Sennheiser GSX 1000
Audio Amplifier (PC/Mac)
The Sennheiser GSX 1000 is an external audio amplifier that is built for providing intuitive hands-on control for any headset, in addition to excellent audio quality. With a large volume dial surrounding an LED touch panel it’s the sort of external sound-card that will make people stop and wonder what they’re looking at. The deep red of the LED display that lights up only when it needs to, thanks to a proximity sensor, is the sort of high-tech thing that although may not feel essential - is undeniably cool. But, underneath the hood is where it counts when it comes to sound hardware. And thankfully, the Sennheiser GSX 1000 has got you covered there too.
The Sennheiser GSX 1000 has been designed primarily for gaming, but it can be used across other media like movies and music. All audio settings are hardware driven via the LED touch panel, meaning that switching between 2.0 and 7.1 is a matter of one-touch and you’re set. In terms of setup once connected to a PC or Mac you’ll need to adjust the output to 24-bit 96.0 kHz to take full advantage of the balanced HD stereo output. With great frequency response and solid amplification for just about any pair of headphones, the GSX 1000 is the sort of hardware that will elevate a game’s audio to the next level.
Taking Overwatch as an example, connecting a pair of high-end headphones like the Audio Technica ATH-ADG1Xs’
or the Sennheiser Game Zeros’
the difference between on-board motherboard or laptop audio is night-and-day. Not only in terms of loudness, but in taking full advantage of the higher frequency response and better sound quality that comes from a premium headset paired up with a decent headphone amplifier. As a piece of hardware designed for gaming, we can understand not bumping up the tech to 24-bit 192kHz output. But it would have been nice to also put the GSX 1000 in the category of a high-end music amp.
- Frequency Response (Headphones): 0 to 48,000 Hz
- Frequency Response (AUX): 1.5Hz to 48,000 Hz
- Impedance Support: 16 - 150 ohms
- Audio Output:
- 7.1: 44.1 kHz @ 16 bit
- 7.1: 48.0 kHz @ 16 bit
- 2.0: 44.1 kHz @ 16 bit
- 2.0: 48.0 kHz @ 16 bit
- HD 2.0: 96.0 kHz @ 24 bit
- Connectors: 3.5 mm headset socket, 3.5 mm microphone socket, 3.5 mm loudspeaker socket, mini-USB socket
- Connection: USB 2.0 full speed & USB audio 1.0
- Cable length: 1.2 m
As all the audio adjustment is done at the hardware level, which is a nice touch, this means that the GSX 1000 is probably the most visually impressive external headphone amplifier being sold today. It’s light, solid, and doesn’t in anyway feel inferior or cheap. The LED touch display just, well, works. The onscreen icons are clear and setting up profiles is a matter of simply touching one of the corners. Controlling the volume is equally impressive, the volume dial has a great feel and displaying the volume in large numbering means very little if any PC or Mac interaction outside of the initial setup. In an increasingly busy market with many gaming peripherals looking to stand-out aesthetically, the GSX 1000 still manages to feel like it’s in a category all its own.
Designed for gaming one of the main audio or equaliser settings is identified by a crosshair. The GSX 1000’s game mode amplifies both the clarity and stereo detail of higher-end frequencies. Which really, makes it an esports setting. Great for first-person shooters where location detail and being able to clearly hear weapon fire, chatter, and footsteps are key. And you get the impression that Sennheiser really put a lot of effort into ensuring that the GSX 1000 is performance or professional ready.
The two remaining options, one identified by a musical note and the other a movie slate offer more balanced output with the music setting in particular offering a deeper and more pronounced low-end. When playing cinematic titles like Dishonored, Ruiner, or anything solo these seem to provide the best audio response for regular gaming. Outside of that the 7.1 modes offer various levels of virtual surround with separate controls to crank up the reverb. The 7.1 output of the GSX 1000 is impressive, but artificial in that it messes with the default audio.
Featuring more than enough options, finding the right fit is a breeze thanks to the LED touch panel. And really, it’s something that you’ll miss as soon as you’re presented with another piece of hardware that does a similar thing. In the end it’s hard to fault the GSX 1000, the audio quality is excellent and the options are all right there, and brightly lit, in front of you. Additional EQ controls would have been nice, but that’s just nit-picking. Well worth it for great sound and to turn a few heads.