The biggest improvement in the Elite Prism is the microphone. I (rightly) pointed out in my last review that the microphone was ho-hum at best. This year's model features a microphone that's much more in line with something you'd expect from a $200 headset. Voice reproduction isn't exactly perfect — I couldn't get myself to stop sounding nasally — but it's crystal clear and doesn't distort or plosive easily. You can also add microphone compression, which doesn't sound great but is useful if you need that last little volume boost.
There are things I don't like about the Elite Prism though.
First and foremost, they've changed the fit. Some people last year complained that the original Elite was too tight, but not me. The new version is looser, and as a result I can't get as great a seal on my head. Combined with the weight of the headset, I found myself turning to other devices when using the Oculus Rift (which is where most of my headset gaming is done nowadays). Using the Elite Prism with the Rift, the headset was constantly sliding back and forth on my head.
The surround sound implementation is also in dire need of tweaking. Turning it on did little except make everything sound distant and slathered in reverb. I liked it even less than I liked the directionality of the Mionix Nash 20, which isn't even a surround-enabled headset.
But the biggest offense by far is the lack of volume in the Elite Prism. You can crank the Elite Prism all the way to maximum in-game and play for hours because it'll sound like a competing headset at mid-range volume. This headset is quiet, and that's a huge detractor in action games or films where you want that ear-rattling volume.
Yeah, yeah, our hearing is precious and we should limit how often we listen to things at loud volumes. I know that. Let me be the judge of when loud volumes are appropriate, though. I don't want to run my headset at maximum all the time, but if I reach to turn the volume up and find it's already at the limit? Well then we've got trouble.
I still love the design of the Elite Prism, and on those merits I would recommend it to anyone. It's light, it's comfortable, it looks graceful, and the on-the-fly controls are second to literally nobody else in the field.
And I'd definitely recommend this version over last year's, because if you're going to pay $200 for a headset you'd better have a decent microphone. But the looser fit is a mixed blessing in conjunction with the weight of the headset, and the improvements to the microphone are offset this year by the lack of volume in a crowded field of contenders.
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