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SteelSeries shows off ultra-durable Spectrum headset, we fail to rip it a new one (video)

Sean Hollister

We're sure that SteelSeries is mighty pleased with the audio quality of its brand-new Spectrum 5xb gaming headset, but company reps didn't introduce the product as such. They wanted us to walk away knowing three things, and the first was that we could beat the living crap out of them. Right in front of our eyes a product designer twisted the headband a full 180 degrees, let it snap back into place, then started yanking hard on the braided nylon cord (video after the break) while a dumbfounded expression crossed our face. We tried the very same, but couldn't get the cord to budge. On the off-chance you don't care to test durability for yourself, the phones also break into three pieces for transport.

While the second tenet of SteelSeries' presentation was comfort (and these circumaural cans are comfortable, to be sure), the third was a prototype Xbox 360 device called the AudioMixer that will ship both bundled with the peripheral and separately as well. Plugging into your console and the base of a controller, the AudioMixer lets you connect a PC headset, then automatically balances voice chat and game audio using an on-board processor chip. There are individual volume dials, too, if you just need to shut that swearing ten-year old up. No price as yet, but both this Spectrum 5xb and a less feature-packed younger sibling will ship in Q3. Full press release and semi-destructive video after the break.

Gallery: SteelSeries Spectrum 5xb hands-on | 5 Photos

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Three New Products Will Expand the Xbox 360® Line - SteelSeries Spectrum 4xb, SteelSeries Spectrum 5xb and the SteelSeries Spectrum AudioMixer

LOS ANGELES – E3 - June 15, 2010 – Kicking off the Entertainment Electronics Expo (E3), SteelSeries, the leading manufacturer of gaming peripherals and accessories introduced a new audio line specifically created for Xbox 360® gamers. Since 2001, the gaming peripherals from SteelSeries have been used by competitive gamers to win world championship tournaments and millions in prize money, all thanks to the extensive testing and product development exclusively done with the best gamers on the planet. It's with this knowledge and expertise that SteelSeries introduces the first three products of the SteelSeries Spectrum line. The SteelSeries Spectrum 5xb, a premium headset with refined gaming audio designed for both comfort and convenience; the SteelSeries Spectrum 4xb, an entry-level priced headset packed with outstanding sound quality and functionality; and the SteelSeries Spectrum AudioMixer, an accessory that extends Xbox 360 gameplay and communication to any headset with 3.5mm jacks.

"For more than a decade, SteelSeries has created peripherals to meet the needs of the most discerning PC gamers and provide a competitive advantage based on comfort, technology, and design," said Bruce Hawver, SteelSeries CEO. "With the new Spectrum line, we're leveraging what our award-winning PC headsets are known for, which are superior levels of comfort and sound quality. We've added unique features, specific to Xbox 360 gaming, in order to meet the demand for premium console headsets."

SteelSeries Spectrum 5xb and 4xb headsets present players with an advanced soundscape, providing the ability to pinpoint the directional sounds of footsteps and grenade drops without them being drowned out by deep bass sounds from explosions or in-game chat. Comprised of new features intended to enhance a gamer's audio experience, the headsets include:

Easy access to independent audio and voice controls provides players with complete and intuitive control of volume levels for in-game audio and Xbox LIVE® communication.

SteelSeries LiveMix offers players the quick-button option to improve the balance and mixing of Xbox LIVE chat and in-game audio, so that voice communication is mixed perfectly with or over the sounds of gunfire and explosions, without having to increase the volume of the headset and risk hearing damage.

SteelSeries Spectrum 5xb

Designed as a premium quality, wired headset for Xbox 360 gamers, the SteelSeries Spectrum 5xb has XL-sized, hear-through cloth ear cushions that fit comfortably around the ear. With the custom-built soundscape via 40mm SunDancer (SCS) units, gamers can pinpoint the direction and locations of noises and movement throughout the game. The SteelSeries Spectrum 5xb features a durable double-braided nylon cord and dismantles into 3 separate parts, at the headband and at each earcup making it compact and easy to fit into a carrying case for storage and/or travel.

A retractable, unidirectional microphone is featured on the entire SteelSeries Spectrum headset line, making the voice communication for Xbox LIVE users adjustable, convenient and clear. As a familiar SteelSeries feature, the microphone can be stored in the left earcup when not in use, while a control on the included Spectrum AudioMixer independently adjusts in-game audio and microphone volume.

SteelSeries Spectrum 4xb

As the entry-level, wired headset designed for Xbox 360 gamers, the SteelSeries Spectrum 4xb is a lightweight headset featuring XL-sized, cloth covered foam ear cushions that surround the outside of the ear for long session comfort. The circumaural design enhances the gaming experience through carefully adjusted sound reproduction. Similar to the Spectrum 5xb version, the Spectrum 4xb also features the signature retractable microphone and an optimized soundscape for gaming.

SteelSeries Spectrum AudioMixer

SteelSeries introduces a new Xbox 360 mixer alongside the introduction of the Spectrum headsets. When sold separately, the Spectrum AudioMixer allows any headset with a microphone and 3.5mm jacks to function with Xbox 360 gameplay and Xbox LIVE chat. The mixer is also included in the box for the SteelSeries Spectrum 4xb and 5xb headsets.

The new SteelSeries Spectrum product line will be available in Q3 2010. Be sure to check out and follow us on both Facebook and Twitter to stay updated on retailers that will carry Spectrum, as well as promotions, giveaways, and who in professional gaming will be using SteelSeries Spectrum headsets to help them win tournaments.

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