Headsets are among the most popular peripherals among gamers. The market is flooded with options that all offer various features to set them apart from the competition. Among higher-end headsets there are a couple features that are used as selling points, which would be Bluetooth connectivity and digital 7.1 surround sound. There are quite a few headsets that have one of these features, but finding one with both is a bit trickier. The Surge 3D is an upcoming headset that is currently in the crowd funding stage that combines these two ideas, which is meant to optimize sound for video games, movies and music. We happened to get our hands on a prototype, and while there may be some differences in the final product, this will give us a good idea of what to expect from the Surge 3D.
Out of the box the Surge 3D is a nice-looking headset. Weighing it in 263 grams, or a little over a half pound, it’s significantly lighter than some other wireless headsets. The earcuffs are constructed with contoured memory foam and covered with a leatherette material with ninety degree rotating ear cuffs with an adjustable steel slider to personalize the fit. There’s a detachable boom mic, which is naturally useful for gaming but not something you’d necessary want if you were using the Surge 3D on public transit or at the gym. The battery is charged with a micro USB cable, taking about three hours to reach full charge with a battery life lasting about thirty hours. The Bluetooth range is ten meters, or roughly thirty feet. While my interior design choices do not include marking off my floor like a football field, it seems like an accurate distance based on random wandering around from my computer listening to music.
The left ear cuff is where the basic command center where the user can plug in the charging cable, boom mic or 3.5mm jack to use the headset for a wired connection. The on/off button is located here where it’s easily accessible during use but not in such a place where it’s likely to constantly be pressed accidentally. The 3D button is also here which activates surround sound. The overall sound of the surround sound being on or off is distinct enough to know if it’s on or not, but the final version will include an indicator on whether 3D sound is on or not.
Something conspicuously absent on the Surge 3D are volume knobs. This is because the left ear cuff has a touch pad with controls and LED lighting effects. Swiping down on the touchpad can turn the lighting effects on or off. The touchpad allows the user to control the volume, answer a phone call or skip a track ahead or back. To be honest, using a touchpad that’s located on the side of your head is a little awkward at first, but after an acclimation period it ends up feelings like a natural way to control everything. It’s not a necessary feature, but it is pretty cool. The only inherent risk with this is accidentally turning the lighting effects on or off when all you want to do is adjust the volume.
Surge 3D uses Bluetooth 5.0 for its wireless connection and can connect to just about any Bluetooth compatible device. It’s currently connected to my PC, iPhone and iPad and it’s also compatible with Android devices. As a wireless headset it’s not compatible with PlayStation 4, but does work just fine with the 3.5mm input jack, although the surround sound doesn’t seem to work when the headset is in wired mode. The same can be said for Switch as it is, but the Bluetooth and surround sound will work on the Switch if the Bluetooth adapter for Nintendo Switch is being used. As a wired headset the Surge 3D sounds fine, but the wired connectivity isn’t why anyone would want this, that’s just adding value to it since it can be used for more devices.
The versatility of the Bluetooth connection with the 7.1 surround sound are the main selling points of the Surge 3D and that is where the headset impresses. Having one high end wireless headset for multiple devices is convenient and the lightweight design means that this can be worn for extended periods of time comfortably. Pressing the 3D button does make a noticeable change in sound where everything becomes more full and differentiated. Everything sounds good without the 3D, but turning it on can lead to a greater sense of immersion. How the audio is mixed does make a difference in how much of a difference there is to the sound. Music that is mixed for a stereo setting will sound fuller with the undertones being more apparent, but audio that is mixed for surround sound will take full advantage of the headset’s capabilities. Hearing an album designed for a 5.1 mix will sound very different through the Surge 3D than a regular pair of earbuds.
Setting up the Surge 3D to different devices can be a bit finicky. During the initial connection to a new device it’s recommended to have the Bluetooth on all other devices turned off. For example, if someone wants to add the Surge 3D to their PC it won’t find the headset or won’t connect to it if it does find it if the Surge 3D is currently connected to their phone. Once the device is linked the headset this is no longer an issue, and switching audio feed to the headset from computer to phone to tablet is an easy process. The sheer convenience of having one headset for multiple devices is a strong argument in itself for this headset.
The Surge 3D is scheduled to be released in May with a retail price of $239, but in the crowd funding stage the price can get as low as $89. The retail price is within the bracket of what you’d pay for other brands of this quality, so the Indiegogo price is a prime opportunity for a versatile high end headset at a serious discount. The Bluetooth connectivity makes this an ideal headset for gaming, movies on music primarily on computers, tablets and mobile devices. It will work as a wired headset for things like PlayStation 4, but the really cool features won’t be available when used with platforms that require the 3.5mm jack. Anyone who uses a lot of Bluetooth devices for gaming and audio should consider the Surge 3D. The sound quality is amazing and having a completely wireless headset for multiple devices is convenient and clutter free.