For those older gamers reading this, you’ll remember vividly how it used to be commonplace to have a dedicated sound card in your PC: On-board audio encoding wasn’t a thing back in the days of beige boxes, shareware and 486CPUs.
As PCs became more and more modern, motherboards started appearing with in-built sound cards offering OK but often not stellar sound. Still, it was early days and you made the most of what you had. I still remember my Creative Labs Sound Blaster sound cards with fond memories.
Fast forward to today
Modern PCs have pretty good on-board audio but it’s still not as good as a dedicated device to pump out the gaming sounds. Enter stage left, the Epos Sennheiser GSX300 external sound card which bypasses your PC’s onboard sound, instead managing all the sound encoding through a rather small black (or white) box with a minimalist design. The only buttons are a rotary dial that controls the volume and a small button that selects the soundscape, be it 2.0 or 7.1 sound.
You set the Epos as your default sound device, plug your wired headset (and microphone, if you have one) into the 3.5mm audio jack at the back and you’re away laughing. The GSX300 connects to your PC via a USB cable and you have to download the Epos Gaming Suite software which let’s you manage sound and headphone settings and update the devices firmware (which it’ll do automatically every time there is a new update).
What I like about the Epos Sennheiser GSX300 is that because you’re using a wired connection, you’ll never need to worry about your gaming headset going flat mid mission, which is something that has happened to me a few times when my wireless headset ran out of juice. That said, it you’re a minimalist and don’t like a clutter of cables on your desktop you might be put off by the cable snaking from the back of the device. That didn’t bother me.
Small, but perfectly formed.
The Epos Gaming Suite has three pre-set soundscapes: music, esports and movies and you can create your own by using the nine-band equaliser. I tested the device using my Bose QC Quiet IIs headphones – already stellar performers in my opinion – and sound quality in games like Horizon Zero Dawn was flawless.
Another thing I liked about the GSX300 – apart from the price which is $NZ139 – is that it’s not flashy or ostentatious in its design. It’ll sit comfortably on your computer desk and won’t look out of place and the he only visible illumination on the unit comes from behind the rotary dial, which either glows red (7.1 sound) or blue (2.0 sound).
I can see the GSX300 perfect for gamers who have a budget or low-quality on-board sound chip, a good wired headset and just want better sound when they game.
It’s a marriage made in audio heaven, really.