SteelSeries Siberia Elite Prism Review

The right combination of style, comfort and rich sound can elevate a gaming headset to greatness, and SteelSeries' Siberia Elite Prism hits all of those important notes. Offering form-fitting comfort and detailed audio, the aptly named Elite Prism is the ideal companion for getting the edge in competitive shooters or fully losing yourself in action games. Factor in the Elite's highly tweakable software and its customizable, glowing LED lights, and you've got a headset that truly performs as well as it looks.

Design

The Siberia Elite Prism has the same slick, full-suspension design and over-the-ear ear cups as the rest of the Siberia family, but is decidedly more premium-looking than its little brothers. 

Compared with the Siberia v3 Prism ($139), the Elite's form-fitting headband feels sturdier, with a rubber coating at the top and plush bubbles underneath. The headset's doughnut-shaped ear cups are notably thicker, offering more of the comfy pleather that we loved on the v3 Prism.

The tire-grip circles on the outside of each ear cup look unassuming, though they double as on-ear controls. You can spin the right wheel to adjust volume, and move the left wheel back and forth to mute or unmute the mic. As with other Siberia units, the Elite's slim, roughly 5-inch microphone can retract unobtrusively into the left ear cup when not in use. Available in black or white, the Elite Prism's design is fairly vanilla -- until you choose to activate the headset's on-ear lights. Using SteelSeries' Engine 3 software, you can have the Elite Prism's outer ear cups glow in just about any color of your liking.

While you won't do any better in Call of Duty by having neon-blue lights ooze out of your ears, it's a nice extra touch for aesthetic junkies, especially if you want to have your headset's lights match those of your keyboard, mouse or PC. 

Comfort

The Elite Prism is one of the coziest set of cans I've cupped over my ears. The headset's suspension design makes it a standout, as it will automatically adjust to your head shape instead of forcing you to slide the headband up and down in search of the right fit. 

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The headset's self-adjusting headband is complemented by its generously soft pleather ear cups. Thanks to the Elite's just-snug-enough fit and lightweight construction, I never got the urge to take them off after wearing them for hours at a time. 

Sound Performance

Whether I was engaging in mech-flavored death matches or clowning around in a virtual Paris, the Elite Prism's excellent sound consistently and completely sucked me in to whatever I was playing. This is partly thanks to the headset's ability to simulate 7.1 surround sound, a feature you won't find on SteelSeries' more affordable headsets.

I wore the Elite for a few skirmishes of Titanfall, and was easily able to tell by the sound from where enemy pilots and Titans were approaching. The Elite has the highs to make the rattle of a machine gun sound super-crisp, and the lows to make you feel the boom of every grenade and missile explosion.  That same strong directionality helped me get fully immersed in the living, breathing rendition of 18th-century Paris featured in Assassin's Creed Unity. I was able to make out every conversation happening in the chatty, crowded town I explored, and had no trouble noticing small sonic details like the splash of nearby water or the chirping of birds high above. When it came time for combat, the sound of unsheathing my blade and slicing away proved mighty satisfying.

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The Elite is good for more than just games. Whether I was jamming guitar-heavy tracks by Hit the Lights or thumping hip-hop songs by Kanye West, I was treated to meaty lows and crisp highs. The moody trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron sounded especially intense and ominous, from the clank of Captain America's shield to the bassy soundtrack that plays throughout. 

Software

SteelSeries' excellent Engine 3 software makes the Elite Prism one of the most customizable headsets around. After detecting your SteelSeries headset, Engine 3 allows you to create multiple profiles that are fine-tuned to your preferences, from sound balance to which colors you'd like your headpiece to glow.

Engine 3 provides an equalizer for tweaking audio and mic performance, as well as a host of presets that include FPS (first-person shooter), Sports, Action, Music and Movies. You can use Engine 3 to set the Elite's LED colors, no matter whether you want the cans to remain a static hue or weave through the rainbow while you play. 

Best of all, your Engine 3 profiles can activate automatically when an application of your choice is launched. This means that the second you fire up Titanfall or hop into Evolve, you'll immediately be using the sound settings that you configured for those games.

Compatibility and Cables

One of the Elite Prism's big advantages over the v3 Prism is that it offers both USB and 3.5mm connections, which allowed me to use the Elite on my PC, iPhone and Xbox One (via an adapter) without a hitch. While it has wider compatibility, the Elite also has the same short, 4-foot default cable as the v3 Prism. An included extension cable stretches the cable to a comfortable 6.6 feet, but I noticed a slight dip in directional sound quality (as well as a lack of LED lighting) when I used it. You'll also have to live without lighting and presets if you plug the Elite into your device via its 3.5mm jack.

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Bottom Line

There's a reason this headset gets to don the "Elite" moniker in SteelSeries' Siberia line. The $196 Elite Prism is comfy enough to wear all day, offers detailed, tweakable sound quality and packs slick glowing lights as an added touch. 

You can nab SteelSeries' $139 Siberia v3 Prism if you want solid sound and the same cool lights and excellent customization software for a lower price. However, if you can spare the premium, the Elite's better comfort, sturdier build and wider device compatibility make it one of the best gaming headsets in its price range.

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