Roccat Kave Headset Review
By André Gordirro on March 30, 2012
Roccat is releasing the Kave, a large foldable headset with 5.1 surround sound and a separate unit for volume control. The connectors include four minijacks (3.5 mm for the sound channels) and a USB (for the control unit and headset lighting). Let’s describe the Kave and then proceed to its evaluation.
Despite being big, the Kave is light and resistant because it has an aluminum core. The plastic body is rubberized so it doesn’t collect dust or greasy fingerprints. The ear cups completely envelop the ear, but the opening is small and rectangular, which is different from most models with round openings. The edge is very soft and covered by faux-leather. A hinge in each ear cup makes them bendable, which in turn makes the Kave a portable headset.
The microphone can be attached and detached in the left ear cup. It has an illuminated tip that turns off when the microphone is mute. It’s flexible and can reach the mouth of the user.
There are size adjusters above each ear cup with 10 markings, so the Kave can fit on heads of any size. The headband itself is sturdy, but on the inside there are three small pads to soften the pressure over the user’s head.
On the middle of the cable, there’s a control unit with a round volume control like the older iPods. There is a flap to close the individual sliders for the four channels (center, front, rear and subwoofer) and a mode selector for games and movies.
The main characteristic of the Kave is being capable of controlling the sound of each channel in the middle of the game. The speakers are aligned at a 12° angle inside each ear cup to help enhance the audio immersion. The Kave literally vibrates with the intensity of the bass as if it were a gaming console controller.
The Kave is hooked up to the PC by four 3.5 mm minijacks and a USB connector. The tips come with a small rubber covering – a touch of class from Roccat.
Being portable is another strong point of the Kave. Even if the user doesn’t go out and about with the headset, the Kave is easy to fold and put on the corner of the table without taking up much space. Unfortunately, Roccat didn’t include a carrying bag.
The first impression of a headset is its comfort level. The three pads inside the headband may seem tiny, but they provide a comfortable rest for the head. We cannot complain about this aspect. However, the rectangular shaped openings for the ears are too small, and despite increasing the acoustic isolation, they feel a little claustrophobic and uncomfortable. After some hours of gaming, the sensation lessens a little, but still the experience is different from a headset with ear cups featuring a traditional round opening.
The microphone is excellent, both for its flexibility and for the voice capture. Our gaming friends complimented the sound of our voice over a teleconference through Skype. The fact that the illuminated tip of the microphone goes dark once it is on mute is great, because the user doesn’t have to take his eyes off the monitor to check if the microphone is muted, nor does he or she run the risk of speaking something inappropriate without noticing if the microphone is still on. There’s also a click noise once the microphone is muted to further alert the user. Nice touch.
The surround experience is good, but it depends upon adjustments on the Windows to fit the user’s tastes. As always, we tested the Kave playing Battlefield 3, an FPS game known for its rich sound environment. The headset performed well when reproducing heavy bass (explosions, cannon shots) and immersing the user (helicopters flying overhead, gunshots from several spots), as well as vibrating to add to the experience.
We didn’t see much difference between the game mode and the movie mode. The equalization is more dependable on the user’s fine tuning. In our experience, the Kave responded better while gaming than listening to music or watching movies.
The main specifications for the Roccat Kave headset include:
Center/front/rear driver units specifications:
Vibration driver unit specifications:
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.
The best features of the Kave are its portability, having a good surround performance while gaming, and its microphone. The use of the illuminated tip to indicate whether the microphone is on mute is great. Because of the small rectangular opening on the ear cups, no sound bleeds to the microphone. On the other hand, that shape is somewhat uncomfortable and can be tiring on the ear. The separate unit allows on-the-fly independent volume control.