ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air review
Quick verdict: The ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air combines premium comfort with powerful audio performance at a very attractive price.
- Tremendously comfortable
- Powerful audio chops
- Excellent price for what you get
- Suffers from intermittent connectivity issues
- Limited on-ear controls
- Surround sound implementation could be better
ROCCAT is a relatively recent entrant in the gaming headset space, having only a handful of audio products to its name. However, its line-up is growing steadily, with the latest addition coming in the form of the ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air.
This PC wireless gaming headset touts virtual 7.1 surround sound along with high-performance wireless connectivity and lightweight comfort. How does it stack up against the litany of competing headsets on the market? Let's take a look.
- Light yet sturdy design
- Plush ear cushions are tremendously comfortable
- Self-adjusting headband maintains a firm fit at all times
Right out of the gate, the ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air looks and feels like a premium product. A firm metal headband connects the sturdy plastic ear cups on rotating hinges, allowing the cups to swivel to accommodate different head shapes. Each cup feels resilient enough to brush off its fair share of bumps and knocks.
Plush ear cushions sit within the cups, their soft memory foam absorbing pressure so effectively that I could barely feel the headset after a few minutes of play. Despite their light touch, they form a firm seal around the ears that blocks out a good chunk of ambient background noise. They offer an extra bonus for glasses-wearing gamers, too. At the areas where glasses rest against the cushions, the foam is softer. This reduces the pressure for a more comfortable fit.
Beneath the metal headband sits a self-adjusting leatherette headband, cushioning the head from having to rest against cold metal. Unlike most headsets, you can't manually adjust its girth manually. Instead, the headset stretches to accommodate your head size when you put it on. It's a convenient solution that works well, remaining comfortable over extended hours of use.
Combined with the ear cushions, this makes the Elo 7.1 Air one of the most comfortable headsets I've worn, up there with the likes of the Logitech G Pro X Wireless. Its plastic construction might not be quite as slick as the all-metal build of Logitech's headset, but it still feels plenty durable.
As with many headsets, the Elo 7.1 Air houses its audio controls on the back side of the left ear cup. You've got a power button, volume wheel, mic monitoring volume wheel and a mic mute button. Minor nitpick: I wish the power button was a toggle so you could determine whether the headset is on or off at a touch. As it is, you need to remove the headset and check the LED indicator light to check its status.
Also on the left ear cup is a jack for the detachable microphone. It's a unidirectional mic on a flexible arm, so you can easily adjust it to account for the position of your mouth and the volume of your voice.
- Big sound with high volume output
- Solid 7.1 surround sound implementation
- Wireless connectivity is flaky at times
Audio quality on the Elo 7.1 Air is just as strong as its robust design. 50mm neodymium drivers deliver powerful lows and crisp highs. Volume output is impressively high, letting you really blast your eardrums if you're so inclined. Even at high volumes, the audio remains clear with no noticeable impact on quality.
The Elo 7.1 Air performed admirably across my standard suite of test games. In Destiny 2, the metallic ping of my scout rifle rang satisfyingly sharp. Each volley of my pulse rifle delivered a powerful bassy kick to my skull. Sidearms cracked like deadly whips and explosions overwhelmed the senses with booming fury.
Audio performance was similarly impressive in DOOM Eternal. Everything sounded appropriately big and beefy. Voices were crisp and clear, weapons thumped and boomed with physical force and the growls and shrieks of demonic enemies came off suitably haunting.
In Battlefield 1, shotgun blasts punched through the air, exploding tank shells rattled the skull and falling shrapnel assaulted the ears with chaotic intensity.
Not all games sound great with the Elo 7.1 Air out of the box. By default, the headset's EQ prioritises voice and background music over explosions and weapons fire. This was most noticeable in Battlefield 1, where gunfire was almost inaudible at first. Fortunately, it was a fairly easy solve. By adjusting the EQ to bump up the relevant frequencies, I was able to improve the audio mix dramatically.
7.1 surround sound is a key part of ROCCAT's pitch for the Elo 7.1 Air – it's right there in the name, after all. When active, the virtual surround sound technology delivers accurate positional audio, improving spatial awareness and creating a larger, more-enveloping soundscape to immerse yourself in.
On the practical side, I was able to quickly pinpoint resources in Destiny 2 as well as easily keep track of enemy locations. It was a similar story in DOOM Eternal. 360-degree sound cues alerted me to the serpentine Whiplash demons as they slithered around to flank me and tipped me off to Hell Knights as they attempted to pounce on me from above.
Like most virtual 7.1 surround sound implementations, ROCCAT's solution isn't perfect. In some games and movies – typically those that only offer stereo output – audio can sound tinny and compressed when 7.1 is active. It's most noticeable when people are speaking, with the surround sound algorithm introducing an echo-like sound to each line. In these cases, it's best to switch the headset back to stereo output as this eliminates the aural artifacts. However, this does come at the cost of losing spatial audio.
The other side of the audio equation is microphone quality. Here, the Elo 7.1 Air excels. It captured my voice clearly, with none of the crackling or distortion present on many headsets. Vocal clarity was superb whether I was shouting or whispering. It did pick up a bit of background noise from my desktop fan, though, even after I activated the noise cancellation feature. Addressing this was as simple as moving the mic closer to my mouth and dialling down its sensitivity.
ROCCAT promises "incredibly reliable connectivity" thanks to the Stellar wireless technology powering the Elo 7.1 Air. Sadly, the tech does not live up to its name. On multiple occasions, the headset would refuse to sync properly with the wireless dongle after turning it on. Either it would briefly connect and disconnect, leaving the PC thinking it was connected even though it wasn't, or it would simply refuse to pair with the dongle in the first place. Rebooting the headset or unplugging the dongle and plugging it back in would resolve the issue.
Once connected, the headset typically exhibited no further issues, though I did experience one random disconnection while playing a game. Again, I had to remove and plug the wireless dongle back in to re-establish the connection. These wireless issues persisted throughout my time with the headset, and though they only posed a minor inconvenience, they nonetheless tarnished my experience.
On a more positive note, the Elo 7.1 Air maintained a solid battery life of around 24 hours during my testing, lining up with ROCCAT's claims. The only downside is how ROCCAT communicates the current charge level. In the ROCCAT Swarm desktop app, remaining battery life is measured in 25% chunks. This isn't particularly helpful when you're down to the last 25% or 0%, since it's unclear how much time you actually have left before the headset dies.
- 10-band EQ and plenty of toggles to customise your audio profile
- Supports Turtle Beach's Superhuman Hearing mode
- No on-ear controls for adjusting settings on the fly, sadly
The ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air offers a wide array of extra features, customisable through the ROCCAT Swarm desktop app.
First and foremost, you've got access to a 10-band equaliser to tailor the headset's audio profile to your personal preferences. There are a number of built-in profiles corresponding to different genres like Racing and FPS, each offering a distinct balance of high, mid and low frequencies designed to enhance the audio mix of their respective games. Alternatively, you can create and save your own EQ profiles, elevating the frequencies you most want to hear and lowering those you find too aggressive.
In addition to the regular equaliser, there's a 10-band bass EQ offering the same degree of customisation purely for bass frequencies. You can also adjust bass volume with respect to headset volume.
Toggles are in ample supply within the ROCCAT Swarm app. These let you increase the vocal and general audio clarity of incoming audio, switch between 7.1 surround sound and standard stereo output and activate the headset's Superhuman Hearing mode.
The latter option is a feature drawn from parent company Turtle Beach's headsets. It amplifies quieter audio sources such as footsteps and the sounds of weapons reloading. As I've found when testing Turtle Beach headsets like the Stealth 600 Gen2, using Superhuman Hearing mode means making a big trade-off. While it can help you better detect approaching enemies, it renders all audio tinny and weak, stripping it of body and bass. For this reason, the mode is best reserved for folks who are after every competitive edge no matter the cost to audio quality.
Microphone audio has its own cadre of customisable options. You've got a noise cancellation toggle to filter out background noise, a slider for adjusting mic sensitivity and a toggle to enable mic monitoring so you can hear your own voice back through the headset as you speak. There's also a "Magic Voice" option that applies one of four effects to your mic audio: male voice, female voice, monster voice or cartoon. It's a goofy addition, similar to what you can get from discrete voice modulation apps.
RGB lighting makes its appearance on the Elo 7.1 Air in the form of two ROCCAT logos, one on the face of each ear cup. The two logos are synced, so you can't set their colours or patterns individually. You can choose from a handful of lighting patterns, including static, colour cycling, heartbeat, breathing and blinking. There's also support for ROCCAT's AIMO lighting system, which produces dynamic lighting across multiple ROCCAT products when you have them connected at the same time.
One feature the Elo 7.1 Air is missing is the ability to adjust settings on the fly via on-ear controls. For instance, the only way to toggle Superhuman Hearing mode is to alt-tab out of a game and open up the ROCCAT Swarm app. This hobbles the feature considerably since you can't just switch it on to scope out an area before switching back to higher-quality audio.
Should you buy the ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air?
- Buy it if you want premium comfort and sound at a good price
- Don't buy it if you're looking for a flawless wireless experience
ROCCAT makes a compelling argument with the Elo 7.1 Air. It's got the premium look and feel of headsets that cost hundreds of dollars more, it pumps out powerful sound that remains crisp and clear at high volumes and it packs a raft of versatile features including a solid 7.1 surround sound implementation.
It's a shame, then, that its wireless performance isn't as reliable as it should be. Infrequent though they are, random disconnections and syncing issues undermine what is otherwise an excellent headset.
Nevertheless, thanks to its $199.95 price tag, the ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air stands out as a solid choice for folks wanting a high-end wireless gaming headset that won't destroy their wallet.
Pricing and availability
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