The EKSA E5000 Pro lies between a budget and a mid-range headset, which, while perhaps too bulky for some, improves the sound and build quality of the EKSA E1000. It features USB-A and USB-C cables, meaning it’s versatile enough to move between consoles, mobile phones, and computers. It carries basic LED lighting functionality as well as a surround sound feature. While it may not satisfy the audiophiles, it proves a competitive budget gaming headset more than capable of doing what it’s set out to do.
EKSA StarEngine Pro
AUX, USB-A, USB-C
By now, I’m fairly well versed in EKSA’s product range, which features affordable headsets targeted primarily toward a gaming-centric audience. I have previously reviewed both the Air Joy Plus and the E1000, which, while holding their own merits, fell just short of what I would consider a product I would recommend over other products on the market.
In turn, I was keen to see how the EKSA StarEngine Pro (E5000 Pro), a more premium offering from the company, compares with the previous headsets I looked at.
Improved Build Quality
Unboxing the EKSA StarEngine Pro E5000, I was instantly able to feel the differences in quality between the StarEngine Pro and something like the E1000. This headset doesn’t carry that same lightweight plastic feeling that I found the E1000 was subject to. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised by the headset’s heavier, more solid feeling.
Now that’s not to say that heavier is better, and some consumers may prefer a lightweight headset, even if it means the build itself doesn’t feel as high quality. However, the StarEngine Pro plastic feels pretty good through and through. They are quite bulky, though, and those with smaller heads, perhaps younger, may find them a bit too heavy and bulky for their purposes.
The headphones have a black and green design, a common color combination for gaming enthusiasts, and they happened to pair well with my existing Razor peripherals, which feature the same color scheme.
The open-back style earcup is accented with green coloration on the inside, behind a caged design. These accents can be emphasized with the LED light option, which can be toggled on and off.
Despite each earpiece’s open-back headphone design, this is an aesthetic feature, and the StarEngine Pro doesn’t use an open-back design. This is a closed-back headset, so you won’t need to worry about a very audible sound leak when using it in public.
In the box, there is a USB-C to USB-C extension cable, a USB-C to traditional USB-A, and an auxiliary to USB-C. The microphone is also included separately and plugs into the headset similarly to the Hyper-X Cloud II. The fact that the microphone is detachable is always a positive for me, as not only does it provide more versatility (no one wants a bulky microphone on their headset when using headphones in public), but it also means that you could replace the microphone if you encounter wire issues with the mic at some point in the future, a problem that plagues many headsets.
If I were to call out specific areas where I feel durability may become an issue in the long term, I think that the headband may be prone to damage if accidentally stepped on or pulled excessively far, as there is a bit of tension that comes through near the end of the range. And then there are two cables, one on each earpiece that extends from the headband. There may be a risk of wire damage if the headphones are pulled inward too aggressively or extensively over a long period – I would recommend just avoiding excessive inward tilting of the earcups to ensure a longer lifespan of the headset.
The StarEngine Pro Feels Good On The Ears
For me, comfort is in contention with the importance of sound quality, and I’m happy to say that EKSA has improved on the E1000 in the comfort department. The EKSA StarEngine Pro can fit most head sizes, from kids to adults, and I even found it to fit well with a cap.
The padding on the cans and headband are quite soft and comfortable, too, especially when we compare apples with apples and look at other headsets around this price range that cater towards consoles, computers, and mobile phones.
You should be able to use the EKSA StarEngine Pro for extended periods of time without having to worry about getting ear pain from an excessively tight or uncomfortable fit.
Sound Quality Was a Surprise
While the EKSA E1000 wasn’t without its own merits in sound quality for its price point, it had set my expectations for the EKSA StarEngine Pro, and I can gladly report that the experience is very different with this headset.
The volume is good, and you can get these headphones pretty loud. And the sound quality itself blew the E1000 out of the water with good, deep bass response, asserting mids and distinct highs.
While it doesn’t make much sense to go deep into critical listening on a headset like this, intended for gaming and casual listening – the bass bleeds into the mids a bit and is slightly muddy, and the highs can sometimes be a little too prominent. But again, this will likely be true for any pair of headphones at this price range.
Instead, let’s look at how they perform for casual listening and the gaming experience.
For music, the EKSA StarEngine Pro (E5000 Pro) does a nice job at creating a full and balanced sound that will let you still enjoy any genre of music without feeling as though the EQ of the headset ruins the experience. With the surround sound feature, you can add some additional depth that is most noticeable in electronic music genres.
To test how it performs in games, I booted up Counter-Strike: Global Offensive to see how they perform. With CSGO being a competitive first-person shooter, I find it a good benchmark with gaming audio. The direction of footsteps is an important factor, and the EKSA E5000 StarEngine Pro had very good directional sound and performed better than many other headsets I’ve used.
I found that when gaming, having the surround sound feature off was beneficial, as it reduced some sound artifacts that caused directional sound to be a little less telling. This is going to vary between games and non-competitive game formats, or personal preferences may make the surround sound option more viable.
The explosions sounded great with low rumbles, while higher-pitched sounds were still clear and discernable without coming across too aggressively on the ear.
For gaming, I think the StarEngines do a great job for their price range and far exceed the experience with the E1000 headset.
The same pattern of improved quality can be noted regarding microphone quality. While it is quite easy to get some clipping when the microphone is too close, at an appropriate distance, the clarity is quite decent. I found that the advertised environmental noise reduction seemed valid as the mic didn’t pick up on any of the environmental noise in my testing area.
There isn’t the same clarity you find in high-end gaming headsets, but the microphone quality feels about par for the course in this budget range.
Below is an audio sample from the E5000 Pro with a comparative recording of the E1000 and the Air Joy Plus listed below for comparison.
Controls & Features
The EKSA StarEngine headphones have a few buttons lined along the left side earcup: a volume control, a microphone mute button, and a surround sound button that doubles as an LED control when held in for a few seconds.
Having the volume control on the headset is quite a nice feature to have, and the surround sound mode is certainly something that a lot of people will enjoy, though, as with most surround sound modes, it’s going to be all about finding music that works best with the feature. I tended to keep my surround sound on for music and then turn it off for gaming, as touched on above.
Overall, the EKSA StarEngine Pro isn’t the best gaming headphones I’ve ever used – but for their price range, they can certainly stand next to some much bigger names in the same budget range. Especially if you can find them around the $70 mark. They are a marked upgrade from the E1000 and bring everything you’d need for a versatile set of headphones and prove extremely useful for those who frequently move between console, mobile phone, and computer.