I've been stubbornly attempting to resist the Bloodborne hype train. Getting your hopes up, especially for modern AAA games, usually leads to nothing but pure uncut disappointment. As we near the actual launch of the game, h... read
As the Xbox One is relatively new in the grand scheme of its estimated lifespan, we haven't gotten a chance to see many special edition controllers come out yet. This Titanfall one was significant as it marked an importa... read
May 06 //
Product: Klipsch KG-200 Pro Audio Wired Gaming HeadsetManufacturer: KlipschInput: USB, analogMSRP: $129.99
The KG-200 is a lightweight, shiny gaming headset that we could only really appreciate after managing to pry it out of some unnecessarily complicated packaging. Once we pulled it out of too much plastic and had all the cabling fall all over the place, we could appreciate its sharp looks, silver-on-black trim, and its sporty ear padding. Seriously -- the packaging is terrible.
These phones look good on your head -- you won't look like you should be in a flight control tower with these on. They feel pretty nice with their soft ear pads and squishy rubber head band padding. Headphone nerds will tell you that gripping force is important for sound quality as it keeps the sound in (bass!) and disturbances out. If you have a normal-sized head like mine, you'll appreciate the abnormally strong squeeze that the KG-200 puts on your ears. But if you're big-headed, this could be an issue. Similarly, if you have longer than normal ears, these smaller earcups are either going to mash down on the top of your ears or your ear lobes. The KG-200 qualify as over-ear phones, but just barely.
The grip force and the tuned 40mm drivers mean that plenty of sound gets to your ears. Lots of it -- these things can go really loud! That's really great if you've been looking for a set that will put out a lot of sound. Unfortunately, this set is so bass-forward that anything beyond mid-level listening will fill your eardrums with a boomy mess. Explosions sound amazing, as do big mech footfalls, but you'll strain to hear anything else over the low end as the frequency response is so skewed that it's in danger of just sounding like your audio source is malfunctioning.
Tweakers will like the EQ presets that give users a choice between combat, stealth, and sport-tuned curves; these presets are selected by a button found on the right ear cup, alongside buttons for chat volume, game volume, and mic mute. I think the clear, balanced default preset sounds best, but, again, they're all overly boomy. The bass is so present that the headset will actually vibrate on your ears at higher volumes.
Another issue is that the KG-200's active amp is always making a hissing noise. Unless you use these at a higher volume, you'll hear plenty of hiss alongside your game audio. We're talking enough hiss to have me concerned that my ears were about to be blown out when the audio started. But even set at minimum volume, these headphones output some serious electronic noise.
An avalanche of cabling and accessories fell out of the packaging after pulling out the KG-200. All of this cabling gives the set a lot of flexibility as it provides the required connectivity for the various consoles it works with.
For the Xbox 360, the bundled RCA connector is required to send audio to the set, as is the Xbox AV cable. This is a kind of loopback, with the audio coming out of the piggybacking RCA jacks sending signal into the 1/8" headphone jack of the headset. Coming back out, the mic requires an additional cable to send your speech into the system, doubling up the cabling. Xbox One isn't as bad, but it does require the new Xbox One connector block accessory.
For PlayStation users, the PS4 supports straight up USB connectivity (you'll need to update your system firmware) for just audio, but the recommended setup for both composite and RCA output will still have you using the RCA cable splitter to draw audio from your television. You really can't do that if your television or display doesn't have RCA jacks, or if the video connection type doesn't support audio options. Keep the receipt.
I could not get my gaming television to work with the prescribed PS4 setup so I ended up using the USB audio instead. It sounds puny and quiet in comparison, and the volume and other controls on the headset won't work when connected this way.
PC connections can use the standard green and pink split 1/8" headphone and mic jacks, with the USB port supplying power. It comes with a supplied lift attachment for the USB jack so that it only receives power. If your notebook computers do not have a mic jack, you're out of luck, as Klipsch did not include a 1/8" headphone/mic splitter cable.
Beyond these cables, the bundle also includes a detachable boom mic that is sufficiently bendy and features a foam pop cover. It seems to be a very good mic (good sensitivity and response) from the couple of test runs I gave it.
I don't want to open that can of worms on how a quality set of non-gaming headphones and a USB mic will kill just about any gaming headset combo out there, but I couldn't help thinking about that when using these for PC gaming. The latter solution would sound better and have less cable clutter, most likely.
And when it comes to console gaming with the KG-200, I didn't like the cable fight. It's just too messy and confusing for my tastes. Worse, some of the cable lengths are too short to fit the recommended cabling setups, and some of the prescribed setups from the manual didn't even work for me.
For the asking price of $129 you're getting one of the loudest headsets I've ever used, and that's saying a lot. If you've been looking for loud, or for a lot of bass, you need to check out the KG-200. This is all the bass you'll ever need. But if you are craving clean, clear audio, I'd look elsewhere, because the hiss noise is a pretty big issue and the frequency response is seriously skewed.
BOOM BOOM BOOM Many of the very same Klipsch gaming headphones we spotted at CES earlier this year are now here in our office, with the Klipsch KG-200 set being the latest to get our review treatment.
While Klipsch has always been a b... read feature
If you regularly read this fine website, you'll know that I love anything audio or music related, and I'm especially taken with the area where games and sound collide. So Feenix's new headset definitely caught my eye with its... read
As of a system update going live late tonight, PlayStation 4 owners with an official Pulse or Pulse Elite Edition headset will now be able to use their device with the console. That took a while, didn't it?
With that support... read
The business of gaming audio is growing so fast that the makers of many premium audio product brands are throwing their hats into the ring. Several new gaming headsets debuted at CES 2014, with entries from top names like Aud... read
I know that we brought you a full review of the SteelSeries H Wireless headset a few days back, but after trying them out at CES today I wanted to say a bit more about them. Chris did a fine job, but I liked these so much tha... read
Dec 11 //
Product: SteelSeries H Wireless HeadsetManufacturer: SteelSeriesInput: 3.5mm jacks with USB adapter included (wireless)MSRP: $299.99
So what's the deal with this headset anyway? Well, they're basically another set of wireless headphones from SteelSeries -- except this pair will work with full feature parity on the PS4, as well as the 360 and PS3 (more on supported platforms later). With a sleek black and orange design, the H Wireless headphones look great, and have enough flash without being too flashy.
The foam headband is comfortable, but not nearly as comfy as SteelSeries' own Siberia Elites. It's adjustable, but for those of you who have bigger heads, it may fit a tad too snug. Having said that, this is one of the lightest headsets I've ever used, so other than the snugness I don't have any problems with the design. It thankfully comes with a ton of cables should you decide to hook it up to legacy devices, or essentially any other device out there with an audio port.
Sound-wise, it's a cut above the vast majority of headsets out there, but the lows weren't particularly strong during my time with it (they suffer especially on bass-heavy music during my non-gaming tests). The "H" is competent for non-gaming, but it's really build for its intended use. Still, the 7.1 virtual surround sound is near perfect in all the places it matters, as you can hear pretty much everything in any given game -- whether it's above, below, or behind you. The advertised range is 40 feet, a number that's been accurate with my tests with it, and as is the case with most wireless sets, a volume control knob is located on one of the ears.
The best part of the H Wireless unit however is the transmitter. It's a full-lit display showing everything that's going on, including the system that's being used, and the current profile. It has a convenient volume dial, as well as a power button, which allows you to access the unit's many menus. You can change practically everything audio-wise from the box, including multiple settings for different output devices. The display is only a few inches wide, but it sports plenty of real estate to clearly read every notification and not take up too much space in your setup. It can be hooked up with a standard AC power cable included in the box, or it can run directly via USB from a console.
Then you have my second favorite function -- the dual battery system. Built into one ear of the Wireless H and the transmitter itself is a tiny slit for the two included battery packs. This ensures that at any given time, your set is charging, which is a really nice touch. The transmitter shows your battery level, giving you plenty of opportunities to pause the game and quickly pop out the fresh battery pack. As someone who's dealt with failing wireless headphones in many online games leading me to rush for a charging cord, this small feature is a godsend. It also helps that the set has a whopping 20 hours of charge per lihium-ion battery.
So what platforms are supported? Basically everything from Android, iOS, PS3, Xbox 360, to PCs, up to and including the PlayStation 4 (the Wii U doesn't have an optical port). It does pull audio from the Xbox One, but it doesn't work with the chat function -- nothing will, actually, until Microsoft finishes their development of the chat adapter. I've been using these on my PlayStation 4 for the past week, and they work like a dream.
The retractable mic is perfect as well, as I don't even notice it when it's slipped into the headset -- it also glows red while muted, which is a nice touch. Voice chat sounds crystal clear, and the addition of ChatMix allows for a great balance of voice effects and in-game sound.
At $299.99, the H Wireless set is a cut above the median price for other wireless headsets -- a headset that by its very definition of lacking wires, is typically inferior in sound quality. The good news is it's future proof, and as soon as Microsoft gets to work on a chat converter, it'll function on basically every modern gaming platform. The dual-battery concept is also genius, and ensures that you can stay truly "wireless" at all times. All in all this is my new favorite headset for my gaming needs, but it doesn't do a whole lot more than existing sets for the price.
For those who find the price point to be a little too rich, Turtle Beach and Astro offer more affordable wireless options. Or just deal with wires, pay less, and get better sound quality.
The best parts are the transmitter and batteries Wireless headphones can be pretty expensive, but they can also be pretty damn convenient. Sometimes I don't feel like fumbling with wires, as it helps keep my setup clean, and the ability to wander around within a limited dis... read feature
Dec 10 //
To my ears, most gaming headsets have a similar sound formula. Again, this is not to dump on some of these sets, but more often than not they have a constrained upper end, an over-boosted low end, a painfully bloated mid-low end, and everything between these ranges usually suffers for the resulting frequency curve. I could get more technical and talk about how they're usually dry, honky, and have weird imaging issues, but I'm not here for a rant, and I'm not out to sound like some kind of headphone snob. I think that any gamer who has tried more than a couple of pairs out can identify that there's a particular sound you get from a lot of these headsets. It's not hard to hear.
The 'custom tuning' bullet point you see on the boxes of many of these headsets is to blame most times. But you can't blame the headset makers for doing this tuning as the result is geared toward gaming use. For example, their sharp high end lets you hear the footfalls of enemies in first-person shooters, and that exaggerated low end keeps your ears filled with wooly rumbles at all time. That's what we want, right? But sometimes the digital processing used to get them there takes things too far. So while the headset will hit those bullet-point marks for the high and low end, the details suffer, giving you cold, lifeless audio.
So, I have headsets I'll use because they're wireless, have a bendy boom mic, have a nice range and battery life, or have cool glow-y lights. But those are all features that do nothing for sound. I'd much rather have something that sounds better.
Again, the Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro (MSRP $299, ~$200 street) headset sounds better than anything I've tried. And that's probably because it's a legitimate pair of listening headphones first and foremost, with some options that make it a good gaming solution. So know that you're not going to get the flashy lights or surround-sound features. It's all about great sound here.
What the Custom One can do is give you your choice of frequency responses, which is rare in what would normally be considered monitor-style headsets. There's a four-position switch on each earcup, letting you customize the sound to your liking.
The default setting is a clean and un-hyped frequency plot, giving you a wide, open, and detailed sound. This is sound quality that would make any audio enthusiast smile. These would be right at home in a pro audio setup, and would even work in the studio. But even with everyday listening they sound delightful.
If you need more, push that switch forward to one of the more bass-pronounced settings. One click forward enhances the lower range, and another click past that makes bass frequencies take center stage. The last? BOOM! This last setting is a bit heavy for my ears when listening to music, but it made a PS4 session of Killzone: Shadow Fall pretty exciting, if a bit tiring. The steps take your ears from delightfully punchy to full-on bass head territory -- something for everyone.
Here's the kicker, though. All of these sound modes are dynamic and musical, which is more than I can say for a lot of the gaming headsets with sound tuning options. The full-on bass setting is, again, a bit tiring to my ears, but if you like the boom, it's certainly here. Even the default linear setting is still quite lively in the low end, though. I've been enjoying this set with the response tuned to the first notch, which has proved to be perfect for both gaming and music listening.
Side-by-side tests with other headsets had my lip curling at how poorly some of my standby sets fared in comparison. I won't throw any of the others under the bus, but I will say that only set that fared reasonably well in the comparison was my SteelSeries Siberia set, and even then the Beyerdynamic set sounded a fair bit better to my ears. In all cases, the semi-closed-backed Custom One were more open and clean, shining with their unmarred midrange and their amazing imaging. Games and music sounded bigger and more exciting, dialogue was much easier to hear, and explosions and sound effects were more dynamic. In just about every respect the Custom Ones has a clear advantage.
The sound isolation is also great, as the world fades out when you put these on.
For gaming, the Custom One Pro has another trick up its sleeve. The port at the bottom of the left earcup that lets you plug in a removable cable can also take Beyerdynamic's Custom Headset Gear extension. This replaces the default audio cable with another that has a split Y-cable that lets you plug in the set into headphone and mic jacks. The bottom of the extension has a port where the included gooseneck microphone can be attached. With a quick unplug/plug the Custom Pro One changes from a listening-only set to a gaming/podcasting solution.
This Y-cable configuration was good for my gaming PC, but not my notebooks, where a single 1/8" jack handles both signals. I had the same issue with the PS4, as the audio jack on the DualShock 4 is the same kind of all-in-one mic/headset jack, much like the one on most mobile phones. StarTech's $7 headset splitter adapter made for an easy and cheap solution, though it would have been nice to see this adapter included in the headset extension kit. Or, better yet, Beyerdynamic should have included a 4-pin 1/8" jack with in-line mic for mobile/gaming use.
Test calls and party chats with the Custom Headset Gear extension showed that the included mic does the job fine, with clean voice coming through. I did find that rotating the gooseneck mic in its jack created a quiet scratching noise, though. The mic is also missing a marking to show where the mic diaphragm is, so you'll have to remove the foam cover to see where it is to set its position near your mouth.
Of course, this set will need an amp for game systems that do not have an analog jack.
The Custom One Pro comes with an allen wrench that lets you remove the four screws on each earcup to replace the default plates with custom ones. The headband and earcups are also removable to make them customizable as well. The Beyerydynamic shop has several part options already available.
These are a very nicely made set of headphones from Germany. The Custom One Pro's metal headband and rugged plastic earcups make them feel solid but keep them light. They're supremely comfortable because of this, perfect for extended wear.
Once more, we've never tested a headset for gaming that has sounded this nice. The Custom One Pro is sparkling clean, miles wide, and impressively dynamic, with a soundstage that competes with professional headphones. Gaming on everything from a 3DS to a PS4 showed that these are a treat for the ears, and they performed just a nicely with an iPod and through stereo amps for music listening and movie watching.
If you need something that's wireless, digital, or has a bunch of surround sound modes, this set may not be for you. But if you want something sounds outstanding and has a high level of customizability, I can't think of a better set than the Custom One Pro. Highly recommended!
Our favorite headset yet If you read this site regularly you'll know that I've reviewed a lot of headsets. A lot of gaming headsets, I should say. I'm not out to dump on any of them, but I want to start this review by saying that these Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro headphones sound better than any of the phones I've reviewed for this site.
Flat out. No question. read feature
Dec 09 //
Razer says that the Kraken Forged are hand-assembled, made out of matte-finished aircraft-grade aluminum. I believe them. The finish on these babies? Incredible. Damn, these are great-looking headphones.
The headband is soft and flexible, contrasting with back of the the ear cups, which are cool to the touch with their all-metal build. They're almost all matte aluminum, save for black grills and a bit of chrome trim. Even the extension band that comes out when sizing them looks nice.
The cups fold inward, making the Kraken Forged pretty portable. The padded semi-hard case holds the headphones nicely, though its design adds quite a bit of bulk. I'd carry them in a soft bag instead.
A port on the bottom of the left cup lets you change out cables, picking from the included audio-only and audio/in-line mic cable sets. As cables wear over time, having the ability to eventually replace them is always nice. The in-line mic worked nicely for a test phone call over the holidays, and it plugs in and works perfectly through the PS4 controller's mic/headphone jack. It's too bad they passed on including a splitter cable for other gaming uses, but these are inexpensive and can be purchased easily.
The Kraken Forged are pretty comfortable. I was a bit worried that their metal build would have them being too weighty in use, but I used them for hours on end during my Gran Turismo 6 review session this week, never feeling like I needed to give my head or ears a rest. You do feel that there's a fair bit of weight on your head, but between the headband and the soft, deep earcups, it's fine. Weak-necked gamers should test out a pair first, though.
The Kraken Forged Edition headphones are purely analog, which will be music to the ears of any audiophile. Their tuned 40mm neodymium drivers are putting out pure, high-quality audio, with none of the digital blues to bring them down.
I like the sound they offer up, but there's a definite emphasis on the lower frequency range. Razer says that the drivers are custom tuned, and I expect that they're geared to meet the needs of both gamers and music lovers, so a big low end makes sense. Explosions boom and ring out, and kick drums resound cleanly in the ear.
The 250-300Hz range -- where everything from bass guitars to car motor sounds resides -- is a bit thick for my tastes, though. While this tuning is perfect for cinematic action, situations where both music and sound effects overlap might have this range sounding a bit muddy.
The very high end of the frequency range (these are rated 20 – 20,000 Hz) is clean, which is nice to hear as a lot of gaming headsets can be fatiguing in this range. I suspect that some of the mid-highs are scooped out a bit, which is why some voices and dialogue sat back in the mix a bit.
I personally prefer a flatter response for my headphones, but I think most gamers will dig how explosive the sound can be with this set's pronounced low end. Know that the low end is clean and impressive, thanks to the quality drivers Razer uses.
So, are the Kraken Forged Edition headphones worth $299? They could be for the right person. I thought they sounded great with drum-heavy music, and they impressed when the big explosions and car crashes hit in games. But if Razer was aiming at the audiophile audience, its over-emphasis on the low end and its scooping out of the high-mids seems like an odd move. Music that uses the full frequency spectrum, like orchestral music, sounded a bit less impressive to my ears.
I think they're a better fit for the gamer that wants a really, really nice, well-made set of headphones. But, even then there's only so far you'll get with the audio and in-line mic cabling. If you're okay with that, the Kraken Forged are beautifully made, and their sound is full and immersive. If you play a lot of action or shooter games, and listen to a lot of hip hop or rap, you might really dig these.
Fancypants Niiiiice. That's what you'd expect to say trying out a premium set of audiophile-quality headphones, especially when they're priced at $299.00. Razer's Kraken Forged Edition music and gaming headphones are certainly nice in both form and function.
But are they $299 nice? Do they have a look and sound so good that you'd be okay eating ramen for the next month? read feature
This all started with a good find by the folks at Kotaku in their Xbox One review. They found that the optical digital output port of the Xbox One was only passing stereo signals. This led to a NeoGAF thread, ... read
PlayStation 4 headset rumor may not be rumor after all
// Wesley Ruscher
Back in September, we reported on a juicy little rumor that Sony had initial plans to reveal a virtual reality headset for the PlayStation 4 at gamescom, but instead was pushing the announcement to the Tokyo Game show. While ... read
Xbox One Headset Adapter stalls the release of accessories
// Kyle MacGregor
The Xbox One will not function in tandem with third-party gaming headsets at launch, Turtle Beach has revealed.
Contrary to previous reports, the looming $500 console will include a pack-in mono headset. However, those lookin... read
Oct 18 //
Product: SteelSeries Siberia Elite Gaming HeadsetManufacturer: SteelSeriesInput: 3.5mm jacks with USB adapter includedMSRP: $199.99
First things first, the Siberia Elite is extremely comfortable. The cup material doesn't feel sticky (meaning it won't get sweaty over time), and it does an amazing job of isolating pretty much every bit of noise -- even my wife, who I didn't notice calling me on multiple occasions. For good measure, I tested them out for multiple-hour sessions on many devices, and I was never tempted to take them off due to discomfort. The self-adjusting suspension headband feels fairly comfortable (especially at the top), but it's a tad flimsy -- like it could potentially snap in half if dropped on a hard floor.
One of my favorite things about the headset is the volume control dial that's available on the right earmuff. When I first threw on the Elite I noticed that the volume was severely low, even with my device's volume set at the maximum level -- come to find out the dial was at the lowest setting, and it was capable of a much louder range. I really enjoyed the ear dial after extended use, as it's better than fumbling with a corded volume control or a dongle. Elites come in a black or white variety, but I prefer the latter due to the unique look -- especially when the LED functionality is enabled.
While testing out these levels, I noticed that the quality of sound didn't drop, even near the "hearing loss" standard of volume. The lows aren't nearly as powerful as they would be on other headsets, but everything else sounds perfect. When coupled with the bundled equalizer, most everything sounded like it should, boasting up to 7.1 channel surround sound. The right cup also comes equipped with an additional headphone jack, should someone else want to share a movie on a plane or listen to your playlist.
Thankfully, the included cords are fairly long (short cards are a pet peeve of mine with other headsets), clocking in at 1.2 meters, which is approximately four feet. The extension cord is two meters, which is around 6.5 feet, and more than enough room for most setups. Along with the extensions, a USB Sound Card is also included, which allows the headset to gain a few extra features when plugged into a PC.
The Sound Card itself is a proprietary design, with standard green and red audio/mic inputs, and a USB connection. Functionally, it allows you to connect your headphones to SteelSeries' software suite (SteelSeries Engine 3), enabling sound manipulation, noise-cancellation for the mic, and the ability to change the LED lights on the muffs for fun. The software itself is fairly non-obtrusive, and easy to use, with giant buttons and clear descriptions for all of its features, like Dolby toggling, the equalizer, mic compression/volume, and LED customization (including the rotation of certain colors, and pulsing).
Of course, the headset has to measure up in extended gaming tests, and I was pretty pleased with the results. Whether it was with my Vita, 3DS, iOS device, or my PC, everything sounded clear as every nuance like footsteps was captured, and the microphone worked as advertised -- especially when I used the noise-cancellation option through the software.
As an added bonus, the mic lights up to indicate when you're muted or not, and it's retractable, so you won't look ridiculous wearing these in public with a giant mic sticking out. Additionally, the left earmuff has a mic mute control that operates in the same way as the right-ear volume dial.
SteelSeries products tend to be really expensive (like the Siberia Elite), but I had very little complaints from just about every aspect of the headset. The Elite is sleek and well-designed, it's flashy, and best of all -- it actually works and sounds great.
My new go-to headset Over the past year or so, I've acquired a decent amount of headphones. Some of them have fallen by the wayside, some of them relegated to certain devices, and a few have become decent "catch-alls" for most of my needs.
Seeing... read feature
This is a PS4 PSA. Like the Xbox One, the PS4's compatibility with existing headsets leaves a lot to be desired. Both consoles come with a fully functional headset, mind, but that's little consolation for those with expensive... read
When Microsoft revealed that the Xbox One controller would have a new port designed for improved data transfer speed, owners of high-end headsets wondered if their pricey investment would soon be rendered obsolete. It looks l... read
The Microsoft Store has priced a few accessories for the Xbox One, including controllers, headsets, and charge kits. The standard wireless controller will be $59.99, or $74.99 with a play-and-charge kit included. The charge k... read
Get the best performance out of your audio equipment and help a good cause
// Steven Hansen
Did you know that Razer has more software engineers than hardware engineers? While the company is known for its high-end (read: pricey) peripherals and daftly sleek gaming laptop, it does equally wild work on the software sid... read
The Xbox One doesn't come packaged with a headset. Nor can you use your existing, likely expensive headset, apparently. At least not until Microsoft comes up with a fix.
"The Wireless Controller has been redesigned to allow f... read
My experiences with sub-$100 headphones haven't been the most positive. I've gone through quite a few pairs from a variety of manufacturers, and have generally had issues with either comfort, durability, and/or sound/micropho... read
SteelSeries headsets are mostly known for functionality and durability without all the visual flash. True to that trend, the company is introducing three new headsets into its popular H series this summer, including two upgrades to current models and the new and more-featured 9H.We have details and impressions of the three new headsets straight from E3. read
With this generation's meteoric rise of Call of Duty came a similar interest in gaming headsets. It's not surprising to hear then that Turtle Beach is at work on a line of Xbox One headsets. There's not a whole lot of details... read
Mar 03 //
Daniel Starkey Now, obviously that claim doesn’t go without qualification, and what I really mean to say is that this set is practical compared to what else is on the market at that price level, but these things are pretty incredible for their cost.
At $300, you’re mostly getting into reference-class headphones. That tier consists headphones that are very, very well made with a bunch of cool things like gold contacts, large, well-calibrated diaphragms for accurate sound reproduction, and all that other fancy goodness. V-Moda has all of those nifty features here too, but they've also brought a pragmatic mindset.
For example, most of those sets can often have a resistance of 300 or 600 ohms. The M-100, though, only have a resistance of 32 ohms. For the average consumer, all this really means is that you can use these guys on a portable media player or a laptop without having to go out and buy a separate (and often very expensive) headphone amplifier to boost the signal. That portable philosophy is really what is so impressive about these. They can be used almost anywhere, with almost any set of equipment.
The Crossfade M-100 isn’t quite like anything else. Portable, light, and relatively small with interchangeable cords and a built-in microphone by default, it's very unusual but totally amazing.
All of these features are the result of its crowd-sourced design. Headfi, a forum for headphone aficionados like myself was tapped by V-Moda to figure out what people really wanted in their next set. The result is something of a cyberpunk version of Frankenstein’s monster.
The cable for the M-100 is, thankfully, replaceable. This means that damage to the plug and the cord, which are typically the first parts to fail, doesn’t necessitate that you replace the whole set. Beyond that, the cords themselves are reinforced with Kevlar. The stuff they use to make bulletproof vests. And you get two of them. Taking it a step further, either ear cup -- the left or the right -- can be used to plug in the cable. So if one of those fails, you still have another option. V-Moda also includes a few caps to keep the unused plug from getting dirt or grime inside.
Of the two cords that come with the headphones, one has a TRRS connector (which really just means that it has a built in microphone and pause button), perfect for a standard cellphone. The other is something that the company calls a “SharePlay” cable which really just means a super-awesome version of a splitter so that your friends can listen too.
The entire frame is made of steel, which is a welcome change from most other headphones which tend to take the cheap route with plastic. This means that the headphones don’t creak at all with pressure. There was no give when I applied force, and I even dropped them on the ground a few times without noticing any scratches or damage. The steel does add a little weight overall, but this set is still quite a bit smaller than other $300 sets, so the difference isn’t too noticeable.
Ear pads are another place where most companies tend to go pretty cheap, but again we see a dedication to quality throughout -- in this case, the cups are made of memory foam and well-designed for almost any sized ear. I can also say as someone with pierced ears, that the memory foam works splendidly -- it didn't place any additional, unnecessary pressure on my ring-ed lobes. I found that I could wear the set for 5-8 hours straight with no discernible discomfort whatsoever. Your mileage will vary of course, but I can’t imagine anyone wanting to tear off their ears in horrific, unbearable pain.
Speaking of which the M-100s also comes with a really, really tough carrying case that can definitely take a good hit. I took a few solid swings at it with a hammer and did no permanent damage to either the case or the headphones inside. It also has little harnesses for all of the cords and small accessories included. With any luck this set will last you a good long while.
Now, the set that I reviewed also came with a dedicated add-on mic for gaming and eSports and Skype and stuff. This too comes reinforced with Kevlar, because why the fuck not, guys?! Other than that, though, it’s a pretty standard, flexible boom microphone.
It’s not quite as cool as the one on the A50s that are muted automatically when you flip it away from your face, but it definitely holds to the same ridiculous level of quality seen everywhere else in this set. Its only notable downside is that the connectors provided pretty much make it impossible to use with a console. With only a TRRS connector and an adapter for PC users, you would be hard-pressed to jury-rig the thing to get it to work on the Xbox 360 or PS3. Thanks to that adapter it is theoretically possible, but it would be a huge pain in the ass.
I do have a few tiny nitpicks that don't neatly fit into any category I’ve discuss thus far. On either ear cup, for example, a small cord runs up into the headband. While aesthetically that cord looks totally badass, I’ve managed to get it caught on a couple of things. It is Kevlar reinforced like the other cables, but these things aren’t user-replaceable, so I freaked out a bit. Obviously, this is a very expensive set and causing damage is no bueno.
I can’t tell you just how much I love these things from a purely “Holy shit, why doesn’t everyone make life easy for like this” way. But they do sound damned awesome. Allegedly they have a dual-diaphragm design with 50mm drivers in each cup. What does this mean for the non-aurally fixated? Well, balancing high tones and low tones in a set of headphones or in any set of speakers that don’t have separate tweeters and woofers, is really hard. The kinds of stuff you need to produce good bass and good highs are very different. Most reference-class headphones go for the mid-tones instead. As a result, those of us that like heavy bass for ... I dunno rap, or techno, or gunshots in Half-Life 2 miss out on what we tend to prefer.
Now, a lot of people don’t like the heavier bass of DJ-class headphones, but that sound profile can mostly be fixed with a decent equalizer. Having that deep, rich bass capability as well as the range to really make the highs sing is a rarity though. In all of my tests, I noticed no tinny sounds, nor any bottoming out on the low end. Everything performed perfectly. To cause failure I had to connect them to amp and run a dangerous amount of power through them. The M-100s will keep up with whatever crazy stuff you like to listen to at any volume that could ever be called “safe” or “reasonable.” If you want to go deaf, then they might start sounding like crap, but you won’t know anyway. Because you'll be deaf.
Okay, I think I’m done raving. Wait ... steel construction. Gold connectors. Kevlar cords. Interchangeable parts. Great case. Incredible sound. Excellent comfort. Super-portable. Versatile. Now I’m done.
I’m amazed by what crowd-sourcing people’s preferences in headphones can do, and now I’ve started thinking that every other headphone company just hates its customers or is too self-absorbed to consider what features customers actually want in a high-end set. Granted, they are by no means cheap. I get that, but if you can swing that amount of cash and don’t need to use them on an Xbox 360 or PS3, then you cannot go wrong with the M-100s.
The first crowd-sourced headphones I realize that the percentage of our readers that are legitimately in the market for a $300 set of headphones is fairly small, and honestly if you don’t think dropping that much cheddar is ever worth it, then I probably... read feature
Astro Gaming has teamed up with Konami to put out limited edition Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance themed headsets and speaker tags. The A40 bundle includes your choice of the black or white headset, mixamp, and six total Reve... read
We reviewed and really liked PDP's Afterglow wireless headset last year, mostly for its excellent sound quality and pricing. We liked that it worked with all consoles and mobile devices, too. Really, the only thing we didn't ... read
I had a chance to listen to a few of the newly announced headsets from Turtle Beach at CES today. Their top option is the new Seven series of headsets, which comes in three configurations: XP Seven for consoles, Z Seven for P... read
Show us your skillz and win this aural delight! [Update: Contest over! Winners are Porkins, FierstArter, HammerShark, BillyTheK1dd, and Flamoctapus.]
Our friends at Razer have kindly bestowed upon us five of their awesome Tiamat 7.1 elite gaming headsets to give away to th... read feature
Dec 14 //
There’s a rabid individualism that sort-of pervades modern western culture. I can’t be said to be against it, because I totally get it. I’m an egotistical ass sometimes. I love my stuff and I’m prone to being more than a little obnoxious about it.
I wear a lot of clothing with logos, I have a Dtoid sticker on nearly everything I possess, etc. So I definitely understand why people might want to loudly declare dedication to one thing or another and as an avid lover of all things audio, I have a dozen sets of circumaural beasts that I use almost constantly.
That in mind, Designears seem almost tailored to me. The selling point here is the ability to slap whatever image or logo you want on a pair of headphones, so when you’re strolling around, going about your day, everyone can see that you’re into cupcakes and green robots.
The “design” part of Designears is totally fine. The image they print is covered with a rubbery plastic which feels higher-quality than I expected and is resistant to scuffs and scratches. Mr. Destructoid’s face wasn’t pixelated or washed out at all, and presumably that same attention to detail will be pretty consistent.
Unfortunately, my praise ends there. Wait… no… the carrying case is actually really nice. Yeah, now I’m done.
When you pick up the set, Designears’ biggest problem is immediately apparent -- they are cheaply made. It’s something I would expect from a tweaking pack of five-year-olds given a year’s supply of paste and Popsicle sticks. It’s bad.
Made entirely of plastic, the phones creak and strain when any significant force is applied. The set has no weight, either. When holding them with one finger, they still feel so completely insubstantial that I’m honestly left wondering how they work at all.
Putting them on is an even bigger disappointment. Designears are halfway between being supra aural and circum, and they come off as a poorly constructed unholy hybrid of the two. They isolate no outside noise and they leak worse than any set I’ve ever heard.
On the inside of the earcup there’s this foam-like… thing that hits the top arch and ridges of my ears. Its scratchy and horribly uncomfortable for any length of time. The leatherette cups aren’t much better, and they rotate freely, not at all properly connected to the base.
The frame and connecting pieces aren’t up to snuff, either. Most adjustable headphones have a kind of light locking mechanism that keeps the piece from sliding around too much. Again, Designears fails as the cheap plastic pieces are incredibly stiff and a pain in the ass to move or adjust at all.
Similarly, the frame doesn’t have much give in the coronal plane, meaning that wider-headed folks like me are almost squeezed by the plastic trying to return to their natural shape. But as stiff as they are, I’m afraid to apply any real force to them for fear that they’d shatter in my hands. The foam underside of the headband is also held on with a very cheap, very weak double-sided tape.
As I checked to see if the cord was user-replaceable, I discovered what the most offensive fault in these headphones is, to me. The cable runs out of a small hole on the left ear cup -- pretty standard for these things. On the right cup, though, the exact same hole is in the same spot. The manufacturers were so lazy that they simply didn’t make more than one kind of cup.
Build quality matters. It does. Especially when consumers start dropping some real money. If you’re going to put cash down, then the product should be able to last for a while. When people make shoddy hardware and charge above what they are clearly worth, it shows a profound lack of respect from the customer.
If the piece sounded incredible (I mean ridiculously awesome) then most of these things could be forgiven. But, as you’ve probably already guessed -- they simply don’t.
Somehow, they are bass-heavy without any of the crisp definition that I’ve come to expect. Everything is muddled and quiet, without any of the pop or life media deserves. And it should be more than a little indicative that this is all I can think to say about it.
Here’s the bottom line -- if you’re vain enough that all you need from these things is a pretty picture of your choosing and you happen to have $70 lying around, then you’re good. Go buy them and be on your merry way. Otherwise, just find a place to print out your own stickers and plaster them on whatever it is you’re using to listen to Taylor Swift, the Ting Tings, or whatever.
Customization can only get you so far It’s not very often that I get a chance to review something bad. It’s even rarer for me to come across headphones that I just hate. Truth is, most things that you spend $50 or more on are pretty good. Mediocrity c... read feature
Dec 10 //
Product: Razer Electra HeadsetManufacturer: RazerInput: 3.5mm jack (inline mic requires a 3.5 combined audio/mic jack, or a separately-sold splitter)MSRP: $59.99
The most important quality in headphones, for me, is how long I can wear them comfortably. My ears are on the larger side, and I've experienced some fairly serious discomfort from other headsets after even just 45 minutes of use. Even with my big ears, I was able to wear the Electras for extended listening sessions without problems. Large, wide leather cushions around the ear cups kept things comfortable, and while I occasionally wanted to adjust them when I felt my ears getting warm, I was able to avoid the pressure I often get with other headsets. The ear cups also do fairly well in keeping out external noise. They won't completely block unwanted sound, particularly if you're out and about in the city, but typical background noise won't make it through.
A close second in terms of importance, of course, is sound quality, and the Electras perform well for a $60 headset. The bass is solid, though serious dubstep fans will likely not find it powerful enough, and the treble comes through crisp and clear. While the audio won't stand up to the kind of quality you'll find in more expensive headsets, the Electras seem comparable to other headsets I own in the sub-$100 range.
One disappointment is the lack of controls on the in-line mic -- surprising given that the headset is mainly designed for phones. There's no way to raise or lower volume, or to accept an incoming phone call, without reaching into your pocket. The microphone itself, however, is about what you'd expect from an in-line microphone. When I called people to test it out, they could hear and understand me fine, and felt the volume levels were appropriate, but noted that my voice sounded rather tinny, and that it was lower quality than if we were just regularly speaking on the phone.
Finally, the headset itself is somewhat thick and bulky, and may not be easily transported. Given that these are designed for use with cell phones, it's a shame the Electras don't come with some sort of carrying case or bag. While the headphones themselves are certainly sturdy, I'd be wary of just tossing them into my already packed laptop bag.
On the whole, it's hard to recommend the Electras for "gaming," simply because I'm of the opinion that there's not really a need for gaming audio equipment for mobile devices at this time. If you're in the market for some nicer headphones for listening to music on your phone, though, the Electras are a solid choice that are priced right, as long as you don't mind reaching into your pocket every now and then to answer calls and adjust the volume.
Decent headset, fair price The Razer Electra is an oddity. It's billed as a "music and gaming headset," but is primarily designed for use with mobile phones -- the headset is specifically made for iPhones, HTC phones, and Blackberries (and any laptop t... read feature