Sennheiser’s PC 373D Dolby 7.1 gaming headphones sound best with it disabled

Sennheiser is great at doing a lot of things, namely in the audio space. Headphones, microphones and the like. When Sennheiser combines the two and creates a gaming headset, you’d expect it to be pretty good, if not great.

The 373D is an attempt at integrating 7.1 Dolby Surround Sound into a pair of headphones. The problem is it’s not exactly as impressive as it sounds.

Dolby in headphones isn’t mind-blowing

By definition, Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound is a method of delivering omni-directional, immersive sound. It’s best experienced in home cinemas, living rooms or otherwise in spaces where sound can propagate before it hits the listener, to give that “being part of the sound” effect.

Before I get to how Dolby performs here, I’ll talk about the 373D’s design: The build quality is solid, but it feels nothing like headphones the German audio company has produced in the past, like the Sennheiser Momentum, for example.

The 373D’s build uses a variety of plastics, including a plastic volume wheel and headband. The nicest parts about the 373D are simply its plush, red velvet interior on the ear cups and black head cushion — which makes it incredibly comfortable to wear for extended periods of time — but otherwise, that’s all.

By contrast, Dolby 7.1 in this pair of headphones is an odd experience. No matter which of the presets I selected — music, eSports or Game — I lost the significant amount of detail that I had in regular stereo mode and had it replaced with a less satisfying “big room” sound.

In an application setting, it wasn’t useful for detecting enemy players traversing a room while playing Rainbow Six: Siege or listening to Apple Music.

Recently, Windows 10 added native support for Dolby 7.1 sound, but more often than not users forget that you need compatible applications and a sound card to go with it. Dolby 7.1 certified content or not, I heard no significant improvement over the regular, fuller sound experienced in stereo mode, which on its own is fantastic.

Using it as a gaming headset

So, the Dolby Surround Sound here (and on headphones in general) strikes me as gimmicky, but once you switch it off, the 373D is a regular, surround sound gaming headset. The sound profile is what I like to describe as “full-bodied” — mids are subtle, highs are easily discernible at higher volumes and it has a roomy bass sound.

During game chat sessions or recording audio snippets, the built-in microphone has more than enough fidelity to be used as a daily driver. If you’re a streamer or otherwise want something with even more detail, perhaps going after a standalone microphone is a good idea.

Bottom line

My verdict on the PC 373D is a bit strange, even to me. For $249 you’d be getting a pair of Dolby 7.1 headphones with fantastic audio quality that sound best with the Dolby feature turned off.

Of course, it makes me think you should just look for another gaming headset altogether and save yourself the cost of buying hardware with a bullet-pointed feature that isn’t useful.

Price as reviewed: $249 at Sennheiser