A good set of gaming headphones should be able to answer three questions in the affirmative: are they comfortable to wear for hours at a time, does their sound quality make your games better and will they last for years?
After having gamed with Logitech’s G430 Gaming Headset for a week or so, I can say the answer is “yes” to at least two of those questions, with the question about long-term durability something to merely speculate on (but signs are good).
Initially, though, the headphones didn’t impress. They were not as heavy as Logitech’s premium G35 gaming headset, and nor were they made with the same materials and thus they felt rather cheap in my hands.
Fortunately, those concerns disappeared once I realised that the G430 costs R700 less on average than the G35, less weight in anything you plan to wear on your head for hours on end is a good thing, and the blue “sports performance cloth” that covers the foam around the ear cups remains rather comfortable even after long gaming sessions.
Better than that, I discovered that the G430’s sound capabilities are pretty much identical to those of the G35s – a good thing considering the high praise those headphones earned – but the electronics that drive the 7.1 surround sound now live inside the headset’s USB dongle instead of inside the ear cups.
There are also no buttons on the outside of the headset, so there’s nothing to bump by accident while adjusting them, and a very long cord (2.3m) with inline controls for muting the microphone and adjusting volume.
On the whole, the G430 is comes across as a carefully-considered alternative to the more-expensive G35. But is it any good at games. movies and music? Happily, the answer is yes.
To get surround sound working, I had to download Logitech’s Gaming Software package, as that enables surround sound on supported games and movies. It also provided me with an equaliser that I could use to adjust settings according to the audio I was listening to.
I know a surround sound headset is convincing when I hear sounds that I think are coming from outside the headphones I’m using, and that’s exactly what happened with the G430s.
The surround sound test included with the Logitech Gaming Software did a beautiful job of immersing me in what sounded like a real-world situation, and almost made me forget I was wearing headphones. The same happened with movies – everything sounded just that much more real to me.
When it came to gaming, I got a much clearer sense of where enemies were approaching from in Battlefield 4, thanks to the game’s excellent positional audio cues and the G430’s ability to convey distance, depth and direction with sounds that were otherwise flat on my regular headphones.
They are, punchy, too! Bass is particularly strong, which gave the explosions in Battlefield some texture and real feeling, but without drowning out all the other sounds.
To do a more scientific benchmark, I ran through the bass test on audiocheck.net, and the G430s did a great job with low-frequency sounds – the lowest note they hit came in at around the 20Hz mark. That means very good overall bass response and general competence at low-frequency sounds, great news for fans of doef-doef music like Dubstep.
I liked that I could talk to mates while playing Battlefield using the built-in boom microphone, and that it folded away when I didn’t need it. I was told the voice quality is excellent, too, incredibly clear and lifelike. Being able to mute the mic using the in-line mute button also proved handy.
Overall, I’d say these are definitely worth a thousand bucks. The surround sound on offer is brilliantly immersive, they’re comfortable to wear for extended gaming/movie sessions and they’re great with music. That they don’t feel expensive to the touch is a minor gripe that can be forgiven in the face of so many other good points.
Build Quality: 3/5
Surround Sound: 5/5
Value for Money: 5/5
Price: From R999
Surround Sound: Dolby Headphone 7.1
Frequency Response: 20Hz-20KHz
In-line Controls: Yes
Cable Length: 2.3m