While playing Titanfall with a friend last week, I finally decided it was time for me to get a gaming headset because first of all, my friend was complaining about the background noise from my desktop mic, and secondly, the headphones I was using was more suited to music-listening rather than gaming. With the US$48 I’ve been saving up for computer accessories, I scoured the Internet for headsets that were well-worth the price tag. That’s how I stumbled upon the impressive SADES SA-903 gaming headset by Shenzhen Sades Digital Technology Co., Ltd.
Priced at US$41-45 (shipping included), the SADES SA-903 houses its own dedicated external sound card and provides sound drivers, to give users a powerful virtual 7.1 surround sound through the headset’s stereo speakers, enabling wearers to hear the action from all directions. It also has a vertically-retractable microphone, and an in-line audio controller included along the headset’s black-and-blue braided USB cord. And for those who want to look good while wearing these, the headset lights up when connected to a computer.
Physical Build and Setup
The headset comes in two color combinations: black with red, and white with blue; and the overall design — from the headset itself to the cord — honestly looks gamer-chic and gives off an appealing tough image. The frame is made out of plastic that is light and acceptably durable, but it feels like it can break easily if not handled with care. And for flexibility, the headband offers nine levels of height adjustment — the smallest of which is still a little too large for my head but should fit on most other’s (considering how petite of a person I am). The padding makes the headset incredibly comfortable to wear and causes no pain whatsoever even after hours of gameplay.
Unfortunately, the instruction manual provided only comes in Chinese with several pictures for demonstration, but after searching online, I found an English version on the SADES website (Click “Operation manual of gaming headset” on the left side). Installing the drivers is straightforward: plug the headset in first, run the installation from the CD and simply follow the steps from there. Thankfully, the installer was in English and so was the software itself — which includes input/output control, a mixer, equalizer control and a few voice morph settings.
As far as sound goes, after testing the headset for almost a week, I’ve got to say that I’m dazzled by how great the sound is considering the price-tag. The strong bass and low-mids paired with the virtual surround sound are perfect for gaming. You can hear and feel the rumble of an explosion, and when bullets are fired you can tell from which general direction they are coming from. The positioning is not completely exact but it does give a better sense of space in-game.
For music, however, if you’re looking for overall clarity in what you hear, the SA-903 is not for you. A lot of the vocals in my music became overpowered by bassy instruments. Fixing the equalizer settings couldn’t do much either. For the price, the sound is great for gaming but if you want something that’s both good for games and a variety of music, it’d be better to look for headphones elsewhere as the SA-903 is only particularly good for bass-heavy tracks. But if you’re not too picky about having better instrumental and vocal details in music, and are content in hearing strong beats, this should not be a problem.
If you you’re on a budget and need a good microphone paired with a decent pair of headphones though, the SADES SA-903 should is a strong competitor to other headsets out there. The microphone is surprisingly very clear. The quality is as close as you can get to an expensive audio interface plus microphone setup at at least a quarter of the price. The volume is a little soft, so you’ll need to speak up a bit because the microphone can’t be pushed towards your mouth. But this isn’t too big of an issue since the volume level is enough to be heard and it doesn’t pick up too much background noise in a fairly quiet environment. Although microphone boost is available in the SADES software, I wouldn’t recommend using it because the noise does get louder and as a result. (I’ve uploaded a microphone test video on YouTube if you’re interested in hearing what it sounds like).
Overall, the SADES SA-903 Stereo 7.1 Sound Effect USB Gaming Headset is a superb choice for those on a budget. At such an affordable price, flaws are inevitable but while the SA-903 isn’t perfect, it certainly had far fewer problems than I would expect from one of the cheaper headsets available in the market.
Although SADES is a relatively new competitor in the gaming audio industry, they certainly are able to show that a premium price isn’t required for high-quality sound. That said, SADES should be a brand everyone should be looking out for.
If you liked this piece, be sure to check out my review of the SADES Skynet (SA-909) 7.1 Virtual Surround Sound Headset with Glittering Lights!