Is the X2 Saturn 5.1 Gaming Headset for you?

Subject: General Tech | May 16, 2014 - 12:19 PM |
Tagged: X2 Saturn, gaming headset, audio, 5.1 headset

The X2 Saturn headset has multiple drivers in each earcup to try for real 5.1 surround sound as opposed to virtualizing it as many gaming headsets do.  The front, rear and sub speakers each have different frequency responses which Legit Reviews were kind enough to list in their review.  The omni-directional microphone can be muted via the inline controls and you can actually set the volume of each speaker separately.  Overall the headset was judged to fall in the middle of the pack with good features and some design choices which could perhaps be improved.  As well, if you love LEDs then the red lights on this headset might just interest you enough to pick up a pair.

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"X2 has sent us a true 5.1 USB gaming headset to try out and it’s not relying on virtual surround sound to get the job done. Each earcup on the Saturn headset has multiple drivers which outputs different surround channels for better positional audio compared to two channel stereo headphones and headsets. Read on to see how it performs!"

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Audio Corner

The sweet sound of Silverstone's Op-Amps

Subject: General Tech | May 5, 2014 - 03:45 PM |
Tagged: DAC, op-amps, Silverstone, EB01–E DAC, audio

If you go out and buy a high end pair of headphones and plug them into your onboard audio you are essentially doing the same thing as buying a 4K monitor and plugging it into onboard video; sure it will work but you certainly won't get the full experience.  For audiophiles a Digital Analog Converter, specifically a headphone amp is required to actually hear what your earphones are capable of.  Using the XMOS XS1 TQ128 USB decoder, a TI PCM1798 Digital/Analog Converter and the famous TI NE5532 Op-Amps the specifications of this headphone amp are quite impressive as is output impedence of less than 1 ohm on a connection rated to handle up to a 600 ohm load.  If you recognize any of those components then head to Benchmark Reviews for the full article.

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"The Silverstone EB01–E DAC is the companion product in both form and function to the SilverStone EB-03 headphone amplifier. Together, these two components make up the current SilverStone Ensemble Series audiophile grade audio components."

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Audio Corner

ASUS Xonar U7, dump your onboard audio for an external solution?

Subject: General Tech | April 14, 2014 - 03:00 PM |
Tagged: audio, asus, Xonar U7, usb sound card

ASUS has an easy way for you to upgrade your sound without needing to crack open your case, the Xonar U7 USB sound card.  Capable of delivering 7.1 surround with a Cmedia 6632A processor and no less than three different Cirrus signal conversion chips this is a high quality device for $90.  Connectivity is equally impressive, on one side an amplified 3.5 mm headphone output and shared line-in/microphone3.5 mm jack, on the other are Side, Center, and Rear channel outputs, an SPDIF output and the USB jack.  Read Legit Reviews' full article to hear how they felt the Xonar U7 performed.

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"We got an early look at an upcoming affordable USB powered sound card from ASUS called the Xonar U7. Its compact form makes it easy to setup or use with laptops which normally can’t have their audio solutions upgraded."

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Audio Corner

Creative's talented wireless speaker/micrphone/recharger beer can thing

Subject: General Tech | March 28, 2014 - 04:28 PM |
Tagged: audio, Creative, Sound Blaster AXX 200, wireless, speaker, microphone, battery charger

The Creative Sound Blaster AXX 200 is more that just a wireless speaker for your PC or smartphone, it is also a voice recorder, a hands free microphone for your smartphone and a battery charger.  The Bluetooth speaker function can be set to stereo or 7.1 channel surround and will accept a signal from up to 10' away.  The microphone feature has a similar range and can capture audio in a 360 degree area and [H]ard|OCP were also able to make a handsfree call using only the AXX 200.  The USB plugs make it into a charging station as well, handy considering how integrated it is with your phone.

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"With its unusual vertical, compact design, Creative's new flagship stereo speaker system features touch controls and a multitude of wired and wireless connectivity options for your mobile phone, tablet, Mac, and PC. Today, we will tell you if there is enough room in the "mix" for great sound as well."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Corsair's Vengeance 1400 Gaming Headset and other goodies

Subject: General Tech | March 7, 2014 - 11:52 AM |
Tagged: M65 Gaming Mouse, K70 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, Corsair Vengeance, corsair, audio, 1400 Gaming Headset

Bjorn3D looks at some new members to Corsair's Vengeance family including a mouse, mechanical keyboard and the 1400 Gaming Headset.  This headset is refreshingly plain considering the bright colours most of the competition is currently using on their headsets.  The 50mm drivers imply decent bass response but unfortunately that was not the experience that Bjorn3D had with this headset, though overall sound was pleasantly clear.  For the $80 asking price you get what you would expect, decent headphones with little in the way of accessories or extras but perfect for gamers on a budget. 

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"Today we have a chance to look at a full gaming gear set from the team at Digital storm which is now a partner with Corsair, so the gear you see here today are all available as accessories to the high-end systems offerings from the team at Digital Storm. This package consists of the Corsair Vengeance M65 Gaming Mouse, the Corsair Vengeance K70 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard and the Corsair Vengeance 1400 Gaming Headset."

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Source: Bjorn3D

Sounds like it is time for a roundup; headphone style

Subject: General Tech | February 14, 2014 - 12:28 PM |
Tagged: audio, roundup, headphones

The Inquirer has put together a list of the 14 best headphones released so far this year, including both on ear and over the ear styles.  You won't find a single Beats model in this roundup but you will hear about a wide range of best in class headphones from a wide variety of uses from the cheapest pair that still sounds good to the best ones for travelling.  Just don't buy the ones with frogs on them.

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"Long gone are the days when people felt too embarrassed to wear a hefty pair of cans on their heads in the fear that they'd be accused to trying to look like an Ibiza DJ wannabe. The hype about on-ear headphones has helped convince the masses that, "Actually, these clumsy looking music accessories are pretty cool," or, "Why shouldn't I wear them with pride on the Tube after forking out hundreds for them?""

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Source: The Inquirer

What the Func is special about the HS-260 headset?

Subject: General Tech | January 29, 2014 - 12:36 PM |
Tagged: audio, Func, HS-260, gaming headset

The FUNC-HS-260-1ST gaming headset features 50mm drivers, a frequency response of  20HZ to 20kHz and both the cord and the microphone are detachable which makes it a little more portable that it looks like at first glance.  Func moved the volume controls off of the cable and onto the headset its self, which along with the ability to connect the cord to either the left or right side make using these headphones that much more enjoyable. The leather pads and soft touch finish on the earcups were highly praised by Benchmark Reviews but the sound quality is also very important.  Check out their full review to find out how well Func's first headsets performed.

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"On January 27th 2014 Func will start shipping their HS-260 gaming headset, completing a first run of peripherals that started with the MS-3 gaming mouse in February of last year (and the KB-460 mechanical keyboard this past November). Sporting tuned 50mm drivers, detachable audio cables and removable microphone which can switch sides at will, Func brings their focus on functionality to the gaming headset category with their new headset, model FUNC-HS-260-1ST. Benchmark Reviews has a sample on hand, and in this review I’ll do my best to explain my experience with the Func HS-260 gaming headset."

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Finding the best wireless speakers

Subject: General Tech | January 21, 2014 - 11:51 AM |
Tagged: audio, bluetooth, wireless audio

Wireless speakers are being advertised everywhere, from TV commercials featuring Beats Audio shaped like a pill you really don't want to take to the floors of CES.  Such a glut of products is a good thing for consumers, assuming they are able to determine the best speaker for their usage.  The Inquirer took a look at over 10 different portable speakers, from the Q-bopz Green which uses a suction cup to attach to any glass surface to the Scosche Boombottle which claims to be able to handle any weather you might need to listen to music in.  Most use Bluetooth though NFC is utilized as well, check out which one is right for you and your travels.

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"BLUETOOTH SPEAKERS have replaced the now somewhat redundant 'i-dock', as the market has become saturated with an army of wireless boom boxes in all shapes, sizes and prices due to people prefering to use their smartphones and tablets for audio playback."

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Source: The Inquirer

SteelSeries Siberia Elite headset, pricey but respectable

Subject: General Tech | January 16, 2014 - 10:20 AM |
Tagged: audio, steelseries, siberia elite, gaming headset

The Siberia Elite USB Gaming Headset replaces the familiar Siberia V2 but has a lot of work cut out for it considering it's $200 price tag.  It uses Dolby Pro Logic IIx to create virtual 7.1 surround sound and has a response range of 16Hz to 28 KHz and ships with a USB Soundcard V2 accessory for those who do not already possess a decent audio codec.  One unique feature that Benchmark Reviews pointed out is the 3.5mm jack present on the headphone which allows you to daisy chain headphones together so you can share music with a friend; some would choose to just use speakers but to each their own.  The headset isn't perfect but overall Benchmark Reviews left with a positive attitude and a recommendation to pick these up if you are in the market for decent quality gaming headphones.

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"SteelSeries peripherals and headsets are well known for their sleek design, high quality and excellent functionality among enthusiasts and gamers alike. Today Benchmark Reviews will be taking a look at the newest line from SteelSeries; The Siberia Elite Gaming Headset (model# 51151). We will put them through their paces in a variety of scenarios including watching films, listening to music, and of course – gaming."

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CES 2014: Sennheiser Launches New PC Gaming Headsets

Subject: General Tech | January 9, 2014 - 07:15 PM |
Tagged: sennheiser, headset, gaming, CES 2014, CES, audio

Hi-end PC audio manufacturer Sennheiser has announced two new PC gaming headsets aimed at enthusiasts. The new headsets are called the G4ME ZERO and G4ME ONE and feature a closed ear and open ear design, respectively.

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The G4ME ZERO is a high end model circumaural headset with a foldable design, ample padding on the headband and ear cups, and noise cancelling microphone. The analog headset is rated at 150 Ohms and the speakers at 10 Hz to 26 KHz. The G4ME ZERO has a 3 meter cable that ends with two 3.5mm jacks for the microphone and headset. Users can purchase the Sennheiser PCV 05 Combo Adapter to take the two 3.5mm jacks into a single jack for use on Mac PCs and game consoles. It is slightly heavier than the G4ME ONE at 312 grams.

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The G4ME ONE, on the other hand, weighs 300 grams and features a open circumaural design that wraps around the ears but still lets air in to reduce sweat over long gaming sessions and allow some outside sound in.  This lighter analog headset is rated at 50 Ohms and the speakers at 15 Hz to 28 KHz. Similar to the ZERO, the ONE uses two 3.5mm jacks at the end of a 3 meter long cable. It uses plush velvet pads on the ear cups and provides plenty of padding along the headband as well.

Both headsets share a design aesthetic that incorporates white, red, and silver colors on the outside of the ear cups and microphone. The headband and ear pads are black with a large Sennheiser logo along the top end of the headband. Users can control volume via controls on the right ear cup and automatically mute the microphone by lifting the boom mic upwards. Both high end G4ME headsets look nice and comfortable from the specifications and amount of padding shown in the photos.

Along with the headsets, Sennheiser has announced a partnership with IO Interactive, which is part of Square Enix to develop game audio using Sennheiser recording equipment. The company is positioning this deal as the perfect way for gamers to get the exact audio the game developers intended by using Sennheiser microphones to record the audio, headsets in the studio to test the audio, and gamers using the same headsets to play the games. It is a nice perk for sure if you are already looking to buy into one of the company's high end headsets.

The G4ME ZERO has an MSRP of $279.95 while the G4ME ONE has an MSRP of $249.95. You can find more information on their respective product pages:

Read more about PC gaming headsets at PC Perspective.

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Source: Sennheiser