Sennheiser PC 363D gaming headphones

Excellent detail, great stereo sound, and a great microphone

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Sennheiser PC 363D

Pros

  • Excellent stereo separation
  • Comfortable open-back design
  • Excellent detail from boom microphone

Cons

  • Slightly inferior build to previous model

Bottom Line

Sennheiser's latest gaming headphones are undoubtedly its best. The PC 363D headset is extremely comfortable, seems well built and has all the bells and whistles a PC gamer could need.

Would you buy this?

  • Price

    TBA (AUD)

We’re unabashed fans of Sennheiser’s PC 360 G4ME headset from 2010 — it combined notoriously high quality headphone drivers from the audiophile-grade HD 595 with a clear, versatile noise-cancelling boom microphone.

That headset has been around for ages and has enjoyed a great reputation, but it has now been superseded by the new PC 363D, with some small but important changes.

Sennheiser PC 363D: Design, construction and features

The PC 360 G4ME design largely continues in the PC 363D: they’re over-the-ear headphones, with super-soft velvet ear-pads and a sturdy plastic body. The headband telescopes over a wide range, so the headphones should fit small and large heads alike.

The left ear-cup is where the PC 363D’s 3.2m fabric-wrapped cable terminates; it’s also got the swing-down, auto-muting, noise cancelling boom microphone that turns this from a pair of headphones into a headset. The right ear-cup has a circular volume control dial, with a 270-degree range of motion that means it’s easy to make small adjustments to how loud the headphones are.

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You can’t twist the ear-cups to store the PC 363D headphones flat, but there is a small amount of vertical adjustment in the hinges, so they’ll conform to the sides of your head well. Combined with the soft ear-cups, this makes the PC 363D comfortable to wear for extended periods. We’ve had them on for three or four hours straight in the office without complaint.

Being an all-plastic (and foam and velvet) headphone, the PC 363D does feel slightly less impressively built than its predecessor. Our main concern is how these headphones will last over years of marathon gaming — our PC 360s have performed excellently, and we hope the 363D is similar.

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The boom microphone built into the PC 363D's ear-cup is among the best we've used on a gaming headset. It's clear, with good ambient noise cancellation, and blows cheaper models out of the water when it comes to the range of frequencies it can pick up — the usual failing of microphones built into headsets.

Sennheiser PC 363D: Sound quality

After burning the PC 363D in with around 50 hours of moderate volume music in a variety of genres, we gave them a critical listen with that same wide variety of music, as well as a few games on PC: Battlefield 3, BioShock, The Walking Dead, and Super Hexagon.

Since they’re apparently made for pro gaming, we thought we’d give PC gaming the majority of our attention. With the appropriate 5.1- or 7.1-channel surround sound options set in each game and the matching Dolby surround sound option on the bundled 3D G4ME1 USB sound card (more on that later), we tried out the PC 363D headphones with each title.

Battlefield 3 is a game with frankly excellent sound effects — whizzing bullets, clinking bullet casings, rattling tank treads, and so on. In non-Dolby mode, the PC 363D headphone have already excellent stereo separation — it’s a breeze to tell where gunfire is coming from in a 360-degree arc. Switching on the Dolby Headphone mode emphasises this: sound becomes hyper-real, very slightly exaggerated but still very detailed and effective.

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BioShock has excellent environmental sound as its killer feature, with dripping and rushing water and the sound of rising bubbles an ever-present part of the player’s journey through Rapture. It doesn’t take combat to show off the PC 363D’s detail, and we were more than happy to just stand still and listen to the sounds of the world reverberating. Again, turning on the surround sound emphasises positional audio effects without making them comically overblown.

The Walking Dead is an interactive-movie-esque adventure title that’s a great blend of sound effects and ambient music, and we really appreciated the increased soundstage of the Dolby Headphone surround mode during our play-through. It’s not necessary for any kind of quick-reflex gameplay — that’s not what TWD is about, anyway — but it lends an increased sense of realism to an already-eerie world. There’s one particular scene involving an arm and a hacksaw that sticks in our memory...

Super Hexagon is an arcade game through-and-through. Catchy chiptune techno music and an ever-present, smooth female voice sound great in the standard stereo mode, but switching on the faux-surround sound legitimately immerses you further in this addictive twitch-fest.

Each one of these games already sounded great in the standard stereo mode, but we really have no complaints about the additional aural boost that the surround effects bring.

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Music is another story — we generally preferred listening with the spatialisation effects disabled. Vocals can get a bit too echoey and airy, especially if they’re already quite separated in the stereo channels. Lana Del Rey’s Paradise EP sounds wonderfully detailed with great mid-range response and plenty of detail in higher treble notes, and Frank Ocean’s Orange has smooth bass that feels strong without reverberating.

The Sennheiser PC 363D is very detailed and open for a set of gaming headphones, which can often sound more claustrophobic than their equivalent open-backed hi-fi counterparts. The PC 363D is essentially an upgrade of the open-back PC 360 G4ME, so we’re extremely happy that there’s been no loss of the expansive sound that we liked in the previous model.

Sennheiser PC 363D: 3D G4ME1 USB surround sound

One big selling feature of the Sennheiser PC 363D is its bundled 3D G4ME1 USB sound card. It’s a Dolby Headphone adapter, with selectable Dolby modes for faux-surround stereo, 4-channel quadraphonic, 5.1-channel surround, and 7.1-channel surround sound.

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Like any USB headphone adapter worth its salt, it’s got headphone and microphone jacks, and an onboard switch to enable or disable the Dolby Headphone processing. With the Dolby processing disabled, it’s got more than enough power to amply supply the relatively low-impedance PC 363D headphones, although it’d likely be trumped by a high-end discrete PC sound card like the Asus Xonar Essence STX.

Where the 3D G4ME1 comes into its own is when the Dolby mode is enabled. These are best used in conjunction with a game that’s already got good positional audio. We booted up Bioshock and Battlefield 3 for most of our testing, since these titles have excellent sound.

The Sennheiser PC 363D’s 3D G4ME1 card doesn’t disappoint. For the majority of our listening, we found that the 5.1-channel mode in cojunction with 5.1-channel audio output from Bioshock and Battlefield 3 gave the best aural representation of in-game sounds — as an example,h gunshot and explosion positions in BF3 were far more obvious and emphasised through the PC 363D headphones in this mode compared to non-Dolby stereo.

Music sounds good through the 3D G4ME1’s amplifier, too — we generally preferred to have the Dolby mode disabled, although live recordings do get a bit of a soundstage boost from the 2-channel stereo Dolby Headphone interpolation. One note - using the 3D G4ME1 USB sound card required downloading and installing software on our test PC, with Windows drivers not automatically installing — this may change with retail versions of the headphones, but at the moment it’s an extra step necessary to get the selectable surround sound modes working.

Sennheiser PC 363D: Conclusion

High-end gaming headphones are few and far between, and ones with good surround sound modes are even rarer. We’re pleased to report that the PC 363D exceeded our expectations, and if they prove to be sturdy enough to stand up to continued day-to-day wear, we’ll have no complaints at all.

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lolilol

1

Is it real dolby or a emulated?
How many drivers in it?

compudaze

2

They have two drivers. A Dolby Headphone adapter is used for virtual 5.1 surround. This sounds better than any "real" 7.1 headphone with 8 small drivers.

heya

3

so should i buy this instead of pc360 money is not a problem

Martin

4

As heya says if money is no problem, what should i buy the 360 or 363D?

Corey

5

Soooo these will work with xbox 360 or no? If not will i be able to plug them into a different mixamp(like astro)?

Alex

6

I have the 2013 Astro MixAmp, so would this really be necessary or should I stick with the PC 360?

Wilza

7

I got these a few days ago and they are great. Sound quality is amazing for games, music and video, they are really comfortable and the microphone is crystal clear. Some reviews I have read have stated they have weak bass; the sound is perfect for me. The bass feels powerful, with extremely clear sound. The only issue I have with them is the price; I paid £206 (Amazon UK). However, seeing as they really are top of the line, best you can get, I think the cost is justified. I won't be needing a new headset for a long, long time.

xian ph

8

soundstage is really nice amazed with the surround. i though im still hearing my Desktop Speaker comfort is top notch compared to leatherettes... Bass is not that much...but still i prefer this pc363d by Sennheiser over my Logitech G930 and my Bose QC15

Mac User

9

does anyone know if the USB sound card is Mac OS X compatible

TB

10

hi I've just bought a pair of these and I'm not sure I'm getting the best out of them.

when i switch the dolby setting on, the soundstage goes wider but sounds are muffled and much less crisp.

with the dolby setting off, I'm not sure why i can still change the settings via windows to 2ch, 4ch, 5.1 and 7.1 - with dolby off, don't these simply revert back to being stereo?

Can anyone help?

Nara Arutu vocaloid #15

11

how much does this cost cause i am planning to get 2 of these so my best friend and i can perform ‘magnet’ for our school. so we need to put butterfly wings on the sides. if you don’t know what i’m talking about, then youtube magnet by vocaloids. thanks. bye. :)

Ivaylo

12

Do i get guarantee from amazon.uk?

Markus

13

If money is not a problem you shouldn't go for any of these. Then you should go for a Sennheiser HD 800 with an headphone amp such as the xonar essence one. If money is in fact a problem i would go for the PC 360 and buy a separate amp for what i saved from buying the 360s instead of the 363ds

Mac fan

14

I just got it yesterday and cannot get it to output 5.1 on my MacBook Pro (10.9). No Mac software or drivers on the Sennheiser web site. None of the instruction videos I've seen is applicable. The system just doesn't "see" the multi channels.

John

15

You're right if money is not an issue then buy the $1500 dollar headphones which is not entirely built for gaming (Not saying it doesn't sound good for gaming cause I'd be lying) plus an amp to power the things for your computer and don't forgot a sound card for your PC too. I hope you're joking Markus.. The HD 800's are usually for audiophiles not for the average consumer looking for a gaming headset.

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