For decades, the only thing that mattered about headphones was how well they could reproduce music. But in the last few years, the definition of the “ideal” headphone has seen a dramatic change. There are now headphones designed specifically for working out, models made for flying travelers, movie focused head cans, bass heavy units for DJs and more. In that vein of specialized headphones, one of the fastest growing segments is gaming specialized headphones. Competitive gaming is huge and streamers need upmarket gear to keep their production quality up.
Sennheiser is tackling this market with a series of headsets that couple the company’s legendary audio quality with class-leading microphones. We got our hands on their newest model, the GSP550. This particular headset takes the GSP500 and upgrades it with an in-line dongle that allows for the activation of special Dolby 7.1 surround sound profiling.
The real question is does this new upgrade make the GSP550 worthy of an upgrade, and is it still a good enough headset to justify its $250 retail price. We spent the last few weeks to try and find out.
One thing you can’t fault the Sennheiser GSP550 on is its hardware design and construction. The large earcups and headband are covered in a sturdy plastic that has a very smooth texture. This plastic keeps weight down, but all the joints and inserted into the headband you will find metal, so you shouldn’t worry about these things falling apart. There are also plentiful levels of padding on the headband and the earcups, and even after a few hours of wear, the GSP550 was still comfortable.
When it comes to convenience features, the microphone auto-mutes when it’s moved away from your face, there is a manual volume dial on the right earcup, and the cable can be removed from the headset for easy storage and travel.
The cable is where a lot of the magic for the GSP550 happens though. In the middle of the cable is a small dongle with a Dolby button that activates the 7.1 surround profile. Best yet, that cable splits at the dongle with a micro-USB connection. This means that you can easily lengthen the cable by adding a bigger USB cable on the end without using the Dolby quick-button functionality.
The only downside you might find for the GSP550 on the design front is the dark military-green plates on the headband. Thankfully these simply pop-off and Sennheiser wells different designs that you can replace them with.
So they are built well, but how do they perform?