I still have terrible nightmares about the abomination that is the Turtle Beach EarForce XP Seven, and ever since have approached headsets featuring complicated base stations somewhat gingerly. The excellent Plantronics RIG went a long way to healing those wounds; and now with the Roccat Kave XTD 5.1, I’m close to a decent sleep.
Now the only thing keeping me up is the viability of multi-driver headsets. Packed inside each of the Kave’s almost comically huge cans are three drivers — two traditional 40mm units and one 30mm vibration unit — each angled at 12 degrees which, so Roccat claims, accurately matches the ear’s natural form.
Out in the field, however, it’s tough to justify the engineering (and price tag); sure, the Matrix lobby scene came at me from all sides, and pinpointing noise sources was fantastic during Battlefield 4 and Titanfall testing, but the difference isn’t staggering compared to single driver units.
Picking up good vibrations
What was a little fun, regardless of how gimmicky, was the vibration drivers. They’re like tiny Xbox rumblers for your head. What impressed most however, is the Kave’s base station. It features its own inbuilt multi-channel soundcard (goodbye annoying hardware buzz) as well as Smart Link which (like the Plantronics RIG but wireless) connects with your smartphone so you can still take calls without pausing your game.
What the Roccat Kave XTD 5.1 lacks is versatility. It’s a fixed-line, PC-only USB headset with no quick-release system or auxiliary input option. And it’s really expensive.
Verdict: A precise and powerful audio solution but it lacks versatility, portability and reasonable pricing.