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ONIKUMA Gaming Headset K5: Value On A Budget?

By Poorna Shankar on August 22, 2018 | Hardware Reviews | Comments

ONIKUMA Gaming Headset K5: Value On A Budget?

The ONIKUMA Gaming Headset K5 is an interesting product. It lies in that most curious of marketplaces: the budget item. I wanted to ask who exactly this headset was for, and whether or not it was worth the price. In my testing and use with the headset over the past fortnight, it left me puzzled up until the last minute. This, then, is our review of the ONIKUMA Gaming Headset K5.

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Specifications

  • Price: $28 per Amazon
  • Speakers
    • 50mm Diameter
    • 20Hz - 20KHz Frequency
    • 16Ω +/- 15% Impedance
    • 114 +/- 3dB Sensitivity
  • Microphone
    • 6.0 x 2.7mm Diameter
    • -36 +/- 1dB Sensitivity
    • 2.2KΩ Impedance
  • Other Specifications
    • 2.2M +/- 0.15 Cable Length
    • USB + 3.5mm Headset Jack
    • DC5V +/- 5% LED working voltage

I have to admit that, prior to beginning this review, I had never heard of ONIKUMA, the Chinese maker of this headset. I was curious to test this out and see how it compares against my admittedly far more expensive and premium LucidSound LS40s. It’s important to note that while these two headsets are worlds apart with respect to each other, they actually do make sense when considered within their target demographic. I’ll revisit this later as this was the single most curious detail I had to puzzle out.

First impressions of the ONIKUMA left me unimpressed. The headset is made from plastics that feel cheap to the touch. I found the earcups to be over-designed, almost to the point of parody. What is so wrong with rounded earcups that ONIKUMA felt the need to reinvent the wheel in this regard?

The cable itself is braided, though I observed that the part of the cable that directly connects at the earcups was noticeably frayed out of the box, calling into question quality control. The cable ends with a 3.5mm headphone jack and microphone jack, along with a USB for the LEDs on either earcup and mic boom. You can’t change these colors, as expected of a budget headset.

The cable itself contains in-line controls for volume and a mic mute toggle switch. Having this convenience is definitely appreciated and was something I was not expecting for a $28 headset to feature.

As for comfort, the headband itself is surprisingly plush and comfortable. The earcups tended to press on my ears, and after extended gaming, my head felt “compressed.” This is consistent with my experience of other budget headsets in the past.

Compared to my $200 pair of LucidSounds LS40s, the ONIKUMA feels lighter, most likely due to the use of plastics instead of metal and premium materials. This isn’t a complaint, rather an expected observation. The key question to ask here is whether or not the target demographic for this headset really cares about such things. I’ll try to answer this below.

The mic itself is non-retractable and isn’t as pliable as other headsets. You can’t really adjust it toward or away from your mouth, something which I found to be a mild annoyance. But here again, does the target demographic care about this lack of adjustment?

Amazon page lists the mic as, “SUPERIOR NOISE-CANCELING MICROPHONE WITH ADVANCED ANTI-STATIC DESIGN. ONIKUMA gaming headphone with cutting-edge anti-static design makes it possible to prevent your ear from current sound during battles. The noise-canceling microphone makes your words heard by your teammate clearly, leading to smooth in-game communication. From beginner to mediocre to top, in process of practice, practice and practice, ONIKUMA gaming headphone is always your companion in voice comms.”

I’m fairly certain that most of this is just marketing as my colleague heard audio bleed of his audio feeding back into my microphone while simply conversing in Discord. While in-game, this bleed was exacerbated due to the various music and sound effects at play. For my part, I tried gating this audio, but it didn’t seem to have any real effect as audio bleed still occurred. I should note, however, that while doing test recordings in Audacity by myself, the mic sounded surprisingly crisp and clear. Again, a shock for a headset at this price.

While listening to music, the bass was surprisingly decent for a headset at this price. If anything, the bass tended to muffle mids. The highs would sound a tad over-emphasized, but I doubt your average consumer shopping in this price range would notice, nor care.

Audio in-game sounds a bit flat. For example in World of Warcraft, it really doesn’t sound like there is a drastic difference in frequency from high pitched spells to low frequency shotgun booms. Again, this is a budget headset so I don’t expect great audio quality. I’d say the in-game audio for the ONIKUMA is passable at best. But then again, thinking about the consumer who is shopping in this price bracket, would he really care about stellar sounding audio? I’m guessing not. He probably just wants a headset that works.

Final Thoughts

And it’s here where we arrive at the puzzle of it all. On one hand, I can and should compare the experience of this $28 budget headset to my $200 LucidSound LS40s. It’s only fitting to understand the higher-end experience in addition to the budget experience. In that regard, I can say that when compared directly with no regard to target demographic, the LS40 is unquestionably the superior headset. This of course is no surprise.

But this is the real world, and viewing these two products in a vacuum is not realistic. I was trying to understand who this headset was meant for, and it wasn’t until I spoke to my friends did it dawn on me. My friends, you see, are parents to young children. As parents, they probably don’t care too much about build quality, mic quality, or audio quality.

If their kids want to play Fortnite with their friends and want a headset for that purpose, then this would be a good use-case. It can be tossed around carelessly without suffering serious damage, but it also does the job. It does have a mic that allows for voice chat. It does have passable audio that should more than satisfy a nine year old when playing Fortnite with his friends. It also has shiny LEDs to satiate that nine year old in all of us who are easily amused by such things. In my humble opinion, that’s who this headset is meant for. And for $28, if it breaks, well, it was only $28. Better to break an easily replaceable $28 headset than decry the loss of a $200 pair.

Pros

  • Cheap, making it a prime option for parents looking to buy a usable headset for their kids
  • Mic does the job
  • In-line controls are appreciated

Cons

  • Audio bleed into mic in normal conversation, exacerbated in-game
  • Aesthetics might not be for everyone
  • Frayed cable calls quality control into question

Full disclosure: The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purpose of review.

Interested in your own ONIKUMA headset? Have we got good news for you: Head over to Amazon and take advantage of this coupon:

  • Coupon Code:   GE28NLLV 
  • Start Date: 08/22/2018  10:00PDT
  • Expiration Date: 08/30/2018 23:59PDT
  • Final Price (after code): $14.27
Poorna Shankar / A highly opinionated avid PC gamer, Poorna blindly panics with his friends in various multiplayer games, much to the detriment of his team. Constantly questioning industry practices and a passion for technological progress drive his love for the video game industry. He pulls no punches and tells it like he sees it. He runs a podcast, Gaming The Industry, with fellow writer, Joseph Bradford, discussing industry practices and their effects on consumers.