Roccat Elo X Stereo Gaming Headset Review
NOTE: Roccat graciously sent me a final retail unit of this headset to review at my discretion alongside marketing assets and technical information. I don’t receive a kickback if you decide to buy one, and none of the links in this article are affiliate links. I wasn’t sponsored to write this, and I had full editorial control over this article.
The sub-$50 gaming headset market is a crowded field, and many models in the price bracket are cut-down versions of higher-end headsets. Peripheral companies cut important features, use cheaper materials, and sacrifice driver performance in order to put out a more affordable product. It’s frustrating to watch perfectly good $100 headphones and headsets turn into thinner, cheaper, worse-sounding versions of themselves that now have their microphones glued-on.
That didn’t happen with the Roccat Elo X Stereo. It might be the entry-level headset in Roccat’s Elo range, but it’s essentially the same great core headset as the excellent 7.1 Air wireless model I reviewed recently…just with an analog connection and no bonus perks. Apart from one very small materials change, it has the same excellent build, comfort, and well-tuned 50mm drivers.
Roccat and Turtle Beach prove here that peripheral companies don’t have to make huge cuts to performance when designing a cheaper headset.
The Roccat Elo X Stereo is a closed back, wired gaming headset with a detachable microphone. It normally sells for $49.99, and you can find its official product page right here. In the box, you get the headset, the mic, and a PC-splitter cable for use with dedicated mic and headset jacks on motherboards and some external gaming amplifiers.
On the back of the left ear cup is a smooth volume wheel and an easy-to-find mic mute button, both of which help improve console functionality. The cable isn’t detachable, which isn’t a deal-breaker at this low price point, and which can help improve mic sound quality as my recent deep dive into mic crosstalk in a Twitter thread demonstrated. Learning about that potential design issue made me lower the importance of having a detachable cable in a budget gaming product, as far as review evaluations go.
The Roccat Elo comes in two higher-priced models if you want extra features. The 7.1 USB is $69 and adds a USB connection, RGB lighting, mic monitoring, EQ, and surround sound. The 7.1 Air carries over all those same features into a wireless model for $99 (full review here).
When I first listened to the 7.1 Air version of this headset, I didn’t know its price, and I blind-guessed what it cost. I overshot by $50. It offers a remarkable level of sound performance for the price…and that essentially carries over into the X Stereo model.
This headset offers a well-tuned, enjoyable sound signature. It has a little bit of extra energy in the bass and a little bit of extra zing in the upper treble, but its midrange is pleasant and smooth. It has a great sound for gaming, and enough clarity and detail that audiophiles won’t hate listening to it either.
It sounds similar to the wireless model with the EQ function turned off, but with just a little bit more splash and imprecision in the treble. You’d have to listen back to back to really notice it though. This is clearly the same driver tuned in the same way as in the more expensive model, and that’s awesome for a headset priced this low.
The sound quality stands right next to other headsets priced all the way up to $99. It sounds comparable in quality to the HyperX Cloud Alpha, and punches above its weight just as much as the Redragon H510. The bass on the Roccat Elo X Stereo is a bit thicker and more satisfying than on the H510, and I prefer it as a result.
Soundstage and imaging are both better than average for a closed-back headset. The center channel doesn’t sound very far away, but stereo effects are nicely balanced and float gently past my ears thanks to the angled drivers. It’s also a great fit for virtual surround systems like Windows Sonic. The headset doesn’t have any of the clutter, muddiness, or harshness I’ve heard in some other budget pairs. It passed my Diablo III test, and it’s quite enjoyable for music listening as well.
This headset offers truly impressive audio. It costs half as much as its wireless bigger brother, but lost nothing in terms of performance. That same level of value carries over into other aspects of the design as well.
The X Stereo uses the same great ear pads and supple suspension headband found on the wireless model. The ear pads contain a fast-rebound memory foam, and they’re sculpted at the top and bottom to properly fit the contours of a human head. The center of the pad contains a squishy foam that Turtle Beach calls the “ProSpecs” system. This foam allows the headset to seal over glasses, and won’t even be noticed by folks that don’t wear glasses.
All of this adds up to a fit that is immediately comfortable on my larger-than-average bespectacled head. I can wear this headset for hours without issue. The lack of a battery and wireless hardware also brought the weight down a bit on this wired model, making them even more comfortable over long listening sessions than the 7.1 Air.
The wireless edition has a constant, gentle presence that’s still a delight over long sessions, but this wired version is light enough to truly “disappear” on your head. They fit immediately well without much fiddling. There’s enough room inside the ear cups for my ears to float untouched. And they’re tight enough to stay in place on my head without pinching or causing any hotspots over multi-hour sessions.
The Elo X Stereo uses the exact same frame and build as the 7.1 Air, with a few small tweaks. Some of the buttons and knobs are gone off the left ear cup. The RGB lights are missing. And the cable that connects the two ear cups to each other through the headband is rubberized instead of braided.
That rubberized cable is the only major materials change. The rest of the frame is the same solid combo of plastic and metal that served the 7.1 Air so well. It’s not the beefiest-feeling thing in the world, but it’s sturdy. The design is closer to the studio headsets of the 90’s and early 2000’s than a modern gaming or style headphone design, but I think that’s great. It’s a function-first, form-second approach that I think nails that balance.
I assumed there would be more cuts to the build than just some rubberized cables, but no! This value version even retains the soft, premium-feeling damped rotation hinges for the ear cups. They have a slow heft to their rotation that feels luxurious, and the rotation also helps them rest pleasantly if you want to stick them around your neck during a gaming break. This rotation hinge often feels like a weak spot on other cheap headsets, or it is omitted entirely, so having one that feels this nice on a budget pair is a big deal to someone detail-obsessed like me.
The connection cable is 1.6m long, which I think is a good compromise between the shorter cables usually found on gaming headsets and the 3m length on many studio headphones. It’s rubberized to match the cable that runs between the ear cups, and although it’s a little springy it’s not prone to tangles.
I haven’t had any creaks or squeaks during a week of use. If you tap the metal part of the headband while you’re wearing these, you’ll hear a metal ping sound in your ears. I have no idea why you’d ever do that, but this got pointed out in so many HyperX Cloud Revolver reviews that it became a thing. It’s not really something to be concerned about, but I always mention it when present for those folks who are more concerned with tapping their headsets than playing a video game.
The microphone is the same solid model used on the 7.1 Air, with the added benefit of more audio bandwidth and clarity thanks to the wired connection. It has a good clean sound that’s just a little bit thin in the bass range, but which has plenty of vocal intelligibility. It also offers some basic acoustic background cancellation.
You can’t really do better than the Roccat Elo X Stereo for $50, as far as raw audio and comfort go. The contoured ear pads provide an exceptional fit and seal well even against glasses, and the sound performance is much better than I expected for the price.
This compares very well against other budget greats like the Zeus H510, Razer Blackshark V2, and HyperX Cloud Core. I slightly prefer the Elo X Stereo to those models for how well it fits on my personal head shape. It offers a slightly more balanced sound than Razer’s Blackshark, and it’s great that it has a detachable mic for non-headset use. The Cloud offers fancier padding and build materials, but doesn’t have as much adjustment room or space for the ears, meaning it might not work as well on certain head sizes. The H510 has some nice frills and less bass energy, and it also suffers from a small adjustment range.
The Roccat Elo X Stereo doesn’t offer a single fancy bonus feature. Instead it ticks every important box for sound, comfort, build, and mic performance, and does so without breaking the bank.