In the eternal quest for your dream headset, you have to kiss a few frogs, and while Astro, Turtle Beach and Logitech have made for compelling suitors in recent years, Plantronics have quietly been waiting in the wings making high quality headsets that stand out for all the right reasons. I say quietly, but they’re the number one headset brand in Australia, and now their latest, the sleek, stylish and wireless 700HS, might just be the one to make the rest of the world take notice.
While there’s plenty of the Plantronics heritage on display in the design of the 700HS, they’ve opted for black, black and black for the entirety of the headset’s components. The headband is made of one piece of flexible plastic, and while that doesn’t sound ideal, it feels strong, and stood up to plenty of twisting and pulling while I put it through its pacing. It’s also the first of many little tweaks that will have helped to keep the headset’s weight down.
One of the key things that you’ll notice when you pick the 700HS up is just how light it is. Headset manufacturers are really beginning to notice what a difference it makes to players having a lighter headset, and if you’re settling in for a marathon session of Overwatch, Fortnite or something less popular, there’s nothing worse than sticking a pair of headphones on that weigh the same as a small moon. The 700HS is perfectly weighted – you know it’s there, the ear pressure is just right, but three hours down the line it’s as comfortable as when you put them on.
Without a standard adjustable headband, it’s down to Plantronics quirky triple socket system to adjust the earpieces. This lets you move the earpieces up and down the band and lock them in place, but while that sounds limiting I had no problems at all. In fairness, they fit my head straight out of the box on the middle setting, so those with smaller and larger heads should be well catered for, and the way the central headband flexes it’s clearly been designed to cover a wide array of fits. Clever stuff.
Keeping things comfortable is a surfeit of foam, fabric and faux leather. You’ve got soft foam and fabric on the headband, while the earpieces are fabric on the inner surface and leatherette on the outside, making them gentle on your head, but maintaining some extra noise isolation from what’s going on around you.
As a fully wireless set, you’ll be needing to plug in the USB transmitter. There’s three variants of this headset, the 700HX for Xbox One, 700HD meant for PC, but this 700HS that we tested worked happily on PS4, PC, and with a docked Switch. What’s a shame is that there’s no option of a 3.5mm connection, which would have made it even more universal, but with twelve hours of battery life I had very little reason to tether myself to a controller. You have the option of attaching an optical cable directly into the transmitter if you prefer to use that over USB audio, but I found little advantage in doing so.
Just like a lot of high end headphones, the 700HS has a helpful voice that tells you what’s going on, letting you know whether you’re connected, and keeping you up to date on the state of your battery. It’s a small touch, but it’s really helpful to know that the headset battery is running out before it actually runs out in the middle of a game.
All of the controls are housed on the left earcup, and alongside the power button and microphone mute you’ve got a pair of chunky dials; one for the master volume, and one for game/chat balance. The charging port lives here too and it’s a micro-USB, which at least keeps it in line with the rest of your PS4 set-up, though with everything is shifting over to USB-C it’d be nice to have been slightly more future-proofed.
The left earpiece also plays home to the removable mic arm, and Plantronics have done a fantastic job here, with a wonderfully clear microphone and variable mic monitoring so you can actually hear just how stupid you sound every time you escape death in Overwatch. The adjustable mic arm is rock solid as well, so once you’ve set it in place it’s staying put, no matter what rude words you say into it.
Alongside the excellent external design work, Plantronics have made sure that the 700HS sounds fantastic too. Opting for 40mm drivers in a world of 50mm may sound reductive, but the quality of the audio is inarguable, with taut high-end response married to well-balanced mids and punchy bass.
The inclusion of Plantronics’ ‘bass tubes’ has obviously leant some extra heft to the audio response, and no matter what platform I had them attached to, the 700HS were a delight to listen to, bringing shooters and RPGs to life in vibrant fashion. Other media was similarly well catered for, and whether you’re watching a movie or listening to music, Plantronics have you covered.
At £120, the 700HS are sitting at the top end of the mid-range headset market, and they’re a serious contender at that price point – even better they’re currently on sale on Plantronics website for the bargain price of £90. They absolutely steamroller over Turtle Beach’s Stealth 700, with better battery life and build quality. The Logitech 935 is a decent option though if you’re buying for PS4 you’re not going to get the best out of it, and the older G533 – I really wish they’d give their headsets proper names – is still well worth a look.