Tech Up! Venom Marauder 7.1 Virtual Surround Gaming Headset

By Tomas Barry 15.08.2017

With such an extensive range of options around these days, it's difficult for any headset to be distinct. Venom certainly has the right idea with the Marauder 7.1 Virtual Surround Gaming Headset, though, which is crammed with features, considering its very reasonable price point of just under £50. The Marauder features a cushioned headband and ear-cups that provide genuine comfort for long game sessions, truly immersive 7.1 surround, and 40mm neodymium drivers for powerful bass and refined high-end, in-line controls for game and audio, as well as a foldaway noise-cancelling microphone. It's also quite a versatile piece of kit, supporting everything from PS3 and PS4, to the Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC. While it's surprisingly easy for a dedicated multiplayer gamer, then, to drop three figures on a high-quality headset, if Venom can deliver with this new product, out on Friday 28th August, gamers everywhere will be in for quite an audio treat.

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The Venom Marauder is quite a sleek looking headset. The splash of red on black, under the cushions and along the headband, gives it a subtle but pleasing aesthetic. It may feel a little plastic, but that's hardly something anyone should really care about, especially considering it seems so solid and durable. Out of the box, the headset comes accompanied with a 3.5mm audio cable, a 3.5mm to 2.5mm for the Xbox 360, an optical cable, as well as the USB hub. It's a very generous supply of cables, considering not all rivals include accessory cables for universal support. Note that the old Xbox One pads require an adapter.

Plugging into a PS4 is very straightforward, even after only very briefly consulting the online manual. Hopping into a game of Battlefield 1, the earth-tremoring explosions really boom nicely, with other players' shots and cries ringing around the mid-range with crispness and precision. There's no doubt the 7.1 surround makes a big difference to game experiences such as this, since being able to react to audio cues on positioning and such is always key. Another feature that is much taunted is the 3D enhancer, which is switched on from the USB control box. This adds further depth to the low range, which is pleasing for first-person shooters and such, although this also substantially dulls the high-end frequencies. This won't matter in that type of game, but it won't be desirable in experiences with more central use of music.

Image for Tech Up! Venom Marauder 7.1 Virtual Surround Gaming Headset

At first it may be a bit of a challenge to locate the well-hidden pull-out mic (on the left ear-cup). While it's a plus to have one that's small enough to be tucked away internally, since that is a lot more convenient than a detachable one, this one does have one small niggling issue. It's not easily pulled out and in, meaning you can't access the mic and then get rid mid-game. That type of access can be useful for certain situations. During testing on PC, for instance, yours truly hopped into a race of iRacing. Talking is a real distraction in a sim, but if you are inexplicably wrecked by some feckless racer, you might want to push that mic in for the next few minutes, to lower the risk of a ban-worthy profanity-ridden rant making it onto the driver's radio. Ultimately, though, it's a small issue, since it's not an intrusive mic, so it's best just left down, unless it's being transported.

The in-line control is very handy indeed. It allows players to modify the vibration levels, the game and chat volumes and features a mute button, with an LED light which glows blue when active. It's a nice shape for the unit, and, once familiar with its construction, it can be manipulated without glancing at it. It also has a very sturdy clip, so players can position the unit where they want with no fears of it flying to the floor during an intense gaming session. The only slight qualm here is that the two-metre wire length is a bit restrictive for those who aren't gaming at a computer desk.

The only real issue that dampens enthusiasm for this budget-priced, but surprisingly feature-packed headset, is its microphone gain levels. Unfortunately, testing it across a variety of platforms, there just didn't seem to be much volume. Some people may well be screaming orders down it anyway, in which case, nothing to worry about. But for others, this could be something to be mindful of. In iRacing, drivers must use the mic respectfully so as not to distract others or make someone jump because of the volume. That equates to don't yell, and say what you need quickly and coherently. Unfortunately, on testing, it wasn't possible to thank someone for a pass without repeating, and making sure to speak up, which is less than ideal. It's a shame, because the sense of immersion from the crisp audio and 7.1 surround positioning, really shone there.

Image for Tech Up! Venom Marauder 7.1 Virtual Surround Gaming Headset

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10
Reflecting on the Venom Marauder after a week of intensive use, it must be said that it's quite an achievement. Within the same price bracket, there's really nothing that can match its versality, comfort and sound quality. Although there are, admittedly, a few flaws with the mic, which isn't as easy to access as it should be, and doesn't really have the gain-levels it should, that's largely over-shadowed by the fantastic sound quality which is extremely well-suited to most types of games. This headset makes use of some inventive ideas, like the 3D audio enhancer, it looks great, and it also proves to be extremely comfortable even after extended sessions.  Considering it's available for less than £50, it's a very enticing piece of kit for gamers looking for high-end features from a budget headset. While the Venom Marauder isn't perfect, this is a very impressive attempt at closing the gap within that spectrum.

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