Gaming headsets come in a number of colours, sizes, varieties and prices. We’ve had full over-ear premium sets that allow the user to utilise a mixer to ensure the very best experience possible. We’ve got in-ear buds that appeal to gamers who like to be immersed but without the worry of bulk, and for years we’ve seen many cheaper one-ear options like the standard Xbox One headset which used to be bundled with the Xbox console.
But what if your usual headset of choice breaks, you are left unable to communicate with your friends online, but the funds in your wallet won’t stretch to a premium piece of kit? Well, Venom have got you sorted with the addition of the Nighthawk Chat Gaming Headset – a super cheap, super simple, super easy-to-use one-ear headset that is compatible with Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch and PC. Oh, and you can use it to listen to tunes direct from your mobile phone if you really want to, but chances of that happening are pretty slim to say the least. Mono music, anyone?
Let me tell you now… this really is a cheap, simple, easy-to-use headset. But whether you would want to use it or not is another question altogether.
I’ve been lucky enough to use a range of headsets over the years, but since ditching the frankly horrible standard one-ear Xbox offering that has been bundled with our beautiful consoles since the beginning of time, never have I used one as cheap as the Nighthawk. And if I’m honest, I probably won’t want to find myself using one again.
Initial signs aren’t promising when the Nighthawk comes packaged inside a simple box, with the headset itself wrapped up in a bit of bog-standard bubblewrap. Now, part of the process of purchasing a new bit of kit is the whole unboxing process, allowing you to embrace the good times ahead. With the Venom Nighthawk Chat though there is never a wow factor – but that does just set the scene for what is to follow.
Once you do break it out of its basic packaging, you’ll be treated to an all black – matt black everything, in fact – headset that comes with a swiveling single earcup on the left, with a well padded foam grip on the other side to keep it attached to your head. From there a bendy mic emerges from the cup and allows for party chat options; the movement of this is fine, and there is a reasonable click in place allowing you to position it perfectly. A very subtle Venom logo sits hidden away on the earcup, blending in well with the whole colour scheme, whilst the headband on top is well padded for any gaming session length, adjustable to match your head size.
So far, so simple. But what about the controls? Well, the headset itself is bereft of any button, slider, rocker or switch, with the inline volume controls and mute switch attached a third of the way down the 1.5m long constantly attached cable. This plugs in to any controller that comes equipped with a standard 3.5mm jack allowing quick and easy access to your gaming needs.
When in use the 40mm speaker drivers found in the left cup sound decent if a bit dull in tone, and you won’t be able to miss a bit of crackle and hiss coming through at top volume. The mono sound delivered does just about allow you to get away with gaming pleasures though, although if you are serious about your gaming you won’t want to use this headset if you are sneaking up on a foe in a first person shooter, or even taking in a fast paced racer and needing to listen in on gear changes. As a standard headset to play a simple game though – perhaps a puzzler which focuses more on concentration than audio levels – all while still being able to hear what is going on around you in the real world, then it is, at best, acceptable.
It’s okay for chat purposes too but even though you can hear your party members just fine, and your replies will be well heard – albeit with a strange echo taking hold – it’s not always as crystal clear as should be. But just remember we’re looking at a £12.99 price tag with the Venom Nighthawk Chat and you’re pretty much getting what you pay for – in all aspects.
So far then and the Venom Nighthawk Chat Gaming Headset isn’t wowing any crowds. And if you’re a spectacle wearer, you’re going to fast realise that it just isn’t something you’ll ever be able to use comfortably. See, for us gamers with less than 20/20 vision, and needing the help of an optician in order to distinguish the difference between 1080p and 4K, a single over-ear cupped design like that of the Nighthawk just doesn’t work. Whilst the smaller designs like previously mentioned as coming with the console are fine, the extra weight and size of the single cup sees the fit of this when wearing glasses comes across as a bit odd. In fact, through my attempts at being able to create a fair review, using the Nighthawk has been a struggle, one that sees my glasses ride up one side of my head from the first moment to the last. It’s not a good look, and it’s not a comforting feel.
In fact, I’d go as far to say that anyone needing the help of glasses to play games should flat out ignore the Venom Nighthawk Chat Gaming Headset just because the overall design is not one that is suitable. Of course, for those who game with an eagle eye, wish to be able to chat with friends and family whilst gaming and are just in need of a super cheap product that can be flung around, you will find that the Nighthawk just about suffices. But personally, even then, I’d be going all out to scrabble together a bit of extra cash and buy something with a few more features and at least a twin-cup design.
In life you really do get what you pay for, and the Venom Nighthawk Chat is a fine example of that.