The Sennheiser GSX 1000 is an audio amplifier that works separately from the integrated sound card you get bundled on your computer’s motherboard. Now look, there is nothing wrong with using an onboard sound card on a PC and it does the job for most people. The integrated sound cards have all become very functional and they come with some great basic features. These basic features are all a normal PC user needs.
But if you are an audiophile and want to get the most out of the stuff you listen to, then having a dedicated sound card on your PC will be of total value for you. These dedicated sound cards bring a lot of improvements over the integrated one. You will have more features, better amplification, cleaner audio outputs and quieter microphone inputs with no noise or ambient sound.
Companies like Asus and Creative are known for their sound cards in the audiophile community but Sennheiser is a company that we cannot ignore. The Sennheiser GSX 1000 is a dedicated sound card and audio amplifier for people who want to get more features and better audio experience both for gamers as well as multimedia enthusiasts.
Why do you need a dedicated gaming audio amplifier?
As a gamer, we all know that we have to focus on the smaller details. In games like PUBG, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive or even Fortnite, we give out attention to the smallest of the details. We see and we listen to different things and then we decide how we have to react.
In CS:GO, the footsteps of an enemy plays a massive role in clutch situations. These footsteps are often mixed with the other ambient audio in the game and that makes it harder for the gamers to listen to what’s going on. Having a gaming amplifier such as the Sennheiser GSX 1000 will help boost the sound and get you a better surround sound experience in order to know where exactly you need to focus in the game.
This amplifier will also help you boost the audio while watching a movie and you will be able to listen to much more of the audio detail that you couldn’t with the integrated audio card.
What is the Sennheiser GSX 1000?
As mentioned, the Sennheiser GSX 1000 is an external USB sound card that can be connected to your PC. The company has developed this sound card specifically for gaming purposes. It comes with a 24-bit/96kHz DAC and has support for Sennheiser’s very own 7.1 Binaural Rendering Engine which you can also call a surround sound system for your headphone.
It also has a headphone amplifier and can work at 1V RMS @ 32 Ω. Sennheiser has also added an output so you can connect your speakers to the amplifier. As per Sennheiser, the Sennheiser GSX 1000 will support headphone impedance of 16-150 Ω. The sweet spot of the impendence will be around 50 Ω and as you approach the top end of the impedance, the performance gets a bit average.
The Sennheiser GSX 1000 has the best surround sound system as compared to many of the other amps out there and works without any kind of drivers. You just need to connect it to your PC using the provided micro USB cable and that is all you need to do. Sennheiser has decided to keep things simple here and has not provided any mediocre bells and whistles as features or controls just for the sake of it. Things given with the amplifier are simple and they work well.
Sennheiser GSX 1000 Specifications
- 7.1 Sennheiser Binaural Rendering Engine – virtual surround sound system
- Headphone impedance range: 16-150 Ω
- 24-bit / 96 kHz DAC
- Headphone amplifier: 1 V RMS @ 32 Ω
- 3.5-mm headphone output, 3.5-mm microphone input, 3.5-mm line-out
- Touch-sensitive controls
- 1.2 m rubberized Micro-USB cable
- 378 x 284 x 156 mm, 390 g
Design & Build
We must give Sennheiser some extra points as a thank you for the design that they have chosen. The Sennheiser GSX 1000 isn’t one of those ugly looking gaming accessories. The design that this product carries is absolutely amazing and it looks like a normal thing a PC table would have on it. It doesn’t stand out due to its ugliness because it is not. The design is very subtle.
It is made out of plastic for the most part and has a circular display on the top. There is an aluminum dial on the unit that works as a volume dial and it functions very smoothly. The design, the circular display, and the circular aluminum dial add to the look of the amp and it looks like a premium audio accessory sitting on your PC desk.
The dial on the unit is used for increasing and decreasing volume levels on your PC or a Mac – whatever you’re using. Using the dial will trigger either lower or turn up the volume on your OS. The display is used to display all the important information like the sound level, surround sound info, EQ profile and more.
All of these controls are backlit so if you like to game in a dark room, you won’t have any issues looking for the controls on this thing. The light does dim down to a level when these controls are not being used. As soon as you approach the device with your hands, the amplifier’s control light up making it look like the device has just come alive.
You will also find that there are four touch-sensitive buttons on the corners of the amplifier. You can use these touch points to switch between your sound profiles and all of these profiles have a different combination of settings. You can set up a different profile for your headphones and a different one for your speakers. You can choose to have 7.1 surround sound activated on a profile while other profiles might have that disabled.
You can set up a profile very easily and saving these profiles is very simple as well. All you need to do is keep the corner button that you want to assign the current modified profile pressed for 5 seconds and the settings will be saved. You will hear a thump sound which means the profile has been saved. After saving, you just need to tap on the touch button and that profile will be activated.
Let’s talk about the outputs now, on the rear part of the amplifier, you will see three different 3.5mm ports. One of these ports is for connecting your headphones while another one is for plugging in your microphone. There is one more port which you can use to connect your active speakers. You have to keep in mind that you don’t have to plug in your speakers in the headphones port since it will cause the speaker to distort the audio due to double amplification and might damage your speaker.
There is one more dial on the right side of the amplifier which works as the volume adjustment dial. You can use it to separate the game audio level and audio levels of an audio communication program like Discord.
The bottom of the amplifier has a plastic riser to help you make the amplifier a bit raised from the surface of the table. Sennheiser has definitely thought about a lot of things with the design of the amplifier.
Controls & Functions
Since the Sennheiser GSX 1000 is completely driver-free, you need to change anything and everything on the amplifier itself. Let us take a look at the controls that this amplifier has to offer. All of these controls are touch-sensitive except for the volume dials.
- Toggle for speakers and headphones: Self-explanatory, really. You can use this toggle to switch between your headphones and speakers when you need to.
- Equalizer Toggle: You have four equalizers available built right into the amplifier. You can choose from Off, Music, Story, and eSports.
- Sidetone Toggle: You can turn the Sidetone on or off. This is also known as microphone monitoring which helps you get a good idea of how loud you should be talking through your microphone. This feature uses your closed back headphone’s microphone to send a feedback of your voice back to your headphones and you can essentially hear yourself talking with this feature. You have three levels of this setting. You can choose from neutral, low and high.
- Surround Sound Toggle: You can use this toggle to switch between the 7.1 surround and 2.0 sound mode.
- Reverb Toggle: You can set the level of reverb that you want to have. You can keep it neutral which will essentially turn it off.
- Surround Sound Level Toggle: You can setup the surround sound level and direction using this toggle.
The Sennheiser GSX 1000 definitely does what it claims to do. The audio quality is just amazing. The audio output is strong and the microphone input keeps your audio clean and quiet. You won’t see any sort of hiss or noise in the audio you record through it. This is true even f you have kept the audible levels high. The DAC and amplifiers used in this device are absolutely brilliant and they produce rich and crisp audio for you.
The device is essentially just plug and play. You just need to connect it to your PC using the provided micro USB cable and it works readily. You can use this amplifier in two ways. You can connect it and choose to run it in stereo mode but keep in mind that you need to set the sample rate to 24-bit and bit depth to 96kHz. You can set this up by going into your Control Panel and opening the Sound settings. This will help you get the best out of your Sennheiser GSX 1000.
The 7.1 Sennheiser Binaural Rendering Engine is amazing and you will have to listen to the surround sound audio to experience how good it is. It is the best surround sound experience you will have on a headphone. It doesn’t matter what headphone you’re using. Sennheiser has made this tech work well with any headphones you might have in the allowed impedance range.
All of the sound processing is done inside the amplifier without using any kind of software support. The surround sound is bound to make your gaming experience more immersive. You will be able to hear different sounds coming from different directions. If you have never had any experience with the surround sound headphones, this will definitely blow your mind.
Talking about the sound quality, we can conclude that it is very good and you don’t lose any of the detail. The sound is very natural and you can hear a lot of bass and the default amount of reverb. You can change the reverb with the reverb toggle if you want to have more of it. This stands true even when the surround sound is on. You don’t lose any quality or bass or any other detail. You can also switch between the provided equalizers.
Sennheiser has also added noise cancellation for microphones which is a good thing but the microphone input sounds a bit compressed. This helps tho with really bad microphones but is damaging to those who have spent a lot of money to get a headphone with a good microphone.
The Sennheiser GSX 1000 is a great gaming amplifier cum sound card but since it is driver-free, you need to switch things manually when you connect the unit to your PC. As mentioned, you will have to set up the amplifier if used in stereo mode to 24-bit/96kHz from the control panel but it stays that way until you switch to surround sound more.
It has the best surround sound experience thanks to the 7.1 Sennheiser Binaural Rendering Engine, the surround sound experience is the best you will see in any of the other external sound cards or gaming amplifiers.
The controls are pretty simple and straightforward and one can easily pick it up, connect it with your PC and start using it. There is no learning curve and small things like the unit lighting up when you bring your hand towards it makes it amazing.
But yes, we would have loved it even more if had a few more features for advanced users. You should be able to setup your own equalizer presets and Sennheiser should provide an option to remove the microphone noise cancellation for those who have a good microphone. The product retails at $230 but you can usually find it around $200.