Once in a while, your favorite brand will disappoint you – like Thanos, it’s inevitable. No brand is perfect, and not every release is going to work out. Such is the curse of the Roccat Syn Pro Air, whose funky looking design – complete with Roccat’s signature RGB lighting effects – is eclipsed by its subpar sound quality and a brand new app that wasn’t quite ready for release.
Not that the gaming headset is without merit. The Roccat Syn Pro Air looks great and is a nice departure from the usual monstrous gaming headsets that tend to swallow users’ heads. Its detachable flip-to-mute mic sounds crisp and clear – not to mention, convenient. And its soundstage and sound imaging are spot on, thanks to the 3D audio and Superhuman Hearing marquee features, which are useful for shooters and competitive gaming.
However, even those features might not be enough to convince folks to overlook the headset’s glaring flaws, not when there are better options out there. At $149 (£129, AU$249), it might be slightly cheaper than many of the top headsets touting the same sound imaging prowess, but when something like the Razer BlackShark V2 Pro, which is only around $30 (£59, AU$59) more, not just boasts Razer’s THX Spatial Audio but also sounds great, you start to wonder if Syn Pro Air gets enough things right to really make it worth buying.
The Roccat Syn Pro Air even has a noticeable flaw in its design – its fit is a little too awkward to really secure the Syn Pro Air on your head. The rectangular shape of its earcups, rigid part of its ear foams, and loose length adjustments make the headset too loose when worn. So, you’ll find yourself constantly having to readjust it whenever you so much as tilt your head back a little or munch on potato chips.
The ear foams also don’t quite hug the sides of your head the way other headsets do, and that breathable, moisture-wicking athletic fabric they’re wrapped in isn’t exactly the softest.
This is disappointing considering that the Syn Pro Air really does look terrific. Made of durable plastic with a matte black finish, Roccat has fitted its “bionic shell” ear cups with RGB lighting that supports 16.8 million colors and the brand’s AIMO eco-system. There seems to be this new trend these days of wireless gaming headsets showcasing RGB prowess, and it’s a trend we fully support as long as there isn’t a huge compromise on battery life. At the very least, it makes headsets like the Syn Pro Air much more dynamic than other wireless options out there.
Unfortunately, the RGB lighting is also rather dim, so some users might prefer to just turn it off to save battery life. Because although the battery life is on par with the 25-hour rating Roccat promises, which is already nothing to write home about, it’s even less with RGB lighting enabled.
The Roccat Syn Pro Air also doesn’t have Bluetooth for some reason. Instead, Roccat decided to stick to a 2.4GHz USB-A transmitter in the box, which means that if you lose the tiny little transmitter, you’ll have no choice but to buy a replacement. We get that 2.4GHz wireless connections have less latency, but at this price point, Roccat really should have given users a choice – and thus more value.
The good news is that that connection is consistent and reliable, and has great range. We haven’t experienced any issues with it walking around our apartment or even going into another room and closing the door behind us. And, it does come with a USB-C adapter so that you can plug that transmitter into any device – bear in mind that the headset is compatible with PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch.
But it’s not all bad news for the Roccat Syn Pro Air. The ear cups also have a lot of swivel, its clamping force is just right and the whole headset is only 390g, making it fairly lightweight.
We also appreciate the minimal on-headset controls, which make using it less confusing – there’s just the on/off button on the underside of the left earcup, the volume wheel slightly above that and the mic monitor wheel on the right cup. To mute the mic, you simply need to flip it up. To unmute, you just need to flip it back down.
There’s even more to unpack when it comes to performance. One thing we have to mention is the Roccat Syn Pro Air’s soundstage, which is already wide at default, sans the headset’s 3D Audio feature. Its sound separation is also accurate, allowing you to easily hear sounds exactly where they’re coming from in-game, which is a boon for competitive gamers and people who take their FPS shooters seriously.
Turn on 3D Audio, which has three presets – game, music, and movie, and things get even more immersive. The soundstage is even wider and does a good job of approximating a 3D sound environment. The sound separation suffers a little when it’s activated, though, so you might want to think twice about using it for esports games where accuracy is key, but it’s still a handy feature to have for open-world narrative-driven games like Red Dead Redemption 2 and Cyberpunk 2077.
The other marquee feature, Superhuman Hearing, is the one that’s targeted at competitive gamers. It’s supposed to boost the frequencies of either gunshots or footsteps (you can choose between the two). When activated through Roccat’s Neon software, you’ll have access to a slider that allows you to adjust the strength of the boost. Casual gamers might find this feature unnecessary, especially because the sound quality does suffer a bit, but we can certainly see how it could be useful for esports gamers.
The mic sounds great too. Your voice will sound clear and uncompressed so you know you’ll come out loud and clear when communicating with your team in the most heated moments.
Sadly, in terms of sound quality in general, the Syn Pro Air leaves a lot to be desired. The highs sound clear and present here, but the mids are terribly recessed, which makes everything – including the low end – sound thin and greatly diminishes the audio. Even those with non-audiophile level taste will notice that the sound quality just isn’t up to par at its default settings. Music that’s bass-heavy, for example, will still have a bit of low end, but it will – along with the mids – sound neutered.
If this headset was released years ago, it would have been fine. However, many of the best gaming headsets these days put just as much emphasis on sound quality as they do gaming-related features, which puts the Syn Pro Air at a disadvantage.
The good news is that you have access to a 10-band EQ via the Neon software, so you can simply boost the mids there. Doing so will make the headset sound fuller and better, as well as bring the rumble back to the bass. For example, in Metro Exodus, guns and explosions lack impact on the headset. But, adjust the mids, and the game sounds much fuller and has a lot more rumble.
Just remember to have a lot of patience doing so. The Roccat Neon software is extremely buggy, constantly freezing or not detecting the headset and needing to be reset. At times, it can’t even execute any of the RGB customizations we make, which is frustrating.
When it does work, however, it’s a useful and fairly extensive piece of software that lets you personalize your Roccat Syn Pro Air. Not only will it let you customize the headset’s RGB lighting, toggle EQ, and turn on and adjust features like the Superhuman Hearing and 3D Audio, but it will also show battery level, update firmware, and give you access to things like Channel Mix, Game Dialog Level, and Noise Gate Threshold.
On paper, the Roccat Syn Pro seems to have everything you could ask for in a gaming headset. However, it also misses where it counts out of the box – the Syn Pro is thin sounding, with recessed mids that greatly diminish the audio. On top of that, the fit isn’t precise or secure and the software can be finicky. That means that despite its great features, there may be too many sacrifices here to convince some folks.