I’ve never considered myself a “brand” person, even when it comes to gaming. Ever since my first run of World 1-1 on Super Mario Bros., I’ve switched my console of preference more times than I’d like to admit — even spending a long stint of time fanboying the SEGA Dreamcast. This lack of brand loyalty has dogged me for years, as I’ve switched all my hardware: replacing Sony TV with LG’s version, ditching my Razer mouse with some RGB Logitech action, and so on. Rarely does a brand make such a significant impression that I pivot my purchasing decisions around it.
Then there is AVerMedia: a brand I’ve only recently picked up on for video capture devices, but has been an underdog player in the hardware market for some time. In their expansion growth of products, it seems like they are making strides in audio equipment — whether it be sound bars, bass amplifiers, or gaming headsets. Speaking of sound bars, I got to review the AVerMedia SonicBlast Gaming Soundbar, and was both delighted and infuriated by the fact that the hardware bested products I had grabbed on Amazon for two times the price.
However, the newest product line AVerMedia is pushing is the SonicWave gaming headsets; an entirely new brand, and their first foray into the headset scene. Even ignoring the primary competition of giants in this field like Astro and Turtle Beach, it is already a crowded market with third-party manufacturers (and first-party manufacturers) flooding marketplaces with products of varying quality. Against that backdrop, I was colored skeptical on how AVerMedia’s dedicated brand would perform, especially at a low-mid budget price point.
First and foremost, AVerMedia’s SonicWave line is kicking off with two new products with notably different SKUs: SonicWave GH335 Stereo and SonicWave GH337 Virtual 7.1 Surround Sound. The difference between both sets is a crisp Jackson, with the headsets being $59.99 and $79.99 respectively. And the $20 difference does, in fact, make a difference, more than just offering a sleek design.
The more budget design — the GH335 Stereo — is slightly less attractive on the eye, but has its own set of benefits that shouldn’t be ignored. Offering dynamic stereo sound (which is not always a given on sub-$100 headsets, surprisingly) the headset itself is notably lightweight. While it doesn’t have a wireless solution, the headset does connect across all devices using a 35mm audio connector (versus a USB connector). The beauty of this is if you are a person that tends walk away from your console or sit well away from the device, you won’t find any issues with the cord.
Even better, performance doesn’t stop and start at weight and portability. The sound quality on the device was rich, and the headset was comfortable on the ears. While it is nothing compared to studio headsets on both of those fronts (for instance, the Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone that has dominated my audio options), it is well above-par for gaming headphones — especially within that price range.
Meanwhile, the GH335’s bigger brother — SonicWave GH337 Virtual 7.1 Surround Sound — adds well over $20 in features, with limited drawbacks. The most noticeable is the red backlight in the earpiece as well as the microphone; nothing says “Premium version” more than lights on hardware.
But if you are looking for function over form, the SonicWave GH337 adds functionality with AVerMedia’s proprietary Sound Engine audio customization tool where you can fine-tune your audio experience to include the room size, the mode you will use the headset on, and other calibrations. More than anything, the biggest draw of the GH337 is the surround sound features (offering a better audio experience than the $59.99 model inarguably), as well as a noise-canceling microphone for anyone like me that keeps their game’s audio and chat audio segregated.
With all that said, the biggest drawback of the SonicWave GH337 as compared to the GH335 is the reliance on USB bus power and the limited length of the cord. With my TV a moderate couple of feet away from my couch, I quickly found I wasn’t able to sit too far back without using a USB extender. It’s nowhere near the existential crisis that Nintendo’s NES Classic controllers turned out to be, but I always felt that portability leaned favorably towards the budget model.
Now all of this is great in a vacuum, but we live in a market with a million other audio options for gamers. How does the SonicWave series stack up?
Surprising well! For the review, I broke out every headset in my arsenal to compare and contrast, which includes the following:
- BENGOO G9000 Stereo Gaming Headset | $25.99
- Turtle Beach Wireless Stealth 500P | $69.99
- PlayStation Gold Wireless Stereo Headset | $74.90
- HyperX Cloud II Gaming Headset | $88.99
- Astro Gaming A50 Wireless Dolby Gaming Headset | $299.99
Yes, I have a headset hoarding problem — one that mainly benefits DualShockers readers, thankfully. Now there is no question that the budget-ranged SonicWave GH335 and the low-mid range GH337 don’t stand a chance when comparing to the high-end market. The Astro A50 is in a league of its own and really shows how those willing to drop high-end prices will reap the benefits across the spectrum.
What was shocking, however, was that both models of SonicWave seemed to outclass every other headset on this list — including the PlayStation Gold — for PC and PS4 use. Despite the warm reception that HyperX’s model receives, blind testing among staff found the AVerMedia headset far more comfortable and sound quality via the headset much more clear and pronounced. Even better, AVerMedia’s SonicWave’s mic testing didn’t offer a tinny sound, common issues among the lower-end spectrum of headsets.
For AVerMedia’s first line of headphones, the SonicWave series is doing a great job at being a viable budget option from a well-known brand. Even better, AVerMedia didn’t slouch on their brand and shovel out a generic headset, but added some cool features that you typically don’t find (or don’t work) on headsets in similar price ranges. As I mentioned, I’m not a brand guy — but AVerMedia is quickly catching my attention when it comes to my gaming sound system needs.
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