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Xbox One photo
Xbox One

Here's how much Xbox One controllers and headsets cost

Get a second gamepad for the price of a game
Jul 29
// Jordan Devore
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...
Razer Surround photo
Razer Surround

Razer Surround: Virtual surround to stereo sets, for free

Get the best performance out of your audio equipment and help a good cause
Jun 28
// 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...
Xbox One headsets photo
Xbox One headsets

Xbox One requires unique headsets, possible fix coming

Beat by Microsoft
Jun 27
// Steven Hansen
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...
Logitech G430 photo
Logitech G430

Impressions: Logitech G430 Surround Sound Gaming Headset

Great value for the price
Jun 18
// Aerox
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...
Headsets photo

SteelSeries to expand upon the H series this summer

Pro gamer headsets get upgrades and new model
Jun 13
// Jayson Napolitano
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. 

Turtle Beach headsets in the works for Xbox One

Full reveal and details at E3
May 23
// Abel Girmay
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...

Review: V-Moda Crossfade M-100

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.
Crossfade M-100 review photo
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...

Revengeance  photo

Astro putting out limited edition Revengeance headsets

Pretend you're a cyborg with these headsets
Feb 15
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
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...

CES: Even better: Afterglow headset sees new improvements

Still has pretty lights
Jan 11
// Dale North
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 ...

CES: Ears-on with 3 new Turtle Beach headsets

Multiplatform headsets debuted
Jan 08
// Dale North
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...
Razer Contest photo
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...

Review: Designears

Dec 14 // Daniel Starkey
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...

Review: Razer Electra Headset

Dec 10 // Aerox
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.
Razer Electra Headset photo
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...

Review: Razer Kraken Pro Headset

Oct 26 // Chris Carter
Product: Razer Kraken Pro HeadsetManufacturer: RazerInput: PC Audio/Mic splitter, or standard 3.5mm jackMSRP: $79.99 Since this is being advertised as "the most comfortable headset ever," I had to put that claim to the test. To trial the comfort factor, I wore them for two lengthy sessions, among other shorter bursts -- one five hours and the other, eight. In these power sessions, I tried it on a variety of content: PC games, portables, music, films, TV shows, and everything in-between. At some point during both of these experiments, I forgot I was even wearing them. The top headband is so cushioned that I can barely feel it unless I'm thinking about it, and the headphones are fairly light at 0.65 lbs. At times, the side-cups make themselves aware and you'll have to re-position them, but they were never uncomfortable. Speaking of the cups, they're built with plush circumaural padding, which provides a decent (but not shockingly good) amount of noise isolation. Unless you have elf ears, you should find that your listening devices fit fairly well into the comfy cups. When compared to other headets, I have to say; I own around ten pairs of non-bud sets, and I've found that the comfort factor actually works out as advertised. Since I review games fairly often, long gaming sessions are normal for me, and where other headsets would get muggy or itchy after a while, the Pro feels great. Specifically, this should speak to MMO fans, who find themselves on long raids in need of a comfortable headset with a mic. So if you're tired of scratchy or bulky feeling headphones, this is your huckleberry. As far as looks go, the Kraken is a fairly sexy headset, but the bright green may be a little too flashy for your tastes: especially if you work in a professional office environment. The green may not literally light up and look too ridiculous, but odds are, you will be noticed with these on (which, depending on your personality, you may enjoy). Thankfully though, the mic is retractable (and flexible), so if you don't need it, it doesn't look ridiculous popping upwards like every other headset. You can also get the Pro in black. In terms of functionality, the Kraken accomplishes everything it sets out to do, but just be aware that it does lack some features found in higher-range headsets. For instance, the Kraken doesn't have inline volume control, mic control, Bluetooth, console support out of the box, or handset/phone call controls -- so if you're looking for a more versatile headset, you may want to look at something else, like the Tiamat. Since they're primarily meant for PC gaming, they come with an audio/mic splitter so that you can chat/podcast/Skype to your heart's content. The standard audio cable is 4.27 ft., which isn't a whole lot of slack, but you also have the extended 6.6 ft. length of the splitter. There's also no software drivers here: just plug and play.  As previously mentioned, the mic is retractable, and pulls out very easily without having to take the headset off. It might take a few times to get used to position when you're pulling it out, but with a good two-handed grip you can easily retract it. The material for the mic and mic-stem feel sturdy enough that it won't snap if you apply too much force, and should last you a long while. The audio itself comes in both clear, and loud. I tried comparing it to a few comparable Turtle Beach and Astro headsets in the same price range side by side, and I found that the Kraken Pro was capable of a higher sound output. The only downside is that the lows are crazy powerful, which may either be a good or bad thing depending on the person; so you might need to hit your EQ. Otherwise, I have no real complaints for a headset that lacks on-board volume control. The audio quality itself also isn't worthy of truly calling it "surround," and from what I can tell, it only supports 2.1. I enjoyed my time with the Kraken Pro headset, and look forward to busting it out during lengthy gaming sessions for the foreseeable future. While console support tout of the box would be nice, it still works great with mobile handsets, portables, and of course, as intended, any PC. The Pro is listed at $79.99, but you can pick up the non-Pro (with no mic and no included splitter adapter) for $59.99.
Release the Kraken!
Choosing a headset can prove to be mighty difficult in today's era. There's a ton of options; whether it's comfort level, sound quality, or functionality. Usually headsets tend to favor one factor over the other, leaving you ...

Review: PDP Afterglow Universal Wireless Headset

Oct 20 // Dale North
Product: PDP Afterglow Universal Wireless HeadsetManufacturer: PDPInput: USBMSRP: $89.99 By my tastes, PDP's Afterglow headset is a bit too flashy. They're literally flashy as the earcups and headband are made of transparent plastic, and are lit with colored LED lighting. Even the extendable boom mic has a LED light built into it, with its color indicating mute status and more. The outer hard, transparent headband stands away from the inner suspension headband by quite a bit, making it look like a big halo around your head. For my tastes, it stands out too far. But, if you're fine with (or even enjoy) your head looking big and glowing as you play games, you'll dig their showy design.  The Afterglow fits pretty comfortably on my head, though the tension of the inner, soft suspension band could stand to be a bit more relaxed. The earcups are sufficiently soft, and the whole kit is pretty light. I had no problem wearing these for three hours or more in testing. The Afterglow headset works out to be a 'universal' solution by way of its USB transmitter. When plugged into a PC or MAC, it works as an audio device, instantly transmitting wireless audio to the headset. A cable that runs from the bottom of the transmitter has a standard 1/8" jack can be plugged into several other devices to send audio wirelessly. For most consoles you'll see the included RCA stereo piggyback cables, which grab the audio from your console before it's passed along to whatever device it's plugged into.  For those using a Nintendo Wii or an older system, like a PlayStation 2, the RCA stereo piggyback cables work nicely, plugging right into the A/V cable of the system. It's also quite easy to connect the RCA cables (or the 1/8" jack) to your television's audio output, which lets everything coming into your television come through the transmitter and into the headset.  Things are a bit more complicated if you're using a TV that does not have audio outputs, or are working in an HDMI-only situation with the Xbox 360 or PS3. You can try to simultaneously use both the A/V and HDMI cables on your console, though you might have to do some audio routing trickery to get it working. If you have an older Xbox 360, you can get the Xbox 360 Audio Adapter, which features stereo RCA outputs. This works perfectly fine alongside an HDMI video connection. Finally, for portable devices, you can directly connect the included 1/8" jack cable to the device and a port on the headset, essentially making them powered headphones. As soon as the transmitter receives power (via USB), pairing is automatic and instant.  The Afterglow sounds great. I put this set through its paces with several games on both PS3 and Xbox 360 and came away surprised at how good they sound. The 50mm drivers put forth a clear, full range sound. There's a really great low-end response that never sounds pushed or distorted. It's a bit odd to have a more sophisticated sound coming out of a headset that glows.  A quick couple of test recordings on phone and PC showed that the boom mic does a proper job of picking up the vocal range, and that the noise canceling feature is doing its job. The right earcup end features a large logo'd power button that doubles as a mute button. On the left side you'll find a volume dial and a game/voice mix dial. Below that is a cable jack to connect the headset to an Xbox 360 controller for voice chat. The headset is charged via the included mini-USB cable, and PDP claims 10 hours of use on a single charge. A sound mode button lets you flip through three settings: one for pure audio, another for a more immersive sound, and a bass boost mode. I found that I liked the natural setting the best, though there's nothing wrong with the other two.  The only issue I had with the headset was a couple of instances of having the volume drop out after changing the volume dial's setting. By turning it completely down and up the issue was resolved both times.  Unless you like looking like you're wearing a lost prop from Tron, you may not dig its design, but the key thing to get from this review is that PDP's Afterglow headset sounds pretty good, and does so at a reasonable price for a wireless set (MSRP $89.99).  
Our 'glowing' review
With all of the gaming headset options on the market this year, you've got to do something to stand out. PDP's Afterglow Universal Wireless Headset certainly does, as its headband and earcups are illuminated, and glow brightly.  Looks are one thing, but price and audio performance matter most to gamers shopping for headsets. Thankfully, this headset stands out on these fronts as well.


ASTRO Gaming has something for audiophiles

Things for your lovely ears
Oct 16
// Fraser Brown
A CGI trailer for a headset and an amp -- I've seen it all now. ASTRO Gaming have just launched updated versions of their A40 Headset and MixAmp Pro, and according the video, the items built themselves in some dark mystical ...

Review: PlayStation Pulse Elite Edition headset

Oct 07 // Dale North
As you'd guess from its name, the PlayStation Pulse Elite Edition headset (MSRP $149) is intended for use with the PlayStation 3. It sports a wireless audio connection through its USB dongle, and it features a solid virtual 7.1 surround sound mode and bass enhancement features. Alternately, through its included standard audio jack and cable, it serves as a nice stereo headset, and as the packaging proudly boasts, it works great with the PlayStation Vita.  But you're not stuck using it with only Sony gaming products. The wireless functionality works perfectly fine with your PC or Mac, and if you have a television with USB audio support there's also a good chance it will work with that, too. If not, simply plug one end of the audio cable to the TV (or any other device) and the other end into the USB transmitter. As long as the transmitter is receiving power, you'll get an audio signal to the headset. Through this method you technically have the ability to use the headset with the Xbox 360, but you'll need to work through some cable fudgery, and you won't get the other cool benefits like the on-screen systems displays, virtual surround sound, and use of the headset's mixer slider. Finally, through the 1/8" audio jack you'll have connect-ability for many other portable devices, with full support for voice chat. A microphone is built into the ear cup so you won't have to deal with a little mic arm in your face. The mic does a nice job in a phone call, though I doubt that most users will be using this headset for this purpose. In game, the "sidetone" feature lets you hear your voice in the headset. This feature should be standard in any headset with closed earcups. While this headset works with many devices, it really is at its best when connected to a PS3. Setup couldn't be easier: just plug in the transmitter to any free USB port and you'll instantly see a "Wireless Stereo Headset" message displayed on-screen. A pop-up indicator shows battery life, volume setting, and a virtual surround indicator.  I played Resident Evil 6, Dishonored, some Uncharted 3, and several PSN arcade-type games, and came away fully impressed with the sound of the Pulse Elite Edition headset. If you're looking for an immersive, cinematic sound, these things really deliver, especially with the virtual surround sound switched on. Too many of the virtual surround headsets we've tried seemed to be slightly underpowered, or hollow in the middle frequency range. With its full-range audio and sufficiently loud output, the Pulse headset does not suffer from either problem. In short, these things sound fantastic.  While the default bass response is more than enough to convey huge explosions and giant mech footfalls, the Pulse can provide a little more oomph in that department with its BassImpact feature. This lets you dial in pulses of converted low frequency energy to the headset's earpads, giving you the feeling of bass really hitting you in the head. Selectable modes (Game, Music, Movie, Shooter, Fighting, Racing) let you choose what kind of bass you feel on the sides of your noggin, and an on-headset slider lets you dial in just how much you'd like to feel.  While I love the headset's sound, fit, and finish, I could do without the BassImpact feature. It's certainly fun to try out for a bit, and I found it most enjoyable when set to "Fighting" mode while playing games like Marvel vs. Capcom: Origins, you can imagine how bass hits hitting the side of your head would get old. The explosion-crazy Resident Evil 6 had me well on my way to a headache after about 30 minutes of play with BassImpact on. Thankfully there's an off switch. The build quality of the Pulse Elite Edition is quite high, with really comfortable earcups and head padding to keep your head nice and comfy in extended play sessions. At 11 oz. it's not too heavy. It also looks pretty nice with its black gloss sides accented by chrome and brushed metal-ish trim. It looks more like a high-end audio product than a gaming headset, which is good in my book.  Every control you'd need is built into the earcups, with long-throw volume and voice/sound mix sliders on the left, and a BassImpact slider on the right. There are buttons for mic muting, virtual surround, and BassImpact modes. At the base of the left cup you'll also find the 1/8" jack for standard audio as well as a mini-USB port for charging (cable not included). I played for about two and a half hours at first use on a full charge and could have kept going, so it seems like there's a pretty good battery inside. The manual says I could have gone a full 4 hours with BassImpact on, and up to 6 hours with it off.  The PlayStation Pulse Elite Edition headset is a no-brainer for gamers that primarily play PS3 games with its excellent sound quality, fit, and seamless integration. It's no slouch for Mac or PC gaming, either. The multiplatform gamers out there would be better served by something from Astro (A50), Turtle Beach, or Tritton (the new Warhead 7.1 looks great). But again, if you're mainly a PS3 gamer, the Pulse Elite Edition is likely your best bet.

I love a good premium gaming headset because it literally gets your head into gaming audio without the need for a massive sound system. The best of these headsets are a bit expensive, starting about about $100, but they're fa...

Review: Astro A50

Sep 17 // Daniel Starkey
Wireless headphones -- hell, wireless products in general -- suffer from lower response times, battery hassles, and generally inferior ... everything. To a degree, this reputation is certainly deserved. In the same way that laptops will always be inferior to desktops in every way but one, so too have peripherals paid the price of convenience. It’s unfortunate, too, because the headphones, especially those meant for home theaters, do not at all lend themselves well to a perpetually tethered environment. For the best comfort, for the best experience, wireless is arguably the ultimate goal. The A50s are incredible in their ability to assuage my general trepidation towards the cordless world. The A50s have a number of design changes over Astro’s bread-and-butter A40 set. The most striking of these is the primarily metal frame. It gives the set an excellent feeling of quality and strength that the plastic-framed A40s lack. Even the Creative Tactics can’t measure up. The cups are lined with a soft, velvet-like fabric -- a welcome change from the leatherette standard. The headstrap is also lined with this material, coating the padding. The microphone sits on the left side, activated only when pulled down in front of the user's face. The other controls, including volume, power, a switch for three different listening modes, and a basic equalizer are jammed into the the outer edge of the right cup. The proximity of each can be a bit confusing at times. So much packed so closely together -- and the simple fact that while gaming, you can’t see any of the components -- can make selecting the wrong setting or bumping something unintentionally an occasional annoyance. Aurally, the A50 is a phenomenal set, packed with rich, booming base, soothingly smooth midtones and crisp highs. The soundscape is huge and open, not unlike Sennheiser HD 650 -- a pair that retails for nearly twice as much. The effect is so notable that I actually had to ask whether they were closed or open-back. My only gripe here is the inability of the set to handle higher volumes. Don’t get me wrong, they sound spectacular at anything that even remotely resembles “safe,” but it is a bit disconcerting to hear their fail conditions. Wireless sets, unlike their tethered relatives, don’t have to cope with amps or absurd amounts of power streaming in because some idiot 20-something wants to be deaf in five years. The positive side of that fickle coin is that, in contrast to the Creative Tactics, you will never encounter a situation where the volume level of the source limits you to to quiet and muted tones -- it will always get louder. Microphone reception and quality is prismatic. Everyone I asked online said I came through very clear without any issues in understanding me. As mentioned before, the mic boom can be flipped up and away from the face to mute -- a simple yet brilliant feature that makes the whole system just a bit more user-friendly. If you’ve used the A40, then you are familiar with the Mixamp, Astro’s term for the base station. It includes a USB port to charge the headset itself as well a a few basic controls to turn the system on and off. Provided with the station is a small plastic tower that acts as both a tray for the station and a rack to set the headphones on when not in use. Unfortunately, for inputs, the system only accepts optical. The set is largely console-focused and both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 natively support TOSLink. If you’re a PC user, you’d be hard pressed to find a cheap, consumer-grade card that would be compatible, but for everyone else, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. The final effect, however, is definitely worth the trouble. Because the set only takes optical, Astro thought it would be absurd to compress the the audio stream to the headset as most other wireless sets do. To accomplish this, they used the 5.8 Ghz band, which has the added benefit of being largely free from any form of electromagnetic interference. Astro has been in the business of creating high-end gaming headsets for some time now; building inroads with MLG and other competitive communities has secured their spot as a respected manufacturer. In my experience, however, their products have suffered from lackluster build-quality and a juvenile, ostentatious design. That trend seemed a bit true when they released the A*, a slick, modern reinterpretation of a cell-phone headset. My pair, for example, has survived everything from door jams to being put through a washer and dryer at full heat. While I can’t say with any certainty that the A50s will endure the same punishment, they have given me a bit more confidence in the design and engineering of Astro’s products. At $300, they run on the high-end, but they at least seem to be in the same class as their price would suggest. Gone on are the days of cheap, plastic-y $200 boondoggles. From those ashes have risen a respectable, clean vision of the future of high-end gaming peripherals.

It doesn't take much to really improve the gaming experience. Better seating, better lighting, better company, etc. are sometimes all it takes to go from an utterly insufferable trek through your simulated world of ...

Review: SteelSeries Siberia V2 Frost Blue USB headset

Jul 23 // Dale North
The SteelSeries Siberia V2 Frost Blue Edition headset is a bit of an upgrade to the standard V2 headset that so many PC gamers continue to use, though the changes mostly lie in the visual department. Like its predecessor, the key attraction points to this set are its style, comfort and sound.  This headset is seriously comfortable. Instead of an adjustable headband, the Siberia V2 set has a soft, padded inner band that is tethered by four thin metal cables that extend out to automatically adjust to your head while wearing it. This provides a gentle fit that never squeezes your head. On top of this, big, cushy ear cup padding is always nice, and the ones on the Siberia V2 Frost Blue are as nice as any. I've worn this set for hours and never had any kind of comfort issue. These are up there with the most comfortable PC headsets I've ever worn, beating out my long-standing favorites from Plantronics. If you're the type that wears gaming headsets for extra-long gaming sessions, you definitely need to check this one out.  Though it looks small, the headset's built-in mic is a good quality one that got the job done in online play sessions. I really liked that it's bendable and fully retractable, letting you push it back inside the left ear cup when you're not using it. Very slick. The Siberia V2 Frost Blue Edition is a USB 2.0 affair, with a built-in sound card, which seems to reside in the USB plug itself, making it a bit bulky. If that's an issue for you, the included USB extension cable will help. A simple in-line control lets you mute your mic and adjust volume. The rest of the headset's settings can be changed in the SteelSeries Engine software, which lets you do everything from tweak the equalizer curves to set how the built-in lighting behaves. About that lighting: it's pretty cool. While I'd never seek out a headset because it glows blue, it's a fun thing to have, and it will definitely have you standing out at LAN parties. By default, the lights pulse slowly. In the SteelSeries Engine software you can change the light intensity ('off' is an option), pulse speed and more. A fun option called "Trigger" has the light reacting to the sound coming out of the headset. Of course, you can't see this light action with the headset on, so this is all more the enjoyment of others.  Comfort, features and glowing ear cups won't mean much if the headset doesn't sound good. Thankfully the Siberia V2 Frost Blue Edition sounds better than any PC headset I've tested in recent memory. The sound is big, open, and wide, and much closer to an audiophile sound than you'll find in a lot of other gaming headsets. Instead of that constrained, mid-range focused sound I'm used to from so many other makers, the Siberia V2 USB filled my ears with effortless, sparkling music and sound effects for the 10 or so hours I wore them during PC gaming sessions. The stereo sound from the Siberia V2 (no surround options are available) puts forth a low end that is full but not overly bass heavy, and a top end of the spectrum that is clearly defined without being excessive. In fact, to my ears, you're better of not even messing with the optional equalizer settings, as the sound is really, really good straight out of the box. It's good to see that SteelSeries focused on the important stuff with the Siberia V2 USB. Well, aside from the glowing lights -- but they're fun. Aside from them, there's no crazy optional features, switches or breakout boxes here. Just consummate comfort and superb sound. They look good, feel good and sound good -- highly recommended. The SteelSeries Siberia V2 Frost Blue USB headset is available now for $119.99.

I have a lot of gaming headsets. It's one of the nice perks that comes with this job, though these days I find that it's getting harder to get excited about them. As my collection grows, I'm starting to see some of the simila...

Review: Turtle Beach Ear Force XP 400 wireless headset

Jun 21 // Dale North
Turtle Beach Ear Force XP 400 Wireless Headset (Xbox 360, PS3)Manufacturer: Turtle BeachMSRP: $219.95 Fit/build: For a headset packed full of wireless technology, the XP 400 are surprisingly light. They're over-ear models with reasonably soft pads and a nice, cushy headband, so they sit on your head nicely. The ear cups fit over my head properly, though with my head shape, maybe they could have fit a bit tighter. I don't think the big-headed gamers out there will have any issue with these.  They're sturdy feeling, and look nice in solid black, with green and silver trim accents. The boom mic, which comes out from the left ear, can be spun for height, and its bendy arm can be adjusted easily. It can also be removed if not needed, which is great for those wanting to use the headset for wireless music listening.  The headset features an internal rechargeable battery that can be charged with the included 12 foot USB cable. No silly batteries to change. Operation: The left ear cup features only three buttons: one for power, another to adjust the tone, and the third to switch on/off a limiter. While the power button is backlit to show status, the tone and limiter buttons give no visual feedback, meaning that you'll have to rely on audible beep sequences to know how they're set. Two dials, controlling mic monitoring and overall game volume, are also on the left cup The right cup features a Bluetooth pairing button, a mute button, and a button toggle for chat volume.  Given that you can't see these buttons while wearing the XP 400, you might fumble around a bit controlling levels the first few uses, but they're laid out smartly enough that you'll be fine in no time. Connectivity: Microsoft's proprietary chat connectivity has been a pain in the ass for headset makers. Sony, on the other hand, uses an open Bluetooth solution, so only basic, one-time pairing is needed to connect. In making a headset that would work with both consoles for chat, their solution was to use Bluetooth for both. Turtle Beach's fix was to make a Bluetooth chat adapter that plugs into the bottom of an Xbox 360 controller. This little unit pairs with the Bluetooth side of the headset for the chat side of the audio. But what about the game audio? That all comes over WiFi, sent wirelessly by the transmitter unit. This unit is powered via USB, meaning that it can be plugged into any free port on your PS3 or Xbox 360. The sound comes into the unit via a digital optical cable, which all PS3s and newer Xbox 360 systems support. Those with older Xbox 360 models will have to get an Xbox 360 Audio Adapter Cable, which adds an optical output. For your convenience, this unit also features an analog input so that you can connect a music source. An optical output port lets you 'pass through' to send a copy of the digital output to an audio system. If you already have an audio system, check if your receiver features a digital audio output. Mine does, which made connection to the transmitter unit very simple -- receiver out --> transmitter in. This also let me choose which game system I wanted to use with the receiver's selection dial instead of having to disconnect and reconnect audio cables.  In use: I put the XP 400 through its paces, playing plenty of Xbox 360, PS3, and PC games this past week. Hours of 5.1 surround audio was spit into my ears by the headset's drivers, and I didn't have a complaint at any time. I would caution that those looking for an exaggerated low end might not find it here with the XP 400. It's not lacking, but outside of the bass boosting tone choice, the low end output is more reasonable than rocking. And while we're on tone selection, the setting that lets you crank both the low and high end might sound nifty at first, but it wore on my ears after a bit. I got the most enjoyment on its default setting, as everything was even, clear and deep.  The surround setting can be switched off from the transmitter unit if you prefer boring old stereo sound. There's also a button that lets you step through different surround angle modes, though none of them seemed to sound any better than the default mode. In game chat (and phone calls, for that matter) all came through loud and clear, and I received complements on both consoles for the quality of my voice coming through. No problems at all. My only real beef is with the initial pairing, which you should only have to do once. It took a few tries to connect the headset to the transmitter unit, and having to pull the manual out every time to decode the headset's blinking light patters to ascertain its status was frustrating. Bluetooth pairing to the PS3 for the first time also took a few tries, though it should be said that the pairing with the Xbox 360 chat adapter was trouble free. One key takeaway was how comfortable these are. One evening I wore the headset for 4 hours straight, and never had any issues with comfort. Between the fabric on the ears and headband, and the light overall weight, the comfort level is quite high with these. I've been wearing them all morning today, both playing games and taking phone calls, and have had no problem letting them sit on my head while working.  Turtle Beach says you can expect 15 hours of battery life out of the built-in rechargeable. While I play a lot of games, I've never played for that long in one sitting, so I can't speak to total play time, but I can say that this battery stays charged for a long time. It also holds a charge nicely, so you don't have to feel like you have to keep capping it off.  The Turtle Beach Ear Force XP 400's cost might feel a bit high at about $200 street, but you're getting fully wireless chat and game audio in 5.1 Dolby Surround in a comfortable set with a 15 hour battery life. You're certainly getting what you pay for. If you don't mind working through the initial setup, and you're okay with learning some light blink and audible beep sequences for settings, the XP 400 headset will do your ears right. Recommended.

Wireless controls were once a dream of ours, and it took forever for them to become a reality, but now they're the standard. We're to the point where things with wires just feel weird. Wireless headsets? Well, that's been a b...


E3: Turtle Beach's SEVEN series, official headset of MLG

Jun 08
// Jayson Napolitano
We got our hands on Turtle Beach’s SEVEN series here at E3, and they sound and feel as good as they look. Billed as their flagship product developed specifically for Major League Gaming, you may be curious to know that ...

E3: Our first look at Turtle Beach's Black Ops 2 line-up

Jun 08
// Jayson Napolitano
Turtle Beach had an amazing showing at E3 this week. In addition to announcing their partnership with Major League Gaming as the official tournament headset producer for future MLG events, they’ve also announced a partn...

Turtle Beach to develop the official headsets of MLG

May 31
// Dale North
Gaming headset makers Turtle Beach have partnered with Major League Gaming and will be developing the official headsets and audio equipment for the competitive videogame league. The first products to come out of this partners...

Review: Razer Tiamat 7.1 Surround Sound headset

Apr 25 // Daniel Starkey
Feel When I first took the set out of its box, I started to understand why so few have ever tried this sort of setup before. Cramming five drivers into each ear cup has pushed the size of these cans into the realm of obnoxiousness. Thankfully, the headset is really light and wears well in spite of its size.  The first thing I noticed when I put them on was just how roomy the cups were; not unlike the higher-end Sennheisers. At a full inch-and-a-half, the distance creates an odd, roomy sound for a closed-back set. It did not take me long to appreciate it though, as it gives the extra drivers some breathing room. Still, I feel it is worth mentioning because it can be quite distracting, even after several days of very heavy use. Both the headstrap and the ear covers are made of leatherette filled with what feels like memory foam padding, and they are among the more comfortable sets I’ve ever used. They breathe just enough to keep your ears from ever feeling too hot, and there isn’t much inward pressure. After wearing them for ten hours straight, I can say that they are just fine for extended play sessions. Look Besides being positively monstrous in size, the Tiamat looks pretty sexy. The outer section of the cups is translucent so that you can see each of the drivers, highlighting its key selling point. At the bottom of both cups a miniature Razer logo glows with a vivid green. The structure of the headset is made of a black and grey plastic that, with the exception of the crown, feels pretty solid. The base houses the volume control dials as well as buttons for the microphone, switching between 7.1 and 2.1, and a speaker output. Made of a reflective black plastic with metallic accents, the piece has a great sturdiness to it. Running out from the base in either direction are Razer’s standard braided cables. On the far end, there are five 3.5mm jacks for the input/mic. out as well as a USB plug for power. There is no optical or USB in. There aren’t too many setups that support a full complement of analog plugs. This means you can’t use the headset with a game console unless you have additional hardware, and pretty much bars this from laptop use. The cables aren’t user-replaceable, either. While I can understand these design choices, they ultimately limit usability and cause more headaches for the consumer. It isn’t the worst thing ever, but it’s definitely disappointing to encounter. Yeah, yeah that’s great -- but how do they SOUND?! Whenever I get a set of speakers or headphones, I always tear through my game library looking for old favorites that I want to relive. Unfortunately, when testing the Tiamat, I discovered just how few games support full 7.1 surround. It was really disheartening. Most of the games I played for this review ran on the Source engine, which always supports 7.1. I also tried out BioShock and a smattering of other titles. I want to start this out by saying that the Tiamat is awesome, and definitely has a lot going for it. They dance in the midtones. Bass response is tight, but reasonable, and the highs are restrained if a bit tinny at volume. They’re sneaky bastards, too. Often, I found myself enjoying them so much that I would steadily increase the volume until I hit the max and then not even realize it until a very unpleasant, very loud, very high note came along and made me realize that I was probably doing a lot of damage to my ears. In a way, it really is a testament to how smooth they sound. Because the Tiamat has so many channels for output, the sudden drop in lows that most headphones have between 50 and 75 percent of max volume never comes. The same basic principle applies to directionality. While they don’t have the space to let each channel expand, there is cleanliness to the soundscape. When a source moves around you in a circle, there is no jarring transition from left to right. It is subtle but refreshing. Closing thoughts I am skeptical of claims that these headphones will give anyone a competitive edge in multiplayer of any sort. As delicious as they are, I generally know when someone is behind me, regardless of surround sound. If I hear footsteps and there are no people or shadows in front of me, I will turn around. Without boosting those sounds to stupid levels (as the Creative Omega 3D’s "Scout mode" did), there is no way I’m going to hear someone any earlier or later than normal. That said, I was impressed by what the Tiamat does for immersion, and the fact that Razer managed to fit ten drivers into a single headset is absurd. I was really satisfied with my overall experience, but disappointed in the fact that Skyrim didn’t have any surround sound options (I was in a foul mood for a whole day). Whether or not I would recommend the Tiamat 7.1 set ($179.99) would depend very much on what hardware you already have. If you don’t have the sound card for it, and you don’t regularly play games that do support surround, then I would strongly recommend the Tiamat 2.2. If you do have all the stuff you need and either the games or the movies to back the purchase, then the 7.1 set comes with my full recommendation. 

Reviewing headphones is probably one of the better parts about working for Destructoid. At the absolute worst, it gives me an excuse to watch some of my favorite movies, listen to great music, and play some games. No stres...

Review: Creative Sound Blaster Recon3D, Tactic3D Omega

Feb 14 // Daniel Starkey
I have been a fan of Creative’s products for quite some time. In junior high, I bought a used X-Fi card from a kid on the playground (it wasn’t as sketchy as it sounds). I went home and slapped that sucker into the only open PCI slot I had. After fiddling with some settings, I was blown away by how much more amazing Linkin Park was. Teenage angst never sounded so good.  Flash forward to my college days. I had to leave my hulking Full ATX desktop back home and I became a fan of laptops. They’re portable, great for LANs, and use less power. Still ... something was missing. Without a dedicated sound card, I just wasn’t getting the same oomph from my speakers or my headphones.  When I got the Omega headset and Recon3D external sound card in the mail, I was eager to put them through their paces. Having a decently portable audio setup has been a dream of mine for the past four years. Working against both pieces was about five years' worth of nostalgia. Keeping that in mind, let's get started. Recon3D I tested the station with the Tactic3D Omegas, a set of Technics DH-1200s and Sennheiser HD-280 Pros. They are all in roughly the same class, and were good for direct comparison in terms of comfort, sound, and build quality. I used several laptops operating under the assumption that the Recon3D was intended to replace the integrated audio in laptops. When using the base for the first time, you will need to install some proprietary Creative Software. Thankfully the bloat isn’t too bad; on any kind of modern system, the average user shouldn’t have any problems. That said, it took me quite a while to figure out how much the software affected the output quality versus the device itself. There is definitely a substantive boost in quality. Without it, music run through my laptops’ integrated cards all lack definition and volume. They simply don’t feel as big or warm as they do with the Recon3D. The included software has quite a few features. On top of the standard equalizer, bass boost, mixer, and environment settings, there are a few bits to increase the clarity of dialogue in movies and games, and a surround-sound emulator. Overall, I was pretty impressed with the whole package. I never heard any distortion or audio tearing that wasn’t already present in the source, and the Recon3D comes with a button allowing you to quickly switch back and forth between your array of tweaked settings and the default. The Recon3D’s main selling point is, of course, the surround-sound emulation. Creative claims that it “surpasses 5.1 and even 7.1” because it “mimics hundreds of speakers all around you.” While I can’t say that I really endorse this statement, I will say that if you take the time to get the settings in the Recon3D and your game or media player of choice, it is a very rewarding experience. That isn’t to say there are no problems, however. The software is really finicky, and if the title you are watching/playing doesn’t support surround sound, you’re SOL. There’s always some noticeable panning between the left and right speakers, but if you turn on the surround emulator, it gets quite a bit worse. The transition is clunky and it very quickly kills any immersion that was there. One of the other core features of the Recon3D is something that Creative calls “scout mode.” In theory, the software analyzes ambient noise and highlights subtle footsteps so you can hear approaching foes from further away. In practice, it is something of a total disaster. Take The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, for example: the clicking of insects, crashing of waves, and gentle wind become ABSURDLY loud. When I first turned it on, I sincerely thought I caused significant hearing damage. Thinking that this feature might be meant for competitive first-person shooters exclusively, I started up Counter Strike: Source at a LAN party. My results were a little better (as in I didn’t suffer tinnitus immediately), but I still thought the software was overzealous. It picks up small effects like the rustling of your character’s clothing and/or the footsteps of yourself and others and makes them so loud that it is impossible to focus. It’s trash. I genuinely believe the Recon3D base unit is a viable alternative to native laptop output. This is especially true if you are unfortunate enough to have one that picks up a lot of electromagnetic interference. Because this runs on USB, the output is nice and clean unless the source itself is crap. If you have a desktop, I would strongly recommend getting a dedicated PCI or PCI-E card. Tactic3D Omega I love ‘em. They are really solid all around, and I could not for the life of me get the bass to bottom out. The sheer power these headphones have is absolutely absurd for a wireless set, and the fact that they last more than five minutes at full volume is really impressive. They are comfortable, never feel too warm, feel sturdy enough, and are semi-collapsible for semi-easy transport. Still, the Omegas are not without problems. To be fair, almost all of my complaints are derived from the fact that they are wireless and will run you around $200. To back up a little bit, the Omega headset has three inputs, all on the left side. One for power via micro-USB, another for the detachable microphone, and the last allows you to connect the headset to an Xbox 360 controller. The lack of 3.5mm in or even the ability to accept signal input via USB is probably the biggest frustration. In the same way that a non-user-replaceable cord for a high-end set of wired cans is unacceptable, the lack of redundancy is more than a little annoying. If anything happens to the Recon3D base station, the wireless transmitter, etc. then you will have to send it in for a replacement. It’s just one more potential inconvenience for you down the line. The lack of alternative inputs also means that you can’t run the Omegas through a headphone amp. For those who tend to get too enthusiastic with the volume dial, this is probably a good thing, but it’s still nice to know you have the choice. For the average user, these headphones still get plenty loud, though at the higher volumes they can bleed a little bit too much. Unless you’ve already caused significant damage to your hearing, you won’t need anything more extreme than what the Omegas can offer. Probably the pettiest complaint I have relates to the build quality. Compared to the DH-1200s and HD 280s, they are quite a bit sturdier, given their steel core; however, the outside of the cups creak with light pressure, and the frame has slightly more give than you might want. The plastic on the rest of the set is pretty solid. (And the badass blue lights on the outside of the cups almost make up for their flimsy feel.) Still, for two Benjamins, I would prefer something that feels like it will last for a good long while. I know a lot of people really won’t care about this extra stuff, so let’s dig into the really important part: how the Tactic3D Omega sounds. To get a good baseline, I tried watched several episodes of How I Met Your Mother, The Dark Knight, listened to metric craptons of music, and played several games including Sins of a Solar Empire, Skyrim, BioShock, Geometry Wars 2, Forza 4, Mass Effect 2, and Half-Life 2. As one might be able to infer about any set of headphones ostensibly designed for gaming and shooters, the Omegas are quite bass-heavy. Gunshots, explosions, and deep, driving bass lines are all reproduced in brilliant detail with vibrancy that I don’t get the opportunity to experience often. I’ve never had a set of headphones that have tricked me into thinking there’s a subwoofer in my skull. A lot of sets lose a little something solely because they are headphones; these probably have the most accurate low-end response of anything less than $400. Sadly, the rest of the range isn’t as stellar. While I certainly couldn’t say that there is any range that isn’t good, the mid-tones are definitely the weak link. Much of milder rock and the everyday sound effects in games and movies come off as dull. I could never get HIMYM to sound natural, regardless of tweaks. Every time I nabbed one range of frequencies, another seemed just as off as ever. Creative included a dialogue setting which is supposed to help with that problem, but it’s more effective when you are playing or watching something that isn’t solid dialogue and laugh tracks. For wireless headphones, they are not as portable as I would like (requiring the base station to be set up to use them) and I think that definitely has a huge impact on usability. You can’t use them with any portable music player, you cannot use them easily on a train or a bus or a plane without some difficulty. As something that is designed for versatility, that’s a very real concern. One thing I was expected to be an issue was the use of the crowded 2.4GHz band. So many wireless devices already use those frequencies that some interference would be expected. But, for the most part, I didn't have any problems. Unless you are literally standing next to a running microwave, you shouldn't have too many issues. The headset and the external sound car do exactly what I wanted them to. They are a worthy replacement and supplement to my existing equipment. They're perfect for great, portable audio in a LAN-party setting, and definitely add something that you cannot get with software alone. Still, I can see some people walking into this purchase expecting one thing and getting another. I definitely cannot recommend either product for everybody, but if you don’t need a super-portable setup, and you have lackluster laptop audio, these are a pretty great option.

Creative is one of the world’s best-known brands of PC and gaming audio equipment. “Known” doesn’t always translate to “good,” though. I had an opportunity to check out their new Sound Blaster Recon3D external USB audio processor and their Tactic3D Omega headphones. Do these two pieces live up to the Creative name? Continue reading for the full review.


The following is an important public service announcement for internet wizards: The fine folks at Astro Gaming have graced The Destructoid Show with a pair of gorgeous limited edition Infinity Blade II A30 gaming headpho...


[Update: Contest closed! Grand prize winners are me4twaffle and Shadow1w2! Runner-up winners are JohnnyViral, Moskeeto, rbzfg and Supermonkever!] Saints Row: The Third is arriving November 15 for the PlayStation 3, Xbox ...


3DS gets official headset ... because it needed that

Oct 07
// Jim Sterling
In what may be the most pointless peripheral a Nintendo system has ever had (and that includes Wii Speak), an official headset for the 3DS has been revealed.  Designed by PowerA and licensed by Nintendo, the headset come...

Here comes the super affordable Turtle Beach X12

Jul 27
// Smurgesborg
Turtle Beach has just announced the Turtle Beach Earforce X12; successor to the X11. For those that don't know the X11 is currently one of the most successful budget high-end headsets for the Xbox 360. They're pretty spiffy a...

At least, I think they will. I'm not much on gaming headsets -- I don't play PC games and I'm quite content with my TV's speakers -- but Hamza seemed really into these new headsets coming from Turtle Beach. I tried out a f...

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