We all like our audio a little different. Thankfully, gaming headset vendors love playing with EQ curves to create different sound profiles that can do things like boost your in-game awareness or make your music thump a little bit louder. If you like cans that are heavy on the bass, MSI has a headset for you.
The MSI Immerse GH61 may be one of the best gaming headsets for combining comfort and shameless bass. The ear cups boast baby-soft protein leather, while the drivers deliver distortion-free audio with thunderous bass worthy of my old dance club days. At $109.99 it’s a win for value seekers. The GH61is cross-platform compatible with PC, Mac, PS5, PS4, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and you can connect either via USB or 3.5mm, coming with a DAC which boosts the audio, allows you to turn on or off the 7.1 surround sound, mute the mic and raise or lower the volume.
MSI Immerse GH61 Specs
|Driver Type||40mm neodymium magnet|
|Frequency Response||20 Hz - 40 kHz|
|Microphone Type||Unidirectional, retractable|
|Connectivity||Dual 3.5mm (Consoles)|
|USB Type-A (PC)|
|Weight||0.6 pounds (300g)|
|Cord Length||USB Type-A cable: 3.9 feet (1.2m)|
|3.5mm cable: 3.2 feet (1m)|
|Software||Nahimic for Headset|
Design and Comfort of MSI Immerse GH61
With the dragon logo on the ear cups and angular plastic accents throughout, you can tell MSI designed the Immerse GH61 with gamers in mind. The sleek, angular styling of the swivel mounted ear cups brings style without going overboard. On the right side above where the ear cup and headband meet but stealthily located where no one one else will see it is the Onkyo logo, representing the company behind the Immerse GH61’s drivers. The headset’s left ear cup holds the retractable microphone that smoothly slides in and out of the unit.
Although the Immerse GH61 is mostly lightweight plastic, it doesn’t feel cheap or easily breakable. The plastic also helps keep the headset trim at 0.6 pounds. For comparison among other USB/3.5mm headsets, the Corsair HS70 Bluetooth is 0.7 pounds, and the XPG Precog is 0.8 pounds.
You get a very warm and super soft faux leather covering the memory foam ear cups. The adjustable metal headband is covered in the same memory foam and protein leather for an overall feel that’s oh so soft and lucious. The ear cups snuggle cozily against the ears and feel much better than the fabric you’ll find on some other gaming headsets. However, because the headset uses leatherette, you’ll start to feel warm after wearing them for a while. Thankfully, MSI includes cloth ear cup covers to swap in if that’s your preference, a thoughtful touch.
The Immerse GH61 can lay flat, thanks to its swivel mounted cups, but you’ll enjoy retiring them to the included tailor-made carrying pouch -- another value point for MSI.
You can connect the Immerse GH61 via its integrated 3.5mm cable, which is handy for consoles but also works with PC or via USB. For a PC connection you can use either the 3.5mm cable or the USB cable, which includes an ESS Sabre-branded (digital-to-analog converter (DAC) and AMP. You’ll need the DAC (and, therefore, a USB connection) to use the headset’s virtual 7.1 surround sound feature. The DAC also provides handy controls over volume and the mic that relieve you from having to fuss around with your ear cups and, potentially, introduce noise into outgoing audio.
Audio Performance of MSI Immerse GH61
MSI used 40mm neodymium magnet drivers made and tuned by Japanese audio vendor Onkyo. In general, they produce silky smooth, warm audio with fine clarity, depth and ample volume. No matter how high I cranked the volume, there was zero distortion. Bass, on the other hand, seemed to have a healthy limit to prevent distortion when you have the volume maxed out, but the highs never get tinny.
But if you want the Immerse GH61 at its finest, you’ll want to use its DAC. The ESS Sabre DAC and AMP is said to increase the cans’ dynamic range from 90dB to 121dB using ESS’s HyperStream technology. They also boost the signal to noise ratio (SNR) from 100dB to 121dB, while total harmonic distortion and noise (THD+N) decreases, meaning less distortion, from 0.001% to 0.00017%
To test the cans’ gaming prowess, I set it to gaming mode via software. There was subtle difference compared to the out-of-box settings, and the virtual 7.1 surround sound seemed to work well in creating an immersive atmosphere with this mode.
With the DAC, I felt a heightened sense of the sounds around me in Batman: Arkham Knight. In a fight I could hear a goon’s feet shuffle to the left of me as I spun around to punch him and enjoy the audio reproduction of Batman’s jaw breaking punches.I could even tell which direction combatants were coming from, thanks to the virtual surround sound, which allowed me to turn quickly in response. Even Catwoman's voice came through very clearly and distinctly from a distance, and I was able to tell how far she was based on the sound.
The Sabre DAC and AMP really helped make the audio experience lovely. Listening to the heavenly violin mastery of Julia Fischer playing Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D major was beyond exquisite. When the orchestra's bass strings came into play, the creaminess of the bass was simply delightful. Julia’s violin strings were hauntingly melodic as the Immerse GH61 picked up every note change. The occasional wind instrument floated in to deliver gravitas and tonal changes that the DAC’s virtual 7.1 surround sound enhanced. Music often doesn’t take well to virtual surround sound, but on the Immerse GH61 pressing the 7.1 button took me into a concert hall. With the DAC, the experience was still high quality but lacked the fine-tuned concert hall feel.
The inviting, slow, melodious guitar solo that kicked off System of a Down’s “Toxicity” was reproduced harmoniously with 7.1 surround on. When the driving guitar kicked in, the Immerse GH61 handled the quick switch from sweet harmony to driving heavy metal angst with aplomb and joy. Serj Tankian’s rangy powerful voice belting out poetic political truths came through the swivel mounted, plastic ear cups. The 40mm drivers made me feel like I was in a live concert.
Without virtual surround sound, “Toxicity” still sounded fierce and powerful but, again. without that amazing inside a concert venue feel, where it felt like music was bouncing off the walls, massaging the sound and energizing the crowd.
The Immerse GH61’s drivers also support Hi-Res audio, which is audio that has a higher sampling frequency and/or bit depth than a CD, which is at 16-bit / 44.1 kHz. There isn’t much in the way of gaming that supports this audio format, but audiophiles will appreciate the inclusion, especially at this price.
I needed no more convincing that the MSI GH61’s were worth every penny of their $109.99. I will close by saying I listened to Prince’s “Purple Rain” and ended up standing and dancing fully enjoying the entire experience. MSI really made a smart move by combining the Onkyo speakers with the DAC and Nahimic software.
Microphone on MSI Immerse GH61
One of the Immerse GH61’s more unique features is its retractable microphones housed in its ear cup. At first I was worried that this would be a failure, either due to durability issues or by introducing noise into my audio. But I used the mic all day during many CES Zoom and Google Meets and to record a podcast and was pleasantly surprised.
I learned the hard way that retracting the microphone does not mute it, as my daughter heard me spew a choice word at an incoming news story on my screen. Then. I had to explain to my daughter that it’s not funny and not language to be repeated, to which she replied, “I’m almost 12 years old and I hear worse at the supermarket.” So please remember to mute, unless you want an unruly child picking up new, colorful imprecations.
Many attached mics do not pick up subtle tone changes very well, but the Immerse GH61’s did a nice job of doing just that when I recorded a podcast appearance. The mic caught all the bass and nuances in my voice as I bounced around from topic to topic, changing my voice levels to suit the mood. There was no distortion to report and, once again, the Nahimic software also was helpful which I will get into next.
The mic is specced for a frequency response of 100-10,000 Hz with a sensitivity of -38 dB. It’s well engineered and operated very smoothly with no hiccups. I must’ve slid it in and out 100 times in a row to see if there would be any catches, but that would never happen. Again, nice work team, Maybe next time make it able to retract and extend automatically? Ok, maybe I’m being a little lazy.
Features and Software of MSI Immerse GH61
The Immerse GH61 works with Nahimic for Headset, which is a very user-friendly and simple application. The user interface is nicely designed with warm neon-like aqua colored tones. You can use the app to tweak the bass and treble levels, as well as select from presets for music, movie, communication and gaming modes. You can also choose to turn the effects off altogether and adjust the microphone settings.
Nahimic for Headset offers adjustments for the mic gain, and you can also minimize variations in volume by using the Voice Stabilizer section. There is also an excellent static noise suppression section, which improves communication clarity when you're shouting commands in Call of Duty or on Zoom calls. It also removes a fair amount of background noise, including computer fans.
The MSI Immerse GH61 arrives with baby bottom soft ear cups, a simple, yet stylish, design and excellent audio and microphone capabilities. It adds value with an excellent pouch for storing the lightweight thumpers. They cans are also somewhat versatile, offering both 3.5mm and USB connection and virtual surround sound, making them great for console and PC gamers alike.
At max volume, bass takes a hit, and it’d be great if the mic would mute when retracted. But overall, there’s not a lot missing here. (Most of us can still live without RGB on our headsets, right?)
If you want a gaming headset at a good price that’s thumpy and warm and offers wonderful spatial quality, the MSI Immerse GH61 should be high on your list.