Sennheiser GSP 350 review: great surround sound for just over £100

Sennheiser GSP 350

Trying to find a comfortable pair of headphones has become a war of attrition for me over the last couple of years. Either I have the world’s most sensitive skull, or my head’s unbeknowingly shaped like a Minecraft block beneath my hair, as every over-ear headset I’ve used has only brought me pain and cranial-based misery.

They’re always innocent enough to start off with, but somewhere around the 30-45 minute mark, the dreaded head pinch begins, and those pesky headbands start sinking their tiny little teeth into the top of my head. After an hour, I’ve usually had enough, which obviously isn’t ideal if I want to spend a lazy Saturday playing games, or co-ordinate my weekly dose of Destiny 2 with my trusty fire squad.

Alas, Sennheiser’s GSP 350 barely made it to half an hour before I had to start shuffling them round my head to alleviate some of the pressure, but that’s not to say you should stop reading here. In fact, there’s plenty to like about this £115 headset, and I’m sure those with less sensitive noggins will get on with them just fine.

In terms of overall fit, the GSP 350 are pretty snug. The chunky plastic design may not be to everyone’s tastes, but the ear cups’ faux leather finish provides a surprisingly soft cushion against your face and they’re roomy enough that they never felt like they were crushing my ears. I also appreciated the fact that, for once, the GSP 350 didn’t make me feel like I had a brain the size of a pea, as normally I have to tighten any given headband as far as it goes for fear of it falling off my head. Here, I reckon I settled somewhere around the halfway point in its overall adjustment arc, so unless you have a truly colossal-sized cranium, you’ll probably be all right.

Sennheiser GSP 350 audio cable

The GSP 350 also fall into the closed-back type of headphone, so any noise leakage is kept to a minimum – perfect for when you’re under heavy gunfire and don’t want to annoy nearby family members with the tinny click click click of your return shots. Having said that, it can also mean that more intense, bass-heavy soundtracks can sometimes be a little overwhelming with the GSP 350, as there’s simply nowhere for the sound to escape to other than straight down your ear canal.

Open-backed headphones, on the other hand, solve this problem by letting sound pass through the ear cups, creating a wider, more natural kind of listening experience. In doing so, of course, it means everyone else can hear what you’re listening to as well, so you’ll probably want to stick to closed-back headphones if you typically play games around other people.

On the whole, the GSP 350 performed admirably, delivering ethereal orchestral scores like Ori and the Blind Forest with as much clarity and conviction as the whirring hums and clunks of Tacoma’s space station. If you’ve got games that support it, it’s also definitely worth turning on the GSP 350’s Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound option with the one-click button on the controller. This isn’t proper 7.1 surround sound, of course, but its virtual recreation of it certainly makes for a more immersive gaming experience.

Sennheiser GSP 350 Dolby controlA small LED will light up white when the Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound is turned on, and red when it’s off

The fold-down noise-cancelling microphone is another point in its favour, delivering clear, crisp voice chat with little to no noise or crackle. You can also mute it automatically by simply moving the boom arm back up toward your ear, giving you the perfect opportunity to take a swig of tea mid-conversation without forcing your teammates to listen to your sipping and slurping.

Turn away from games, however, and the GSP 350 starts to come undone. I listen to a lot of game soundtracks when I’m not actually playing them, and the strings and operatic vocals of Final Fantasy XV’s score, for instance, were often drowned out by the booming, echoing bass. Likewise, finer percussion details in rock songs tended to all blur together, and the various equalizers on offer with Sennheiser’s easy-to-use Surround Dongle software did little to improve the situation.

Combined with its insistent head pinch, the GSP 350 ended up leaving me a bit cold as a general pair of headphones. I can’t fault its in-game performance, but using them to listen to the rest of my music library was pretty uninspiring.

Sennheiser GSP 350 volume dialThe volume dial on the right ear cup works independently from your PC’s volume control

It’s also worth noting that due to its Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound support, the GSP 350 needs a USB port in order to work, making this particular pair of headphones a poor fit for laptops and PCs with precious few USB ports, and those thinking about using them for console gaming as well. You can buy an extra cable to solve these problems, but you won’t be able to take advantage of the 7.1 Surround Sound.

Ultimately, if you’re looking for headset you’re only going to use for gaming, then for £115, the Sennheiser GSP 350 is a pretty safe bet, particularly if you’re after a good microphone. Those on the hunt something a bit more versatile, however, are better off looking elsewhere.

32 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Mungrul says:

    I’ve had my Sennheiser PC363D headset for 4 years now, and it’s the best headset I’ve owned. Miles better than the Astro A40.
    The headset’s not available any more, but it was the top of their PC gaming headset line at the time and is still going strong now. Sennheiser make good kit.

    • Tinotoin says:

      Totally agreed on Sennheiser making good kit – I’ve had a set of HD25’s for various musical pursuits for 17 years, and only had to replace a cable for it. Not the comfiest in the world but loud as I need :)

  2. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    That’s a lot of money for a gaming headset. I’m not suggesting going for dollar store earbuds or anything, but geez.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      ~$100 is the bare minimum for headphones that don’t suck, even without a half-decent integrated mic. I just spent twice that on a B&O H6, and it’s nowhere near the high end of what you can pay for headphones.

      iPhone earbuds (or similar) are actually pretty tolerable, but wasting money on something only a little better is the worst decision IMO.

      • Premium User Badge

        particlese says:

        That’s pretty subjective, dontchaknow. I mostly agree with you in terms of my own audio tastes (I raise an eyebrow to your earbuds claim, but I haven’t tried such things since the early 90s, and I know very good ones do exist), but anecdotally, I have a friend who was pleased as punch with a cheap Turtle Beach headset he found, even as it was falling apart, and I know plenty of others who, even if they can notice the difference A/B testing, don’t give enough of a hoot to fork out $100 for headphones.

    • Ragnar says:

      And it’s a lot better sounding than cheap gaming headsets. In fact, headsets tend to sound much worse than comparably priced headphones, with only a few brands making headsets that actually sound good rather than acceptable. You pay a premium for that built in mic.

  3. justregisteredforthiscomment says:

    I own a Sennheiser Game Zero and it’s the most goddamn comfortable headset I have ever owned. I wear glasses, and yet I can keep my headset on all day without any problems.

    To prove I’m not a shill: My original Game Zero slowly broke down this year after 2 (3?) years of heavy use, so I said fuck it and upgraded to a 373D, which is a bit more expensive.
    That one sat way too tight and hurt after a bit, so I just got another Game Zero, and I honestly intend to stick with it, given that they’re not making any major changes to it.

    Looks like the 373D is a failure, actually. It was 60€ off on amazon when I bought it. Now it’s 60€ off from sennheiser themselves. Guess it’s a perma-discount…

    • Premium User Badge

      particlese says:

      I haven’t tried this article’s GSP 350, but I too can vouch for the Zero being comfy, one of two points of comparison being the HD280 (or something; also Sennheiser), whose plastic housing has been gradually crumbling over the years. The Zero was my upgrade with essentially-the-same sound and simultaneously fulfilled my need for a decent mic (which seems to be similar to the one in this article), and they’re significantly more comfortable – with or without glasses – than my HD280s ever were.

      And since bass came up in this article, I should also add that the Zero has absolutely no problem with overpowering or ugly bass. If anything, they seem even-handed or slightly bass-weak, but whether or not that’s a negative will totally depend on one’s tastes. Another potential turn-off is that it’s (currently) about £175 over at Amazon, so one should definitely know they like that sort of sound and that they will use the mic and so on. Alternatively, maybe one could find a used set on the cheap from someone who splurged and then discovered they don’t sound like Dr. Dre’s latest and greatest.

      But my second point of comparison for comfort (I’ve only ever used these three regularly) are the comfiest cans I’ve ever worn and are Bose’s QC25. I don’t quite know how, but they manage to stay on my head with very low pressure, and they’re even comfortable on 7 hour flights while wearing glasses. But they’re again on the pricey side, sadly. I primarily have them because they cancel out airplane engine and other constant atonal noises pretty handily…though there is some weird noise cancellation pressure in the ears which can be bothersome for some. And then their general sound is quite different from the Zero: bass-heavy but clean with the noise cancellation on, flat or anemic and slightly weird (slow? funky phase? I don’t know) with it off. But aside from that noise cancellation pressure, which varies between negligible and marginally painful for me (but is almost always worthwhile in a plane), they’re oh so comfy…

  4. Faldrath says:

    For good sound quality and low price, I don’t think you can beat a Superlux HD-668B. It doesn’t have a mic, though.

  5. Premium User Badge

    magnificent octopus says:

    I use openbacked Sennheisers (PC 320), and no one has ever complained about the noise leakage. A few experiments showed that I had to have the volume uncomfortably loud before anyone else even noticed it. I do have a strong aversion to loud noises, though, so that could just be my personal use. And I definitely prefer the sound of openbacked headsets.

    ETA: And I use them as movie/music headphones as well, with no problems.

    • cqdemal says:

      I’m using an open-backed Sennheiser Game One and I can back this up: sound leakage is barely noticeable to people beside me unless they’re intently trying to listen. The sound fills the room and gives a sensation of depth and distance that close-backed designs just can’t do – at least not in the same price range.

    • Ragnar says:

      My whole family has open backed headphones – Philips Fidelio X2 and Panasonic RP-HTF600 – and sound leakage has never been a problem in our shared, very quiet office.

      No one has complained about the sound when I’m playing a game, and when my wife watches a movie I can’t hear anything from further than a foot away, and only a faint murmur when standing next to her. People who are disturbing others with their open headphones must be blasting out their eardrums.

  6. woodsey says:

    I have a pair of the GSP 301s and they are delightful. They sound great, look great, are super comfortable, and they don’t make me feel like I’ve held my head against the sun after 30 minutes of playing. Great mic as well. You couldn’t pay me to go back to a traditional gaming brand pair.

    Only minor quibble is that they have to be pulled out quite far, even on my perfectly-normal sized head, which means they get a little bendy in the arch when you take them off. Otherwise, they’re perfect.

  7. Hunchback says:

    I use Sennheiser HD555 and it deliver excellent sound. I even bought a discrete soundblaster card, but sadly i can’t use it anymore because my MB is shit and the GPU covers the only (wtf) pci slot :/

  8. dahools says:

    Anyone got any more recommendations, in the market for a replacement set as my mic has died. Black Friday coming up and all. I think about 50 – 70 quid is probably my limit and needs a good mic. Usage will be gaming, music and skype/ideo confrencing.

  9. waltC says:

    Sony studio phones MDR-V6 Digital over-ears for $75 on Amazon–best pair of phones I’ve ever owned–sound quality is fantastic. Best of all, built with steel reinforcement–not all plastic. (Don’t ever buy all-plastic phones, they’ll break, sooner or later, no matter how careful you are.) Plenty of expansion room for your skull, too!

  10. Premium User Badge

    Thulsa Hex says:

    Katherine, have you tried the Sennheiser HD 598 headphones? They’re a little more expensive than this set (though are often on sale in the US–especially the black ones), but I thought I’d mention them because they genuinely reach the most “wear-and-forget” levels of comfort of any pair I have ever experienced. They’re lightweight for their size, don’t clamp onto your skull, and the velour cushions are so soft and comfortable when compared to anything else I’ve tried. They sound excellent, too.

    I used to wear them for hours every day, including for the duration of extremely long games like the Witcher 3 and Metal Gear Solid V. They’re open-backed, which not only contributes to the excellent sound stage, but also the low levels of fatigue. My wife (who is sensitive to such things) says the sound “leakage” is negligible, unless she sits right next to me on the couch, and that mouse clicks and the clack of thumb-sticks are much louder. Incidentally, she also says they’re the only headphones she’s ever been able to wear for extended periods without discomfort from pressure on her glasses.

    Being headphones, they don’t have an in-built mic, but I’ve recently added a detachable an Antlion Modmic and it is proving to be a very good combo indeed. Of course, this contributes to higher overall cost, but I’m of the persuasion that a good set of headphones is an excellent investment. Anyway, I’ll stop evangelising. I just couldn’t pass up making a recommendation after reading about your comfort woes. Either way, I hope you find something that works with your noggin!

    P.S. Here’s the review that originally sold them to me: link to youtube.com

  11. causticnl says:

    bought an wireless sennheiser 180 in 2015, using it for almost 8 hrs/day. Barely register its on my head, great sound also.

  12. Moragami says:

    I’ve got the Logitech Artemiss G933’s and they used to hurt my head to the point they’d give me a headache. After a year, however, they fit much better and I can now wear them for extended periods without any pain. I don’t know if they stretched, or the foam compressed a bit, either way, I bet you could break in those Sennheisers too if you were so inclined.

  13. Atomica says:

    I’m very happy with my HyperX Cloud II gaming headset, which I could wear all day with no discomfort. I’m no audiophile, but I know good and bad audio quality and the Cloud II is perfectly fine. Very well made with a nice long cord and about the £70-£80 mark, which is pretty reasonable.

  14. vahnn says:

    Sennheiser PC350 SEs over here. Easily the most comfortable headset I’ve ever used, with the most crystal clear audio I’ve ever heard (on a headset under $500), and an incredible mic that my friends can’t believe is just a mic attached to a gaming headset, that it’s not an separate, high quality studio mic.

    Despite the clarity of the audio, this headset is teeeeerrible with low end sound. Even with bass boosts cranked or low end pumped up on the EQ, it leaves a LOT to be desired.

  15. Voronwer says:

    I have these and love them. I’m a bit surprised to read about a head pinch because I can wear these headphones comfortably for hours (have done so) without any problem. It’s true that they’re a snug fit, but never uncomfortably so (for me anyway and I do wear glasses). They don’t overheat and I barely feel them. I have the same experience with my noise-cancelling headphones and that was one of the reasons I chose this pair to game with and I was not disappointed.

  16. G_Man_007 says:

    I bought a Razer Kraken USB for £40 (£5 really considering refunds and vouchers), and the difference with it’s 7.1 surround sound is really noticeable. I say, don’t skimp, and go for the best you can afford.

  17. Jakkar says:

    Katherine, another recommendation for comfort would be the Corsair Void Wireless RGB headphones. I’m of the same breed with regard to cranial misery in any headphones I’ve worn prior to these.

    They still sometimes become uncomfortable, but I sometimes forget to take them off when I’m done voicechatting and carry on gaming for a long while before remembering I have them on my head.

    Normally I struggle to even tolerate headphones past the first twenty minutes.

  18. Ragnar says:

    Comfort is one of the main things I look for in headphones with my oval shaped head.

    I’m currently using a pair of Philips Fidelio X2 headphones with a V-MODA BoomPro mic. They sound great with a good sonic balance, open soundstage, and ample bass for open headphones. I’ve gotten no complaints of noise leakage in my quiet home office. The BoomPro mic replaces the standard headphone cable, converting them into a headset. They’re pretty comfortable, though I find they feel snug in my head – not uncomfortably tight, but I definitely know they’re there.

    I’ve also used Panasonic RP-HTF600 headphones, upgraded with Beyerdynamics velour pads. They’re some of the most comfortable headphones I’ve ever used, and are rather inexpensive even with the pad upgrade. You can pair them with a Modmic to turn them into a headset. They have a pretty fun, bass heavy sound signature – though not compared to closed headphones – but they can sound harsh sometimes. For example, the steam in Batman Arkham City when you go to find the Joker is unpleasantly loud.

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