CM Storm Sirus ReviewManufacturer CM Storm
UK price (as reviewed) £117.21
US price (as reviewed) $119.99
CM Storm, a sub-brand of Cooler Master, already has a range of products on a shelf nearby, ranging from PC cases to mice. The CM Storm Sirus is its first headset, but still stands to enter a very crowded market indeed. Not only that, but at £120, its £30 more expensive than our current headset champ, the Asus Vulcan ANC
, which wowed the pants off us.
However, the Sirus sports a few elements that aim to justify the extra outlay. It has 5.1 surround sound provided by four independent drivers in each earcup. The front, centre and rear drivers are 30mm in size, while the sub is 40mm.
The headset understandably feels quite weighty, and this is exacerbated by the thick, braided cable. The latter is fixed to the headset and is 1m in length, but there's another metre or so provided by a five-channel cable splitter to plug into your sound card; another 2m is added if you decide to use the included USB sound card in the form of a puck-like device dubbed the Tactical Mixing Console by CM Storm.
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This is compact but feels like it would survive an ice hockey match - it's solid and very heavy, which should mean that it won't be dragged off your desk by the cable. It offers mute for audio and the Sirus' microphone, while bass, centre, rear, front and overall volume are controlled using a toggle switch and large dial on top. For some odd reason, the dial increases volume if you turn it anti-clockwise - this is the opposite to the norm, which initially had us rather confused.
Despite its weight, the headset is comfortable, offers ample adjustment and includes both fabric and leather-effect ear cushions, which can be switched over easily. However it feels cumbersome compared with the Vulcan, which provides a tight, but comfortable seal between you and the outside world, while you barely notice it's there. Using the USB puck, the 5.1 surround sound was convincing in films and games, making use of the separate drivers to allow off-centre crashes and gunfire to be positioned differently.
However, it's nowhere near as immersive as a 5.1 speaker set, sounding a little muffled on occasions, and more worryingly, the overall sound quality isn't great. The bass lacked depth out of the box, with sterile thumps rather than the rich and detailed baseline we've heard with other headsets, despite the Sirus' claimed frequency response range of 10Hz - 20,000Hz; this made the bass sound quite lifeless.
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This was improved by turning off an option called Flex Bass in Windows' speaker properties, but even then, the mid- and high-end lacked clarity, especially in noisy scenes in music and films. Switching to a PC sound card, the situation was much improved but even after tweaking various settings our conclusion was that the Vulcan still sounded better, particularly in the low-end and in the mid and high-end in busy scenes.
If we're honest, we haven't heard many good 5.1 headsets but in the end, we feel the CM Storm Sirus tries too hard to offer the 5.1 experience. It's far from the worst headset we've used though - it's comfortable and in stereo mode was very capable, even when using the Tactical Mixing Console. However, it often sounded muffled, with a range of audio suffering in all corners of the audio spectrum. It also goes to show how good the Asus Vulcan is, and that if you want 5.1 surround sound, buy a set of speakers rather than a headset.