By Scott Fink // Product Marketing Manager, Logitech Audio Labs on August 6, 2009
8 Comments + 2 Replies
Filed: PC Gaming
My name is Scott Fink and I’m a product marketing manager in the Logitech Audio Labs. When I’m not working with the headset design teams, you’ll probably find me hiking one of the dozens of waterfall-laden trails in the Columbia River Gorge near our office in Vancouver, Washington.
Contacts or glasses. Goofy stance or regular. Horde or Alliance. Many choices are made each day based on what just feels right. When it comes to headsets, PC gamers are faced with a choice of over-the-head (typically adjustable) and behind-the-head (stuck in a non-adjustable dark age with headbands that try to be one-size-fits-all but are more commonly one-size-fits-hardly-anyone). The new Logitech Gaming Headset G330 resolves this pain point with several clever comfort elements, including the first-ever adjustable, behind-the-head headband that slides for a personalized fit.
Our mission when we began developing the G330 headset two years ago was to design the most comfortable behind-the-head headset. We knew going in that our biggest hurdle would be accommodating a diverse range of head shapes and sizes. With our growing database of anthropometric (that’s a fancy word for ‘human body’) measurements to reference, we’re able to design to specific vectors on the human head, like the minimum distance between the ears, or tragus-to-tragus.
After defining some basic anthropometric parameters, we created several headband prototypes to explore how wearers interact with different adjustment mechanisms and to glean a mechanism’s impact on industrial design and weight. I thought I’d share just a couple of these prototypes with you.
One early concept, the turnbuckle, looked good on paper, but in practice we found it was too bulky. The spinning action felt cumbersome and awkward to control behind the head, and there was risk of snagging hair in the mechanism. Hair follicles around the globe are thanking us for not pursuing the turnbuckle concept.
Another concept called the double-rod slide had an improved interface from the turnbuckle because sliding was faster and more intuitive. But this mechanism was overweight, oversized, and we weren’t thrilled with its aesthetic limitations. Plus, we were not getting the desired angular motion that helps achieve a comfortable fit across a range of head sizes.
We finally landed on the plate slide, which has the angular motion we were looking for and a nice minimalist appeal. The early plate slide prototype was thin and did not expose the metal. In a later prototype we widened the slider to ensure the mechanism had a robust and reliable slide motion. You can also see that we stamped the cable channel right into the metal so the cable carrying the audio to the right speaker driver remains secure and protected.
For the slider, we use an alloy called spring steel. It’s a material we’re very familiar with since it’s used in our G35 and ClearChat PC Wireless headsets; we like it because of its lightweight yet extremely durable nature (not to mention everyone is really digging the new G330 gunmetal finish).
Toward the end of the development process, we fine-tuned the plate slide in two notable ways. First, we focused on the haptics, or feel, of the sliding motion so the tension was not too stiff or sloppy. We added light indexing, or speed-bumps, for tactile feedback and precise, intentional movement.
One final insight is about the weight of the headset. We were continually looking for ways to shed weight (the G330 weighs in at 32% lighter than our previous behind-the-head gaming headsets). With behind-the-head designs, the headband is fighting against gravity to keep it on your ears. Inward force on the ears—the primary cause of that lovely throbbing ache that makes you want to rip off a headset after an hour—is what keeps a headset from slipping down. The lighter the headset, the less inward force required, making for happy ears and tolerable marathon gaming sessions.
Well, that’s a little behind-the-scenes look into the development of the G330 headset’s adjustable headband perhaps far more information than you ever cared to know about a sliding doohickey). The adjustable headband is just one of the comfort elements that we designed into our new gaming headset. The silicone lining in the headband, the pivoting ear pads, and the low-profile padding and speaker drivers all lend to the total comfort system in the G330.
I hope when you’re wearing G330 you don’t notice it at all. That’s when we’ll know we accomplished our mission. Look for the G330 arriving in stores worldwide and online over the next month.