Sennheiser GSP 500
Gaming Headset (Wired)
For headphones and headsets once you enter a certain price-point it’s worth seriously considering whether you’re after a pair that you’ll keep at home as part of your home entertainment setup or take on the road. But even with that part of the equation sorted, if you’re leaning towards an open-air or open-acoustic headset (more on this in a bit) there’s also the need to factor in that if someone was sitting next to you they’d be able to hear what’s going on.
Sennheiser’s new GSP 500 headset is a premium gaming product from the renown and rightfully lauded maker of all-things audio. Featuring an Open Acoustic design – or open-air - in a nutshell this means that by design the GSP 500s are not noise-cancelling nor Closed to the point where no sound bleeds out into the surrounding air space. So then, what’s the benefit of such a design? Well this is where we enter audiophile territory of the “hey man, vinyl sounds so much warmer and better than digital”. In that bass response and the overall sound of an open-design is warmer, more natural, and less inclined to sound compressed or overly harsh. Plus, it allows for better air-flow making them more comfortable to wear, by design, for extended periods.
- Type: Open Acoustic
- Frequency response: 10 to 30,000 Hz
- Impedance: 28 ohm
- Cable length: 2.5 m PC cable / 1.5 m Console cable
- Weight: 358g
- Microphone Pickup pattern: Bi-directional ECM
- Frequency response: 10 to 18,000 Hz
If you’re across the range of Sennheiser gaming headsets, namely the company’s past premium offerings like the excellent Sennheiser Game Zero
, then expecting nothing short of brilliant balanced sound is par for the course when heading into a proper review of the new GSP 500. To say that the GSP 500’s frequency response, clarity, and overall balance exceeded our expectation would certainly be true. And this comes in part to the new striking visual design than what we’ve seen from Sennheiser before. Where something like the Game Zero opted to simply repurpose an existing headphone used by the company for reliable on-the-go monitors, the GSP 500 goes all gaming. The more pronounced look in a way had us wondering if perhaps Sennheiser would mess with the audio response and put an emphasis on bass – in a way that most other headset makers tend to do. Even when restrained.
But once you dig deeper into the specs and realise that Sennheiser has once again provided a clean stereo sound that will be as good as what it's connected to, it’s no wonder that there’s a world of difference between using an audio interface like the Sennheiser GSX 1000
or an audio port on your motherboard. Or phone or Nintendo Switch for that matter. Whether or not you need a dedicated audio interface for PC gaming is a separate debate, but thanks to the quality of the audio components and overall sonic craftsmanship that comes from a quality Sennheiser product, switching to an audio interface with 24-bit HD audio capabilities and the GSP 500 comes to life. Especially when listening to music, which only high-definition audio really makes the most out of the 10 to 30,000 Hz spectrum.
Design and Comfort
As per the dive into the specs above, the Sennheiser GSP 500 (and its closed-back counterpart the GSP 600) features a prominent, rugged, angular, and very cool design with subtle grey and deep red accents. But at first glance the actual size of the headset looks a little small, which comes down to the headband that sits at a more forward angle than the ear-cups themselves. As to be expected with the price the overall build quality is exceptional with sturdy material and large, comfortable, breathable cushions. Thanks to the open-air design and the multiple ways you can adjust the headband, that includes being able to adjust contact pressure, the GSP 500 offers one of the most comfortable designs available. If they were a tad lighter and you had the option to detach the microphone, then they’d be just about perfect. But even on that front there aren’t any weight-balance issues.
When coupled with a dedicated audio interface the sound quality of Sennheiser GSP 500 headset is exceptional – detailed, balanced, and immersive. As a stereo headset to get surround sound with the GSP 500 - which when it comes to headsets is always going to be virtual and an approximation – using the GSX 1000 or software returns suitably impressive results. But, as per our own personal preference sounds mostly fake. If surround is what you’re after, then the best option is a Dolby Atmos license or something like the GSX 1000 – which comes at an additional cost.
In terms of sound a hallmark of a great headset is not having to adjust anything apart from volume – which is par for the course with the GSP 500s. Everything from DOOM to Overwatch to RPGs like Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire sound wonderful. With both PC and console cables supplied, the same is true for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One performance where surround software and stereo audio settings offer clean and impressive lows, detailed mids, and crisp highs. Playing something like God of War or Sea of Thieves with the GSP 500 not only offers up immersive audio but highlights the wonderful detail that both Rare and Sony Santa Monica put into the sound design and music. Which also means that for simply listening to music, or watching movies, the Sennheiser GSP 500 is a great choice – wonderful even. Again, being able to hear the difference in a HD or high-definition recording make these well worth the investment. And if you’re after a closed-back option then there’s the similarly designed GSP 600.