We all have that friend who has more speakers attached to his PC than most have for their ‘home cinema’. They are probably bigger too. But not all of us want our PC room to be the loudest area in the neighbourhood. Maybe you travel a lot, and while your laptop might be up to spec, it is probably running some generic on-board soundcard. Still want great 3D 7.1 sound without buying new speakers or a new headset? Look no further. Meet the Siberia USB Soundcard.
Yeah, I was confused at first too. I pictured a naked pile of microchips and copper circuits, with the motherboard connector housed in transparent plastic with a fat USB port. Instead, I got a tiny device (half the length of my index finger) to plug into my PC. The included mini CD installed drivers and a GUI for setting what type of sound you want, from 2.0 up to 7.1, an equalizer and 3D settings for the size of the ‘room’ you want the sound to emulate.
While I myself never got why you would want your sound to emulate being in a padded cell (a wholly overrated experience), the improvement in games, especially directional sounds, is immediately apparent. I found myself walking around in Guild Wars 2 listening for sounds and then trying to locate them. While definitely adding to the level of immersion in the game, I can see how it could give you an edge in FPS games where being too slow equals death. Punish those noisy opponents by singling out where the sounds came from.
The soundcard also acts like an in-line control unit, with volume, a microphone mute and a sound mute buttons. The microphone button glows red when muted, in case you are wondering why no one can hear you. Thanks to it using a standard USB to mini USB cable, it works as a great extension cord for those headphones with pesky short cabling. Or plug it into that USB hub you have on your desk.
Apparently (I wasn’t able to test it myself) the soundcard stores your settings inside of it, meaning you can plug it into another machine, at a LAN or a competition or your friend’s machine, to get the same sound.
Nothing hurts your gaming experience more than poor sound. Why should you not get the most out of your time in other worlds?
You can pick up this soundcard for around R375.
PS: It doesn’t work on PlayStation 3 or XBox360, sorry guys, I tried.
Steelseries Siberia USB soundcard was reviewed by Garth Holden