Open-back headsets for gaming are a little harder to come by than more commonly found close-back headsets, but if that's what you prefer, Sennheiser has you covered with its new GSP 500. The pitch from Sennheiser is that the headset's "incredibly realistic, natural sound places you at the heart of the action."
We haven't tested this particular headset ourselves, so we can't comment one way or the other on the claim. However, we can talk a bit about the design. If you're not familiar with open-back versus closed-back headphones, there is a distinct difference between the two. Open-back earphones leave part of the earcup open to let outside noise seep in (and out), while closed-back earcups isolate your ears from ambient noise.
Which is better? That depends on your preference. Open-back designs tend to sound more natural and realistic, as if you're in the environment that you're listening to, whereas closed-back headphones put the sound more inside your head.
Sennheiser offers both types. There aren't a ton of detailed specs to go on, but it appears as though the GSP 500 is basically an open-back version of the GSP 600 that launched earlier this year.
The GSP 500 is an over-the-ear headset that uses "specially positioned speakers" to direct sound into the ears. Sennheiser also said it created an extended bass response in balance with the other frequencies, to bring out the details and dynamics of gameplay.
On the ergonomics side, the the earcups are lined with breathable soft pads and feature a dual-hinge mechanism so they can conform to your face. Up top there's a switch on the headband to adjust the contact pressure.
Other features include a volume dial built into one of the earcups, and a noise-cancelling microphone that is automatically muted when lifting the boom arm.
Sennheiser says the GSP 500 will be available in May for $230 (€229), and backed by a two-year warranty.
We'll try to get our hands on one for a test run. In the meantime, check out which we think are the best gaming headsets right now.