If you’re not a serious PC gamer, you may not have ever considered picking up a dedicated gaming headset for your computer. In fact, you’re probably pretty happy using your speakers to listen to music, watch videos, or occasionally game. However, like with console gaming, I can tell you that the addition of a headset, whether it be a gaming one or not, can seriously alter the way you think and use your computer. Once you start using a headset, you may never go back to using plain old speakers again. Today’s review will be for the new ROCCAT Kave XTD 5.1 Digital Surround Sound Headset and Sound Card. This is a wired gaming headset setup that includes a dedicated sound processing unit that also acts as a remote and control center for your audio output.
Design and Build
For the most part, the ROCCAT Kave XTD 5.1 Digital looks exactly like the original Kave 5.1. Most of the body is made of plastic in three different finishes. Much of it is of a matte black plastic with some shiny black accents. The ear cups however are coated in a non-slip, soft touch, rubber. The three different surfaces however blend together to form a rather nice looking headset that matches the rest of the ROCCAT line of gaming accessories. As I’m currently using a ROCCAT gaming keyboard and mouse combo, the addition of a ROCCAT gaming headset was welcome.
Starting with the headset, you’ll find that the Kave XTD has pretty much everything most people look for in a gaming headset. It has a a very solid, sturdy build, adjustable sizing, and a very comfortable over the ear cup design. The top of the band is heavily padded for comfort and doesn’t hurt the top of your head after long periods of use. The same goes for the ear cups which are also heavily padded and wrapped in premium leatherette. Most headsets use some kind of itchy cloth so it’s nice to see that ROCCAT went the extra mile and used a better material for the ear cups. Not only that, the entire headset itself is extremely light, weighing in at just 335g.
This one actually features real 5.1 surround sound. This is thanks to the fact that each ear actually features 3 audio drivers – two 40mm driver units and one 30mm vibration unit per ear cup. The three high-end driver units are aligned precisely at a 12° angle, matching the natural form of your ear.
There is a mic attached to the left ear cup which is fully adjustable. There is a small LED light attached to the mic that will help you identify whether your mic is on our on mute. If the light is on, you’re on mute. Of course if you don’t want the mic there at all or never plan on using it, you can actually remove the entire mic, thought I don’t know why you’d want to do that.
What makes the new ROCCAT Kave XTD 5.1 Digital different from their previous headsets and all other headsets in general is the included remote and sound card. This unit plugs into your computer via USB connection and that’s it. It doesn’t need a separate cable for power either. The remote is used to control various audio settings like volume of each individual channel, muting of the mic, and usage of your Bluetooth device if you have one set up. I used my iPhone and the remote allows you to answer calls with it and use Siri. It’s a neat feature as all the audio is pumped into your headset. What’s neat about the remote unit is that you can also plug in your PC speaker setup and with one tap of a button, have all audio redirected to your speakers instead of your headset.
- REAL 5.1 SURROUND SOUND – with three driver units per earcup
- PREMIUM INBUILT MULTI-CHANNEL SOUND CARD – for rich, interference-free audio
- SMARTPHONE TO HEADSET BLUETOOTH PAIRING – let’s you handle calls on the fly
- FULLY-EQUIPPED DESKTOP REMOTE – total audio control at your fingertips
- SUPREME COMFORT: ULTRA-LIGHT DESIGN – suitable for lengthy gaming sessions
- NOISE-CANCELING MIC WITH MUTE LED – fully rotatable and completely removable
- ROBUST AND DURABLE ENGINEERING – built to last for long-term use
- 5.1 SPEAKER PORTS FEATURE IN REMOTE – for a seamless hook-up to your existing sound system
- TANGLE-PROOF 3.6M CABLE – for distraction-free gameplay
Like all ROCCAT devices I’ve used in the past, the KAVE XTD 5.1 Digital needs additional software to make the most out of the hardware. In this case, you have to head on over to ROCCAT’s site here and download the latest driver for it. The software will allow you to control every aspect of how your headset functions.
The Main Control tab is used to adjust audio setting, mainly volume output for each of the separate channels and the volume of your attached Bluetooth device. Here you can also specify if you want to output audio to stereo, 5.1 surround, or faux 5.1 from a stereo source.
The next tab is the Advanced Control tab that is used to adjust features you probably normally wouldn’t touch. As you can see from the screenshot, you can control aspects of the bass output. Here you can also adjust the clarity of voice chat as well as your mic volume.
The next tab is the Equalizer tab. This one you’ll probably use a lot. Here is where you can adjust the balance between frequencies with your audio. Mainly we use this to adjust bass, treble, and mid range sounds. What’s neat here is that there are already some presets for every day types of audio experiences, like movies, music, and gaming. You can even create your own profiles to use depending on your application. For instance, you can create different audio profiles for the different games you play.
This last tab is just the Update/Support tab and is where you would download updated drivers and find online technical help.
Like most ROCCAT software, you’ll notice that the bottom allows you to create custom profiles. You can create up to 5 custom profiles to quickly have your favorite settings handy. Unless you’re a serious gamer, I’m guessing most of you may not even need this.
The ROCCAT Kave XTD is quite easy to set up. All you have to do is plug the USB cable from the remote/sound card into your computer and that’s it in terms of hardware setup. You can connect your speakers to the sound card too if you want, but it’s not necessary. After the hardware is plugged in, install the drive software from ROCCAT’s support site and once it’s installed, you’ll be good to go. All audio will default to your headset unless you tap the speaker button on the remote to switch to speaker mode.
The giant knob at the center of the remote is used to quickly adjust volume and if you tap on it, it will mute all audio coming into your headset. There is a channel selector button up top that you tap to cycle through channels so you can individually adjust volume on each. Below the button is a LED light readout of volume levels.
Below that are two buttons, one is for your paired Bluetooth device and the other is used to mute your mic. To set up your smartphone for use with the Kave XTD, hold down the phone button to enable pairing. When you’re using the headset and a call comes in, you can actually hear it in the headset. The volume from your PC decreases while the volume from your Bluetooth device increases. Tap the phone button to answer. Tap again to hang up. You can even use the button to enable SIRI or other voice activated services on your smartphone.
Overall, the whole set up is very easy to use.
For the most part, the ROCCAT Kave XTD 5.1 Digital is everything you want in a PC gaming headset, and more. Build quality on the headset is excellent and typical of ROCCAT, meaning I wouldn’t expect anything less from them. Fit and finish on it is top notch and I love how it matches the rest of my ROCCAT gear. Sound quality wise, it’s pretty much what you’d expect a 5.1 surround sound headset to sound like, which is awesome. If you’re using this to game, you will love how immersed everything sounds as if you’re really in the game. most headsets I’ve used though are like this so it’s nothing to surprising for me. It’s nothing I haven’t heard from others, but the real difference here is how easy you can adjust everything using the remote instead of having to dig through the software.
The only real gripe I have about the ROCCAT Kave XTD is that it isn’t wireless. With this headset, you’ll be tethered to your computer, although the cable is quite long. I’ve grown used to wireless set ups, especially with my gaming consoles, but I guess with a PC, it’s not so bad as I have to literately sit 3 feet from my computer monitor anyways.
Price wise, it’s not so bad. It’s around $170 which might seem a bit much, but you have to also remember that you’re getting an included remote + sound card combo that also so happens to support integration of Bluetooth devices. With that said, I highly recommend the new ROCCAT Kave XTD if you’re looking for a real 5.1 surround sound solution for your gaming needs. They sound great, have solid construction, and are also pretty stylish.