The Sennheiser GSP 500 – Gaming Headset Review

Examining Sennheiser's glorious new open-backed gaming headset.

The Sennheisier GSP 500
The Sennheisier GSP 500

Hello, video game friends. Today I’d like to give youse a little look at the Sennheiser GSP 500. The GSP 500 and GSP 600 are the latest and greatest gamer-cans that the German headphone manufacturer has on the market. I’ve chosen to focus on the 500 this time around, and should be following up with another article on the 600 very soon.

 

The Fit

The GSP 500 wasn’t off to the best start when I couldn’t figure out how to make them fit without enduring a clamping sensation along my jawline. I messed around with them a bit and was able to eventually find a fit that relieved the pressure. This adjustment process happened on two stages. The cups slide down the band to extend for your custom head size, much like most headphones you are used to.

The Adjustable Headband Slider
The Adjustable Headband Slider

The headband itself can also be modified with two plastic pieces that slide inside of the headband. This allows you to reinforce a specific part of the band’s stiffness which could redirect what part of your head receives the most pressure. The effects of this are subtle, but appreciated.

After some hours of wear, the pressure that was bothering me became less of an issue. The cups are bridged to the headband by a double-hinged bridge that seem to have springs. One hinge allows the cups to budge horizontally and the other vertically. They are designed to resist being pulled away from a clamping position. The fit is certainly secure.

A Great Feature

The right side of the chassis has a large volume dial that is stealthily built onto the design of the cup. PS4 gamers may rejoice over this knob since you wouldn’t need to access the quick menu in order to adjust the headphone volume output from the controller. Really, this functionality could be useful to anyone. I really like being able to attenuate the volume at this stage in general. Achieving the perfect volume is a quick and painless process, and you don’t have to rely on block-increments decided by software developers.

 

The Mic

In the headphone world, the name Sennheiser needs no introduction. Some audiophiles may not be aware of their role in the live sound and studio recording markets. Those in pro audio will associate them almost as much with microphones as they do with reference cans. What I’m getting at is that the boom mic on the left side of the GSP 500 does not dissapoint.

a view of the GSP 500's boom mic
a view of the GSP 500’s boom mic

The boom arm can be raised up and down to find a custom mic placement to achieve the best sound. The arm has a little elasticity and can also be bent slightly towards or away from your face. If you raise the arm all the way up, the headset will mute all sound input from the mic. If you are using the GSP 500 to take a phone call (which it is amazing for), this allows you to discretely flush a toilet with ease.

The box claims that the mic is noise-cancelling, and I’m not sure it is. In the age of active noise-cancelling headphones, one might assume that there is a processor inside of the headset that uses phase cancellation in some way to remove the outside noise. My guess is the mic’s pickup pattern and placement is just oriented to block outside noise. It does a good job focusing on recording speech, and I don’t need it to do much more.

 

The Connection

The GSP headphones feature a removable cable. If you’re using a PC, you can use a cable that splits at the end to connect to both your mic and headphone outputs. If you are playing on a PS4 or connecting to a phone, you could use the other optional cable which is a regular TRRS 3.5 headphone/mic jack. Xbox One users will have to buy a headset adapter, but the GSP 500 would work just fine for them as well.

GSP 500 Cables
GSP 500 Cables

The Sound

The drivers in the headphones perform exceptionally well for a gaming headset. Again, I don’t know what else you would expect from Sennheiser. They’ll give you a nice full sound, with responsible detail. The highs are clear, but i wouldn’t call them crispy. There’s nothing jarring or harsh about them. The mids sit maybe a little above the highs and will perhaps grant a little emphasis of your friends while playing co-op or PVP. They have an extended low end, and an overall safe balance in terms of frequency response.

The soundstage is one of pleasant girth. If you are playing a shooter, you should benefit from the wide sense of space. In certain games, they could give you a serious advantage over someone playing with cheap headphones. For the most part though, this feature would come down to preference. If you love the sound of an open-back, then this is one of the only gaming headsets available for you. It’s the reason I own them, if that means anything.

I was using them just to play Bloodborne PVE and the spacious soundstage granted a greater sense of immersion than I was prepared for. Bloodborne never came across to me as a horror game until I experienced them with the GSP 500s. Of course, I couldn’t stop there. I still have the Silent Hills teaser demo P.T. on my PS4, so I decided to load that up. The game’s atmosphere was palpable and natural, and I had to stop playing after 15 minutes. The enhanced imaging is great for horror.

 

The Decision

The GSP 500 is probably not for you if you are gaming in very close quarters with someone else. Those in a cramped dorm room may not like the amount of sound that escapes the chassis of the headset. It’s not an insane amount of bleed, but it’s something worth thinking about. If this sort of thing is an issue for you, I’d suggest taking a look at the GSP 600, which is nearly the same headphone, but with a closed design.

The GSP 500 is for you if you like a large sound stage. The quality of the GSP series is fantastic for gaming headphones, and the 500 Model is for you if you want to experience your games with an open sense of space. If you stream, this mic is good enough to get you some Twitch followers.

The 500 sells for 229.95, which is more than reasonable for a headset of this caliber. They are perfect for any PC or PS4 gamer. They are currently in stores and would make a great gift for any gamer.

Get the GSP 500 for the best price here:

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