Gaming headsets used to be a frivolous expense, something which only twelve year old Counter-Strike ruining idiots would be heard using. Now though, with games like the upcoming Tom Clancy's EndWar featuring voice command input capabilities, the gaming headset is fast becoming an important piece of kit for a serious gamer.
With that in mind, we plunge right in and start sizing up two of the newest gaming headsets on the market, the Creative Fatal1ty Headset and the Sennheiser PC 161, to see if they are worthy to sit as crowns atop our heads.
Creative Fatal1ty Headset
UK Price (as reviewed): £25.57 (inc. VAT) US Price (as reviewed):$78.43 (inc. tax and shipping)
For those not in the know, Fatal1ty is the name of one of the world's most famous professional gamers. He's a fairly big name in the games world for his achievements; something like Tom Cruise is in Hollywood. Also like Tom Cruise, he's a love or hate it kind of personality. Some people adore him for bringing gaming to the front as a competitive event; others hate him for being a bit of a shameless self-promoter.
Either way, he's joined up with some of the biggest names in computing to bring his own range of motherboards, coolers, sound cards, mice and clothes to the geek world. His latest effort has been the Creative Fatal1ty Headphones you see before you.
So, when we got the Fatal1ty headset in from Creative, we have to admit we had mixed reactions. On one hand we wanted to rip the box open and delve right in, grabbing and trying on the headphones because, y'know; they looked shiny and nice. On the other hand though, we wanted to push them away and not touch it for a week or two, or ever. That's the kind of effect the word 'Fatal1ty' can have on the particularly contemptuous.
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Still, there's no denying that the Fatal1ty Headphones look nice. The fashion conscious geek who wants to look good while he frags will no doubt appreciate the black and red design. Even the box looks pretty cool, with a special magnet on it and everything. The headset has also got a little branding, too – the Creative logo on the top of the headband isn't too bad, but the Fatal1ty signature on the brackets feels a little patronising to be honest.
The headphones are pretty hardy too. We carried the headphones around with us for a week or two and put them through the usual kind of use and abuse that any LAN-lover might, and they held up fine. Nary a scratch nor tarnish was to be found on them anywhere, though the leather bag the headphones came in obviously took a few scrapes in its place.
Of course, there are only two real tests that matter on headsets; how well they sound and how comfortably they fit. Let's deal with comfort first.
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The weight of the headphones is nice and light at just 200g with the microphone attachment on, which means they won't be crushing your hair-do when you use them, much less your skull. The padding around the ears is a plush velvet material which sits on the sides of the ear. It feels nice and spongy to the touch at first, but can be a little painful for those who wear glasses if they have to use them for extended periods of time.
The headset size was adjusted by sliding extra length out of the headband, which clacks out the extra in increments of about half a centimetre. The amount of adjustment felt a little restricted and, though nobody really complained that the headset didn't fit, it would have been nice to have a little more control in it.