Customizable lights invaded just about every flagship gaming keyboard and mouse produced in 2014, so it was only a matter of time before they found their way into gaming headsets. SteelSeries' Siberia v3 Prism ($139) is one of the first to jump on the bandwagon, but it's got much more than looks. Offering satisfying sound, a solid microphone and lots of customization, the Siberia v3 Prism is one of the smarter buys for PC gamers.
Marathon Gaming Comfort
At first glance, the Siberia v3 Prism doesn't look too different from the standard Siberia v3 or last year's Siberia v2. They're still full-suspension over-the-ear headphones with soft, synthetic-leather ear cups. The v3 Prism is light for a gaming headset, weighing 9.9 ounces. That's lighter than Kingston's popular competitor, the HyperX Cloud II, which weighs 11 ounces.
Thanks to the headset's lightweight and full-suspension design, the ear cups rest comfortably on the ears, without clamping down too much. After a 4-hour Civilization: Beyond Earth marathon, I barely even noticed they were on my head.
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What I did notice, however, were the cool lights emitting from the grille covering each ear cup. The cans produce a soft, colored glow of your choosing, and give just the right amount of pop to the headset's staid black or white default color. Whichever color your PC rig may glow, the v3 Prism can match.
The comfort of the Siberia v3 Prism definitely sets it apart, but it's no slouch in the audio department, either. The soundstage is easily one of the widest I've heard in a gaming headset. Mainlining some Battlefield 4, I was delighted with the way voices and gunfire resonated in a warehouse. Shots from far away actually sounded as though they were far away.
I was surprised to find that I could discern no difference between the sound produced by the v3 Prism and that from the well-respected wide soundstage of the AKG 240. Yet the v3 Prism isn't nearly as neutral-sounding as the AKG 240. The bass from the v3 Prism was a pleasant hum that never got too intimate with my ears or stayed too far away. Gaming headsets can sometimes veer toward having muddied highs and incredibly weak midtones, but the v3 Prism was balanced across the board.
Joseph's Technicolor Headphones
Using the SteelSeries 3 Engine software on a Mac or PC, I was able to hop all over the rainbow in search of a color the Prism might struggle with. I found that, as long as I used bright colors, the headset had no problems. The lights do tend to be bluer than the shades I chose in the SteelSeries 3 Engine, but it was easy enough to shift the slider on the rainbow to a warmer place and ultimately tweak it to the exact color I desired.
The SteelSeries 3 Engine also allows you to adjust a five-point equalizer, as well as the microphone volume. The microphone itself is unobtrusive, sliding back into the cup when not in use.
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Like other USB headsets, the Siberia v3 Prism works with the PS4 out of the box. I plugged mine directly into the console (there's no way to plug it into the controller) for a few quick rounds of Call of Duty and could hear all the smack-talking 12-year-olds on my team without adjusting a single setting. After a quick visit to the PS4 Audio Settings tab, I was also able to pipe all game audio through my headset. Unfortunately, due to PS4 limitations, there's no way to fine-tune the volume. That made it a struggle to quickly adjust for softer sounds, such as the footsteps of enemies creeping up behind me.
Leaning back on my couch revealed the real problem with using the Siberia v3 Prism as a PS4 headset: The 5-foot cord was simply too short to keep a comfortable distance from a larger television. Grandmothers the world over would have had a fit with seeing how close I had to sit to keep from accidentally tugging the headset off my head or the PS4 off the shelf. This wasn't a problem with the Kingston HyperX Cloud II, which has a lengthy, 9.5-foot cord, or even the AKG 240, which has a fairly average 8-foot cord. If you're determined to use the Siberia v3 Prism headset with your PS4, be sure to invest in a USB extension cord.
The Siberia v3 Prism's incredible accuracy and comfort more than make up for its frustratingly short USB cord. The headset's customizable lights and integration with the robust SteelSeries 3 Engine software add enough pizazz to keep it from looking too staid. For $139, the v3 Prism is a fantastic investment that'll keep you fragging well into the night, without disturbing your loved ones.
Alex Cranz is the Assistant Reviews Editor at Tom’s Guide. When she’s not devising tests for new tech she’s figuring out the best way to run Plex on it. Follow Alex @alexhcranz. Follow Tom's Guide at @tomsguide, on Facebook.