The SteelSeries Siberia 800 headset is a pretty good peripheral, featuring excellent sound quality and a clever amp that facilitates some neat wireless features. It’s also an imperfect peripheral, dragged down by tortuous setup and a steep price tag. The newly released SteelSeries Siberia 840 ($330) is almost exactly the same headset, but adds Bluetooth to make it friendlier for mobile devices.
If you want to know how the Siberia 840 functions, just read our review of the Siberia 800 and add “it has Bluetooth” mentally somewhere. Personally, I think bumping the price up by $30 for this feature is a bit steep, but the Bluetooth is both functional and incredibly useful, so it’s a justifiable expense.
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The Siberia 840 is still very much a 7/10 product: a fundamentally good gadget with a few annoyances that prevent it from achieving greatness. Still, it’s going to be exactly the right headset for a select few people, and the 840 is a more robust product than its counterpart.
Whereas the Siberia 800 required users to plug a 3.5 mm audio cable into a phone or tablet to use the headset, the Siberia 840 is (almost) totally wireless, whether you’re using it with a PC, mobile device or game console. I tested the Bluetooth with my phone. Not only did the headset receive music beautifully, but I also had a phone conversation using the microphone. My coworker said that I sounded incredibly clear.
Still, while the Bluetooth works almost flawlessly, the headset itself is not really built to accommodate it. You can’t toy around with equalization the same way you can with the amplifier activated, nor can you mute the microphone or control phone calls. (You can still adjust volume, which is good, but also the bare minimum you’d expect.) Bluetooth also runs down the battery a little faster than a wired connection, but that goes with the territory.
Don’t expect Bluetooth to help alleviate the “many wires, one amplifier” situation, either. In my tests, I could only make it work with mobile devices. Neither PCs nor game consoles recognized the SteelSeries 840 via Bluetooth, so you’ll still need the amp for anything more advanced than a smartphone or tablet. This isn’t a dealbreaker, since the amp provides a much better sound experience, but the Siberia 800’s primary drawback is still alive and well.
Whereas users could modify equalization options on the original Siberia 800 only with the amp, the 840 allows them to use the SteelSeries Engine 3 software on PC as well. It’s not very different overall, but still a nice touch for users who prefer software manipulation to hardware manipulation.
Beyond that, the 840 appeared nearly identical to the 800, at least in my experience. It still provides wonderful audio for both PC and console games, although hooking it up can be a royal pain, especially depending on how many different systems you want to use it with.
Overall, the Bluetooth is a nice touch, and probably worth the extra premium, especially if you store a lot of music on your mobile devices. On the other hand, the headset itself is still a rather niche product for audiophiles who need digital audio outputs. Check out the original review, and if that plus Bluetooth and minor software upgrades sounds good, feel free to pick up the Siberia 840.