Mobility and customization are the name of the game with the Steelseries Flux, a gaming headset designed to be portable enough to be taken to LAN parties, on airplanes, and everywhere in between. This headset is definitely designed for the gamer on the go, and packs some useful features designed to let mobile users get a good audio experience out of mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. The Flux comes in two variants: a standard version, and a Luxury edition which is what’s on hand for this review.
Being an on-ear, rather than an over-ear headset, the Flux had better be comfortable to wear, and Steelseries didn’t disappoint in this regard. While the normal edition comes with cloth ear cushions, the Luxury edition comes with leatherette ear cushions for that added touch of comfort. The headset itself is actually quite flexible and can fit a wide range of head sizes quite easily, even if you fall on the Hey Arnold! end of the spectrum. Probably. All right, maybe you should probably stick to earphones if your head is really that big. It would have been helpful if the top of the headset was padded though; after wearing the Flux for a while, the top of your head might start to get a bit irritated from the pressure, though it’s not that big of a problem.
Like most headphones, the Flux uses a standard 3.5mm jack to connect to your computer/tablet/smartphone/Wifi-enabled Necronomicon. One of its more interesting features is that the cables aren’t permanently attached to the headset; you can use the Flux with any auxiliary 3.5mm cable, which is convenient if you lose the included ones. Of course, it’s probably in your best interest not to lose them, since the microphone is inline with the cables, instead of being built into the headset. Another feature that will likely draw your attention is the 3.5mm jack on each side of the headset. You’ll obviously need to use one of them to connect to the device of your choice, and you can either to serve this purpose. However, you can also daisy-chain another set of headphones to the other jack, allowing a second party to listen to whatever’s flowing through your Flux. It’s perfect for those times when you want to watch a movie with a friend on the plane. Just don’t try plugging in your Flux into two tablets at the same time; from what I gather in the documentation, doing so will cause a storm of white noise to issue forth from the headset, building into a frequency that will cause your brain to liquefy in seconds. Or, maybe just break the headphones and void your warranty. Either way.
The baseline Flux retails for about $100, and for that price you’d probably expect to get absolutely premium sound performance, if not quite to audiophile standards. Does it deliver? Well…sort of. It’s a well balanced sound all around, with no tinniness in the highs, nice round mids, and thumpy bass. With its standard 40mm drivers, the Flux is great for music or movies. Even when pushing the brown realm with bass-heavy tracks from the likes of Massive Attack, there is no discernible distortion. Its performance in gaming is where some might find it lacking. Generally around this price range, you’d expect to find some sort of 5.1 positional audio, but you’ll only get standard stereo in the Flux. Granted, it’s pretty good and it will certainly get the job done even in games where positional audio is crucial, but it’s clear that the Flux is tailored towards a mobile experience. The ear cushions are made from a material that blocks out sounds. As it’s not a powered sound-cancelling unit, it won’t block out everything, but it does filter out ambient noise (like plane engines and that annoying dude sitting next to you who won’t shut up about his kids) quite well.The inline mic sounds great, as long as you keep it positioned properly. The Flux comes with two cables, one for use with computers and one for mobile devices. They vary only in that the PC cable has a secondary jack for microphone input, and the controls on each are different. The control on the PC cable simply lets you toggle the mic on and off, while the mobile device cable allows you to answer incoming phone calls. The lack of an inline volume control is a bit of an oversight, and one that given the Flux’s focus on the mobile experience is somewhat surprising.
If you’re looking for the end-all, be-all of gaming headsets, the Flux is not it. But if you’re looking for a great music-and-movies type of headset that’s really convenient for travel use, though, the Flux has got you covered. It is a bit overpriced, but it does its job very well and doubles for gaming purposes quite serviceably. The sheer durability and portability of the Flux makes it a no-brainer if you’re constantly using mobile devices on the go and need something that needs to stand up to a lot of wear and tear.