Review sample provided free of charge by Roccat.
The wonderful thing about a fantastic headset is that lovely comforting feel it can provide, the sense that you’re isolated from the hustle and bustle of the outside world, able to ignore all the yelling and shouting and screaming and stabbing and gunshots going on behind you. Wait. That’s not right. What the hell are my family doing?
Yes, a good set of cans can be a wonderful, and Roccat have already impressed me with their Khan Pro. Now, though, they’re aiming for 7.1 virtual surround sound and shiny lights with the Khan Aimo, So let’s just jump into this, shall we?
In terms of build quality and its overall looks, there’s not much to separate the Khan Pro than I reviewed not so long ago and the Khan Aimo that I’m reviewing now as they’re both essentially the same. Once again we’ve got a nicely padded headband made of a soft, squishy memory foam, the very same material found on the earcups. It’s not particularly breathable so your head might become a tad hot over time but it does do a good job of canceling outside noises so if you happen to have a noisy family and locking them in the basement hasn’t been working these may do the job. Much like the Khan, though, I do find the earcups to be a bit small, and I don’t even have particularly big ears. I’m afraid any folk reading this who have Dumbo ears might want to avoid this one.
However, that issue aside the Khan Aimo is a reasonably comfy headset that weighs in at a light 275g. Even during the long sessions, I didn’t find them tiring to wear, and while they may not be as comfortable as something like Steelseries’ Arctis range they’re still pretty nice to wear.
Where the Khan Aimo does differ from its little stereo brother are the thin RGB LED strip on each earcup, and one on either side where the headband meets the earcup. They’re small visual flairs on what is otherwise a fairly plain looking headset, and as you’d expect you can play around with the lighting via the Roccat Swarm software. They’re about as useful as a condom with a hole in it, of course, but like I’ve said before I can’t help but be amused and delighted by being able to have all my tech light up in the same color.
It’s not the strongest headset I’ve tested, though. Again, the fact that it’s structurally almost identical to the Khan Pro means I have basically the same criticisms, which includes the fact that when you twist the headset, move it around and generally just play with it there’s some creaking and a feeling of flimsiness. I’m not saying it’s going to break easily, but for the price it doesn’t feel like a premium product.
On the right earcup you’ll find a handy-dandy volume control wheel that’s notched for extra precision. It feels a bit cheap and stiff, at least on my test unit, but does the job. Next to that is a button for switching off the LED lights entirely, just in case you don’t want to be a glow-in-the-dark target for any nearby vicious serial killers or in case someone mistakes you for traffic lights.
The left-hand side is where the microphone lives, jutting upwards from the side of the earcup in a rather ugly fashion. There’s a good reason that microphones housed within the earcup or ones that can be detached are currently in fashion; it’s just such a cleaner look. The microphone can be activated or muted simply by flipping it up or down, with a slight click half-way to indicate whether its muted or not.
I can’t argue with the microphones overall performance. Chatting with friends in the middle of hectic games revealed that my voice came through clearly, much to their chagrin since it meant having to put up with my running commentary. Poor buggers. Considering how often we see poor microphones on expensive headsets it’s nice to see Roccat remember that people do want to talk to their friends without sounding like they’re on the other end of a tin can with string. Outside noise cancellation is fairly good, too, again exceptionally useful if you have a noisy family running around.
To hook the Khan Aimo up to your PC you simply need to plug in the USB connector. Easy stuff. The downside is that the USB is the only connection which does rather limit the Khan Aimo’s versatility. You can’t just connect it to a phone, for example. The official product page makes no mention of support for Xbox One, PS4 or Switch users, either.
But the biggest area where the Khan Aimo differs from its Khan Pro little brother is the inclusion of 7.1 virtual surround sound that can be turned on or off depending on whether you want the surround sound or prefer stereo. This is all handled via the inbuilt 24-bit 96KHz DAC and then delivered through 50mm drivers with an impedance of 32.
With the implementation of virtual 7.1 there’s always the risk of the audio becoming more muddled and less defined than standard stereo as the software or hardware attempts to take stereo sound, then split it to replicate sitting in a room with numerous speakers. The Khan Aimo doesn’t entirely get away from this, but it’s one of the better uses of 7.1 in a headset that I’ve head with the loss of detail being noticeable if you listen for it, but fairly minimal. In exchange for this slight drop in quality you get a wider sound-stage and superb locational audio that lets you pick out the direction of even small noises. This naturally increases the sense of immersion, too, helping to make you feel like you’re in the game. Of course, it can’t compete with a true 7.1 audio system in a room where it has space to bounce the sounds, but I was still left impressed by Roccat’s implementation.
Swap over to stereo via the software and the increase in detail lets you appreciate the audio quality even more, especially when listening to music where the virtual 7.1 surround sound makes it sound a bit strange. Like the Khan Pro the stereo performance is very strong, and again the positional audio is great, letting you easily pick out things like footsteps, or in my case the screams of an injured survivor in Dead by Daylight. Of course, the games themselves have a lot to do with this as no headset can counteract poor audio design and mixing. Like the Khan Pro, however, the bass lacks that deep-down punch that tickles the soul, and the high sounds are lacking a little detail. Neither is pronounced, though, and I doubt the majority of people would even notice it.
The 7.1 lacks that bass as well, but at least you can play around with the equalizer settings via the software in order to fine-tune the audio a touch. Roccat’s Swarm suite is easy to use and allows for quite a bit of adjustment in terms of sound, either manually or by using a variety of presets tailored to MOBAs, FPS games and so on. I did experience a small problem, though, where the software kept asking me to install the drivers for the headset. Once installed it would be fine until a PC restart, at which it wanted them installed again.
I did find the Khan Aimo to be great when watching movies that have a 5.1 or 7.1 soundtrack.
Overall the Khan Aimo headset is a rather solid set of 7.1 cans that are reasonably comfy, boast good sound and great software. There are a few things I dislike such as the fold up/down microphone and how the overall build quality doesn’t have that premium feel, but these niggles are relatively small. With all of that said, I’m not sure if the extra price to get the virtual 7.1 audio is really worth it versus the standard Khan Pro, which in a strange way is actually a compliment to the Khan Pro’s excellent positional audio. That’s a tough call to make, though. There are, I believe, better 7.1 virtual surround sound headphones on the market, potentially including one I’ll be reviewing soon, but the Khan Aimo comes in at a good price for what it is. If you’ve got the extra cash to splash over the Khan Pro’s then go for it.