Steel Series is known for their PC gaming accessories. These new models mark their foray into console gaming. The Spectrum XB series is their new headset for use with the Xbox 360. The Spectrum 4XB is the entry level headset, while the 5XB is a more robust model. I got a chance to take both of these out for some raucous Xbox Live action.
The 4XB and 5XB have the same basic tech specs, which I will get to later. The main differences between the two, other than color, is that the black 5XB has increased padding in the headband, detachable cans for portability, and a braided, heavy-duty, single cable. The white 4XB model has two lighter gauge cables on each can. For the rest of the review, all comments will refer to both sets unless stated otherwise.
The Spectrum XB's feature a hidden mic system that is very cool. The unidirectional mic retracts into the left ear cap. The stalk is made of flexible metal and seems very durable.
At their core, the XB's are basically adapted PC gaming headsets. You can plug them straight into your tower or laptop. Fair warning, the cord is about three feet long, so your tower better be close. The headsets can also be plugged into an Xbox 360 controller. Here is where the included Steel Series Spectrum AudioMixer comes into play.
This little device is quite handy. The Steel Series Spectrum AudioMixer is what sets these apart from the pack. There are four features on the AudioMixer, and they all work very well. There is a mic mute switch, which does exactly what you think it would. There are also separate dials for voice and game volume. These are very useful for balancing game chatter.
So you're playing Halo: Reach and you may have already muted 'N00BP00P3R 69', but 'Infinite Socrates' is expounding Confucius-ian game advice. With two flicks of the dials, the game noise can be raised or lowered to where you want it, and you can clearly hear your teammate politely say: "Rocket launchers are not appropriate for close quarters combat. Please stop using them in hallways."
The last AudioMixer feature is the Steel Series self proclaimed 'secret sauce:' the LiveMix. When this feature is on the little elves inside take control of the audio mixing, increasing the volume of voice chatter while decreasing game sound effects volume automatically. It actually works quite well.