Headsets have become a vital piece of a gamer’s kit – as anyone who remembers the furore when Microsoft announced they wouldn’t be including a chat headset in the box from day one (they quickly relented) will understand. For many, the flimsy but serviceable Xbox One Chat headset will be all they ever need; useful for both chatting with team mates and shouting at Cortana, it does the job.
There are benefits, though, to be gained from stepping a rung or two up the headset ladder, and opting for a stereo gaming headset that delivers both chat and game audio straight to your lugholes. Late night gaming becomes so much more household-friendly for a start, and there’s almost always improved chat audio to boot. Higher up the ladder, prices rise with spec, quality and features. But where do you start?
Logitech thinks it’s with their G231 Prodigy Gaming Headset. Retailing at £49.99, the G231s are at the top end of what we would consider budget gaming headsets, right there with the Afterglow Level 5 Plus (around £34) and the official Microsoft Stereo Headset (£39.99). Both of these we’d recommend to anyone looking for their first headset on a budget. Will the G231 join that list?
The G231s have the spec we’d expect at this price point – and a couple of unexpected features, too. Offering 40mm neodymium drives with a boasted frequency range of 20Hz – 20kHz, there’s no additional electronic trickery packed in, so no unnecessary bass boost or equalization. Just good old fashioned stereo sound.
First impressions are in keeping with the price point – though it’s nice to see a Y-cable packed in for PC gaming (splitting the single 4-pole 3.5mm cable into separate headphone and microphone jacks). The headset feels quite light in the hand; the grey plastic is an all-over finish, other than some bright orange flashes. Heaven forbid someone makes a stereo headset that’s not a fashion crime (for that, you’ll have to shell out another £80 for the utterly gorgeous and gorgeous-sounding LucidSound LS-30).
They’re also pretty huge, ear cup wise. The trapezoidal ear cups might need their own seat on a transatlantic flight, but it does mean they sit nicely round my (small, admittedly) ears, rather than crushing them. The headset sits nicely on the head too, and quite lightly, and has enough spring to stay put without feeling the ear-cups are pressing inwards in an effort to meet in the middle. The lightness might be as a result of the G231s being built to a price point – and contributes to a rather unsettling rattle when picked up – but it does mean these are super-comfy and don’t contribute to fatigue in longer sessions. They are, though, a little bit creaky and although we didn’t break them, we were a bit worried that we would, especially when adjusting the headband to get them to fit. The headband is quite thin but is comfily padded (in the orange accent colour), and spectacle wearers might experience a creak as the ear cups press in on the legs of your glasses.
Logitech have gone for fabric covers for the ear cups – our preferred choice at this end of the market as ‘pleatherette’ finishes tend to make things a little hot n’ sweaty, even if they do a better job of isolating the audio. Another nice touch is that the covers are removable and washable, so if you spill Mountain Dew over them it’s not the end of the world.
Setting the headset up is simples. It’s a passive design (like the official Microsoft Stereo Headset) so no messing about with batteries or recharging – just plug one end of the (long) audio cable into the left ear cup, and the other end into your controller (for older controllers without the 3.5mm jack, you’ll need either the Xbox One Headset Adapter or Xbox One Chatpad) and off you go. The inline controls are fine – rotary volume control and a slider for mute – but they feel like they’re too far towards the controller end of the cable. In the end, we used a Tritton adapter (similar to the official one) to manage the audio, as it puts control right at our fingertips. You can also control audio levels through the double-tapped guide.
Sound quality is good. Audio is nice and clear, and with no chat echo my team mates were happy, too. Those who like huge bass might be a little disappointed but if you go for clarity over brain-melting explosions, you shouldn’t find an issue. Tearing through the Australian jungle in Forza Horizon 3 and I could clearly hear the undergrowth whipping by on either side, while every crash and scrape incurred during unplanned off-road excursions was reproduced in wincing detail.
If you’re looking for a sub-£50 headset, we’d definitely add the Logitech G231 Prodigy headset to the shortlist. It’s not without flaws; it feels more cheaply made than its competitors, but it is comfortable and, being a passive design, is simplicity itself in use. We might have some doubts over the robustness of its build, but if you’re not in the habit of throwing your headset down in a fit of pique, you’ll get many happy months or years out of this. And, despite its size, we like the way it looks, too.
The Logitech G231 Prodigy Gaming Stereo Headphones with Mic for PC, Xbox One and PS4 is available from Amazon (and other retailers) for £49.99.
Logitech supplied a set of the G231s for the purposes of review. The headset was tested extensively for over 20 hours on a range of games.
At the top end for a 'budget' first headset, the G231s are comfortable with decent sound.
If you are looking for your first headset under £50, we’d recommend you at least consider Logitech’s offering. Light and comfortable, and ready out the box for Xbox One, PS4 and PC, you could do a lot worse. We have some concerns over the build quality of the Logitech G231 Prodigy headset, but nothing’s broken on us yet and we’re still using them because they’re just so darn comfy.