It’s finally here. After being blown away by the stereo performance of Logitech’s crimson-clad G230 headphones, we’re back with the 7.1 surround version. They are not colored in the same sexy red and black motif. However, these new Logitech G430 Dolby Surround Headphones are hugely impressive – even if they could benefit from more original styling. Big brothers tend to stomp and pout when they’re forced to wear little brother’s rompers. But they offer improved sound and features in a very familiar package. Don’t forget to also check out our review of the Logitech G430 Gaming Headset.
The Logitech G430 is colored a bright topaz blue, while the G230 is bathed in red. The headband just above the earpiece, where the G230 gaming headset features the model number etched in chrome, is in the same place as the G430, where you’ll also find the model number in chrome lettering. Nothing about this look or initial design aesthetic is different from the G230’s stereo sound offering. With similar style comes the same comfort. The G230 can withstand long consecutive hours of use without the slightest discomfort. The fabric around the earcups is porous and fights very well against ear and head sweating. They can also be removed for cleaning. Like the G230, you can lay the headphones flat as they can be rotated for added convenience when not in use. The microphone flips up, which is nice. But it doesn’t slow down. Instead, there is a switch on the in-line controller. It is sufficient, but can be accidentally hit, confusing users and listeners alike. If you want to show support for your favorite game, you can read our review of the Call of Duty Black Ops Tritton Limited Edition Headset.
Ok, so the design is nice, but we’ve seen it before in the G230. Where these two great products hit a fork in the road is performance. The common paths end here, as the G230 is hopelessly outmatched. The G430 is a high quality 7.1 surround sound unit. Logitech uses 40mm drivers, capable of a frequency response of 20Hz-20Khz with an impedance of 32 Ohms. The microphone is a unidirectional microphone with a pickup pattern that is an electret condenser with a pressure gradient. You will need software help to get all the technology that will make 7.1 Surround. Unfortunately, the headphones themselves can do a lot more than the downloadable software will let me with my onboard audio. If you would prefer a wireless headset, we have the Logitech G930 Wireless gaming 7.1 Dolby Surround review or our Logitech G933 Artemis Spectrum review for you to check out. Additionally, you can check out another brand’s offering in our Corsair Vengeance 2000 Wireless 7.1 Gaming Headset review.
Go to the company’s website and download the Logitech Gaming Software. It’s the same app for their G19s and G510s keyboards. The software is much more comprehensive than what is offered for the Macatz F.R.E.Q. 7 Dolby Surround Headphones. You can adjust overall volume, bass, treble, 7 different speaker volumes and adjust EQ sliders. Still, the headset still functions outside of your system’s volume control, which is quite possibly a less valuable solution than an aftermarket amplifier or sound card.
I should note that there are two ways to use the Logitech G430. You can connect the microphone and headphone jacks to the corresponding stereo jacks on your computer or sound card. Or you can use the included USB adapter. Insert it into a free USB port, then plug the 3.5mm stereo jack and microphone jack into the adapter. Each of these methods will provide access to the Logitech Gaming Software. However, I found my SoundBlaster Z sound card or the 7.1 THX amplifier/receiver that comes with the Sound Blaster Recon 3D Omega wireless headphones to be better 7.1 processing options than the software offered on the website.
Don’t misunderstand. The G430 headset is a very impressive solution. It is quite convenient and easy to use. Using the integrated audio and Logitech Gaming software, I found that while the overall volume was lower than I wanted, the all-encompassing surround effect was great. The end result is a more complete soundstage in games. It definitely envelops the user in playback sound that is surprisingly balanced across games, music and movies. There are no presets for these 3 usage scenarios. However, the advanced equalizer allows you to make extensive adjustments. In music, the G430 really holds its own against other headphones that are specifically tuned for music. Still, it’s clear that games are their bread and butter. The explosions have added punch and depth, and the positional sound is handled very well with more emphasis on detail in ambient sounds than there is perfect pitch in the low and high ranges. In addition, this headset has great active noise cancellation performance. All this is amplified by a more voluminous sound and distinct clarity when using a high-performance sound card or other amplifier, as mentioned above. The microphone, while seemingly obvious, flips out, which is nice. But it doesn’t slow down. Instead, there is a switch on the in-line controller. It is sufficient, but can be accidentally hit, confusing users and listeners alike. This means that the unidirectional mic works really well and helps to drown out ambient noise from all the fans and other buzzing electronics in the office.