SB Inferno review

A gaming headset without any fuss, but without the bells and whistles too

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Our Verdict

You get what you pay for: a budget headset with mediocre build and modestly balanced sound.

For

  • Comfortable
  • Great deal
  • Decent sound
  • Super light

Against

  • Major sound leakage
  • Headband doesn't feel durable
  • Earcups may get tough to clean

Creative is best known for both low-end and top quality gaming headsets plus Sound Blaster sound cards, meaning you should expect nothing less than great - even with this budget friendly offering.

Remember the Creative Fatal1ty headphones? It seems like everyone has owned a pair at one point. Well there's a new budget headset in town in the form of the SB Inferno.

The over-ear headset is the latest to come from Creative, and is exactly what you'd expect the successor to the Fatal1ty would be like: decent sound with an even better price point at $49 (about £29, AU$52). The SB Inferno is primarily for gaming on the PC, Mac and PS4, but you can remove the mic to use with handheld devices for music, videos and mobile gaming.

The box comes packed with a detachable mic and splitter for computers. There's no USB, so all you have to do is plug in the analog jack and you're good to go. It doesn't get any simpler or more wallet-friendly than the SB Inferno headset.

Sound quality

Here's the big question: do the Infernos set your ears alight with glorious sound, or should they be set on fire?

I'm no audio snob when it comes to gaming, and I've used quite a few quality headsets in the past - the PlayStation Gold Wireless, the Plantronics RIG, the Astro A50 and yes, the now "retro" Creative Fatal1ty headset.

The Infernos don't really have much on the higher end crowd, of course, but they're not much better than the lower end group either. In fact, the highs, mids and lows sound almost exactly the same as the Fatal1ty.

Creative Sound Blaster Inferno review

Emphasis on almost though; it does sound like the Sound Blaster team upped the quality to provide slightly more robust details. The 40mm full spectrum Neodymium drivers are the same as the Fatal1ty, but the sensitivity has been increased to 115 dB/mW. The change is minimal - 110 to 115 decibels - but in order for you to use the Infernos on multiple devices, this is likely the highest sensitivity they could reach without distorting the sound.

I found zero sound distortion when gaming; in fact, everything is well balanced - a bit too balanced. If that's what you're looking for, great. But if you want to hear highs of bullets whizzing by to figure out which direction they're coming from in Battlefield 4, or hear the lows of ground-shaking explosions, you're out of luck.

That said, most gamers I know prefer a balanced audio experience anyway, which the SB Infernos have covered quite well. Just don't expect anything extraordinary.

The Infernos simply won't cut it for the fanatics of loud music, either. These cans will definitely get you by with that balanced sound. But if you crank it up to really rock out, be prepared to piss off nearby people.

The noise leakage will likely be unbearable and probably garner a lot of glares. Anyone sitting right next to you, or up to five feet away, will hear every fancy word from Iggy Azalea's latest.

Build quality

The SB Infernos are built pretty much like the Fatal1ty headsets. There's not much extra pizzaz, save for more red to give the earcups and wire an extra pop of color.

Creative Sound Blaster Inferno review

The headband has a smaller cushion and remains lightweight, but doesn't feel all that durable. However, after wearing it for almost eight hours daily for four days, listening to music and playing games, it still proved comfy on my noggin. My ears did feel a tad sore toward the end of the day, but quickly recovered. Compare that with other headsets, after which my head would feel squished for a while afterward.

The Inferno earcups are also nicely padded - nothing fancy, just standard, plush earpads. My biggest concern would be cleaning them or having them tear - though so far, it hasn't happened to any of my other fabric-padded headsets.

Features

The Inferno has a detachable mic that you can stow away, if you do plan on using the headphones for on-the-go entertainment. It's a neat feature that a lot of headsets have, but I'd be worried about losing it. Still, it's convenient and a welcome option to have.

The mic itself has been touted as top notch by Creative, and it seemed to work well when I was using it. There was no static and I was heard loud and clear without having to yell through the mic.

There's also an inline volume control and mic on/off switch, which I'm glad Creative kept on the Inferno. There are some headphones out there that don't have these features, and I've come to realize how annoying it is without them, when you quickly need to turn the volume up or down, or turn the mic on and off.

Creative Sound Blaster Inferno review

The headphones can also plug into your PS4, just like you'd use on the PC/Mac. Here's where it gets tricky, though: depending on where your console is, the wire may not stretch far enough. However, if the wire is too long, it can grow cumbersome when you're not attached to your PlayStation.

We liked

The Fatal1ty gaming headset has been popular for the very reasons I can see the SB Inferno possibly gaining a fandom: decent quality sound and comfort at a superb price point. After all, not everyone can afford Razer Krakens or the Inferno's brethren, the Sound Blaster EVO Zx.

We disliked

The delicate-feeling build is to be expected from a low-end headset, but the SB Inferno feels borderline breakable. Though one of its main functions is to be multipurpose, I would personally just keep it one place due to its precarious build quality.

I also really didn't enjoy the noise leakage, and I assume neither did those around me. I like my music loud, but I don't want to bother other people with it.

Final verdict

The PS4 feature is neat, but again, with a wire attached, it may not be of any use. I do like how simple the Inferno is, though - just a quick plug in and you're all set. You can get better sound quality out of USB headsets that connect to your sound card, but occasionally, it's a hassle to set up and can mess up your system or not work properly (I speak from experience).

Like its predecessor, the Fatal1ty, I can see the SB Inferno getting picked up for its low cost, and rightly so. This is not an awful headset - but of course it's not the best. You get what you pay for, and that's a decently balanced, lightweight, comfortable gaming headset without any fuss. Just don't expect the bells and whistles of more premium headphones.