EPOS Sennheiser has been in the audio industry for a long time. In fact, the brand has acquired a position in most audiophiles’ top favorite brands list. EPOS gaming headsets, especially their well-renowned GSP series, maintain a reputation for brilliant engineering in terms of ergonomics, along with delivering impressive, balanced and focused audio.
We were sent the Game Zero, EPOS’ closed-back acoustic gaming headset, marketed as a robust addition to your gaming setup that promises extreme audio clarity with positional accuracy. Priced at $180, the Game Zero isn’t a small investment. It needs to be stellar in every department to be recommended as a worthy purchase. We took our time testing it for flaws or inadequacies and it’s safe to say that we were pleasantly surprised.
Unboxing the Game Zero was, undoubtedly, an experience more enjoyable than any other EPOS product I’ve unboxed to date. The company went an extra mile to send the headset safely in a semi-solid zippered carry case. Even the recently-reviewed EPOS Game One, Game Zero’s almost-identical twin, didn’t include such a case in its packaging. The headset is already portable thanks to its ability to be folded and stowed away. Its sturdy carry case makes portability even easier and provides shell-like protection against any external threats. It has a well-built body that is reliable, robust and has pretty high endurance.
Made of expensive material and exuding sophistication, the carry case is fairly minimal. It has just the brand name stamped on one of its faces. It also features a pocket to store your cables and other related items, thus scoring full points in utility as well. All in all, the case is one of those accessories that are too good to be given away complimentarily.
While EPOS was fairly generous with additional accessories such as the carry case and an abundance of protective packaging to ensure safety, I wish they would’ve given an instruction manual. The only instructions we are given are found on the back of the box. While an effort has been made to make the information inclusive by incorporating seven different languages, it’s still very brief and the absence of a user’s guide feels strange.
The unboxing process will also introduce you to a detachable audio cable. With a total length of 118 inches, it’s a relief that it comes with the option of being detached from the headset. Unlike most audio cables these days that feature rubber and are exceptionally prone to damage, Game Zero offers a premium-quality braided cable that is manufactured with woven nylon. It gives off a high-end vibe that ensures protection.
Design and Build
As compared to its predecessors, the Game Zero makes a little progress in terms of beautification with its plain black body being decked out in shiny red accents. a. The cans also sport two shiny metal hinges marked ‘L’ and ‘R’ that connect the headband to the earcups. Silver metal pins along with the red highlights create a striking contrast against the dull black chassis of the headset. The exterior of the earcups features a ridged design with horizontal cutouts and the Sennheiser logo emblazoned on it. Ridges lend the body some textural detail and improve your grip on it.
The Game Zero flaunts a thick fine plastic finish that manages to be robust and lightweight at the same time. With everything from the headband to the earcups made out of plastic, there isn’t a single part of the Game Zero that feels cheap or flimsy. Since the cans have negligible weight, they’re ideal for extended hours of gameplay as well. EPOS really managed to achieve the perfect balance in terms of the device’s build, and that’s pretty commendable.
The Game Zero features large over-ear XXL cups that provide guaranteed comfort. Regardless of the size of your ears, the generous oval cups on these cans have approximately an extra centimeter to spare in every direction. Hence, even the hugest of ears won’t feel pressure on their cartilage area. Plus, the earcups are deep in addition to being big; this makes sure that the outer edges of your ears aren’t touching the interior walls of the earcup.
The plush faux leather earcups offer quite generous cushioning and literally treat your ears like a baby. However, while the triple-layered leatherette makes sure to offer a premium experience, it also generates quite a lot of warmth. I could feel my cranial area getting sweaty after a while of wearing the Game Zero.
Ergonomics-wise, this stereo headset is pretty impressive. It’s foldable, rotatable and adjustable with plenty of give. I have a relatively smaller head compared to the usual size and not all headphones sit on my ears comfortably. The Game Zero tightly hugged my noggin providing a very snug fit. Its adjustable metal headband is especially designed to fit a wide range of head sizes and endure a little head bopping as well. Lastly, since the headband is sufficiently wide, it divided the device’s weight on a larger area. Thus, it reduces the force applied by it on the top of my skull.
Very minimal in its design, the Game Zero sports just two controls: an embedded volume wheel on one of its cups and a lift-to-mute retractable boom mic on the other. The volume wheel is a flat disk and that isn’t tactile. Though it hosts small markings that play their part in giving you some knowledge about your volume level. The boom mic is, however, tactile and produces a quite satisfying click when moved to its active position. The click is audible and confirms that the mic’s switch has been toggled and it’s ready to pick up audio.
Voice chat quality on the Game Zero is brilliant. In fact, coming across a headset with a mic as sharp as this one is rare. It keeps unwanted background noise out and supports a crystal-clear transfer of your voice. I asked my friend if he could hear the exceptionally loud buzz of the fan in my room and, to my surprise, he couldn’t. His voice was also clear, picked up within milliseconds and free of distortions.
A quibble I have with the mic is that it’s not detachable. I understand that the Game Zero is primarily meant for gaming purposes, but it would’ve been great if the mic wasn’t so firmly affixed, strictly reserving the device for its main function. It’s also pretty large and very obvious, even when retracted. Had it been subtle, I probably could have considered using the headset elsewhere. But the way it is tightly bolted on makes sure that I don’t extend its utility.
Some of the Game Zero’s predecessors, with fairly high impedance, required an amp for the audio to be brought up to an ideal level. But with impedance as low as 50-ohms on the Zero, it is good to go with the on-board audio of pretty much any motherboard. Not having to use any third-party software, equalizer or device to enjoy the sound of your liking is a relief.
An impressive feature of the Game Zero is its passive noise isolation. The thick padding on the earcups of the headset coupled with its closed-back design lends it a high degree of sound isolation. Around 80% of all my background noise was muted as soon as I wore them, without even putting music on, which is a better score than what some Active Noise Cancellation headphones manage to achieve. It turned my sister’s conversation on the phone, which I could hear quite clearly earlier on, into a mumble after I donned the headset.
I put on some music and asked my sister if she could hear what I’m listening to. All thanks to the triple-layer cushioning, there was absolutely no sound leakage. Not being able to listen to the outside world and the world not being able to listen to my music was a wonderful experience that made me feel it’s managed to separate me from everybody else.
In terms of soundstage, the Game Zero has focused and directional sound. Upon listening to Nobody by Mitski, I realized that, on the Zero, every instrument has its very own defined place, as if a special slot is reserved just for it. The audio is clear, crisp and sharp and every little detail of the song is delivered on a separate layer. The kind of precise sound that I experienced is expected of studio headphones and for a stereo headset to offer it is highly praise-worthy.
In addition to the sound being detailed, focused and clear, it has a 3D pseudo-surround quality to it. The Game Zero gives the audio some volume, so it doesn’t end up sounding flat. It has a warm sound profile, hence, the instruments don’t sound tinny or cold. It delivers high frequencies pretty well, with zero distortions or cracks. I put on Chandelier by Sia on it, a song with a high-frequency chorus. It’s safe to say that I was thoroughly impressed. The treble was great and the highs retained that clarity and detail. Sound remained sharp without the sharpness sounding fatiguing at any given point.
I played a couple of FPS games on the headset and I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a gaming session this much in a while. Finely-tuned to suit a mid-range, but capable enough to deliver a wide variety of ranges, the Game Zero is a great companion for shooting games. With its impressively extensive soundstage, I could hear every reload, gunshot and bomb blast with brilliant clarity and power. The sound of stepping on dried leaves or the water tap running sounded so real that it felt as if it’s all happening in the room I am in. The Game Zero came through with absolute precision; I could accurately pinpoint to where a certain sound is coming from.
Here are the parts that I believe can use a little improvement. The bass on the headset is disappointing. For the test, I put on one of the most bass-heavy songs, Low Life by Future, to feel a little low-end thump, and even then, that oomph was missing. It felt as if the manufacturers decided to compromise a little on the bass to retain the kind of tightness and crispness the audio holds. Moreover, the volume on the Game Zero could have been a little better. Even when my PC and the headset’s volume was cranked all the way up, I still found it a little underwhelming. It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t blow me away or push me out of my seat. I remember wishing I had the option to raise it just a little more.
All in all, the EPOS Sennheiser Game Zero is a machine that took very few risks. It didn’t experiment too much with design, controls or ergonomics, and didn’t need to either. Some may find it a little pricey but EPOS is a trusted name that is guaranteed to impress you. The Game Zero is reassuringly expensive and worth it.
Is It Hardcore?
Apart from a few minor flaws, the EPOS Sennheiser Game Zero is a brilliant headset to invest in. Offering a comfortable fit, easy navigation, an excellent mic and great audio, it’s nothing less than a steal.