Retailing for a competitive $229, Sennheiser’s GSP 500 talks a big game, but what kind of sound can you expect from this open-back gaming headphone?
The GSP 500 comes in your standard Sennheiser packaging. Two cable are included with the headphone – one 5 ft (1.5 m) cable terminating in a 3.5mm audio plug and one 8 ft (2.5 m) cable terminating in a split 3.5mm headphone-mic combination. Compatibility is pretty much wide open: you can use this headphone out-of-the-box with a PC or the PS4, while some X Box One users may need an adapter.
The headphones themselves felt a little small at first – and I feared that they wouldn’t fit me all that well. But the earcups, once extended, do this baby justice. There’s some soft velour padding on the cups and headband. Basically, once you get it situated and find your ideal setup, you can leave this sucker on for hours.
The left earcup also features the boom mic, and raising the mic to stand perpendicular to the headset will mute the microphone. On the right earcup, you’ve got a volume adjustment knob – a nice feature for those who might need to multitask without sacrificing all concentration.
The open back design escaped me for a minute after unboxing these headphones, mainly due to the way the earcups are designed. There isn’t a lot of mesh or grill-area devoted to these headphones, and they almost seem more semi-open than truly open. The small amount of mesh that does appear on the surface of the earcups faces the headband itself, so people may not notice this right away.
Frequency Range: 10-30,000 Hz
Nominal Impedance: 28 ohms
Sound Pressure Level (SPL): 107 dB
These specs show a fairly wide frequency range that should deliver plenty of detail. That low nominal impedance of just 28 ohms is perfect for any low-output device – like a phone, a computer, or – surprise – a gaming system. Lastly, Sound Pressure is a decent 107 dB – more than enough to get adequate listening volume.
In the low end, the GSP 500 displays good detail and lovely, emotive bass. Neither muddy nor overpowering, the bass adds a measure of depth to the low end. All in all, the sound here remains well controlled and articulate.
When it comes to the mids, this headphone doesn’t leave you hanging. With strong details, the mids seem meatier than the low end. Equally good for vocals or instrumentation, the level of quality left me pleasantly surprised. Though I can hear a small amount of compression at play, the sound is still fantastic for the price.
While a tad bit bright, the high end still manages to remain relatively controlled. The sound never waxes too uncomfortable, and the general ouvre of the high end easily compliments the GSP 500’s rich lows.
A great sense of placement and a decent sense of depth result in a pretty badass soundstage…even for a gaming headphone. Is it on par with a Sennheiser HD 800S? No, but for $230, the soundstage appears pretty damn expansive and lifelike.
The GSP 500 packs a decent boom mic. Sound quality on the mic is clear and crisp, and my excitement seems palpable as I scream out “Boom! Headshot!” over and over again.
The grand, emotive sound you get with these headphones also bears mentioning. If you’re into games with dope soundtracks, you need to give the GSP 500 a go.
In fact, just listening to Jon Hallur’s work on the EVE soundtrack makes me want to fire up a Rifter and go gank some carebears in Jita…but I digress.
The sound hits a real sweet spot – a boon for gaming and fairly sweet for music enjoyment, too.
For diehard fans of detailed sound, the Audio Technica ATH-ADG1x strikes me as a smarter buy. However, it will cost you another $70.
And where price is concerned, the Sennheiser GSP 500 really hits a sweet spot. This headphone does it all, from simple team chat duties to soundtrack enjoyment, to non-gaming music needs. Sure, you could spend less on some other gaming headset, but you’ll be missing a lot in terms of detail, soundstage, and comfort.
For $229, the Sennheiser GSP 500 is a fantastic gaming headset…and a fantastic headphone, too. While the boom mic and cables might fool other audio junkies, I’m firmly convinced this headphone is packing some serious sound that will recommend it to any gamer, no matter how casual or how serious.