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ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air
September 14, 2020
24 x 24 x 8 cm
Turtle Beach’s more esports-oriented brand ROCCAT has been putting out PC gaming accessories for years, including gaming headsets. Now it’s got a new line of headsets aimed at a slightly more competitive crowd. The ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air is currently the highest-end product of the batch, offering wireless audio, bright LEDs, and surround sound.
However, there are an absolute ton of gaming headsets that offer those features—does this one set itself apart?
Editor’s note: this ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air review was updated on January 24, 2022, to expand the list of buying options, add an Alternatives section, and update the score with poll results.
Who is the ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air for?
- Gamers looking for something affordable that covers all the bases.
- At-home workers who need something with a microphone that will last all day.
What is it like to use the ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air?
The sub-$100 gaming headset space is arguably the most competitive part of the whole market. And like most of the best options, the ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air offers the full slate of features you’d expect from a decent gaming headset, but it doesn’t exactly break new ground.
Visually, this is unmistakably a gaming headset. A great big colored LED ROCCAT logo sits on the left headphone. The headset’s metal suspension frame curves in a wide arc above the headband, and despite the fact that it’s built to automatically adjust to different head sizes, the headphone hinges still curve outward rather oddly. However, while its aesthetic decisions are rather typical of the market, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
The ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air is a very comfortable wireless gaming headset. The suspension band rests with just enough tension to feel secure without being too tight. The ear pads are made of memory foam covered in leatherette and feature softer foam in areas most likely to interact with glasses, so bespectacled gamers shouldn’t run into as much discomfort as usual. Leatherette is still a little stiff to get a great seal around a pair of glasses, and the headset lacks the tension to really force the issue, but it shouldn’t be too much of a problem for shorter sessions.
How do you connect the ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air?
Connecting the headset is pretty straightforward, with a couple of caveats. The ROCCAT Elo 7.1 connects to your Windows PC or console of choice via 2.4GHz USB RF dongle, and all you need to do is plug it in and turn it on. The typical array of controls sits on the left headphone—there’s a power button, mic mute button, and dials to control volume and sidetone/mic monitoring. Rather frustratingly, the sidetone dial and the volume dial are exactly the same shape and right next to each other, so expect to accidentally adjust the wrong thing when making changes in the middle of a game (at least at first).
Should you download ROCCAT Swarm?
If you want access to additional features, the headset supports ROCCAT Swarm, the company’s requisite PC desktop app. Swarm lets you access 7.1 virtual surround sound, as well as more granular controls for headphone EQ, LED light color customization, mic settings, and more. It works, but frankly, the app is laid out very poorly, and even getting something basic like a clear battery reading takes some hunting. The microphone options include a setting called Magic Voice, which, it turns out, isn’t actually geared toward to enhancing mic output at all, but rather distorting it pretty severely—the results are pretty outlandish (more on that in a bit).
Like most gaming headset apps, ROCCAT Swarm isn’t necessary for basic functionality. If you don’t care about surround sound, I wouldn’t bother installing it in the first place. Many people will probably download it, check the “Surround sound” box, and never touch it again—it’s certainly what I wanted to do.
How long does the ROCCAT Elo 7.1 battery last?
ROCCAT claims the Elo 7.1 Air can last up to 24 hours on a single charge, and in our testing, we found that pretty much the case. At a consistent output of around 75dB, the ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air lasted just over 23 hours, 30 minutes on a single charge with the LED lights shut off. With the lights on, the headset fared considerably worse, narrowly coming up short of 16 hours. Even the low result is hardly bad, but all the same, expect around a 30% drop in battery performance if you’re intent on shining bright.
Is the ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air good for gaming?
Playing on PC, the ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air offers a pretty solid, if unremarkable gaming experience. It’s comfortable, even over long periods of time, and it never struggled to maintain a steady audio connection. Extended pauses or periods of silence did make the headset shut itself off to preserve battery, but that’s a good thing, even if it feels inconvenient to have to turn your headset back on after walking away for a few minutes.
See also: ROCCAT Syn Pro Air review
The headset handled the varied sounds of games like Hades and the recently re-released Halo: ODST easily, and the surround sound worked well in Overwatch. On PlayStation 4, connecting was just as straightforward as on PC, and though surround sound wasn’t available, the ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air still managed just fine outputting stereo for games like Dauntless and Marvel’s Spider-Man.
Does the ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air block out noise?
While its sound is reasonably accurate, the ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air sports some of the worst isolation performance I’ve seen from a gaming headset.
Virtually all of your surroundings remain audible while wearing the headset. It’s typical for non-noise cancelling headsets to minimally affect low-frequency sounds, but sounds higher than 1kHz are normally reduced much more than what’s shown.
This poor performance is due to the minimal headband tension and ear pad density. Even if the headset feels more comfortable, people with glasses should expect worse performance than this, because the frames prevent the ear pads from completely sealing around the ear.
If there’s one thing that saves the experience, it’s that the ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air is clearly designed for use solely at home. This headset only works via USB, so taking them out and about isn’t exactly an option. Basically, you won’t get much isolation from any kind of sound, but you probably won’t run into much distracting sound anyway.
How does the ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air sound?
The ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air offers pretty accurate audio output for a gaming headset, compared to our target curve. There’s a drop in output in the sub-bass range (20-60Hz), but otherwise, sounds are reproduced with relatively the same loudness. This is hardly an audiophile’s headset, but it doesn’t distort anything too badly.
Lows, mids, and highs
In music, frequency response like this should be fine for just about everything, but bass-heavy tracks may sound a little less impressive. In the David Essex classic Rock On, everything sounds accurate except for the bass guitar, which really sets the tone of the song. The bass guitar sounds much less clear than it otherwise would when the other instruments start.
In game, you shouldn’t run into any issues with frequency response like this. The ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air avoids the trap many gaming headsets fall into by not boosting the bass to brain-rattling levels. The under-emphasized bass shouldn’t be an issue either—explosions, gunfire, and other low, rumbling sounds are always going to be the loudest elements in a given scene or moment. Just know you shouldn’t have any trouble recognizing the sounds of footsteps in Valorant during a firefight.
How is the microphone on the ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air?
The ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air microphone offers pretty standard audio output for a gaming headset. Like many others, this mic features dramatically de-emphasized bass and mid-range sound, up to around 600Hz. This means people with deeper voices will come through a little distorted, as the bassier parts of their speech don’t output at the same volume as other equally loud aspects. This can lead to tinny-sounding audio.
As I mentioned above, the ROCCAT Swarm app offers a few rather unique microphone settings to tweak how you sound. The Magic Voice option features presets you can toggle to dramatically change your voice, the options are Male, Female, Monster, and Cartoon. If the names weren’t a giveaway, these don’t fix or even improve the EQ settings of the microphone. Rather, they’re filters to completely change the way your voice sounds. Some might even find them a little insulting—the Female filter is almost identical to the Cartoon filter, and they both make you sound like one of Alvin’s long-lost chipmunk cousins. Listen for yourself:
How does the microphone sound to you?
As of January 24, 2022, nearly 74% of readers rated the above microphone sample between “okay” and “good,” which is middling for a gaming headset microphone.
Should you buy the ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air?
If you’re looking for something wireless under $100 USD, you should look at the ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air. Maybe don’t only look at it, though.
The ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air is a fine gaming headset, to be sure. For $99, it’s impressive that you get such good battery life, surround sound, and wireless audio, all wrapped up in such a comfortable frame. However, plenty of gaming headsets at or around the same price do things better.
The ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air is a perfectly fine gaming headset but compared to the wealth of remarkable options at the same price, you might be better served looking elsewhere.
What should you buy instead of the ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air?
The SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless is the same price, has better battery performance and more accurate audio, and it works on every platform but the Xbox One (no surround sound though). If having something affordable with lots of features is what you’re after, the Razer BlackShark V2 is the same price, and even though it’s wired, it sports fantastic isolation, super-accurate sound, and a better microphone, along with a full software suite of features.
If you’re more interested in a console-centric headset, there are definitely better options. The HyperX Cloud Flight S is more expensive, but it’s better in just about every way, and it offers surround sound on PlayStation 4 and PC. The PlayStation Gold Wireless Headset is also a solid option if you want something cheaper, though its microphone is pretty poor.
If you’d rather get a separate headset and dedicated gaming mic, might we point you toward the ROCCAT Torch USB microphone. This perfectly matches ROCCAT’s other gaming peripherals and offers pretty solid sound for the price.
Frequently asked questions about the ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air
The Elo X Stereo is another pretty basic gaming headset with a suspension headband. If you don’t need any kind of flare and want a cheap wired gaming headset with a surprisingly solid mic, the Elo X Stereo is a good start. At that price, however, you have better options like the Razer Kraken X.
Probably not. The headset only connects to devices using a USB-A dongle.
Plug the USB dongle into a port on the console.