I don't know why oversize, aggressively stylized gaming headsets were in vogue a few years ago, but I'm glad the industry is finally producing peripherals that you could wear on the bus without getting a second glance. The latest "gaming-headset-that-looks-like-an-everyday-accessory" is the Logitech G433, which is attractive and even comes in a variety of stylish colors.
Other than its appearance, though, the G433 doesn't have a ton going for it. The dizzying array of connections feels confusing; the tight, metal headband is not nearly as comfortable as it could be, and the sound quality for both games and music is just passable. For $100, you could get headsets that look better (the LucidSound LS20), perform better (the Razer Kraken Pro V2) or do both (the SteelSeries Arctis 5). The G433 is not a bad headset by any means, but its performance doesn't match its lofty aesthetics.
The G433 is one of the best-looking gaming headsets currently on the market. With its mesh-fabric design; large, over-the-ear cups; and sleek, slim headband, it looks more like a high-end pair of music headphones than a gaming accessory. I was delighted to find that you can get the G433 in a variety of colors as well: black, blue, red and a camouflage pattern. Every other industry creates colorful accessories, and it's high time gaming got over its self-imposed "all black, all the time" edict.
Less elegant, however, are the myriad cables that come with the device, making setup a baffling ordeal. There's a detachable boom mic, a braided cable for PCs, a smooth cable for mobile connections, a splitter for separate mic and audio connections, and a USB adapter. There's also a second set of ear cups that go for a softer fabric feel rather than mesh, as well as a circular carrying case for the whole kit and caboodle. That's a lot of extra gear for what is, in theory, a simple set of headphones.
(The carrying case isn't a storage option, either. You can store the cables and the extra ear cups, or the headset itself, but you can't jam everything in at once. There's no simple way to manage all of these cables.)
Both the PC and mobile cables have volume-control dials and mic-mute buttons, which are helpful. This setup is not as convenient as having a volume control right on the ear cup, as most gaming headsets offer. But it's still easy enough to use in-game, unless you're in the middle of a heated multiplayer match.
Considering how pleasant the G433's mesh fabric feels, the headset is surprisingly uncomfortable. The steel headband is tight and difficult to adjust for a perfect fit, particularly once the band is already on your head. I also found that it was difficult to get a tight fit that didn't also squeeze down on my salivary glands and that looser fits prevented the ear cups from making an adequate seal. The ear cups themselves feel fine, and the headband has adequate padding, but for me, it wasn't much fun to wear the G433 for hours at a time.
One of my co-workers disagreed, however. He found the headset to be lightweight and the fabric to be comfortable. He also had less trouble getting an agreeable fit than I did, so perhaps this depends on the individual wearer's head shape.
I tested the G433 with a variety of PC, console and mobile games, and found it pretty decent across the board. The soundscape isn't exactly rlush, but it gets the job done for a variety of genres. In The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, I heard the clang of swords clearly and the subtle nuances in Geralt's conversations.
In Heroes of the Storm, I could hear my opponents' special attacks and quips as we duked it out.
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The G433 also offers DTS 7.1 surround sound, which helped out in multiplayer titles like Mass Effect: Andromeda. It was easy to hear where my opponents were situated and where my allies were set up to help out. (The cinematic score and sounds of battle also came through in Hex: Shards of Fate, a competitive, collectible card game, proving that not all multiplayer sound need be twitch-based.)
While the G433's sound is functional, it's not best-in-class. The music doesn't come through as richly as on the LucidSound LS30, and the sound effects aren't as subtle as on the Arctis 5. On both games and music, everything sounds a little distant, and playing with the settings in the Logitech Gaming Software does only so much to improve things. The G433 is functional for games, especially given its better-than-it-has-to-be mic, but the experience doesn't reach the level of "immersive."
Since the G433 is inconspicuous enough to wear in everyday situations, I was looking forward to seeing how it handled music. Like its in-game performance, though, the G433's handling of music is competent but unimpressive. Listening to Flogging Molly’s new "Life Is Good" album, I heard the treble, bass and vocals clearly enough, but nothing stood out. The music sounded as though I were listening from a room next door rather than right in the middle of a crowded concert hall.
Likewise, the G433 couldn't capture the nuances of more subtle pieces, like Mozart's "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" serenade. Some of the quieter background instruments were almost inaudible. Listening to rock, punk or pop music, the experience was the same: The soundscape was almost perfectly flat, like listening to a record sleeve instead of the record itself.
You could use the G433 as a pair of everyday headphones if you're not too picky about how your music sounds, but if that describes you, why spend $100 on a headset at all?
As described above, the G433 is compatible with the Logitech Gaming Software (with a slightly cumbersome adapter). You start off by selecting the color of your headset, and this procedure is a nice touch: what's on the screen will match what's in your hand. Beyond that, there are all the usual features: creating sound profiles for individual games, controlling the mic's sidetone, customizing surround-sound options and toying with equalization settings.
Everything works as advertised, although I did not find tremendous differences among a lot of the presets. The G433 offers you soundscapes for FPS, MOBA, Cinematic Gaming and other options, but they all sounded quite similar. By futzing with the equalization options myself, I was able to get some more stark contrasts, but this involves a certain amount of legwork that you might not be willing to put in if you were hoping to just jump into a game.
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The mic itself is surprisingly good, with no background noise, a high-quality pop filter and very little reverberation. It's more than good enough for multiplayer matches, Skype conversations and even casual streaming setups.
On the one hand, the G433 represents everything that gaming headsets should currently strive for. It's attractive, it's colorful, and it presents music and games with similar quality. On the other hand, the overall sound quality doesn't match up to that of some of this headset's competitors. It's not that comfortable to wear, either, and the bevy of wires makes the G433 much more complicated than it has to be.
The G433 gets more right than wrong, although it asks for a bit more money than I would have expected. If you've got $100 to spend on a headset, it couldn't hurt to take a look, but don't be surprised if you wind up going with a com