USB is uncomfortable, since I was able to wear it for hours at a time, even with glasses on. But I was also extremely relieved to go back to models with plusher earcups and more precise fits, which are comfortable rather than just tolerable.
Roccat Elo 7.1 USB review: Performance
When it comes to games, the Roccat Elo 7.1 USB doesn’t disappoint. I tested the headset with Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition, Doom Eternal, Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Final Fantasy XIV, and everything sounded just as it was supposed to. Gunfire and cannons resounded in Age of Empires, while dialogue came through loud and clear in Tomb Raider. Turning on surround sound and gunning down demons in Doom was a particular highlight.
Likewise, the Elo 7.1 USB is not bad at all for music, particularly since you can tinker with audio presets for various game genres and entertainment modes. I listened to tracks from Old Crow Medicine Show, Flogging Molly, The Rolling Stones and G.F. Handel, and was pleased with the performance across the board. While the bass is a little muted (as is the case with many headsets), treble and vocals had excellent balance. Both surround and stereo worked well, and there were multiple audio modes available for each one.
Roccat Elo 7.1 USB review: Features
The Roccat Elo 7.1 runs on the Roccat Swarm software, which is not one of my favorite gaming software packages. While Swarm provides a lot of options and is relatively easy to control, it never runs quite right, sometimes getting stuck in endless update cycles. This time around, it insisted that the Elo 7.1’s firmware was up to date, while simultaneously insisting that the firmware needed to be updated. The fix was just to run the update cycle once or twice, but it’s still a confusing process.
Once that’s all taken care of, though, the Swarm software works well enough. You can try out different audio presets for different genres (MOBA, FPS and so forth), switch between stereo and surround sound, adjust mic sidetone and even try out different voice-changing filters. (They all sound very weird, but it’s an option I don’t see in many other products.)
The only major issue here is that the Elo 7.1 USB’s mic isn’t great. It has an extremely close, exaggerated sound that mildly distorts regular conversation. It also overemphasizes certain consonants, like Ss and Ps. Whatever you say is still audible and intelligible, but this is not a precise enough accessory for high-level work or play.
Roccat Elo 7.1 USB review: Verdict
Our Roccat Elo 7.1 USB review found that the headset is pretty good overall. It sounds good, feels OK and costs $30 less than most USB headsets.
If you can swing a $100 purchase, I’d still recommend the SteelSeries Arctis 5 or the Razer Blackshark V2 (especially the Blackshark V2) instead. But if $70 is a hard limit, buy the Roccat Elo 7.1 USB and game on without regrets.