Sennheiser isn't the first name most of us would associate with gaming audio hardware.

Founded a few weeks after World War II, the German company has built a massive multinational business producing high quality audio equipment for mainstream consumer applications, as well as for niche markets such as aviation. Obviously the gaming industry is a lucrative source of revenue for those with the right reputation for quality and design, so Sennheiser are hitting the ground running with their current range of gaming headsets.

To see how well this quality has been applied, we've been evaluating the PC 330 G4ME headset, which sits in the middle of their line-up at around NZD $250.

There's no question that Sennheiser engineer some of the best looking headphones out there, and the PC 330 is no exception. The unit is sturdy, with a tight headband and ample padding, and features a noise-cancellation microphone. The only design element that is a bit off-putting is the actual size of the microphone arm; it's simply too big. For something designed to be unobtrusive, it's almost as if Sennheiser have made an effort to draw attention to it, which is a bizarre decision indeed.

To offset this however, raising the boom arm produces an audible click whilst simultaneously muting the microphone, which saves messing around looking for a switch or configuring a hotkey. In addition, the right can has a swivel action built in, allowing you to raise the can away from your ear and communicate with your neighbour without removing the headset entirely. It's a bit of a gimmick, but certainly works well, perhaps adding to overall usefulness at a LAN.

The drivers themselves operate between 14 - 22,000Hz, and provide easily some of the best mid to high-range sound we've ever encountered. The crisp response and clarity has to be heard to be believed, although it's somewhat frustrating that this is tempered by some decidedly average bass response. The lack of low-down punch could be a deciding factor if you want to split your time between gaming and listening to music, in which case the Sound Blaster 3D Sigma headset we reviewed a couple of weeks back is roughly the same price and probably better tailored for a hybrid user.

General opinion varies on the ideal placement of a volume switch. A cord-mounted controller is easy to spot, and simple enough to use without taking your eyes off the screen. The PC 330 features a can-mounted volume dial which achieves none of this functionality, it's not easy to locate in the heat of battle, and has too much resistance. It's something you'd get used to over time, but as we've asked ourselves many times with products like this, why should you have to?

On a positive note, Sennheiser have managed to keep the weight down. At a quarter of a kilogramme, they're certainly not to be considered heavy, although surprisingly they do become slightly claustrophobic and require you to relocate them on your head after a few hours. It's worth noting that the can design sits somewhere between circumaural and supra-aural, that is, they won't necessarily encompass and contain your entire ear. Coupled with the closed can design and the tight headband, there's room for improvement, and the potential for discomfort from prolonged usage.

There's no doubt Sennheiser are making a solid effort to appeal to the gaming mass market - there's even a rather solemn-looking mugshot of Danny 'Zonic' Sørensen from the mTw Counter-Strike 1.6 team peering out from the box, which is either encouraging or slightly terrifying.

Sennheiser appear to be able to deliver roughly halfway in a multitude of different aspects - the upper half the sound range is fantastic. They're comfortable to wear for half as long as you'd expect. The microphone is bigger than it needs to be by a factor of about a half, and only one of the cans swivel.

Despite this though, the PC 300 G4ME represents a good buy for those willing to invest a little bit more in return for a quality brand. It's unlikely that anyone would be disappointed with what's on offer here, particularly after they experience the sublime mid-range sound quality, but there's no doubt their appeal would be significantly improved with a tighter focus on comfort and a price cut.