The gaming peripheral market has become quite overpopulated in recent years, after the success of brands like Razer and SteelSeries it seems to be an area most manufacturers are willing to have a crack at. We hadn’t heard of Gamdias before we were asked to look at the previous products such as the Eros headset and Zeus mouse but they performed admirably and today we take another look at a Gamdias product this time a virtual 7.1 USB gaming headset, with a “4D” experience in the form of vibrating ear cups. This is the Hephaestus…
Gamdias package the headset in what can only be described as a premium box. It’s a 50:50 card to clear plastic window, giving us a great view of the headset, with detailed specs listed on the back. After removing the cardboard sleeve and plastic case we’re still only half way there with a further cardboard box and plastic tray to deal with, we can safely say this headset will reach you in one piece. Aside from the headset itself and a quick start guide there’s a couple of Gamdias stickers and that is all, nice and simple as far as bundles go.
The Hephaestus (GHS2000)
First impressions of the headset is that it’s huge measuring 232 x 100 x 216 mm , constructed from high gloss white plastic with some matte finish white plastic to provide contrast. It has a large fully padded headband made from leather and emblazoned with the Gamdias branding. The ear cups also feature foam padding and leather finish with an over ear design, offering plenty of comfort.
Looking closer at the ear cups we have an unusual looking design that resembles the cowling of a jet engine, the silver insert visible inside is not made from plastic but aluminium and acts as a heatsink to disperse built up heat within the ear cups. Each cup also houses a vibration motor for the “Blast Source Identifier”. These two features are what Gamdias see as the selling point of the headset. The ear cups will gently vibrate when adequate bass is present, for gaming this will be for various explosions, but also works while watching movies or listening to music if you like your bass. Inside each cup the drivers are 40mm with a frequency range of 20~20KHz and sensitivity of 117dB +/- 4dB at 1kHz and impedance of 32 Ohms.
The ear cups fold flat for better storage, a must with a headset of this stature. The band is extendable by around 1.5 inches on each side to accommodate even the largest heads with ear cups tilting independently as well.
If there wasn’t already enough crammed into the ear cups Gamdias have gone all out on lighting, with an illuminated yellow Gamdias logo towards the back and a red running light sweeping across each cup providing a really nice ambient glow in low light.
Our microphone is permanently fixed to the left cup extending out 6 inches to a plastic end and can be rotated into an upright position when not in use. The centre portion of the boom is made from flexible rubber allowing us to position the mic in anyway we require. It also features noise-cancelling to make for super clear audio while gaming. Its frequency range is listed as 100~10KHz with sensitivity -46dB +/- 3dB with an impedance of 2.2K Ohms.
The cable for the headset is permanently attached with flex guards where it meets the headset and either side of the control pod. As expected on a high end headset, the cable is fully braided and terminates in a moulded and gold plated USB connector. The cable is 2.5m in length and also features a velcro strap featuring the Gamdias logo to help store the cable. The control pod features a belt clip on the reverse, microphone mute button, which is illuminated showing red while muted and flashing blue while the mic is live and up and down volume controls that operate the system volume rather than an independant volume on the headset. On the side of the unit we have the vibration controls, where we can choose between two levels or completely off.
The Gamdias Hera 2.0 suite is provided from their website: gamdias.com and depending where you look can be called EOS. Installation is straightforward tho it did trigger a warning from our AV software, but Gamdias are not alone in suffering these false-positives.
The 3D engine powering the virtual 7.1 is Xear and the audio panel doesn’t appear to have any Gamdias specific branding but more of a OEM look. However it does offer decent functionality such as an equalizer and environment setup to configuring mixer volume and various configuration options.
User Experience and Conclusion
Starting with build quality Gamdias have put together a really strong unit, while plastic can sometimes give that cheap feeling the set has a good weight to it thanks to the aluminium heatsinks. Surprisingly you don’t notice the weight of the unit while wearing it so that padded headband is doing its job. Overall the headset feels very rugged, we did note some small marks appearing on the matte finished areas but the gloss that covers the majority of the headset stood up well. The leather ear pads are very comfortable and a great choice for gamers who are planning long sessions of their favourite title. The braided cable will help with durability and hopefully reduce tangles when storing the 2.5m long lead.
When it comes to the bundle… well Gamdias have used the less is more approach, with nothing other than a quick start guide and a couple of stickers included. This is to be expected though, it’s a USB headset after all so there isn’t a need for extra cables. That said, some may have liked alternate cloth ear cups. As for the software, it is provided via their website ensuring users get the latest software available at time of purchase and it does what we need. No more, no less and a new skin would be nice.
The microphone is a noise-cancelling piece and we found it to be very clear while chatting and were impressed by the maneuverability of the mouthpiece. Below is a recorded mic sample.
Moving on, the virtual 7.1 sound generated works very well. When we saw the vibrating ear cups you could say there was a degree of skepticism for what could potentially be a poorly executed marketing gimmick. However it was less vibrate and more rumble; the experience you get is kind of like having a large subwoofer that shakes your car or desk and actually we liked it. It does give the effect of having some pretty mean bass which is often lacking in headsets. The fact it doesn’t need native support in games and is available no matter what audio content you’re consuming is great. It worked well listening to music, watching movies and gave a real atmosphere while gaming. Though I couldn’t really vouch for its ability to aid detection of incoming explosives, if it’s exploding then it’s very likely already too late!
Overall we found audio quality to be good, it handled music very well for a gaming headset without having to alter the EQ, as a primary gaming headset you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the music performance. When it comes to gaming the target of this headset it’s hard to fault the audio, the immersion factor from the vibrating cups and clear, precise audio really do heighten the experience, even over longer sessions we found no discomfort from wearing the headset. On the other aspect, it’s difficult to know how well the heatsinks actually perform, but we had no problems with them being included.
Retailing for around $100 the Hephaestus sits in the headset product stack with some of the big boys such as the Razer Kraken 7.1, the SteelSeries Siberia V2 and Corsair’s Wireless 2100 7.1 so it’s definitely worth shopping around for a good price on them all before deciding. Clearly though the the Hephaestus feature set is a step above the norm for this type of product and that needs to be taken into account too.
A headset that makes a statement. If you want to impress friends or standout at LAN events this could very well be the headset for you. Good quality sound with a nice sensory addition of vibrating cups which does add to the atmosphere while gaming. We enjoyed using the Gamdias Hephaestus and can say we totally recommend it.
Price: Amazon.com – $97.24