Return of the Headset Cheapskate

A couple of weeks ago I broke the $15 Labtec headset I used when I was on Skype or Teamspeak when gaming.  Somehow I broke one of the contacts that connect the mic and, being a cheap headset, taking it apart to fix it left me with a headset broken in a variety of additional ways.  I did not even get to the point of plugging in the soldering iron. (Which probably saved me from making one of my “St. Louis Arch” “too much solder” special fixes.)

It has happened before, it will happen again.

Since we are using Skype for our instance gaming experiment in WoW, I needed to go out and get a replacement.  I went to the Skype site and looked at what they recommended, I checked out the reviews on Amazon.com, I went to the sites for several headset manufacturers, I asked some friends what they use, and I decided I was going to buckle down and spend the money on a nice USB headset.

I went down to Fry’s with that in mind, fully prepared to plunk down the cash for a superior headset.  I went to the aisle where the headsets live.  I had a few possible models in mind and was ready to compare them and buy the best one.

About an hour later I walked out with another sub $20 headset.

I cannot help it.  I just have the cheapskate gene.  I have learned to overcome it in some ways just through experience, through the pain of having to make do with inadequate tools for a job in order to save a couple bucks.  Now, for most things, I will spend what is necessary to do things right.  But in the realm of headsets, I just cannot seem to get past the cheapskate gene.

Still, for under $20, I ended up with a decent headset I think.  They are Sony model DR220DP, and they are light, fit comfortably on my rather fat head, work well, and do not make my also-sizable ears ache or sweat after a few hours of game time. (Tribulations of the 6’3″ gamer.)

In fact, they fit so nicely (I wore them for a 6 hour web training seminar for work and they were easily the least painful part of the session) that I went down to Fry’s a week later and picked up an extra pair. (My experience is that anything I like will disappear from the market, never to be seen again.)

So I am set for a while now.  Still, I will manage to break both of these headsets sooner or later.  They are built better than the Labtec, but they are still a bit flimsy.  And when they pass I will be asking for recommendations for a good headset that I will actually go out and buy.  Really, I mean it this time.

2 thoughts on “Return of the Headset Cheapskate

  1. Deniticus

    File this away for later.

    Tried a couple of cheaper alternatives, all of which seemed inferior and after many hours of gameage. Ultimately got fed up and, after reading a number of reviews, pulled the trigger on the Plantronics DSP-500: http://www.plantronics.com/north_america/en_US/products/cat640035/cat1430032/prod440044

    In retrospect, I think they are probably about $20 overpriced, but are rather durable. My cheapskate gene usually causes lengthy pre-purchase analysis paralysis which is inevitably overcome by a fit of thats-all-I-can-stands-and-I-can’t-stands-no-more spontaneous purchase rage.

    Despite their apparent bulk, they are reasonably lightweight and comfortable. The wide top piece seems to do a pretty good job of not making you feel like you have your head in a vise after a few hours of gaming. Others I tried were very “flat” sounding with little audible distinction between game and voice audio. These do a pretty good job of preserving the stereo image and blending voice in a distinguishable way. In-line volume and lighted mute button are handy.

    The stereo surround is nice and levels are fairly easy to adjust. Half the time I have the game audio routed out through my 5.1 speakers with the mic hot. The wide headpiece allows me to rest the headset around my neck and still maintain mic alignment. The noise cancelling mic tends to do a decent job of shutting out the speaker noise, though my game mates sometimes notice some echo if the game volume is cranked too much.

    The two downsides I’ve noticed: the cost and our cats tend to remove the foam windscreen/popfilter from the end of the mic if we don’t stow it properly when not in use.

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  2. gaff

    I’ve had a number of headsets, being wierd about them and needing to hear more in some games (battlefield comes to mind, directional sound detection will save your life), I use a large analog AltecLansing set for that. However, the sound quality on the other end, when I’m speaking, blows. For clarity, and actually some pretty good sound in the headphones, my compact Logitech USB set works well. I did pay $30 dollars for it, but my kids have beat it up, it has been run over by the chair, the wind foam on the mic is gone, etc, and it keeps giving service.

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