The Steelseries Siberia Full Size Headset USB is a powerful set of headphones designed with gamers in mind.
The first thing that we need to point out about the Steelseries Siberia headset is that it's primarily designed for playing games on a computer.
In addition to working as a perfectly conventional set of audio headphones, the Steelseries Siberia also includes a microphone and a USB 'soundcard' – a small adaptor that plugs into a USB port on your PC and produces a kind of simulated surround sound effect (7.1, no less).
This feature is aimed at games fans playing the latest 3D games, as it can help to improve the ambient sound effects that surround you as you move through the 3D virtual-reality environments within the game.
The Steelseries Siberia headset isn't purely for playing games, though.
There's a mixer program supplied with the headset that allows you to adjust the surround sound settings when listening to music, as well as selecting ‘environmental' effects that reproduce settings such as a concert hall or a smoky jazz club.
These features all work very well – as long as you're plugged into a Windows PC – the packaging says the headphones are Mac-compatible, but this software runs only on PCs, so Mac users won't be able to use the surround sound features properly.
If you want to listen to music on your iPod you can simply unplug the USB adaptor and connect the Steelseries Siberia headphones to the audio socket on your iPod. The sound quality is pretty good – clear and sharp, and pretty powerful, although a slightly warmer bass response wouldn't go amiss. They're not the most comfortable headphones we've ever worn though. The large circular earpads don't fit particularly well, and the elasticated headband takes a little getting used to.
On the whole, though, the Steelseries Siberia is a pretty good set of headphones. The problem is that it costs £70, and much of that money is paying for the USB soundcard and other features that don't work with an iPod.
If you're as keen on PC games as you are on your iPod then the Siberia headset's surround sound is worth a go. But if all you want is a set of headphones for your iPod then you can get better quality phones for less than £50.