There’s a gaming headset out there to fit pretty much any budget, but the rule of thumb has barely moved from the old ‘you get what you pay for’ adage. If you want top end comfort, a quality build and features like virtual surround sound, you’re going to have to pay for it.
EKSA have set out to challenge that idea on every level. We very much enjoyed their stereo E900 offering, and now they’ve returned with the EKSA E900 Pro; an upgraded version that adds in virtual surround sound, lighting and a bevy of connection options for a mere few extra pounds. It might be time to challenge those preconceptions about price.
The design and build is an immediate improvement over many of the headsets you’ll find around the E900 Pro’s £40 price point. Plain black metal, plastic and leather with red highlights keep things subdued but attractive, aping the HyperX Cloud series. The different materials also help to make this headset appear far more expensive than it is, and in the hand it feels solid and well put together, with no hint of creaking or cracking while I attempted to twist it apart. Controls are kept simple on the EKSA E900 Pro, with a volume dial and mute button for the microphone located on the left earpiece.
Thanks to the thick slice of memory foam in the headband, and the memory foam earpads covered in pleather, they are immensely comfortable. They’ve kept the weight down too, so you won’t feel any fatigue from wearing them for multi-hour sessions of Elder Scrolls Online, The Last of Us Part II, or whatever is floating your current gaming boat.
They also boast one of my favourite features: a removable mic arm. This not only means that you can happily use them in pretty much every aspect of your life, but also that if you’re not playing multiplayer you don’t have to look like you’ve stepped away from your work in a call centre. When you do use it, the noise cancelling microphone performs admirably, providing clear lines of communication to your friends and enemies alike.
The E900 Pro offers the option of 3.5mm connection, suitable for PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia, and pretty much anything that has the universal audio input. Alternatively, if you’re playing on PC or Mac, you can connect via the included USB-A cable. This lights up the red EKSA logos on each earcup, while giving you access to 7.1 virtual surround sound after a swift download of the required drivers.
The headset’s Mac support is confusing, though. The label on the cable clearly states that it only works with PC & Mac, pointing you to the support page for “Immersive 7.1 Surround Sound Driver” but when you get there, there’s only PC files. The support page even states that you can connect to Mac via a USB-A adaptor for access to the 7.1 function, but there’s nothing else there. They do work perfectly well as a stereo headset over USB, but if you’re looking for a Mac virtual 7.1 solution, at the moment the EKSA E900 Pro isn’t it.
Thanks to their low 16 ohms impedance, the EKSA E900 Pro is capable of being very, very loud. If you enjoy the ability to absolutely deafen yourself, the E900 has you covered, and if you’re using inputs that are notoriously quiet – like the 3.5mm inputs on PS4 or Stadia controllers – they’re more than capable of pulling enough signal out to satisfy those gamers who’ve really damaged their hearing over the years.
The downside to that lower impedance is that there’s an increased possibility of distortion, and while I didn’t have any problems across the different consoles, PC and Mac inputs can begin to distort at especially high levels. For most people, I can’t see you comfortably hitting those highs anyway, but it’s worth bearing in mind.
Out of the box, the audio definitely skews towards the warmer, bass-heavy end of the spectrum, with an airy and open sound stage thanks to their open-backed design. It’s rare that I reach for the treble boosting portion of my computer’s EQ, but it definitely helped to even out the E900’s tendency towards a flabby bottom end. I finally settled on the same preset I’d created for the Razer Kraken TE, but even with no lower frequency enhancements there’s still plenty of weight to every bass note. You’ll just need to make sure you’re on top of it.
With a little bit of EQ tinkering, the 50mm drivers are more than capable of bringing the different aspects of music, movies and games to you with confidence. Top notes cut through, while the bass envelops you. If you’re into games with bone-rattling explosions, or music that thumps rather than trills, the E900 Pro will be a capable companion.
Unfortunately, if you’re using a device without EQ options, the 3.5mm connection the EKSA E900 Pro’s sound is disappointing. All of that bottom end just takes over, and details are lost in a muddy morass, making it a poor match for PS4, Switch or Xbox One. It’s absolutely at its best paired with a PC, where you get the highest quality audio experience via USB, and have access to its decent virtual surround sound offering as well, though on PC you can use Windows Sonic or Dolby Atmos’ more refined offerings.
It’s a great shame that the standard 3.5mm audio lets the rest of the package down. For the price the overall build quality is excellent, and you even get a storage bag to keep the headset and all of its extra cables and connectors together. Generally though, it’s just too bass heavy for anything that lacks an EQ.