In the world of gaming gear and gadgets, manufacturers compete not only in their price niche but in all of them. This would be the equivalent of Ferrari or Rolls making a budget hatchback and a minivan.
In the world of gaming, a large majority of users might be on a tight budget or simply not willing to invest large sums in certain pieces of tech. And no sector can be described as more competitive than budget gaming headsets.
Whether for the console or PC, manufacturers are flooding the market with budget options. So much so that there are more options available for the guy with less to spend than someone who has a bit more.
Performance on a budget…
ROCCAT recently released three new gaming headsets in the ELO series. And, the ELO X Stereo is the cheapest of the bunch. ROCCAT is now owned by the same corporation as Turtle Beach.
The strategy is that Turtle Beach will be targeted toward console gamers. Whereas ROCCAT will be more PC orientated. For around $40, the ELO X Stereo promises “crystal clear communication,” “supreme stereo sound,” “precision-tuned drivers,” and “dynamic fit & comfort.”
As a budget headset, you can’t help but be curious as to whether it’s possible to get that kind of quality at $40. That’s why I decided to find out in this in-depth ROCCAT ELO X Stereo Review.
Design and Build
Having the option to choose a color is rare in the sub $50 range. But, somehow, the folks over at ROCCAT managed to pull it off. The ELO X Stereo is available in black with grey branding or white with lightning yellow branding.
Being an analog headset, you hope that care was taken in the design and manufacture of the cable. While the cables included with the X Stereo are not braided, they are sealed with high-quality rubber. Furthermore, the TRSS cable is 4ft long.
A pleasant bonus (rarely seen on any premium analog headsets) is the 3ft long splitter cable included with the X Stereo. If you’re using a PC or device with a dedicated microphone jack, this cable saves you from having to make another purchase.
As for the headset itself, comparing the $40 version to the $70 USB version, I found not a single difference in build material or quality. The only two differences are the cables and the paint schemes. This already sends good signals to a picky consumer.
The X Stereo has a steel headband frame, which makes the entire headset feel sturdy and well built. The headband has no adjustment mechanism but rather a nylon bungee-type chord connected to a memory foam pad.
The pad is covered in a nice soft leatherette material and automatically adjusts to fit your head. The fit is very accommodating, and the clamping force is just right. In other words, one of the most comfortable gaming headsets you can buy.
What to expect when wearing this headset…
The earpads are deceptive but in a good way. At first glance, they don’t seem to be large enough to exude any kind of plushness. They also don’t appear breathable since the cushions are completely covered in leatherette. Rather than a hybrid material design like many modern headphones.
Despite this, I found the fit to be comfortable and secure. Wearing the X Stereo for hours can be done without a sweat, and I mean that quite literally. The leatherette covering doesn’t make the ears warm or sweaty at all.
Additionally, the cups are large enough to fit any ear size. And are deep enough to allow for a decent clearance from the driver cover. Therefore, it’s one of the best fitting gaming headsets for under $50.
A benefit for the bespeckled…
Users who wear glasses will particularly enjoy the slight curve in the middle section of each ear cup to accommodate larger framed glasses. The entire ELO line has got to be the most glasses-friendly gaming headset out there.
The ear cups can rotate a full 90 degrees horizontally. So, they can be worn around the neck with more comfort. There are even small rubber pads on the rotating joints to ensure no plastic-on-plastic clicking sounds when opening and closing the headset.
On the left ear cup, you’ll find a volume wheel and a push-button toggle switch that controls the mic muting.
The sound quality on a $40 headset should not be this good. This statement is not made lightly when you take into account what it cost to achieve the build quality on the X Stereo. The fact that it can still sound amazing and be sold for under $50 adds a lot of value for money.
An amazing analog headset…
One is always fearful of a purely analog headset because you might not get any sound customization. And, who knows if the sound signature is going to be satisfying? Rest accrued, the quality on the X Stereo is good enough to confidently handle any material.
The low-end has a noticeable boost, but it’s not overdone, which would muddy the bass and lower mids. Rather, it adds just enough power to make the low-end present and warm. The highs are never bright, even when you push the headset to its limit.
For gags, I tried playing rock ‘n roll through a tube-based amp and was shocked into stillness by how good it sounded.
Great soundstage for gaming…
There is a roll-off on the high-end and a boost in the lows. So, you would expect a bit of loss in clarity with the mids. But, they soar above the mix as good mids should. Jazz, Hip-Hop, and even some violin pieces had depth and clarity to make the instrument/voice come alive.
The soundstage of the X Stereo truly comes into its own when you start gaming. Even games that are not mixed well in terms of dynamics will be improved by this headset.
Gunshots and aircraft overhead sound huge and distant. While footsteps, guns reloading and firing, and grenades exploding have thump and feel close to you. Overall, this has got to be the best sounding budget gaming headset out there.
Had I not known this was a $40 headset when I did the mic test, I would have pegged it as a much more expensive product. The voice doesn’t lack any low-end, and this makes for a very natural-sounding voice. The mic is detachable, and for my money, the best in its price class.
ROCCAT Elo X Stereo Review – Pros and Cons
- Good build quality.
- Great sound quality.
- Good mic quality.
- Includes a splitter cable.
- Two colors to choose from.
- The steel headband can vibrate and cause noise.
- Not the best passive isolation.
Need Great Gaming Gear?
We can help with that. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Most Comfortable Gaming Headsets, the Best Gaming Headset, the Best PC Gaming Headsets, the Best Xbox One Headsets, and the Best Wireless PlayStation 4 Headsets you can buy in 2023.
Also, take a look at our detailed reviews of the Best Nintendo Switch Gaming Headsets, the Best Gaming Headphones Without Mic, the Best Wireless Gaming Headsets, and the Best Gaming Headsets for Big Heads currently available.
And, don’t miss my comprehensive Roccat Elo 7.1 Air Review, my Turtle Beach Recon 70 Review, my Turtle Beach Stealth 600 Wireless Review, and my Turtle Beach Ear Force Stealth 450 Review for more great gaming headsets on the market.
ROCCAT Elo X Stereo Review – Conclusion
If you’re an open-minded gamer on a budget seeking a headset, feel free to look further than the ELO X Stereo. Just remember to eventually come back and pick the ELO X Stereo.
A well-built, glasses-friendly, super comfortable analog headset that sounds better than anything in its price range. But, it’s also a sub $50 headset that, in some areas, outperforms its more expensive rivals, and in others, still manages a respectable level.
Honestly, what more could you ask for in a $40 headset? That they make a white version? Oh, wait, they do! The final score is a 9 out of 10.
Until next time, happy listening.