G.Skill Ripjaws SR910 real 7.1 gaming headset review

G.Skill impressed us when they sent over their new keyboard design recently and today we get to look at the latest release in the Ripjaws line: the SR910 “Real” 7.1 gaming headset. It is big. It is black and it does come packing a full 7.1 surround sound set up, which not many gaming headsets can boast. Indeed G.Skill is pretty keen for you to know that too. So much so in-fact that it has given the ear-cups clear casings, letting you see the multiple drivers within.
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Other features of the G Skill Ripjaws SR910 include an in-earcup lighting system, high-quality build materials and a dual microphone with built-in active environmental noise cancelling technology – to make your VOIP calls and in-game chat crisper and clearer than ever before.

Specifications

  • Headphone Driver Material: Neodymium Magnet.
  • Headphone Driver Diameter: 40mm (Sub) 30mm (Front) 30mm (Center) 27mm (Side) 23mm (Rear).
  • Headphone Impedance: 32Ω @ 1kHz.
  • Headphone Frequency Response: 20-20,000 Hz.
  • Microphone Type: Unidirectional Noise Cancelling Condenser.
  • Microphone Impedance: 2.2k Ω.
  • Microphone Frequency Response: 50-10,000 Hz.
  • Microphne Sensitivity: 36±3 dB.
  • Connector: USB 2.0 Type A.
  • Cable Length: 3m.
  • Weight: 420g.
  • Warranty: 2-Year Limited Warranty.
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G.Skill has opted for high quality packaging for the Ripjaws SR910 headset, using a mixture of glossy and matt cardboard to highlight certain aspects of the design. There is also a large, clear-plastic section giving you a good look at the headset itself and even the interior of the ear-cups where those visible drivers are.
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The back has some additional details and feature break downs in the usual multi-language lists, with funnily enough “7” points highlighted.
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The only additional pieces that come with this headset are the warranty guide and the set up manual, which contains a basic start-up guide for the headset itself and a break down of the volume control’s functions.
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The G.Skill Ripjaws SR910 is immediately quite an attractive piece of kit. Although styled with typical gamer black/red colour scheme, they compliment each other well and the red is not quite as garish as you may see on some gaming headsets.
Made from a solid aluminium frame, the headset does not creak at all when flexed or rotated, which should bode well for testing in virtual reality. It also has a unique look, as instead of being flush with the half circle headband, the earcups actually jut out to the sides on their own short extension arms.
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The ear cups look different too, with clear plastic covers that let us see right inside to the Neodymium drivers themselves. We should be able to get a better look when the headset is powered on and the interior LEDs are lit up.
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Flipping them over gives us a look at the interior of the earcups, with their leatherette padding. No alternative covers were included with this headset, so if you prefer your headphones to have fabric earcup padding, consider looking elsewhere.
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Along with the red bands running around the exterior of the earcups, there is also a bit of extra crimson leading from them to the interior band of the headset. The cable is quite loose, so there is plenty of give should you yank the headset around.
There is also quite an attractive G logo, denoting the manufacturer.
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The headband features more red styling in the form of classy stitching along the edge of it, as well as some additional padding. That red cable we mentioned earlier runs around the interior of the headband, though seems to have been attached with some sort of adhesive, which under certain lights appears glossy – hence the little strips of white you can see in the photograph.
Atop the headband is a large G.Skill logo using the same font choice as elsewhere.
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One of the features G.Skill was most proud of with this headset is its dual microphone, which uses one to listen to you, and another to listen to the environment, providing active dampening to any external noise other than your voice – great for noisy environments when you still want to get your gaming fix.
That microphone is hidden away when not needed and can be extended out on a retractable boom when it is.
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Since this is a headset with its own built-in sound card, it cannot have the usual simple volume control. Instead it has a four inch, desk-bound controller which has an endlessly rotatable volume wheel, a microphone mute button and a secondary switch to choose which channel the volume control is altering at any one time.
This being a 7.1 headset, you can individually adjust the: main, front, rear, centre, side and sub channels.
That sound card also means this headset requires extra juice, so it ends in a USB header rather than the typical multiple 3.5mm outs. The cable is not braided, but it does have a Velcro cable tidy and a gold plated USB connector.
Testing a headset such as the G.Skill SR910 real 7.1 takes some time. We spend a week using it as gaming and general media headphones, all the while judging its abilities in terms of sound quality, volume range, comfort and additional features such as the 7.1 surround sound capabilities.
Due to it being a gaming headset at heart, we made sure to put the G.Skill SR910 through its paces in a variety of titles, from explosive high speed shooters, to atmospheric, slow paced haunting thrillers and horror titles. The overall experience was a reasonably solid one. There was a gritty feel to explosions and bombastic games feel pretty intense, especially when factoring in the real 7.1 audio tracking which provides a decent surround sound experience.
Detailed separation and in particular booming explosions are not so well handled. There is a distinct lack of low level bass from the G.Skill SR910 gaming headset. Although this can be improved somewhat with bass boosting in the back-end software (more on that shortly) there is definitely not a uniform coverage of the frequency range with this headset.
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The ear-cups on the SR910 look particularly cool when lit up in the dark
It performs better in some respects at higher volumes, delivering more of a punch when you want it, but you do not get a kick in the teeth like some headsets are capable of delivering. Similarly so, menu transition noises and higher-frequency sounds can have that same crunchy feel to them which is not as crisp or precise as we would have liked.
The overall gaming ability for the G.Skill SR910 is fine, but it is not something that will blow you away. It does provide a good representation of surround sound speaker set ups and is certainly more accurate than a headset that adds virtual surround sound via software – we found it particularly strong at sections in Alien Isolation for pin-pointing the Xenomorph.
Since Isolation is such an atmospheric game, we performed this test using an Oculus Rift headset and found the SR910 a great fit for VR, as its metallic frame means there is no creaking when you move your head around. How useful that will be now that it seems VR HMDs will come with built in headphones remains to be seen, but is still something we would like to see more manufacturers consider.
In racing titles like 2010’s Need for Speed Hot Pursuit, the lack of nerve-electrifying roars from the cars and the muddy clarity in the occasionally booming sound-track were missed. We have definitely enjoyed in-game audio more on other (and perhaps more importantly, cheaper) headsets.
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Being able to see inside the ear-cups gives the SR910 a very unique look
Listening to music tracks raises the same concerns. Bass response is a little less than we would expect and other headsets we have tested recently have a much more powerful output. Mid range frequencies are fairly well presented, although like the high end frequencies we would expect to hear a little more clarity and separation throughout.
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Although I like the headset’s controller, the volume indicator is all but useless as it is hidden by the control wheel
Despite certain misgivings with the overall sound quality of the G.Skill SR910 headset, it is surprisingly comfortable to use over long periods. It feels odd when you first put it on as it hangs more off of your ears than most sets. The headband is stretchable and your head never comes in contact with the metallic frame. This can give it a loose feel, but you get used to it quickly and despite wearing it for many hours at a time, we never ran into issues with comfort or excessive heat generation.
The volume control was a nice addition and has a high quality feel to it. We liked the ability to adjust different channels independently and the quick access to a microphone and line-in mute was appreciated.
The volume wheel has a quality feel to it too, but its height is incredibly bothersome. Due to the way the volume indicator lights wrap around its circumference, unless you have it so you are looking straight down on top of it, you cannot see all of the indicators. It seems like a silly oversight that could be countered with a shorter wheel or volume indicators on the side closest to the listener instead.
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The back-end software too needs some work. The range of options is good, with the ability to switch between different surround sound modes, as well as adjustable EQ and tweakable pre-sets (that make a very appreciable difference to the sound), there is not enough labeling. Half of the tabs only have a title when you have already clicked them, and there are some weird coding decisions such as tool-tips only ever appearing on a first monitor (even if you have the software window on a second).
The big chunky aesthetic is outdated and there are large buttons on the left which make it all look unfinished. Useful, but ugly.
In terms of microphone quality, the G.Skill SR910’s implementation is actually quite good. It delivers good vocal quality for VOIP calls and in-game chat without much background hiss. We found we came through nice and clear in most scenarios.
One of the big touted features of this headset though is that the microphone supports Electronic Noise Cancelling (ENC). With that feature enabled, background noise like other voices and music, say from a TV or radio in the same room as you, is muted somewhat, but unfortunately it also seems to occasionally do the same for your own voice. Although it does not make you hard to hear, the vocal clarity is lowered with ENC enabled and there is a slight background hiss that is not present when it is disabled.
The G.Skill Ripjaws SR910 is a headset that has a lot going for it on paper, but it does fail to deliver the promised experience. Although it does provide a good surround sound environment that any software-based, stereo-restricted headsets would struggle to match it feels like G.Skill let the quality slide somewhat in favour of that experience.
When gaming and listening to music there are noticeable missteps in sound quality that are difficult to ignore. None of them make the experience horrible, but it is a shame that the fundamental sound characteristics – a distinct lack of bass and overall reduced clarity at higher volumes is present.
That said, there are a number of features we did enjoy. The metal frame is a solid, durable construction and means that this is a good headset for virtual reality gamers. Indeed the surround sound capabilities really come into their own when you consider binaural audio and how much of an impact that can have on immersion. In that respect, G.Skill did a good job.
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This is also a surprisingly comfortable headset. It feels strange initially due to its heavy placement on the ears but while it can feel a little loose compared to some headsets, that aids the overall comfort making fatigue almost a non-issue.
There are other areas of this headset that could use improvement though. The volume control needs to have its indicator adjusted to be actually visible to the user, as at any angle but 90 degrees straight up at least half the indicators are hidden. The back-end software could do with a few tweaks to make it look more modern, and clear labeling throughout would be helpful.
You will always look different wearing a headset like this though. The unique choice of earcup placement and the lighting within their see-through exteriors is a really nice touch that would look great on a LAN party floor. It is just difficult to justify all of the other issues when the price tag is well above the £100 mark.
All in all this is a decent first attempt at a headset by G.Skill, but the company fared far better with their keyboard.
Getting hold of the SR910 in the UK is a little difficult right now, but you can find one for just shy of £120 on Amazon.
Pros
  • Unique look, clear plastic ear-cups look great.
  • Metal frame does not creak, great for virtual reality. Solid build quality.
  • Surround sound tracking is good, providing additional atmosphere to certain games and experiences.
  • Comfortable over long periods.
  • Microphone is crisp and clear, and retractable.
Cons
  • Sound quality is not great.
  • Bass is lacking, with little punch to it, even at higher volumes.
  • Although quite fully featured, the software is ugly by design and requires better labeling.
  • Volume control knob obscures indicators.
  • Cheaper competitor headsets sound better.
  • ENC noise cancelling seems to cannibalise your own voice too often.
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