GamsterGear Cruiser P3210 Gaming Headset
USB or 3.5mm, with comfortable wide pads, and a lightweight build. Are there any more features GamesterGear could have added onto this headphone? Sure there is. PS3 and PC support. Now, the P3210 has a lot of features but can it withstand an audiophile gamer’s test? Find out more in this exclusive review brought to you by Panda Tech Review.
Unit Quality: (Headphone, Microphone, Cable, USB/3.5mm, Audio Interface)
The moment I saw the P3210’s, I knew that it was going to be on the ‘light’ side. The grooved plastic on the drivers, and the thin plastic bands that connect the unit together was less than inspiring. The matte black spray on the plastic makes it look like it can handle more than it actually can. The plastic used is not of the highest quality. It’s very thin on the bands; I wouldn’t recommend putting too much bend too. The unit seems to be made up of three pieces as well. The headband which connects to the slide unit (where the slide is on top of the band) which then leads to a ‘bar’ inside the slide unit that connects the headphone ‘driver’ units. It’s a basic design that is encapsulated around plastic.
This build material and design does work well with something like the P3210 of course. It’s lightweight, can take abuse, and can be shoved in your bag. It’s a gun-ho lock and load headphone. Some gaming headphones today are designed to be hulks, with little freeplay in pivot/flex that also weigh a lot. This makes any fall damage potential fatal. The P3210’s have a great ratio of flex and material construction through its thinner construction to abuse ratio. (how heavy, and flex to give the headphone to have X amount of durability).
The headphone is made up of many parts. We start off at the headphone, it has a hole that you can plug the removable microphone into. Past that, the P3210 terminates from the headphone unit itself through the traditional round thin wire before it reaches the audio interface. The interface has all your volume, mic on/off, game volume, and bass controls. A flat cable terminates from the audio interface. This then leads to the final splitter which splits into a 3.5mm plug and a USB plug. Using a PS3 with the P3210 requires the additional accessory add on(included with the headphone) that then adds another long part to this chain.
The microphone removability and build quality is quite standard. It was actually a bit ‘better’ than I expected. It has a twist ability to allow you to plug and keep the mic in place. The plastic housing, and the metal flex of the microphone feels very sturdy and nice.
The P3210 audio interface feels a bit weak. It isn’t very fancy and it doesn’t shine with authority but it does work. It’s light weight and has a clip. Nothing interesting past that.
The USB and 3.5mm jack that terminates the entire assembly have quite the quality. The branding, solid plastic housing, and ‘length’ of the termination all makes it feel very official and nice. There isn’t any abnormal wiggling so there isn’t anything else to say about it.
How does it work?:
The P3210 looks intimidating at first in terms of how one would go about using it. The first step to answering this would be in defining what it is that you are going to use it for. PC or PS3? Or maybe even an unsupported product if you are feeling a bit ambitious.
I’ll start off with some general information. The P3210 requires the USB interface to be powered for it to even work. This means that for both your PC and PS3, the USB dongle will have to be connected. The USB dongle handles audio as well as mic functions. The P3210 audio interface has a control for CHAT, Game, Mic on off, and a bass adjust. I’ll refer to these functions of the audio interface by the pure name of it below. Please familiarize yourself with the picture to know what it is that I mean.
PC How to Use:
If you wish to use the P3210 with the PC, you need only the USB dongle connected. This allows for Mic and audio function. Bass boost and Game are not active during this configuration. With only using the USB dongle, the CHAT is utilized as the ‘volume’. You can plug the 3.5mm into your computer along with the USB dongle if you wish. Doing it this way will allow you to have potentially better audio quality, and the bass boost now works. Remember that the unit needs to have USB power to even work, which is why the dongle still needs to be connected. If you wish to use the 3.5mm plug, you need to set your default computer(or any soundcard you have it plugged into) to default playback. The volume is now controlled on the interface by GAME and the bass boost now works. CHAT no longer works. If the USB dongle is still plugged into computer. You just need to keep default communication device as the set default for the unit to still have Mic function.
Any ambitious readers will note that it may be possible to provide the P3210 with external USB power or even plug it into another computer. This is all true. If you provide it with external power, you could potentially get better audio quality from a better sound card, amplifier, and or DAC unit. This is a very messy setup however as the P3210 has a headache amount of wires already. However do note that the unit has a flaw with the 3.5mm jack in that it has a whine. This whine is inaudible for most situations and can only be heard if you max out the volume of the GAME while the plug is plugged in any device. This isn’t strictly the fault of the unit, but the fact that it will produce it still puts some fault on it
*Warning: If you do not use the 3.5mm plug. Any time the 3.5mm plug is ‘unplugged’ from anything, please set GAME volume all the way down. I have noticed through testing that the GAME controls the amplifier of the 3.5mm plug. Having the GAME maxed out and touching the plug with bare hounds or touching anything electrical produces very loud pops and buzzes. This could be extremely dangerous if the 3.5mm plug comes into contact with something that produces a ‘signal’ and when the GAME control is maxed out.
If you plug the USB dongle in another computer, while leaving the 3.5mm plugged into the first you can get two audio streams. You can play audio from both at the same time. GAME controls volume for the ‘first computer’ (3.5mm) while CHAT controls the one through USB dongle. I don’t see any reason to almost ever have this unless you have two computers very close to each other in static positions and want a static headphone that works with both at the same time or when you switch spots.
PS3 How to Use:
Plug the USB dongle into one of the ports on the PS3, and then use the adapter that the headphone comes with along with one of the PS3’s auxiliary cables. Follow the instructions for which adapter head plugs into which auxiliary connection that the manual provides. The instructions for setup are also in the manual.
The general usability of the P3210 is pretty good, but the mess of wires, and awkard audio interface makes it very annoying. The headphone and mic itself is lightweight and has great ‘form’ in terms of how it molds and how customizable it is for different users. However past that, the P3210 is a nightmare to work with. The symmetrical shape of the audio interface, how it has scroll wheels on both sides, and how far down the cable it is makes changing volumes on the go a huge problem.
From the bottom of the headphone to the top of the audio interface is about 30 inches away. I did a rough estimate with my twelve inch ruler and found it to be about two and a half lengths away. The light weight of the audio interface, and how heavy the flat wire and plugs are beneath it make it hard for you to place the interface on the desk without it flopping around.
It took me a lot of playing around with the unit to also learn how its scrolls and functions really work. I knew the bass control wasn’t working when I was using it with USB at first, but I didn’t figure it out for a while. The GAME sound control was also weird as well when I thought it didn’t work at first.
The P3210 has a Velcro cable management ‘device’ on the flat cable. This allows you to bundle the wire up. It may fix the problem of cable length when the headphone was being designed, but it didn’t fix the problem in real life. There is only one ergonomic way to thus use this headphone unit. The requirements being that the PC or PS3 and its wiring inputs being in front of the way you are looking. From a PC standpoint, this means that you will have to plug the USB dongle and maybe 3.5mm into the back of the computer or into a USB port somewhere behind your monitor. You will then have to bundle up the cables using the management device, and then duct tape or use some mechanism that will then keep the audio interface on the top of the desk. This seems to be the way that the unit was designed. It’s not a bad ergonomic placement, but it does force the user to limit the ways he/she can use the unit. Refer to the pictures below on setups in where you do and DON’T use the ‘designed’ placement.
Plugged in, right next to user.
Plugged in, in front of user behind everything and as it seems to have been designed.
Plugged in, right next to user. (notice how much of a pain it becomes)
Plugged in, in front of user behind everything (notice how I have to wrap the long wire around my second monitor and then route it through the back)
Overall, the P3210 works amazingly when it is on the head. It’s light weight construction, flexible and removable microphone, and thin terminating cable makes it a pleasure to use. The location and weight of the audio interface, as well as the sheer length of the flat cable and terminating interface plugs makes the P3210 a nightmare if you don’t’ use it in the ‘correct’ way. There is nowhere to place it without either tripping on the wire, or in messing up the desk space otherwise if you don’t.
Driveability and Amplification:
The amplification of the P3210 is already quite enough. On older tracks or even those new ones that are ‘quiter’ (that don’t take up the entire noise floor) you may be in for some trouble however. The built in amp and ability to use the 3.5mm plug is nice for if you wish to use another DAC but I have decided against that. The noise that the 3.5mm produces due to the amplifier in the audio interface isn’t too admirable.
Sound Quality Section:
This section will be split into two parts. The first part will be the audio review format that I use for all my reviews. This will test and review the general audio quality of the headphone itself without putting any emphasis on it being designed as a gaming headphone. The second part will be a short section on the P3210’s effectiveness as a ‘stereo’ gaming headphone.
The GamesterGear P3210 Gaming headphone was tested and used with my computer’s built in VIA sound chip, FiiO X3, and MacBook Pro throughout the entire time. It has been used for approximately 30 hours in total.
As for gaming, the P3210 was used with my gaming computer. Specs below.
Audiophile Review(USB mode only):
The P3210’s have highs, and they are above expectations. You usually don’t hear of gaming headphones sounding good for music, but this headphone is proving that wrong. The highs don’t reach nearly as high as reference sets, but they are prominent without becoming too bright. While sometimes it could get a bit brither than you would want it to, the headphone does a good job of giving a good ratio of high freq presence, stability, and how high it reaches. You can clearly hear that the highs are there, but they don’t try to take a center role in the song(presence). The highs, when they do show up, are formulated very nicely and don’t ‘whip’ around. This means that the signal is quite stable. It doesn’t sound like its hopping up and down. I’m very impressed with the high freq sonic feature of this headphone. You rarely see a gaming headphone that gives you highs that are formulated correctly.
The instruments of the Cruiser have nice texture, but lose out in sharpness and presence. The strings and instruments have quite the weight and authority to them. They don’t have the slight upper mid spike to make them come alive however. They are a bit dulled off in that area. This could be to save gamers ears from too much exposure to the pops that could potentially have damaging effects. The presence of the Cruiser also isn’t as demanding as I would want it to be. You can hear them very well. They are active mids in a sense, but they don’t have the authority that scream to you for attention.
The mid vocals are very intimate, realistic, but lose out on presence and sharpness yet again. Artists literally ‘speak’ to you. The Cruiser is able to recreate the voices of the singers well, to the extent that it does this job better than many more expensive ‘audiophile’ cans. The vocals however suffer from the same problem as the mids in that they aren’t authoritative enough. They are easily swept away in more complex songs, and don’t really take the floor away. The lack of this presence and sharpness does hurt the overall realism.
What surprised me was on how tame the bass was in the Cruiser. USB mode has bass boost disabled so this is just its more ‘natural’ low freq state. The lows on these headphones are enough to satisfy pop songs, and without intrusion in classical ones. They work well with a lot of the genres one would throw at this headphone. The impact and subbass of this headphone has a lot of punch to it if you use the 3.5mm plug and up the bass boost. That’s a solution for those that want more bass. The USB mode is more audiophile-y correct in a sense(if that even means anything), but some songs and people just want more.
The lows on the Cruiser operate similar in sound to a ‘real’ sub. The soundstage, of the P3210 and how the bass sounds is similar to a 2.1 setup. The bass just rumbles in the background and gives ‘meaning’ to the song. This basically also means that the bass isn’t very tight. It’s more of a loose rumble that is produced. The sub bass and bass impact is the most interesting part of the P3210. This headphones stability in producing sub bass notes was quite surprising. I have not had many headphones that could play Mr. Rager(Kid Cudi)’s sub bass section without distorting. Plus one for the cruiser. What is also interesting is in how the cruiser can produce a lot of impact with the bass boost turned up on 3.5mm mode, and rumble the headphone without much distortion to the rest of the frequcies.
Soundstage and Imaging:
The Cruiser’s are immediately known to be one of the soundstage kind. The voices are pulled slightly away from ‘directly’ in your face, and it has an airy wide surround type of sound to it. Overall, the soundstage and imaging of the headphone is above average when compared to the typical headphone.
Overall Sonic thoughts:
The Cruiser P3210 combines good sonic qualities with good execution. Too many headphones try for small spikes here and there on paper to try to make their headphones sound good on paper. Let me tell you guys one thing. A spike on paper that says it produces something at 10-14kHz and upping that to give it clear highs doesn’t mean it will sound good. The execution of how optimized the P3210 is, surprised me the most. It works well with a lot of genres. It isn’t overly warm or analytical, but offers a combonation of a middle road. It’s clear, but also a bit congested at times.
The P3210 is a great sounding headphone that sounds more than it is actually worth. Rarely do I find gaming headphones that also sound great for music. The P3210’s are sonically well balanced and clear. It offers well formulated sound in a package that features so much.
The GamesterGear Cruiser P3210 was tested with Battlefield 4(SP and MP), World of Tanks, and Metro Last Light through USB mode with Microphone.
The headphone has a good sonic balance. Not too much highs, lows or mids during games. I generally play FPS’s and so I was a bit disappointed by its mediocrity. This mediocrity in terms of not boosting some frequencies that make games ‘better’ makes music sound better, but not necessarily the explosions. The lack of a piercing high and upper mid made music of almost all genres great, but failed when I let out a string of rounds in BattleField 4. The absence of an extremely prevalent low end made classical music enjoyable to listen to, but missed the mark when the mortar round dropped on the ground next to me.
The imaging in game is quite a nice feat. Generally, gaming headphones at this price range have a congested soundstage and rely on artificial DSP’s or multiple drivers with specific crossfeed’s to artificially create imaging. This isn’t bad of course in gaming. Using those digital effects with the in game multiple channel supports with multiple drivers to give you a big hint of where the enemy is, is very useful. The Cruiser just goes it the natural way of course. It’s audio interface isn’t really built towards that type(artificial) of gaming imaging. It’s a welcoming trait to have. This works well with music and games alike. Problem now being that music is yet again taking the better slice of the pie here. Where the gaming feature set is getting the short end of the stick from this type of imaging.
Overall Gaming thoughts:
The Cruiser takes gaming to its roots. It uses some of the ‘old’ techniques to give you the edge. It’s traditional take on imaging and soundstage make in game music and transitions sound more natural. It may not be as fine for games that work well with more precise need for enemy locations, but its got quite the ability to sound great.
Overall, the Cruiser P3210 at $110 is a great headphone to consider. It’s a mix of my two favorite worlds; gaming and audiophilia. It’s a clear sounding headphone that works well for a wide range of genres. While it has trouble competing with dedicated gaming headphones in this price range for FPS games. It makes up for it with its abundance of features. I would recommend the P3210 to users that want a headphone that sounds good, has a good microphone, and features USB. Whatever your needs are, these headphones will rock it.
Build Quality: 6.5/10
Usability and Fit: 5.5/10(Usability) and 9/10 for Fit
Sound Quality: 9/10