ROCCAT Kave XTD 5.1 Digital USB Gaming Headset

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Product: ROCCAT Kave XTD 5.1 Digital USB Gaming Headset
Provided By: ROCCAT
Price: ~$160 Online at time of publication

 

Introduction:

Today we will be looking at the reinvention of the ROCCAT Kave XTD gaming headset and if its quality as anything like the previous version, then I have no doubt this one will be well worth the money. This headset is a complete redesign from the bottom up while keeping certain aspects of the previous model the same. Some of those features that stayed are the detachable mic, the thick sturdy cord, the inline control unit, status LEDs and real 5.1 surround sound. What’s different? Just about everything else, including the design of the control unit inside and out.

Here are some photos of the un-boxing and the product in more detail.

Box Front

Box Front

Box Side

Box Side

 

Just like the previous version, this headset is packaged very well. It’s one thing ROCCAT knows how to do better than anyone else.

Packaging Inside

Inside Packaging

 

Alas, the contents are fully unboxed with some close up views.

Bundle

Bundle

Microphone

Microphone

   

Control Module

Control Module

Control Close

Module Close

 

On the next page, we'll cover some of the features and specifications before we dive deeper into the review.


Detailed Features and Specifications:

Before getting into the real heart of the review; the following are the technical specifications found on the ROCCAT website.

Features:

  • REAL 5.1 SURROUND SOUND - with three driver units per earcup
  • PREMIUM INBUILT MULTI-CHANNEL SOUND CARD - for rich, interference-free audio
  • SMARTPHONE TO HEADSET BLUETOOTH PAIRING - lets you handle calls on the fly
  • FULLY-EQUIPPED DESKTOP REMOTE - total audio control at your fingertips
  • SUPREME COMFORT: ULTRA-LIGHT DESIGN - suitable for lengthy gaming sessions
  • NOISE-CANCELING MIC WITH MUTE LED - fully rotatable and completely removable
  • ROBUST AND DURABLE ENGINEERING - built to last for long-term use
  • 5.1 SPEAKER PORTS FEATURE IN REMOTE - for a seamless hook-up to your existing sound system
  • TANGLE-PROOF 3.6M CABLE - for distraction-free gameplay

 

Technical Specifications:

Center/Front/Rear Driver Units

Frequency response: 20~20.000Hz
Max. SPL at 1kHz: 115±3dB
Max. input power: 50mW
Drive diameter front: 40mm
Drive diameter rear:
40mm

 

Vibration Driver Units

Frequency response: 20~100Hz
Max. input power: 300mW
Drive diameter: 30mm

 

Microphone

Frequency response: 10~10.000Hz
Sensitivity at 1kHz: -32±2dB
Directivity: omni-directional
Diameter: 4x1.5mm
Impedance: 2.2 kΩ + 15%

 

System

Connection: USB
Impedance: 32 Ω  
Cable length: 3.6m
Weight (Headset only): 335gr

 

Further Information:

System Requirements
  • Free USB Port (500 mA) for power supply
  • Windows® 7 32/64 bit,
  • Windows® 8/Windows® 8 Pro
  • For phone feature: Bluetooth® 3.0, backward
  • compatible with Bluetooth® 1.1, 1.2, 2.0 (+EDR) and 2.1 
 
Package Contains
  • ROCCAT™ Kave XTD Digital– Premium 5.1 Surround Headset
  • Desktop USB Remote with Inbuilt Sound Card
  • Driver CD-ROM
  • Quick-Installation Guide

 

On the next page we'll cover installation and discuss the features in-depth.


Installation:

Installation was extremely simple but the Kave XTD also comes with a quick setup guide if help is needed. Basically it’s a simple plug the USB in, (3.0 compatible), then hook your 5.1 surround speakers into the color coded ports on the control unit and install the drivers from the disc and you are good to go.

Control Ports

 

This type of setup for the inline controller unit is by far much better than their previous setup.

Control Module Top

 

Features, In-Depth:

The first of the many features of this head set is the removable microphone with the mute LED. As with the previous version, the mic is connected via an RCA like connection which makes for simple connects and disconnects. It also allows you to rotate the mic 360° without issues. The other great part about this version of the mic is that it is way sturdier than the previous version. The last version there was a lot of flexibility with the microphone but because this new version is so well made, there really is not much of a need for flexibility though it still does have some in case some is needed.

Microphone

The microphone mute LED feature is one of the few features that stayed the same from the previous version of this headset and quite rightly so. It’s a great feature to have and lets you know when you are talking to yourself or to other people. What’s better about the new mic design is that the light is mainly located on the inside part of the mic making it very visible. 

Some of the physical features that did change about this headset are the ear cups, the headband and the headband padding. The ear cups feel thicker and more firm but still have a very nice cushioning to them. The other part about them that is very nice is that they have extra padding on the back side of the pads so that it evens out the pressure all around the ears. To go along with the ear cups, the headband padding is completely redesigned. The padding on this headset is much softer and feels almost like memory foam and feels so much more comfortable on the head than the padding from the previous version of this headset. With just both of these simple yet very comfortable changes in padding, instead of wearing this headset for long hours, it can almost be worn for the whole day. Another nice feature about this headset is the subtle change in the band has the snap grooves that allow you to change the length of it. What makes it a great improvement is that it also has numbers to indicate the level on both sides. These numbers range from 01 to 08 but there are notches in the band to allow for half increments such as 03.5 which allow for 16 different settings on each side. Now there is no more guessing if both sides are even, you now have a visual aid to tell you what both sides are extended to, which in my case is 04.

Kave XTD

 

As you can see the shape of the in-line control unit is a little bit bigger than the control unit on the original Kave but at the same time it’s more innovative. The cord of this headset is long enough that the control unit can be maneuvered to just about anywhere on your desk while keeping it at arm’s length. The volume control dial is right at the center of the control unit along with five function control buttons around it. The volume dial has some smooth rubber-like grips for easy gripping and turns very smoothly yet has enough resistance that you can’t accidentally spin the dial causing extremely high volume. Right below the volume dial there is a nice display indicator that lights up and shows the current volume level.

 

The first function control button is the microphone mute button which lights up when enabled. The next is the very innovative Bluetooth phone button that allows for the pairing of a smart phone. The great part about this is that phone calls can be taken and made without even having to take off the headset and to top it off, calls won’t be missed because of wearing this headset. In order to start the pairing process with a smart phone, the phone button must be pressed and held for about 3-5 seconds in which the Bluetooth display symbol will start flashing. Once paired, the display symbol will stay lit until the phone is unpaired or out of range. When taking a call or making a call the phone button will light up for the duration of the call and all background volume will be muted so that the person calling or being called can be heard. 

Now before moving on to the other function control buttons, the first and most important part about the in-line control unit is that it contains its own inbuilt 5.1 sound card which is pure genius in design terms. Not only does the sound quality improve dramatically with this innovative feature, but it also allows for line out ports to a 5.1 surround sound system. In my review of the previous version of this headset, one of the things that I did touch upon was the fact that I was unable to hook up both my speakers and my headset at the same time. It looks like ROCCAT sure listened because with just the push of a single button I can switch between this headset and my speakers, and I love it. One nice thing is that it is easy to tell when speaker mode is active; the speaker button lights up and the volume display turns off. The next neat function control button of this control unit is the movie button. This function button will be touched upon again later in the review but no matter what is being watched or listened to, a movie, a TV show, a recorded concert or even a live stream, the pressing of the movie button enables an enhancement that makes the sound fuller and gives it an even more surround sound effect to make it feel like being at the actual venue or event.

The last and final function control button on this in-line control unit is the channel button. With just a couple button presses, cycling between the audio channels (front, center, woofer, and rear) became really easy. The default control for the center dial is volume but once the channel button is pressed, the dial then controls the volume for the selected audio channel but after about ten seconds of inactivity, the dial is then defaulted back to volume control.

The final amazing feature about this headset is not of the physical kind but that of a digital kind, the Kave XTD 5.1 sound console. There are a ton of enhancement options packed into this console. As mentioned earlier, the audio channels can be controlled via the in-line control unit, but with the addition of the sound console, the ability to control the audio channels became even greater. Of the four tabs in the sound console the “Main Control” tab gives the ability to change not only the master volume and the Bluetooth volume but also gives the ability to change the audio channel volumes in each ear cup! On top of that there is the option to change the headset mode from stereo to 5.1 surround and vice versa, with the option to mix stereo to 5.1 channels when 5.1 surround is enabled. I highly recommend using both the 5.1 surround with its mix stereo option. Also in this main control there is an option to change the sampling rate between 44.1 KHz and 48 KHz for the output audio. To finish out the main control tab, there is an option for Automatic Volume Normalization and the Xear Magic Voice. The Xear Magic Voice gives the ability to change the outgoing mic stream between four different choices of monster, rubber duck, man, and woman.

The next tab of the sound console is the Advanced Control tab. Two of the adjustable options in this tab are mic recording volume and mic sampling rate. Though there are only two options for mic sampling rate, 44.1 KHz and 48 KHz, it is far better to have choices than no choices as can be seen with many other headsets. On a side note though, I was told that the mic on this headset sounded really good and better than some other top name brands. Another setting that can be enabled or disabled is the Incoming Voice Clarity which enhances all received speech. The final two settings in this current tab are Brilliant Audio and Dynamic Bass. Dynamic Bass allows for the adjusting of the virtual bass level along with the bass threshold while the Brilliant Audio enhances compressed music quality though it enhances all other audio as well.

 

In skipping over the Equalizer tab for the moment, we move to the Update/Support tab. Here there is information about the audio drivers installed along with a button link for the driver download page. Another nice part that is not seen too often is the ability to send an email request, though an email client is required to be installed to function properly; it is still a very nice function to have. Should the email request links not work there is still a support page button that will direct to ROCCAT’s support page which contains the support form and email link.

The final tab of this Kave XTD Sound Console that really makes it something wonderful is the Equalizer tab. There are only two settings windows in this tab, the equalizer settings and the equalizer presets. When initially activated, the default settings are used but right away it is apparent that the audio gets enhanced dramatically. The amazing part of this tab is however is the presets options. Eight presets are given which are default, metal, bass, electro, CS, WoW, action, and movie. Though I have not used all of the presets, these presets are really amazing and really bring the audio to life. I love the electro and movie presets so much that I feel like a spoiled kid in a candy store. The quality of the equalizer presets are so amazing that it makes it extremely difficult to not use them. On top of that they even give a setting with the ability to edit and save custom presets of your own! I took full advantage of this by using the CS preset as a starting point and modified it so that I could create my own Black Ops II preset. If that wasn’t amazing enough, ROCCAT included a sound profiles bar at the bottom of the console that is always visible no matter what settings tab is selected. The best part is there are five profiles that can be saved where each one can contain different sound settings based on the purpose of the profile, whether it is for music or gaming or even movies. Once saved, changing profiles is just a click away and losing those settings will not be a worry unless of course life happens.

On the next page, we'll strap these on and take a listen as we share our thoughts.


Testing:

As mentioned earlier in this review, the most important part about this new in-line control unit is the fact that it has a built-in 5.1 sound card. The quality of sound that comes from this card is amazing. The first time I used this headset, I was blown away. Not only was I surprised at the sound quality from a USB headset, but I was floored at how far better it was than what I currently had (an analog headset). I am not going to lie, I was using a top quality analog headset with a top quality name brand sound card and in the instant I first heard audio out of his new Kave XTD USB headset, I was floored. One of the best parts about this headset is that when the audio stream is switched from headset to speakers, there is no major change in the way it sounds and that’s even with throwing in all the variables that come from using the equalizer in the sound console. With my old setup, there was a noticeable difference in the way the audio sounded when switching between speakers and headset.

Before performing any tests, I checked all my computer system audio levels to make sure they were at their default values. For my tests, default system volume will be at 100% so that all volume control will be done either by the in-line control unit or my system speakers. The movie preset on the control unit will also be off by default and default Sound Console settings will include 5.1 surround with mix stereo to 5.1 channels, all sample rates will be at 48 KHz, and an inactive equalizer. Equalizer presets that will be used during testing are as follows, default, metal, electro, movie, and a custom preset.

 

The first test that was performed was an audio test in which I chose a couple songs from different genres and then applied the default, metal, electro and movie equalizer presets for additional results.  

The first song tested was Afrojack (feat. Wrabel) - Ten Feet Tall, which with the default settings as listed above sounds very good on all levels including the vocals. After enabling the equalizer with the default preset the song really opens up and becomes even fuller and clearer on all levels with an increase in bass.  After changing the preset from default to movie the audio is improved even more on all levels but once the preset was changed from movie to electro, it was quite evident that it was the perfect match on all levels. After testing the song with these presets, the movie preset on the control unit was enabled and really gave the song a fuller surround sound like a 3D effect.  The next song tested was Bass Cannon - Flux Pavilion which on the default settings sounded pretty good overall on all levels though the bass was a tiny bit low but definitely not anywhere near worth complaining about. Quality was definitely a great improvement over the performance from previous version of this headset. Once the equalizer was enabled on the default preset, the song really exploded with fullness on all levels, and after switching to the movie preset it became even more enhanced though it did sound like the vocals get muffled a bit. Alas just as with the previous song the electro preset was a perfect match everything sounded spot on, on all levels.

The next song tested was U2 - Invisible (Red) Edit Version and just like the previous songs sounded really good on just the default settings. As with the previous songs, this song was greatly enhanced with the enabling of the default equalizer preset. However unlike the other two songs, the movie preset dampers the vocals a bit more and maybe becomes a little heavy on the bass albeit the movie preset was never intended for only music. Oddly enough, the electro preset does in fact enhance the vocals more and can be heard much clearer but also improves all the levels as well. Personally I like it; however, the base could be a bit much for others. Over all, the default preset might go best with this particular song. The next song chosen was Dirty Money Feat Skylar Grey - Coming Home, which on default settings sounds a tiny bit flat but still sounds far better than with my previous headset and soundcard combo. The flatness I hear could just be me getting spoiled by the equalizer presets. Just like all the other songs, the default equalizer preset truly brings this song to life and improves all levels. Like the last song, the movie preset dampened the vocals but for some reason it is a little bit more noticeable with this particular song. Vocals aside, all the other levels with the movie preset sounded really good. As with most of the other songs, the electro preset really enhances everything about the song, though as with the previous song, the bass levels could be a little too high for some people. The final song that was tested was, Linkin Park - Paper Cut. Even though this sounds repetitive, the song sounds really good with default settings and really breaths life when the default equalizer preset is enabled as all levels and clarity are improved across the board.

 

With this particular song I thought the metal preset might sound decent but I was clearly wrong as the default preset sounds much better. With this particular song the default preset is actually better than the movie preset on all levels, but like the last two songs, the electro preset might be a bit much on bass for some people. Personally speaking though, I love the electro preset and use it when listening to music.

The next test that was performed was a movie test in which a section of a movie was watched with default settings, then with the default and movie equalizer presets, and then with the in-line control unit movie preset. The movie used for this test was Bottle Shock and with just the default settings it sounded crisp, clear and full. Far better than what I have experienced in the past. With the application of the default equalizer preset, the audio becomes so much richer and fuller on all levels and gets closer to sounding like a movie theater. Not to mention the directionality of all the sounds is superb. When switching to the movie preset everything becomes fuller and more robust and with the surround sound it’s like being in a movie theater. After enabling the movie preset on the in-line control unit, the surround sound and directionality is enhanced greatly making it feel like being in a personal home movie theater.

The final test of all the tests was gaming in which two different games were used in this testing, Call of Duty Black Ops II and Titanfall. With Black Ops 2 the default settings, the game sounded muffled with way too much bass, though the bass could be affected by game sound settings too.  With the default equalizer preset enabled the percussions sound much clearer and everything sounds much fuller but as with the default settings there is way too much bass for this particular game. After enabling the custom equalizer preset I made based off of the CS preset, the percussions sounds become much clearer and the bass is greatly reduced allowing for better directionality of sounds. With Titanfall, the default settings sound really clean, clear and balanced on all levels and with the default equalizer preset all the sounds become so much fuller and well rounded while keeping the balance, clarity and crispness. When changing the equalizer preset to movie, all the game sounds just get louder and fuller and more complete with the surround sound so much so that one could say they sound life like. The same can also be said about the electro preset as well but I feel the movie preset works best for Titanfall.

On the last page, we'll wrap things up with our final thoughts.


 

Final Thoughts:

Upon looking back on this newly redesigned Kave XTD, there were major changes from the previous version to the new version which all were very beneficial. First, the audio quality is even better than it was before in the original Kave which I feel comes down to the fact that they built in a 5.1 sound card into the in-line control unit. The sound quality with the default settings I used was superb and only got better when using the equalizer. The directionality of the headset sounds is still amazing and when the movie preset on the in-line control unit is enabled, it really takes home theater to another level. It feels like being in a personal home movie theater. On top of producing excellent quality with this newly building 5.1 sound card, the ability to hook up a 5.1 speaker system was pure genius. This implementation with the ability to switch between speakers and the headset with a push of a button is by far one of the best things a headset manufacture has done.

Physical changes to the headset from the previous version were the ear cup padding, and headband padding, and microphone. The ear cup and head band padding were greatly improved and make it so comfortable that this Kave XTD headset can be worn for days! The microphone is a little more rigid and sturdier than the previous Kave but was able to retain some flexibility which works with the Kave XTD.

The in-line control unit was also redesigned with a new look and some new functionality added in as well. The mic mute was kept while Bluetooth was added in so that calls could be taken and made without having to take the headset off at all. Nice features that were kept the same were the volume control, channel volumes and the movie preset option for an increased theatrical experience.

The people over at ROCCAT definitely upped their game for this headset and it does not disappoint in the least. Everything on this headset is outstanding from the audio quality, to the design quality to the physical quality and even the packaging quality. Normally I would say that about a $160 is a bit pricey for a headset but after testing this baby out it is safe to say, it is well worth the money. For me personally this headset blows all the other competition out of the water.

 

Pros:

  • Detachable mic w/mute LED
  • Brand new design for ear cup and head band padding
  • Redesigned in-line control unit w/built in 5.1 sound card and movie preset button
  • Ability to hook up a 5.1 speaker system
  • Bluetooth
  • 5.1 real surround w/ precise directionality
  • Kave XTD Sound Console and all of its amazing features 

 

Cons:

  • None

 

In every way, shape and form the Kave XTD is about as close to perfect as any headset can be. As such it score a 10/10 and is truly an Editor's Choice Gold recipient.

 

If you have any questions, comments or general feedback regarding this review, please make sure to drop a comment in the forum at the link below.