At PAX East 2012, Chip and I were lucky enough to meet with the folks at Plantronics. We’ve discussed their headsets in depth on episode 151.1 and I’ve talked a little about the GameCom 780s which they were kind enough to give me for review on shows 151 and 152 but the more I use them, the more motivated I feel to sit down and write a post about them.
First off, this is a PC headset. It has a USB interface, so if you’re like me and don’t have a killer soundcard in your PC, they’re great. The cable is six feet long (it’s plugged into the front of my PC’s case), which I’ve found more than sufficient for sitting at the PC and gives me a little room if I need to role my chair a few feet back, yet not so long that I trip over it.
They made it a point to show us how flexible the band over your head is and I can confirm that after a few weeks of use, they were right – my head has never felt smashed or compressed between the earcups. Speaking of which, the earcups are very comfortable as well. I’ll admit, they do feel a little cheap and plasticy when held in hand, but while that may be the case, the plastic means the headset is very lightweight and comfortable on your head. I give them huge credit for this. Previosouly, I had the Tritton AX360s for gaming on the console and after a few months it had gotten to the point where I basically refused to wear them because they were so heavy. My neck shouldn’t end up sore from simply playing a video game. I also used to use a simple Logitech USB headset on the PC which while much lighter, used an “on-ear” design that left my ears incredibly sore after just an hour or so of use. The 780s with their “over-ear” earcups have really fixed both problems. I should also mention they use more of a felt like material than the faux-leather the other two headsets used. At first I wasn’t a fan, but after some use, I definitely am, because I didn’t need a fan after (the faux-leather is usually pretty hot with extended use since it traps so much heat in). In addition, the ear-cups rotate 90 degrees so the phones are more comfortable when resting around your neck on your shoulders.
Obviously, this is a headset which means it has a microphone. While I do find it doesn’t bend quite as easily as I’d like, it hasn’t proven to be a problem. During normal use I have the mic rotated up along the band. When I need the mic, I rotate it down and bend it into position and even with the stiff boom, people have said they can hear me just fine even though it’s a few inches from my mouth.
The 780s include a piece of software that does just a couple of things: it allows you to toggle Dolby on and off (there’s also a dedicated button on the headset that can do this) as well as change from “Sound Mode” to “Gaming / Movie Mode.” Honestly, the two modes are pretty similar. Music seems to deliver slightly more bass but I’ve never been gaming and said “Oh, there’s too much bass, I must’ve forgotten to change modes.” Turning Dolby on does make a huge difference of course in just about whatever you’re doing so I generally leave it on all the time. Additionally, the software adds beeps as an audio cue for when you’re using the roller on the back of the earcup to adjust the volume. Without the software installed, the roller still works but you won’t hear the cue. The mute switch also located on the earcup seems to use a mechanical switch and will mute/unmute whether the software is installed or not so at the end of the day while the headset works without the included software, I’d recommend installing it since it is such a light application.
I should also mention they sound great. They are at the end of the day headphones. I’ve used them for watching TV (via my tuner card), movies, playing games, listening to music, etc. and the 7.1 Dolby has performed great in each situation. Playing games with a good headset is always a treat since it can actually improve your performance as you can hear where the enemy is as he’s sneaking up on you.
For $79.99, the Plantronics GameCom 780s are a great addition to any setup if you game on your PC or even if you just need a comfortable PC headset for that matter. As someone that wears headphones nearly a hundred percent of the time I’m seated at my desk, I’m glad I have the 780s and look forward to using to sitting down so I can use them.