To Heck with it!
I love testing headsets because they’re always a great chance for me to mention my favourite bands and games. So, with that in mind, let’s begin.
With the death of Pandora in the UK
, from which I previously listened to nearly all my music, I’ve had to fall back on my entirely legal collection of MP3s for musical distraction. I started things off by listening to the newest album by Harvey Danger, which is free to download
from their website.
From there I moved on to the epic anti-folk stylings of Regina Spektor, with whom I’ve just embarked on an epic love affair with (in my mind) and finished things off with the full version of Bat Out Of Hell by Meat Loaf from his Greatest Hits CD.
Yes, my tastes are pretty varied (strange – Ed.
) and occasionally schizophrenic; I know that – let’s focus on the performance of the Audio FX Pro 5+1 instead, eh?
To say that the sound came through clearly and precisely would not be a gross exaggeration, I think, but it would be stretching the truth a little. How you like to listen to your music is a very personal thing and although Ben claims that this is “the best sounding audio I’ve ever heard
”, I’d have to disagree. To me it sounds like the bass is a little too forceful, muffling out the rest of the sound and stifling some of the highs. A quick check with some nearby colleagues confirmed this.
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Switching over to gaming tests I booted up the absolutely awesome Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
. Don’t listen to what site designer Jamie says, the game is fantastic and a worthy entrant into our Top 10 Games of 2007
. After a sampler of that I moved to the classic Thief: Deadly Shadows
, which uses an utterly fantastic sound engine as a core game mechanic. It’s an old game, but great for testing directional audio.
The bad news is that in both games I wasn’t able to really pin down any benefit or evidence of the 5.1 capabilities. I could hear it when somebody was coming up behind me and I could locate where a guard was precisely in Thief
– but I can do that with a stereo headset. I wasn’t picking anything up that marked the 5.1 design as being worth the effort.
When it came down to the force feedback, I was left a little disappointed too. In both games and music listening there was a definite sense of vibration when the bass kicked in loudly and, thankfully, it was subtle enough not to shake my skull off or give me any real grief.
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The main problem was the volume. The force feedback only really became noticeable when you pushed the volume up. Trust me when I say you don’t want this thing on your head at full volume though. At the moment I’m listening to the Pandora-replacing LastFM
and I’ve got the volume set at 14/100. The sound is more than clear enough, the volume balanced and loud enough for me to hear someone yell at me from across the room, but not much else.
I can push the volume up to 50/100 before I have to take the headset off and at this volume the force feedback is identifiable and appreciable – but you wouldn’t want to hear a grenade go off next to you in Call of Duty 4
. The explosion of sound would probably be loud enough to cause Sonoluminescence
and you’d end up blind and crushed in the cavitation wave
As you might have guessed if you clicked the two links above, I had shrimp for dinner last night.
I tried pushing the volume up higher, going right up to 90/100 with the headset on, but even then I only really wanted to listen to quiet songs because I began to be seriously worried about damaging my hearing.