MSI Immerse GH61 Gaming Headset review: A super comfortable gaming headset
Quick verdict: The MSI Immerse GH61 locks you into your own gaming world with excellent audio reproduction and a very comfortable frame.
- Very comfortable for lengthy wearing
- 3.5mm or USB connectivity
- Large buttons for easy volume and mute control
- Average microphone
- Creaky plastic construction
- Top volume is ear-splittingly loud
MSI's latest set of wired gaming headphones certainly brings some pedigree to market, with the promise of ONKYO speakers providing up to (virtual) 7.1 surround sound to your audio experiences, whether you want them purely for gaming pursuits or more widely to cover your listening needs. The MSI Immerse GH61 is very comfortable for extended wear, even if you've got a larger head or usually find headphones cramp your skull after some time, which is a huge plus.
- Fold-down design
- Clip-on USB volume controls
- 'Protein Leather' or Soft Fabric Ear Cups
There's not a lot going on in pure design terms with the MSI Immerse GH61 that you won't have seen in other gaming headsets. Each ear cup features MSI's Dragon logo, although it's only printed rather than being RGB-enhanced if that fusses you. The MSI Immerse GH61 is quite light in the hand, although that's also a function of the plastic build, which can creak a little when you're unfolding the headphones or adjusting the headband for fit.
The MSI Immerse GH61 features a fixed braided fabric cable that ends in a 3.5mm headphone jack if that's your preferred connection method, as well as a USB connection box that also houses volume, mic mute and 7.1 virtual sound toggles.
It's supplied with a very solid clip and is really easy to access even in the heat of a pitched gaming battle, although the one catch here is that if you only want a straight 3.5mm connection, you simply don't get its options in play. Again, that's not an uncommon approach to dual 3.5mm/USB connectivity.
The onboard microphone retracts out from the left cup when needed, leaving a small stub always accessible. It sits on a roughly 11cm long flexible stalk and again it's a personal preference whether you like that side-of-mouth style for your gaming mic or not. I'm not a big fan – I'd rather a longer stalk – but it is discrete if that's your preference.
The MSI Immerse GH61 comes with a large carrying case for portability and the entire headset folds down to accommodate a slightly smaller size for transport purposes.
MSI provides two ear cup types with the MSI Immerse GH61, with either a fabric finish or "protein" leather style. The same "protein" leather is also used in the headband for added comfort. Typically speaking, that choice is usually a mix of comfort and warmth, because leather – even fake leather like this – is usually more comfortable but can get warmer and less comfortable over time, especially during the warmer summer months.
After many hours of using the MSI Immerse GH61 for everything from gaming to podcast production, I've been pleasantly surprised at just how comfortable the protein leather ear cups really are. My own skull geometry means that many headphones become a tad pinched over time, but I've really not had that problem with the MSI Immerse GH61.
One of the more unusual add-ons you can opt to purchase alongside the MSI Immerse GH61 is the Immerse HS01 Combo stand. It's a vertical stand for you to hang your headphones on, but the reason that it's a "combo" stand is that it also incorporates a plug-in Qi wireless charger at the base of the stand.
The GH61 headphones themselves don't use power that way, so this is purely to charge a Qi-compatible device such as a smartphone. It certainly works based on the model supplied for review and a grouping of Qi-compatible phones. The HS01 stand doesn't ship with a charger, and at around $109 online at the time of writing, it's something of a pricey extra on top of the cost of the headphones themselves.
- Good for gaming audio
- Slightly flat audio for music
- Decent but not stellar microphone pick-up
The direct connection nature of the MSI Immerse GH61, whether you're using 3.5mm audio or USB means that it's effectively plug and play, although for the most control over its audio features it's recommended to install MSI's Nahamic software for balancing purposes.
MSI's big claim for the MSI Immerse GH61 is that its use of ONKYO speakers gives it an edge over the increasingly crowded surround sound gaming market. It manages this with a pair of 40mm drivers to send sound to your ears, with the option of virtual 7.1 surround sound.
Like most gaming surround sound there's some definite upsides in placement of audio that varies a lot by game type. Generally speaking there's enough punch for proper placement in FPS games of in-game events without noticeable distortion even at very high volume levels. At maximum volume level the MSI Immerse GH61 puts out a lot of sound, almost to ear-splitting levels. That's not an advisable level of volume, both for your own hearing purposes but also because at those top levels there is an inevitable degree of noise leakage.
The MSI Immerse GH61 uses Nahamic software for audio enhancement, with option toggles for a variety of equalisation settings across not only gaming but also music and movie presets. You're well advised to adjust these settings to your personal preferences: I found the default audio fine for gaming as you'd expect, but it was rather flat for music playback, losing a lot of the richness in standard music genres.
The MSI Immerse GH61's inbuilt microphone can likewise be modified for noisier environments via the installable Nahamic app on a sliding scale. Actual external noise suppression was fairly solid, but the audio pick-up from the microphone was still pretty average. If you want good audio pick-up for your game streams, you're still going to do better with a dedicated microphone, but for in-game communication purposes it's fine.
- Buy it if you want a very comfortable and loud set of gaming cans.
- Don't buy it if you want better microphone pick-up or need wireless connectivity.
The MSI Immerse GH61 is a very good set of gaming headphones for most purposes, not just gaming-related ones, but won't suit every gaming need precisely. Wireless is the obvious omission here, but you're not charged for it accordingly. The one catch is that if you're a Mac gamer – yes, they exist – then the headphones won't work anywhere near as well for you, because the Nahamic software for fine-tuning is Windows 10 64-bit only.
Pricing and availability
Where to buy
Images: Alex Kidman