Published on November 10th, 2012 | by D'Juan Irvin, Editor/Founder0
Plantronics GameCom Commander Headset Review
Platform: PC, Mobile
Release Date: Aug. 16, 2012
Reviewer’s Note: Sample hardware was sent to GAMINGtruth for review.
Given the rise in online multiplayer games and how vital good audio equipment is to pinpoint enemies and engagements in such games, it comes as no shock that the quality and features of gaming headsets aimed at the gaming market are increasingly on the rise. With e-sports gaining more traction as time goes on, it is only natural that some company cater to the needs of a market of tournament-goers that value a quality headset. That’s exactly what Plantronics has aimed to do with the most recent addition to its GameCom line of headsets, the GameCom Commander.
How does it hold up? Extremely well, albeit with a single notable downside.
The Look and Feel
Starting with the box itself, the GameCom Commander aims to impress at first glance. The packaging is very well put together, complete with a great dot-matrix style font on the outside. When you break the seals and take the top of the package off, you find the headset sitting in a very durable nylon case with a sizable carabiner clip attached. Having seen the headset case fall off a desk multiple times, I can say for sure it does a decent job of keeping the Commander in good shape.
Once you unzip the case and get to the
creamy, gooey nougat headset inside, you’ll find that the case isn’t the only durable part of the package. The Commander itself seems heavily based on military/aviation headset, and the build quality feels that way. What I know of military equipment is that it’s sturdy and can stand to be knocked down a bit more than regular gear, and in this area the Commander doesn’t disappoint. From the cups to the headband, it feels well capable of taking a beating (though I wouldn’t recommend doing it). One nice little feature of the headband that my military readers will appreciate is that when you open the package, there’s a Velcro “GameCom” nameplate on the headset, so if you’re so inclined, you can take the name tag right off your uniform and attach it onto the headset. It’s not a deal breaker, but a nice little touch of homage to the source.
With this being a limited-edition headset, it wouldn’t be right without a laser-etched serial number indicating just how limited it is, right? The microphone isn’t retractable like you’ll find on a lot of headsets, but it does swivel and is equipped with a ruggedized bendable arm, so you can adjust the mic to just about any way you need it to be comfortable.
On my first attempt to put the set on, I had it incorrectly positioned and it pinched my head something serious. After an adjustment (and angling the headband at a 45-degree angle to the back of my head), all was well and good. The earpods are extremely comfortable. I made a point to have multiple friends and co-workers try on the headset and listen to their favorite music, and the first thing I heard every time was “Oh, that feels nice,” or something similar. When more than five people are impressed and can’t hear anything you’re saying while wearing them, you know something was done right.
Features and Functions
When you get to this level of headset you expect a bit more than standard fare, and you won’t be let down. The Commander comes equipped with a QuickDisconnect adapter, which adds quite a bit of modularity to the set. The primary 6.5-foot cable features inline volume/mute controls and is coiled the closer you get to the 3.5 mm analog plugs for speakers and mic. The secondary QuickDisconnect cable that comes with the Commander is made for connecting to your smartphone, so in the middle of a tournament or a tight game you could disconnect from the PC and plug to your phone for a brief call, then right back without much pause in the action.
Also included in the package is the USB Sound Card equipped with Dolby Headphone and Pro Logic IIx technologies, which allows you to use the Commander in a computer that has USB ports, but doesn’t have any available 3.5 mm plugs. It’s plug-and-play, so it only needs basic drivers which Windows should already have.
All the features in the world would do nothing for this headset if the sound was horrid, but luckily that’s not the case. I previously reviewed the GameCom 780 (which I now own) and it’s safe to say that the GameCom Commander one-ups that headset in every way: sound, build and versatility, you name it. I played through a reasonable group of games to see whether the Commander could perform, and I’m pleased to say that it’s a very pleasant experience.
My first experience using the GameCom Commander was in the office at work, which gave me confidence that the noise-cancellation of the set was amazing. I’d taken the headset in it’s case and there was a major meeting going on in a conference room about 30 feet from my desk, so peeps were loud. I put the Commander on and the noise of more than 30 people seemed much more like one to two people, and really quiet people at that. With music playing, I wouldn’t have guessed that anything was going on in there at all.
From ducking zombies in The Walking Dead to mech-battling in the Hawken Beta and scoring goals in FIFA 12, the Commander performed admirably. The USB sound card that comes with the Commander features Dolby 7.1 stereo surround sound that sounded extremely impressive, and the difference between having it off is immediately noticeable. Playing FIFA 12 went from hearing a a game to sounding almost like I was in a stadium. The speaker drivers in this set are a bit more powerful than in the GameCom 780. Where the 780 would give my ears a workout at 50 percent volume in Windows and on the headset, I kept the Commander at 50 percent audio while Windows volume was consistently set at 1 to 5 percent. Barely a step above being muted, but no lack of sound by any means.
The Dolby 7.1 from the USB Sound Card can be turned on or off with the flip of a switch, and this is the only place the headset required any upkeep. When I’m at work I Skype regularly, so the times I forgot to switch off the surround sound after playing a video game made for a very different sounding conversation initially because the card made the conversation sound like it was taking place in a room rather than regular headset communication. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just jarring and a reminder to turn off the Dolby when not in a game if that isn’t your thing.
The GameCom Commander continues Plantronics’ tradition of releasing quality hardware. This is an intermediate to pro level headset, and the craftsmanship/technology combo inside this headset live up to that fact. With a target audience of Tournament gamers, the amount of noise-cancellation this headset provides is stellar and the Commander continued to impress.
The only downside to the headset itself is the $299 price point, which is no small amount of money. Plantronics is aiming beyond the entry-level consumer with the Commander though, so the market it’s targeting usually has top-of-the-line PC hardware and likely wouldn’t mind the price as much as the rest of us would.
If you want a comfortable and versatile gaming headset with impressive sound quality that you can swap between a PC, phone or tablet on the fly, I’d definitely recommend the GameCom Commander.
+ Sound and bass quality are fantastic
+ Great noise-cancellation
+ Impressive build quality
+ Customizable identity patch is a nice touch
+ QuickDisconnect cables to use on phones/tablets is a bonus
- $299? Yikes