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Sennheiser PC 161
- High-quality and detailed audio, Comfortable design, Built-in microphone
- A little flimsy, Sound leakage
As a gaming headset that offers high-quality audio and combines it with a relatively comfortable design, the PC161 won't please all listeners, but for gaming and movie-watching, it fits the bill nicely
Price$ 159.95 (AUD)
Sennheiser is well-know for producing top-quality stereo headphones, however it also excels in other audio products, including telephony and gaming headsets. The PC161 is a perfect example of this. It's a gaming headset which offers high-quality audio and combines it with a relatively comfortable design and a built-in microphone. The bass-heavy sound won't please all listeners, but for gaming and movie watching, it fits the bill nicely.
As with most headphones targeted at a gaming audience, the PC161's sound is heavily weighted towards the lower range. This is important because many games contain gunshots, explosions and other powerful sounds that benefit immensely from rumbling bass. These headphones excelled nicely here, with powerful, booming low notes that were quite slow to decay. During our gaming tests, grenades and gunshots sounded suitably visceral, and most gamers will be pleased by the quality of the audio.
Positional audio was well rendered. In our first-person shooter tests, we could almost always pinpoint the location of our enemies. It wasn't quite as precise as some more expensive headphones we've tested, but in general, it was impressive and should give you a more than satisfactory edge over your competition.
We also ran some music tests, as few people will buy headphones purely to game with. The bass-heavy sound was clearly evident here too, which is more suited to some styles of music than others. We found the mid-range a little recessed at times, which was clearly evident in guitar-oriented music such as rock and metal; however, the bass was generally well-contained and didn't get too bloated, which gave the music quite a bit of power. We'd prefer a little more energy in the mid and high frequencies, but generally, the sound was quite fun during our tests.
There was excellent detail, with every element and instrument have clarity and crispness. In fact, the detail was the strongest feature of the PC161s. We also found that the strong positional audio from our gaming tests translated well to music, creating an immersive sound-stage with music coming from all around you, rather than just being presented in a two-dimensional manner.
As this unit has a built in microphone, we ran a few recording tests as well, to check that everything was in order. There was a slight echo in some of our recordings, but generally, the quality was as expected, and the microphone will be perfect for voice communication while playing games online.
The PC161 has fairly small cups that rest on top of the ears, rather than enveloping them, like some larger models. They are relatively comfortable, although they did have to be adjusted several times in order to achieve a proper fit. They are padded with a soft, velvety material that is easy on the ears, while the rest of the unit is constructed of thin black plastic. We found them to be a little flimsy for our liking, but as long as you treat them carefully, you should be fine. Sound leakage was at level we expected; noise emanating from the headphones was audible from several meters away, so if you're after something to use in a quiet environment, these may not be the best choice.
The other thing to note about this model is the volume switch, which hangs off the rather generous headphone cable. It allows you to adjust the volume on the fly, without changing any settings and also gives you the option of muting the microphone, should you wish to keep certain conversations private.
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Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.
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