A review of the Steel Series Siberia v2 headset

The first thing I can say is that these are beautiful looking cans. Yes they are big, certainly too big for travel purposes. The build quality is excellent with a good solid feel to them. The elasticated headband insures that the Siberia v2 will fit almost any head size. So big are these ear pieces that your ears, instead of resting against the ear pads, actually sit inside the ear pads creating a seal which is very effective in cutting out external sounds. If this is a problem for you and you want to use them in an environment where you need to know what is going on around you then the Siberia’s are not for you.

The Siberias come in a wide choice of colours including “Star Wars” style white, black, orange, red and blue. I was boring and chose the black.

They are extremely comfortable and remain so after hours of continuous use. However, the icing on the cake of their brilliant design is the microphone. This hides inside the left earpiece when not wanted and can be instantly pulled out when needed. The microphone is on the end of a very flexible and sturdy cable.
So, looks and design are outstanding, but what about the sound?

A word of warning here. Because these headsets have such massive drive units, they need a lot of wearing in before the moving parts start to loosen up and begin reproducing music to their full potential.
Initial listening showed a wonderful sound stage with excellent depth of field. This is hardly surprising as these headsets were primarily designed for Computer games where a pin point clarity and sound stage is all important. As mentioned in my previous headset reviews, I played all reviewed headsets on the standard “Jazz” setting in Microsoft’s Media Player. This setting however brought a horrendously overblown noise from the Siberias and I very soon found that the only way to listen to them was to switch the Graphics Equalizer off all together!
Straight out of the box, vocals were thin and unrealistic lacking character and although the drive units went down really low, deep organ notes were lacking body. The overall impression was a complete lack of emotional expression. You could not deny however, an amazing amount of subtle detail which was totally absent from all previous headsets or even some Sennheiser headphones I have tried.
The headsets gradually began to settle down and opened up after about a week. It continued to improve in leaps and bounds. I was finally ready to put these cans through its paces.
I started listening to the introduction of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon”. So enjoyable was it that I simply continued until the end of the album. Detail of all the weird sound effects has never been better and there was an overall balanced rightness to the whole production.
I wanted to fully test the sound stage of these beasts so moved on to Classical music. Jacqueline du Pré’s interpretation of Elgar’s Cello Concerto, recorded in 1965, remains the reference standard until today. Once experienced, it is sometimes painful to listen to other attempts at this minefield of a piece. The EMI recording itself is somewhat flat with microphone placed some distance away from Jacqueline’s cello. Nevertheless, the Siberias managed to transmit all that emotion - the delicate melancholy of her bow; Ah! it was all there in all its depth.

Jacqueline du Pré
Bernstein’s Live recording of Shostakovich Symphony Nos. 5 had less of the sound stage I would have expected but successfully portrayed this most dramatic of pieces. One was clearly able to distinguish clarinets under all that brass section, Piccolo from flute etc.

Rostropovich’s Shostakovich Symphony Nos. 7 (now that’s a mouth full) is a piece pregnant with anxiety and tension yet there is an underlining simple confidence that reassures and holds it all together. The Allegretto develops with a military drum being continually played far off in the distance while oboe and bassoon gently duel together in the foreground. Gradually, the drums increase their volume, further increasing the tension, just like one would feel with an invading army coming closer. With the climax, you have the string section on one side and brass section on the other, playing for all they are worth. One can forgive any computer audio setup for losing it at this point but the Siberia v2s kept their clarity throughout. Again I was expecting more depth of field from the recording but overall, a truly breath taking performance.

Getting back to rock, I played Electric Light Orchestra’s “Standin in the rain” and was delighted by the thunder storm at the beginning and the dramatic chord that commences the song. I found myself aware of the backing vocals separate from Jeff Lynn’s voice which I don’t ever remember noticing before.
Supertramp’s “School” from their album “Crime of the Century” is a wonderful headphone friendly track so I was expecting something amazing from the Siberias. The bass guitar and drums can sound overblown but the Siberias remained in control throughout. There was clarity and power there but I felt it could have done with slightly more. I’ll have to return to this track after a few weeks and see if the Siberias have loosened up still further. I’ll update you. Roger Hodgson’s voice can sound screechy on some systems but with the Siberias there was no hint of this.

I skipped to the last track in this album, namely “Crime of the Century” which is the grand finally of this classic Rock album. The drums were deep and full bodied with a potent punch that I have only ever experienced on HIFI systems costing tens of thousands of shekels.

In conclusion, playing mp3 compressed format audio files with their restricted frequency range from a standard onboard computer sound card, the Siberia v2s did a spectacular job of coming close to a HIFI quality experience. I haven’t mentioned the price up until now and for good reason. I’d say though that they are worth every penny. I have not enjoyed listening to music so much in years.

If you are looking for a high quality headset with a built in microphone for VOIP use but want to use them primarily for listening to music then these beauties are for you.

Steel Series Siberia v2.
Price: NIS 350 (gulp!)


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