SteelSeries Siberia 200 Gaming Headset Review

SteelSeries' Siberia 200 is the company's latest effort with a list price of $80, even if you can find it for ~$60 online. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that the Siberia 200 is a cost-reduced version of the Siberia v2 (Amazon even makes reference to the 200's predecessor, which takes us all the way back to 2013). How has this design held up over time?

The bundle remains simple enough: you get one accessory, an angled Y-adapter to combine the separate headphone, and microphone connectors for smartphones and consoles.

Specifications

SteelSeries' Siberia 200 has been on the market for some time now. Consequently, its price is fairly stable online.

Look & Feel

The Siberia 200's design is heavily inspired by its predecessors. However, it appears as if the engineering and accounting departments were sharing a desk as they defined this headset's specifications.

What distinguishes the Siberia series from its competition is the eye-catching frame. A unique suspension for the ear pieces, adjustable across two axes, combined with a flexible, spring-loaded headband, guarantees that this self-adjusting headset provides an almost perfect fit for any head circumference smaller than 60cm.

The Siberia 200's material mix differs slightly from SteelSeries' previous models. Now, artificial leather on the outside of the headband is quick to show unsightly wrinkles after a couple of uses. Moreover, padding on the underside is made up of a coarse textile cover, which attracts hair and lint. Even mechanical parts of the headset get caught up in the cost cutting.

Nevertheless, SteelSeries' Siberia 200 looks and feels well built. It can take quite a bit of torsion without breaking. The headset just doesn't feel as luxurious as its predecessors, which is a real pity.

Comfort

Whereas the ear pieces used to have an additional hinge for adjustments along the vertical axis, allowing them to rotate back and forth, this newer model leaves them fixed and unmovable. In our opinion, the unchangeable tilt is an ergonomic and acoustic failure, as both the fit and directional characteristic are significantly hampered compared to previous models.

Only the horizontal joint at the transition between the frame and ear piece remains. Although the design visually copies SteelSeries' older model, it is ultimately disappointing.

The frame's mechanism, on the other hand, remains unchanged. As a result, the problem with head sizes larger than 60cm remains. If you're in that category, definitely look elsewhere for a comfortable headset.

Another complicating factor is that the horizontal tilt's maximum angle is too small for a straight fit. It is almost impossible to shake the feeling that the ear piece's lower part is sticking out a bit, since pressure isn't distributed evenly around the cup.

Ear pads covered with faux leather ensure that this is a true over-ear design. Contact pressure increases with the headband's tension, and this intensifies according to head circumference. Yet, at least for people with smaller heads, the pressure remains tolerable, especially since the padding does a pretty good job molding to individual anatomies.

Functionality & Interface

The control unit is integrated. It comes with a volume knob on one side and a microphone switch up front. Its position on the cable is alright, and the control elements are easy to find/use.

Connecting the analog jack is straightforward, whether you're using a PC, console, or smartphone (with the included Y-adapter).

Microphone

The omnidirectional gooseneck microphone can be pulled out or pushed back in as needed, making it very practical. However, for large-headed individuals, the gooseneck is both too short and not stable enough in its intended position. That makes the mic difficult to find and keep positioned optimally.

Sensitivity and output levels are relatively low. Thus, it might be difficult to make yourself heard during hectic multiplayer matches. It's also unpleasant that there is no real low-cut. Rumbling noises are consequently reproduced by the microphone. Wind and breathing noises are not suppressed either, since the microphone records frequencies that are too high.

Measurements & Sound-Check

To read about our test methodology in depth, please check out How We Test Gaming Headsets, particularly page 6 where we detail the measurements we take.

SteelSeries advertises that its Siberia 200 sports greatly improved sound. Nevertheless, we observe a familiar bathtub curve (though the results aren't altogether bad).

Bass is amplified quite a bit between 50 and ~170 Hz. This is entirely bearable, and probably what most gamers would expect anyway. In our opinion, the upper bass is a little too heavy. In turn, male voices boom more than they should. Low bass, on the other hand, sounds good. The subcontra octave is covered well; it's possible to hear more in that range than you'd expect from a gaming headset.

The downside of a low-pitched and reasonably-priced driver is its slightly sluggish transient response, which doesn't improve, even after hours of operation. Although it's only noticeable in certain cases, for short, sudden impulses, there's no mistaking this weakness.

In this price range, that's not a deal-breaker, though. More unpleasant is the loss of mid-range by up to 6 dB at ~480 Hz. As a result, the fundamental range of female vocals and many instruments fall off, negatively influencing the reproduction of music for trained ears. That transition from lower to upper mid-range is especially important for the overall impression of fullness.

From there on up to about 12 kHz, we observe almost neutral reproduction, which benefits the spatial positioning in games and the sound stage during musical reproduction. Sibilants are audible, but not overemphasized. High-frequency sounds are pleasant. It's only the super-high frequency range that breaks down slightly above 12 kHz (even though it remains just 4 dB below the 0 dB line).

For our taste, manipulation of the mid-range is overdone. To improve the subjective sonority, which is so important for musical reproduction, we recommend gently boosting the 500 Hz range with a software equalizer.

Conclusion

For ~$60, the Siberia 200 has its advantages. Strong bass is one of them, even if it's slightly sluggish, as is the headset's balanced reproduction above 1 kHz. The level stability is truly exemplary in this price range as well.

But there are some significant compromises made, including a reduction of mid-range response at ~480 Hz which limits the fullness of sound and robs many sources of their presence.

Fit and comfort are both acceptable, even if cost-cutting means this new version no longer lives up to the very high standards of SteelSeries' previous models. Rather, the Siberia 200 trends more toward class-average. In the process, it excludes anyone with a head circumference larger than ~60cm.

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  • LORD_ORION
    What's the warranty? If it's 1 year or less I'd expect it to fail.
    Consensus has become that pretty much every "gaming" headset is a Piece of Crap, except for the HyperX cloud cores, and only because they are rebrands of TakStar's good heaphones.
  • NinjaNerd56
    Just replaced a Logitech headset because the mic went bonkers and adds so much noise, it causes clipping.

    Found a Corsair HS60 at the local Best Buy for $60. No drivers for Windows 10, and their website doesn’t think these headphones exist.

    That said, they work fine in 10, and work with Windows 10 spatial sound and Dolby Atmos 7.1 setups. They do sound much better than the Logitech set, and the mic is apparently much better, according to my play group for Destiny 2.
  • canadianvice
    I will say this: I will never buy a headset that doesn't mimic the Siberia's design. Regular headphones with the hard band are awful, but the Siberias are the only ones I have ever been able to wear for a significant (indefinite) amount of time without major discomfort.

    The headband concept they have is fantastic. I'm currently rolling an Arctis, but my only gripe with that one is that it is not tight laterally, so it sort of slips around. Still great for comfort though.

    As far as warranty goes, usually 1 year, but honestly, I still have my Siberia black/gold I picked up several years ago. The paint job has seen better days, but it still works just as well as day one.

    I'll give SS due credit - their headsets are well designed and generally priced to their capabilities. The Siberia V2 will always hold a place in my heart and I still consider it the best headset (having made use of such things for over a decade) I have ever owned. Pity they downgraded the audio/mic on the rehash v3, but the 200s are still pretty similar IIRC.
  • JQB45
    Expect those little steel cables holding the head band on to break with time. I repaired my (older model) head set once and about a year later they broke again. Right now I think I'll try to repair them again.
  • canadianvice
    Anonymous said:
    Expect those little steel cables holding the head band on to break with time. I repaired my (older model) head set once and about a year later they broke again. Right now I think I'll try to repair them again.


    Do you just chuck your headset on the floor and kick it around a bunch when you're done for the day? I've had mine for like 4 years and it has not broken. The only headsets I've known to die autonomously are the Turtle Beach offerings, but if you're not treating it like crap most others should last just fine.

    Honestly, there's not much out there that just "breaks" if you take proper care of it. I say this having bought a significant amount of low-cost Chinese stuff as well. Almost all of it works years later, despite paper thin cables and whatnot, simply because I don't thrash it around like some troglodyte in a cave.
  • JQB45
    I consider myself to be a rather careful person. For example this laptop I am using currently is from 2012, it doesn't have a single scratch on it. Nor does it have any other physical damage. A previous headset I had I got in 2013 and it never had any problems. I eventually gave that set to my dad and he still uses them to this day.
  • FormatC
    The OEM is the same as for older Kingston HyperX headsets and they are using a similar tooling. And my wife also killed this construction. The Siberia 200 is again a significant cost-down from the older tooling and to be honest - the older one was not perfect at all. But you get, what you paid for. You can be carefully as you want, the sun and UV will kill all this plastic bombers faster than you think. The maturing of all this parts is going fast.

    I'm using since years high-end headphones with 10 years warranty and an availability for all their parts over 20 years. The only things, that I changed, were the ear pads after 5 years. Pay less but be not surprised, if parts will be damaged. It's an economical law ;)
  • Yuka
    I've had these alongisde my main headset for "on the go" and they're amazingly good for the price. Their only fall (that reflects with a lot of use) is the padding. The padding gives in very easily, so you will need to replace the padding sooner than later.

    Other than that, for the price, these are really hard to match IMO. Specially given how seamless they are when transitioning from headset to headphones; you can even use them in the open and they're perfectly "camouflaged" as a headset. Add an adapter for smartphone, and you can even use them as "handsfree", haha.

    In terms of construction, they seem flimsy, but I've put them through some rough times and not a dent. The padding (again) is the only "weak" point I can talk about openly. Maybe I got lucky, I don't know...

    Cheers!
  • gamerguy319
    I would love to see more headphones along the lines of audio-tecnica m50x's and other at the $150ish price point.
  • FormatC
    Stay tuned, the guys are translating now all the tests from the German site first. I also tested better headsets and have also a lot of new things in my pipeline. :)
  • godnodog
    My 10 years old Siberia headset are still good to this day, best headset I ever bought, if it was not for some wearout of the headband tissue it would still look like it had at most 1year of use. The external sound board is just acceptable, nothing worth of notice.
  • thinkspeak
    Would Love to see the Hyper X Revolver covered next since they are supposed to have a good response curve and "studio grade" speakers.
  • FormatC
    I have the HyperX Cloud Alpha here in the pipeline :)