If you're gaming on a console or PC, chances are you'll have come across an advertisement for a gaming headset at some stage. There's plenty of choice for every gamer and every budget. Pure headphones. Cheap headphones. Headphones with a detachable microphone. Headphones with separate mixers. Modular headsets. Headsets with detachable cables.
So who are ROCCAT hoping to appeal to with the RENGA?
The RENGA is for PC and console gamers on a tight budget. Newegg are selling them to Australians for $71 ex-GST. That makes them more expensive than the popular Plantronics GameCom 300 series and puts them in the same territory as Turtle Beach's Ear Force headsets, offerings from Creative, the SteelSeries Siberia line, Razer's Kraken USB cans and many, many more.
One of the RENGA's advantages is its compatibility with the PC, PS4 and mobile devices. It connects to devices through a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, and the ability to simply switch from a console to a PC or your mobile will be appreciated by streamers and YouTubers. I don't know that anyone would be wearing the RENGA out in public too often — the microphone isn't detachable, and the open-ear design isn't unlikely to make you overly popular with other commuters — but the functionality is nice.
The headphones are fairly quiet. If you're someone looking for a headset for use in amateur or semi-professional competitions, as many Call of Duty, Counter-Strike or League of Legends players are, this could be a major problem. From my experience, anyone playing in competitions is better off getting a pair of closed-back headphones especially if you're going to attend offline/LAN events. It's a problem if you live in a noisy environment too.
They're incredibly light and comfortable to boot. Cheap circumaural headphones often suffer from the same problem: they're uncomfortable to wear. Sometimes the ear cups are just a fraction too small, or they're shaped in a weird way. The RENGA passed the comfort test with flying colours, though. Weighing in at 210 grams, the dual-band design means they sit nicely and should accommodate a wide variety of head types.
But they also feel a little too light. Braided or heavy-duty cables isn't a common feature among sub-$100 headsets and headphones, and the RENGA is no different. The cord comes with a small velcro strap to keep everything neat and tidy, but its construction feels incredibly weak. The ear cups are ventilated more than most open-ear headphones, making them more prone to damage if you're the type of gamer who likes to rage. And given that most of the padding around the cups is light foam, they're also liable to wear out faster than competing headphones and headsets at the same price range.
Bass lovers are going to be disappointed too. Strong bass isn't something you typically get from gaming-branded headphones or headsets at this price range. Music fans are the ones who will probably be the most upset with the RENGA in general, as the light bass response can be noticed across the gamut of genres. But it's pretty noticeable in gaming too. Sending an AWP bullet across the map doesn't have the oomph it should; explosions sound more remote and less threatening than they otherwise would be.
The microphone, however, is pretty decent. It's not hugely flexible and it's not detachable, but neither of those are deal-breakers for the asking price. It's clear enough and isolates sound well, and the RENGA comes with an adapter cable to feed your microphone and audio input into a single plug if you only have the one input. The tip of the microphone is a touch oversized, but that's purely an aesthetic quibble.