Sennheiser are well known in the world of headphone aficionados. They have a habit of producing some of the highest quality sound products available on the audiophile market. Sennheiser have also dipped their toes in the gaming headset market, with products like the U 320. The “U” stands for universal, marking the Sennheiser U 320 as a multiplatform piece of hardware. But is it worthy of the Sennheiser brand name?
Wearing style: headband
Impedance: 32 Ω
Connector: 2.5mm to Xbox controller, 2 x RCA to TV/console, USB for PS3 and PC audio
Frequency response: Headphones: 15 – 23000 Hz, Microphone: 70 – 15000 Hz
Sound pressure level (SPL): 113 dB
Cable length: 4m
Pick-up pattern: Uni-directional
Sensitivity: -38 dBV/Pa
The U 320 comes in a simple blister pack. No frills here. Inside the pack is the headset, audio cable, chat cable, and quick start guide. The quick start guide has a number of uncomplicated diagrams that show how everything is meant to be connected to the various consoles.
The headset itself follows this utilitarian mentality. Function over form. The U 320 is constructed from shiny black lightweight plastic. Each ear cup has a blue circle highlight. The cups are connected to the headband off-centre towards the front. There is plain U 320 branding on each side just above the cup. The top of the headband has the typical understated Sennheiser branding, recessed into the headband. The plastic design makes the U 320 look cheap and flimsy. It’s more solid than it looks, but it does look and feel delicate.
The extensive use of plastic in its construction translates to a very light and comfortable wearing experience. It’s like air. I could wear the U 320 headset forever and never even notice. The foam cups are perhaps a little too specifically tilted, since the headband is rigid, the headband doesn’t adjust to different sized heads well, and I had a particularly tough time with it with my small noggin, but it is still incredibly comfortable for me. It says a lot when a less than perfect fit feels amazing.
The microphone boom is solidly attached, as a part of the left cup. The whole back of the cup rotates to drop or elevate the mic. While elevated, the mic is muted. There’s a noticeable bump in the rotation to indicate the mute cutoff, which is a pleasant tactile indication of the microphone’s status.
Attached to the left cup is the cable. And it is a long, long, LONG cable. About 70cm down the cable is the inline controller. The 4(!) metre cable terminates in a USB connector, with a port for connecting to your console or tv, but not a 3.5mm jack. You will not be using your default sound ports for this headset. Luckily, the massive cable comes with a velcro shortening strap, so you can fold the cable up to your desired length. I suppose Sennheiser were playing it safe with the excessive cable length for its console connectivity. I can’t fault them for providing the option.
The inline controller is a simple affair. Mic and audio volume dials are on the side, with the white mic dial at the top and blue audio volume at the bottom. On the other side is the side tone (for checking your mic) and bass boost toggles. The top is a jack for connecting voice controls to your 360 controller with the supplied cable. On the back of the controller is a clothes clip, which is a useful feature for managing your cables.
Carrying the Sennheiser brand, you’d expect terrific sound, and you won’t be disappointed. The clarity that comes from these cans is outstanding. There’s enough bass to satisfy most gamers, clear and present midrange, and an even top end. The sound is very balanced and neutral, giving great sound under all circumstances. For your bass needs, the bass boost switch on the inline controller jumps the bass frequencies out clearly. It’s a nice option to have, but I didn’t find the bass lacking enough to ever need it. The semi-open backed design gives it a wide soundstage and great tone, but it does mean there is a little sound leakage and the isolation isn’t great, although it never bothered me to any huge extent.
The microphone is also high quality. Speech is quite clear, with nuances and subtleties transmitting well and zero fuzz. The mic boom flip up to mute feature is useful. One annoyance is that the mic boom is not flexible, meaning different shaped heads may find it more or less difficult to use the mic. The side check function is useful to loosely test your mic volume and clarity without the usual rigmarole of going through external means.
I didn’t get to test the U 320 on consoles, since I don’t own any (PC4lyfe), but all the requisite cabling is there in the box. I can’t see any potential issues with multiplatform play. The U 320 doesn’t work with mobile devices, though, since input is solely through USB. There are no 3.5mm jacks to be seen.
Sennheiser’s signature sound quality is the big selling point for the U 320’s, and not its cheap plastic look. Great sound in the cups and from the mic, coupled with the extreme comfort and long-term wearability of this headset make it a fantastic choice for gaming. Throw in the versatility of being able to connect it to your PS3 or 360 and the U 320 is a very attractive package. Just be careful not to break it.
Review sample provided by Sennheiser. Thanks.
ONLY SINGLE PLAYER SCORE
Build Quality – 8/10
Design – 7/10
Useability – 9/10
Performance – 9.5/10
Price – 8.5/10
Overall – 9/10
(Not an average)