When it comes to gaming, sound can often be as important as video in competitive arenas. Luckily, the Fnatic eSports team know the importance of high-quality audio in-game, and have put out their own React headset for use in games where communication and concentration are key - but how do they perform?
In a living room or similarly enclosed environment, it's hard to deny that the Fnatic REACT gaming headset is a nigh unbeatable option for competitive gamers on a smaller budget.
Let's take a quick look at the specs for the sleek black Fnatic Reacts.
Inside the box, we see:
- Fnatic React Headset
- 3.5mm stereo cable, 1.5m
- 2m cable extender
- Storage pouch
Once out of the box this headset is good to go. Just connect it to your PC, PS4 or Xbox One controller and it is ready to play, the only real step you have to take in terms of putting the headset together is connecting the microphone.
Sadly, the React Headset only comes with a 3.5mm input jack to connect it to your various devices, but if you can get over that fact then I promise that for the price they are sold at, you are going to enjoy your gaming experience with this headset immensely.
If you are going to be connecting your React Headset to your PC then you’ll be glad to know that the headset comes with an optional extension to the 3.5mm input jack, which offers a separate input for both microphone and earphone.
The Fnatic React Headset looks pretty great. An all-black design is offset by the Fnatic logo on the sides of the ear cups, in a contrasting white, which I think makes for a great color scheme.
They feel premium too, with a metal banding that connects to a leatherette coating that gives the headset a really durable frame. I’m a big fan of the sleek black design, much better than a shiny plastic, which I feel gives some headsets a very cheap look.
The inside of the earcups are nicely designed, too, with a bright orange soft interior that contrasts with the exterior of the headphones in a very pleasing way. These may only be visible for a moment before you put them on, but it’s these kinds of touches that go a long way in making a product memorable or even a favorite.
Putting it simply, these feel really sturdy. Thanks to the combination of metal and the leatherette padding that houses the headsets memory foam, its hard to imagine them snapping, which is great considering that I started to use these after I used a different brand (who shall remain nameless) of headphones that snapped as I was taking them off.
In fact, the adjusters on the earcup that allow for them to be extended are made out of metal, so I’m finding it hard to imagine that these are ever going to warp or snap just because I stretched them out slightly to take them off - meaning that continual use isn’t ever going to be an issue for the overall frame of the headset.
The whole headset feels well put together, with the connecting cables and microphone being clad in a thick, resistant cable coating rather than a cheaper flimsy one, which is going to add to the longevity of the headphones themselves.
The microphone is well constructed as well, easily flexible and coated in foam. Now to me, this is a bonus. The foam can stop a lot of outside noise leaking into the mic and allows for a cleaner sound when you are talking to teammates in discord or in-game chat.
The headset fits my head really well. In fact, the headset sits atop your head on a memory foam cushion, which is all housed in a leatherette coating, which is very comfortable and means that the Reacts can sit on your head for a long time before they ever get even slightly irritating.
If I had one complaint about the build quality of the headphones, it would be that they could stand to have a little more length on them concerning the adjustable height. It isn’t the biggest issue in the world, but the headset could be considered a little tight for my head size, and I feel just a few more inches would sort that right out - but as they stand, they aren’t painful or overbearing, just intensely snug.
For their first foray into the headset world, Fnatic has done a great job with their React headset, and if the quality improves in the future, it will definitely keep Fnatic in direct competition with bigger brands for a long time - not a small thing at all.
As previously mentioned, this headset fits my head really well, although I could maybe have done with a little bit more room when it came to extended the earcups out - but that's just me, and I have quite a large head (a common problem in the WePC office - check out our review of the Sennheiser GSP 370s!).
Overall, I can't knock these too much when it comes to comfort. The memory foam filled leatherette banding that lies across the top of the headset means that even after long periods of time, the headset sits comfortably, meaning you aren't going to get a pressure headache.
So, having already said that a big head might mean a slightly tighter fit, I think that for the price bracket, you can't really ask for much more in the way of on-ear comfort. The plush leatherette ear cups are large and can comfortably fit around most ears with space to spare.
The earcups are in a 0 shape, which means they have a very comfortable fit when it comes to sitting around the ears, and as an added bonus the interior material covering the speakers within the earcup is very soft, so if your ears do come into contact with them you won't notice at all.
The fact that the headset covers its earcups and headband with a memory foam cushioned leatherette is fantastic, as it means you stay comfortable using them throughout your sessions - and that even when you take them off, the earcups are just as comfortable when you slip them back on.
You won't have to worry about them feeling too heavy either - they weigh a comfy 348g, which really isn't a lot at all.
However, the Fnatic React headset does have a few flaws when it comes to comfort. For example, when it comes to earcup rotation you are going to be left wanting, as Fnatic have eschewed the more normalized 180-degree rotational attachment for a firm two arms holding the earcups in place - you are still going to be able to rotate them slightly, but perhaps not to the great extent you might have been able to with other headsets.
This of course also means that they are going to be slightly awkward to transport around in a bag - which might not make a difference to some, but if you are going to be using these for competitive gaming (as they were intended) then it's worth bearing this in mind.
All in all, they are a very comfortable set of headphones, and if you have a smaller head then you are definitely going to have more options when it comes to the fit then someone with a larger one, but that doesn’t mean they are hard to wear by any means.
When it comes to the performance of the headset, I was genuinely impressed. Usually, with products of this type, you expect an inferior product plastered in a brand name, but I have to say that, for the price point, that this headset was brilliant.
When it comes to EQ settings, you are going to be locked into the factory settings - but that isn’t to say that the factory settings are bad. In fact, they have been designed with one thing in mind, specifically: esports. Competitive play is the be-all and end-all when it comes to Fnatic’s React headset.
Ok, so in-game audio sounds really good on the Fnatic Reacts. What Fnatic has done is separate the mids and lows from the bass when it comes to the channels in the headset speakers, so that when you are deep in-game, you can easily hear everything going on around you without any overpowering bass throwing you off.
In fact, in-game, you can really tell what's happening where just from the audio. I tried these out in Halo Reach, and whilst it was really easy during firefight and multiplayer to figure out exactly what was happening, it was sometimes a little more difficult to figure out where.
This is because Fnatic has opted to make the Reacts an analog headset, which means it makes use of Fnatic's precise directional audio engineering rather than a dedicated surround sound option.
That doesn't mean the audio quality is anywhere near bad, though. The headset offers up a clear audio pallet of in-game sound, with the mids and high range sounds being emphasized alongside the bass, rather than buried under it, all thanks to Fnatic designing the React with separate channels for bass.
This means that a heavy explosion (for example) won't drown out the sound of gunfire, or even the sound of footsteps. If you have played 2019's Modern Warfare, you are going to know the importance of footsteps in multiplayer, and the React's audio mix allowed me to keep an ear out for close-range enemies even when the map was alive with gunfire.
You can keep an ear out on the enemy, and have a good idea of where they are coming from - Fnatic's directional audio engineering makes sure of that. Sadly, the lack of surround sound does make it a little difficult at times to pinpoint the exact location of other players.
You might think that this is a little weird considering that this is a headset designed for competitions and competitive play, but to be honest, at $69.99, you are going to be hard-pressed to find a headset that performs at the same level of the React even without surround sound. I did miss the feature in some shooters, but otherwise, it wasn't something that bothered me too much.
With that in mind, we have to remember that not every single esports game is a shooter, and not every game is reliant on directional audio. If you were to play something like Rocket League, LoL, or World Of Warcraft (as I did), then you are going to be treated to a great audio experience thanks to the Reacts, as they do genuinely put out great sound.
This headset also offers up some brilliant passive noise cancellation. The earcups are so well constructed that once they are on and you have audio going through them, its tough to hear much outside of them. Trust me, I've been using these in a loud office environment, and even at half volume, it was tough to get my attention when I had these on.
That being said, don't expect the same level of noise cancellation if you are taking these outside for a walk, or to commute with. They are a gaming headset, and they definitely perform best within a living room or home office, where typical noise shouldn't leak through the earcups at all.
The other side of the noise cancellation aspect of the earcups is that sound leakage is kept to a bare minimum. I don't want to cross over too much with the review of the mic, but the headset kept sound in just as well as it kept sound out.
If I have to highlight some areas that I thought could have used some improvement, I would point to the mix of sound coming through the headset and the lack of ways in which to actually tinker with the sound settings on the headset.
The factory settings are great for gaming, but if you feel like a different mix of audio might serve you better, then you have to adjust your in-game or computer audio settings, and that can be a massive hassle.
Speaking of the mix in the headset, the bass is a little quiet. I appreciate what Fnatic has done regarding the minimization of bass in the output of the headset, but there are some situations where you miss it a bit, especially in gaming.
In fact, it doesn’t matter if you game on PC, Switch, PS4, or Xbox - the Fnatic React does them all. I tried them out on the PS4 playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, and I have to say that the sound was just as good on console as it was on PC.
The mic was, as you would expect, great to use. $60 is a brilliant price point for this headset, and you definitely get more than you paid for thanks to the quality of the mic itself.
It’s coated in the same memory foam material you would find inside the headphone, which allows your voice to be isolated nicely from any other residual noise in your area as you play.
The mic picks up on your voice really well, with the voice output distinctly clear with very little in the way of distortion or noise leak. In fact, I noticed that the microphone didn't have any of the usual bugbears you might find on a headset at this price range and that they didn't bury the bass too deep on the output like you might find on some cheaper headsets.
From an audio clarity perspective, this a great headset to invest in if you are looking to begin streaming or record audio, and you would like a little more use out of your headset for your money. The microphone may be a little quieter than you would hope, but that's an easily fixable issue in post-production (or by telling your friends to turn up their own headset!).
The microphone was just as good on a console, and I never had complaints of the game sounds leaking into the group chat.
Overall, this is one of the best microphones with a headset on the market at this price and kudos to Fnatic for finding a way to bring quality to such a relatively cheap product.
Honestly, this is where the Fnatic Reacts fall down slightly. Aside from the included 1.2M 3.5mm audio jack, and it’s 2M extender for those with a separate microphone and audio input on their PC (which can feel a tad too long if you are sat next to your machine), there isn’t too much to be said about the features of this headset.
You do get a microphone switch on the cable of the React headset, which controls the volume and gives the option to hit the killswitch to mute the mic, which is very easy to use and definitely sturdy.
If you are unhappy with the factory settings of the audio output, then I would recommend altering your PC’s internal audio output - but to be honest, Fnatic seems to have hit pretty close to the mark when it comes to out of the box audio performance.
If you can deal with the fact that the Fnatic React doesn’t come with RGB lighting, wireless connectivity, and all the other bells and whistles that might come with other modern headsets, then I think you are going to be very pleased with what you buy.
The Fnatic Reacts are, in my opinion, one of the best gaming headsets available in their price range today. Sure, they have sacrificed features like audio software and wireless connectivity in the name of affordability - but the React doesn’t need these.
What you will find if you do decide on buying a pair of Reacts is that you own a gaming headset, that offers stellar in-game audio (albeit without surround sound), and an unmatched microphone/audio output for the $70 mark - which I genuinely believe is of streamer or video quality.
With a sleek, minimalist design to boot and the comfort of the memory foam that lines the headset, you are going to be hard-pressed to find a headset that outperforms these for the low price they retail for.