Just for clarification: my previous headset was way too tight around my head so I couldn't keep it on my head for longer than 15 minutes. Whenever I needed the full headset functionality, I put my headphones on for playback and put the headset around my neck so the mic would still be within range. Virtually anything would be an upgrade coming from this situation so my review may be a bit optimistic.
I ordered the Arctis 5 from Amazon for about 100€, half of which came from a gift voucher so that made the cost a lot easier to bear. Still, I think it's not an unreasonable price for a good quality headset, and this model has a lot of positive reviews so that's how I ended up ordering it. The product arrived nicely on time in good packaging. The box comes with the following items:
- The headset itself (obvs)
- A product information guide + installation disc
- Main cable (mini-USB)
- Chatmix dial with attached USB cable
- AUX adapter
The AUX adapter is nice to have, but note that if you're into the RGB features you need to use the USB connection as the RGB doesn't work over AUX.
When plugged into the computer over USB, the RGB is going through a rainbow wave by default, but this can easily be adjusted using the accompanying software if desired. The only downsides are that there is only 1 illumination zone on each cup (so you can only display one colour at a time on a given cup), and there's no option to control or turn off the RGB on the microphone, which is bright red by default. I find it quite annoying because it's shining straight up into your face when it's on so you'd have to bend the microphone in such a way that the light is outside your field of view. The bright side is that the LED on the mic is only on while the mic is muted, so it won't bother you when you're using the mic.
The microphone is retractable (greatly helps ignoring the bright red LED while muted) and has a very flexible sleeving so you can bend it in virtually any shape you want to, but you'll need to straighten it out again to retract it. The recording quality is great and there is a mic mute button on the left cup, albeit in a somewhat strange position (on the bottom side of the cup, behind the cable. Next to it is also a volume control wheel which could come in useful when you are using the headset with a console or mobile device, but I feel that it is easier to just change the volume on my PC using my keyboard.
The sound quality is nice - don't get me wrong: it's definitely not audiophile quality, but for gaming or casual listening to video or music it is definitely good enough. The cups sit comfortable around the ears (very soft fabric) and are wide enough to be over-ear cups even when you have relatively large ears. For some people the cushioning is too soft and their ears touch the inside of the cup, but for me that not really the case.
The tightness of the headband can be adjusted easily using velcro straps of the inner band. Something I do find disturbing though is that when I tilt my head backwards or forwards (e.g. while drinking), the headset is prone to sliding a bit as well. As long as you keep your head relatively straight there is no problem, but it's not very much secured in place as I'd want. Perhaps this could be improved by making the headband tighter, but then I'm afraid it would squeeze my big head too much.
The marketing for the Arctis could be a bit misleading if you're not careful enough. They say that their microphone has an exclusive bidirectional design to support "unmatched voice clarity and almost complete noise cancellation". While the voice clarity is great, it should be noted that the noise cancellation is for the recorded audio only - NOT for the audio playback!
The only thing I haven't been able to test the chatdial functionality very much yet (might update this review later to include more on this topic), but from what I can tell it only seems to work by regulating the volume from different apps. It would probably work great if you use an external app like Discord, but I'm not sure how well it would work if you use in-game voice chat.
UPDATE: I've tested the chatdial by now. Basically when you plug the headset into the computer, you don't get one but two output devices listed. You can then set the Arctis 5 Game device to your main game audio, while setting the Arctis 5 Chat as default output for your chat. This can be set in different apps, and some games also allow setting a different playback device for voice chat. How the Chatdial works is basically by dimming the volume of one of these two channels while keeping the other at maximum volume. It's a very nice feature to quickly change the volume of chat or game without having to dig around in settings.
In conclusion: the Arctis 5 is a great headset for a reasonable price. It may not be perfect but for most gamers it will be all they will need.