Date: January 27, 2014
Author(s): J.D. Kane
Most gaming headsets are one-trick ponies: They’re designed for gaming, which tends to mean that they’re just “good enough” for everything else. As we’ve learned from Func over the past year, though, the company doesn’t want to create anything just “good enough”. So, let’s see if we get “more” with its HS-260 gaming headset.
I’m so glad I drew the assignment to review Func’s HS-260 gaming headset.
You might think that after a little more than a year of reviewing headsets from a variety of manufacturers, I’d be tired of sampling this type of equipment. The truth is, I’m a bit of an audio junkie, and I honestly love doing this for Techgage.
Of course, some headsets are better than others. Some you look at, and you’re not surprised why it doesn’t satisfy your ears too much. Others you find yourself really surprised at how good they sound.
Then there’s the Func HS-260 Gaming Headset.
At this point in the review, I won’t tell you about how it performs. That’s for later.
But I think that this is a smart-looking headset. I suppose I have a preference for austere, serious-looking gear, and I think the HS-260 certainly fits the description. I will confess that I got some good-natured ribbing from some friends at the office when they saw me with the HS-260 on my way to lunch one time. I was going to test it on my iPod classic, and the nature of my co-workers’ jokes had to do with the HS-260’s apparently gigantic proportions.
The HS-260’s 50mm drivers probably have something to do with why my work friends were throwing jokes in my direction. To me, it’s not that big. But I guess my co-workers think differently. They probably have zero experience with anything other than those silly, tinny-sounding ear buds Apple provides with their iPods. I laugh at them, then.
Here’s a look at everything Func has included in the box. There’s the headset unit itself, of course. Then there’s the removable mic stalk and the detachable braided cable. Func has also provided an extra pair of padded ear pieces for the speakers, which is a great touch. Finally, there is a rudimentary user’s manual as well.
The headset unit itself really hits the spot, as far as I’m concerned. I like its business-like aesthetic. There is nothing garish or lurid about the HS-260. As far as appearance goes, this headset is as classy at things get.
The detachable braided cable, on the other hand, is perhaps the one obvious concession Func gives to the stereotypical gamer. Covered in a relatively eye-catching black and red braided sleeve, it’s a contrast to the mostly dark matte greys and black, with some tasteful chrome accenting of the drivers’ exterior surfaces, of the headset unit. Having said that, it’s really not garish at all. What it is, though, is an interesting visual counterpoint compared to the headset unit itself. The cable is a 1-into-2 type: The cable is detachable via a single connector, and on the other end are two 3.5mm connectors. As typical, the connector with the lime green rings is the audio out connector, while the one with the pink rings is the microphone in connector.
And here is a close-up of the detachable microphone. The stalk is both flexible enough so that it can be bent to any desired shape, and stiff enough to stay in that shape. The mic unit has a sliding mute switch on its bottom surface for those moments when you need or want “radio silence” on your comms.
When I looked at both the cable and the microphone unit, I noticed that their connectors looked virtually the same size. A measurement confirmed my initial visual appraisal: They were the same size. So I looked at the bottom of both ear cups where both the mic and the cable jacks were. Obviously these were the same size as well. So did a quick test, swapping both the cable and the mic between each jack. Lo and behold, the jacks were interchangeable! You can plug in the mic and the cable into either jack, and the whole thing just works. I have honestly never seen that before in a gaming headset. Color me impressed.
Also, the left speaker has a rolling volume control on it. It’s a logical place to put it, and it’s easy to get to.
Now that we’ve had a good, close look at the HS-260, let’s talk about how it performs.
The Func HS-260, as with all headsets we test here at Techgage, was tested to evaluate its performance in three major criteria: Ergonomics, Functionality, and Sound Quality. I feel that these are the most important points to appraise when it comes to this type of equipment.
I tested the HS-260 over a period of roughly two weeks, which is roughly the average time for speakers to achieve a certain consistency in its sound output. I’ve observed that most speakers’ sonic signature tends to change over time; sometime within these first two weeks, speakers seem to “bed in” and settle into their ultimate sonic signature.
So, let’s talk about the HS-260’s ergonomics.
In one word, they are superb. The headband achieves the perfect balance between being tight enough to keep the headset on my somewhat large-ish melon, and not being too tight to the point of discomfort. Also, it should be noted that, unlike most headsets, it didn’t seem to take the HS-260 any time at all for its headband to conform itself to my head’s dimensions. When testing headsets, I always expect for there to be at least some time for the thing to adjust and mould itself to my head. Out of the box, the HS-260 just seemed to be made for me.
Ditto the ear cups. I’ve commented in the past about how some headsets seem to have ear cups that seem to be a bit under-sized. The HS-260’s ear cups are just as how I prefer them: They allow my entire ear to sit inside them, and they do so with absolute comfort. To be perfectly honest, even comparing the HS-260 to my personal gear (Shure SRH840 and Beyerdynamic DT880 Pro), the Func just might be slightly superior in the ear cup department in that particular aspect. I can wear and use these for hours and feel no discomfort whatsoever. Also, it must be said that the HS-260 doesn’t feel big or heavy, despite my co-workers’ jokes.
As brilliant as its ergonomic qualities are, the HS-260 is just as accomplished when it comes to functionality. I especially love the interchangeable cable/mic jacks. It’s a unique feature as far as I know. The reason for my enthusiasm for this particular element of the HS-260’s design is the fact that there really is no standard position where to place your PC; some people have their PC on their right, and some have it on their left. This actually is also a bit true for laptops as well, since some have their audio connectors on the right side of the chassis, while others have them on the left side. The point is, these interchangeable dual-function connectors is a huge convenience for users because it eliminates the possibility of having the cables cross over one’s body no matter where their PC’s audio connectors happen to be. Maybe it’s just me, but honestly, I dislike it when cables have to cross my body. I mean, I can always have my arms above the cables; the issue is if the cables cross my torso, there’s always the possibility of getting tangled up with the cable. Func’s innovative and elegant solution obviates this possibility completely.
I also love that the HS-260 is not your typical gaming headset. I mean, it’s great for games, doing what all the best gaming headsets I’ve tested do. It’s great at positional audio. In shooters this is a great quality; you can tell where everything’s coming from just from audio cues. Explosions and other bass-heavy effects are also satisfying, with high frequency sounds like bullets zinging past your head being just as good.
As far as the microphone is concerned, it works well. I don’t indulge in multi-player gaming, but to test the HS-260’s mic I used it on Skype. My conversation partners reported that my voice came in loud and clear. That’s really all you ask from a microphone.
The HS-260 is also quite versatile, being great for movies and for music as well. As usual, I tested the HS-260 with Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, an ideal choice because of the plethora of positional audio effects. Although it’s just a stereo headset, it still gave me a super-satisfying experience. You see a lightsaber waving about on-screen on the left side, and that’s where you’ll hear it too. All those starfighters flying all over the place register aurally where you would expect them. And as far as music goes, well…
I evaluate a piece of audio equipment’s sound quality by listening to music. Running the gamut from rock, R&B, classical, and other genres, I listen to a wide variety of tunes, ones I’m intimately familiar with. This methodology gives me the advantage of knowing what to look for during playback. Well-recorded songs have nuances – stuff like that subtle whispered harmony to Josh Homme’s vocal on Queens of the Stone Age’s No One Knows, or that fourth and fifth guitar track complementing the main rhythm parts and an arpeggiated track on the Foo Fighters’ Ain’t It The Life – that tend to get lost in the mix when played back through a sub-par piece of audio equipment.
I’ll cut right to the chase: The HS-260 is the best-sounding headset I have ever reviewed. Bar none.
I was frankly amazed at just how close the HS-260 sounds compared to my Shure SRH840. My SRH840 (and my favorite Beyerdynamic DT880 Pro) is classified as a monitoring headphone, which means it plays back music (and other output) without any treble or bass bias. The point of using monitoring headphones (and speakers) is for the listener to hear the recording as the artist intended.
The HS-260 is not quite as flat (i.e., bias-free) as either my Shure or my Beyerdynamic headphones, but it was very hard to detect its biases. Bass playback was comparable to my personal cans, as was the treble. Where the Func seemed to have a bit of a boost in frequencies compared to my personal headphones was in the midrange. And that’s certainly not a bad thing, in my opinion. Personally, I would much rather prefer a slight increase in midrange levels; too much of a bass boost makes low-frequency output sound sloppy, while too much of a treble boost is just unpleasant to listen to.
Not only that, but the HS-260 was also very good at revealing subtleties in recordings just as I had described a few paragraphs up. Most of the other gaming audio gear I’ve tested for Techgage simply fail at this criterion.
Gaming headsets are usually one-trick ponies: They’re fine in games, but tend to fall a bit when you use them for movies or to listen to music with.
The Func HS-260 can do it all, and do it all with aplomb.
The headset is very comfortable to wear and use for hours on end, and its constituent parts work sans problems. It’s got its own unique design tricks – I just love the interchangeable dual-function connectors on the bottom of the ear cups – that not only makes it stand out amongst the throng of market competitors, but also provides a functional advantage (which lives up to the “Func” name).
And not only is it comfortable to use, it’s also versatile. Games, movies, music… this headset has no weaknesses in terms of functionality. I love how it’s not specialized. Sure, it’s classified as a gaming headset, but it doesn’t look like one (no faux camo decoration, no outlandish styling). Furthermore, it doesn’t really work like a typical one, which is an excellent thing indeed.
It’s peerless among its market competition when it comes to sound quality, as well. Indeed, its sonic signature is amazingly close to established performers in the “affordable” audiophile space.
I have never been so enthused with reviewing a piece of audio equipment as I have been with the Func HS-260. It has honestly shattered my own definitions of what a gaming headset can really be.
The HS-260 is a game changer; it has moved the goal posts far beyond where they used to be, and has established itself as the benchmark for gaming headsets. As hyperbolic as all of this sounds, I honestly think and feel that I’m still doing an inadequate job of describing just how good the HS-260 really is.
And you know what else? For something that sounds as divine as the HS-260 does, the price of admission is just frankly astonishing. You can get one of these headsets for a mere $80.00. If you think that sounds expensive, it’s really not. I’m not comparing this to other gaming headsets in the market, where the HS-260 sits in a good sweet spot price-wise. No, I’m actually putting it in the company of the cheaper of my personal monitoring headphones, the Shure SRH840, which I bought on sale at around $160.00. To my ears, the SRH840 is not twice as good as the Func HS-260.
It should go without saying that the Func HS-260 easily earns Techgage’s Editor’s Choice award.
Func HS-260 Gaming Headset
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