Gaming headsets have reached an interesting tipping point. For years many of them weren’t worth the price of the box they came in. They sported ugly, heavy designs, poor quality materials and sound quality to match. But over the last five years manufacturers have — to my shock — begun to shift their focus towards a quality product and now we find ourselves at another strange crossroads. Legitimate and respected home audio brands, in this case Edifier, are getting into the gaming headset space. With their G4 headset, Edifier are coming into an already crowded market with plenty of experience behind them. How do they stack up?
Honestly, they stack up pretty well. The G4’s are a fairly mid-tier gaming headset. They’re not cheap and cheerful but they’re not quite what I would consider premium either. They also come in at around the $100 mark which puts them squarely in the mid-range price point. They’re clearly not trying to be anything they’re aren’t.
The design is heavily inspired by cans like the older Beats by Dre Studio’s with chunky, rounded, plastic covers on the earcups and headband with soft, stitched faux leather on the inners. It’s quite comfortable and not that heavy despite its bulky cans which is good news for those who don’t like any extra weight.
Where the G4’s fall down a bit for me designwise is in three distinct areas. The first is that they’re covered in blazing LED’s. The set I was sent for review are white with blue LEDs around the outer earcups and on the end of the telescoping mic. I’m not wild about telescoping mics at the best of times but having one with a blue light on it sitting in my lower peripheral vision is absolutely maddening. Further, I’m not sure what these lights would do to your white balance if you’re planning to use them as a streamer. There are two other colour schemes for the G4 avaiable according to the Edifier website — one black with red LED’s like the HyperX Cloud Alpha, and one in black with green LED’s in what, intentional or not, appears to be a bit of a swipe at Razer.
The second bugbear is the drivers built into the ear cups. They’re fine in principle, another of these “sound you can feel” gimmicks that make the cans buck and shake around with every explosion or errant bass signal received. I found I switched it off quite quickly though because it makes no real change to the G4’s overall sound quality and was an ongoing distraction.
My third and final annoyance is once more with the microphone. The G4’s have a pretty wild amount noise bleed for a pair of over-ear cans, particularly with the drivers activated, and the mic picks up a lot of it. Much of it can be mitigated by simply lowering your volume or playing with the levels in your sound settings but its still annoying to have your friends telling you they can hear themselves feeding back through your mic when you’ve messed around with it for hours. A good gaming headset should have solid sound, this is true. A great one has solid sound with minimal set up. To be fair, it is easy to get started with the G4’s. They are a plug-and-play USB headset so the moment you jam the plug into your PC, they light up and are ready to go. It’s just that extra bit of sound finagling that might set you back a bit.
In terms of sound, they live up to the usual high standard for Edifier. The full 7.1 surround gives you a great field of hearing in games like Overwatch and Fortnite, transforming incoming enemy footfalls and gunfire into booming cannons. Even when cranked right up, distortion is minimal and they make a fine, if bass-heavy, pair of cans for every computer or music use. If I have a complaint its that they sound perhaps a mite tinnier than they probably should. Perhaps this its dedication to getting those drivers in there but there were times when it sounded like the audio was coming from a speaker located inside a well of some sort.
All told, these are solid, reliable headphones that provide great sound for their price point. They require a bit of messing around with to get right but they are comfortable and they definitely do the job. It’s not going to pry me loose from my HyperX Cloud Alphas or my Plantronics RIG800 but with another few revisions of the hardware, I think Edifier might have a real contender on their hands.
Score: 8.0 out of 10
Highlights: Solid sound; Lightweight design; Good materials
Lowlights: Why the LEDS; Drivers a gimmick; Quite a bit of audio bleed the mic can pick up
Price: $99.95 AUD
Review conducted on a loaned retail headset provided by the publisher.