Not 2.1 nor 5.1, these headsets go to 7.1

Subject: General Tech | October 25, 2011 - 12:09 AM |
Tagged: gaming headset, audio, 7.1 headset

With 7.1 sound came the idea that you could control the vertical as well as the horizontal.  This was usually achieved with a setup that included not only an above average amount of speakers but also a knowledge of the space you were filling with sound and an obnoxious amount of money spent on a stereo system.  Is it possibly true that you can reproduce the same feeling with an $85 pair of USB headphones?   OCC says maybe ... but you won't be disappointed by the sound when you are gaming and you might just develop an edge.

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"Now that I have made it obvious why you need a headset let me introduce the one up for review. ROCCAT has had a lot of new products released for US purchase recently after being founded in Germany back in 2007. One of its newest products available over at Newegg.com is the ROCCAT Kulo Virtual 7.1 Gaming Headset. The key here is the "virtual" tag in the product name. As it turns out, the 7.1 is a function of a stereo output rerouted through an included USB sound card. Thus it is not true 7.1 quality but perhaps it is still a great headset. Let’s take a gander at how the Kulo Headset looks and also listen to the beauty that comes from those earmuffs."

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Audio Corner

 

Thermaltake's Shock One headset is virtually 5.1 surround sound

Subject: General Tech | October 14, 2011 - 02:03 PM |
Tagged: audio, thermaltake, shock one, 5.1 headset

It can be difficult to implement true surround sound into a headset without having a serious amount of speakers located all over the headband and ear cups, however simulated surround sound can be produced from just two speakers.  The technology behind virtual surround sound has matured and [H]ard|OCP's testing could get realistic surround sound from these headphones, after a fashion.  They needed to do quite a bit of tweaking in order to properly get the environment to sound correct but had nothing but trouble with dialog; voices were indistinct when they utilized the virtual 5.1 surround settings.  The gaming performance was also sub-par, which leads them to recommend avoiding these headsets in lieu of similarly priced competitors models.

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"While Thermaltake is a familiar brand name to PC enthusiasts, the company is one of the newest competitors in the PC gaming headset market. We take its USB model, featuring DTS Surround, for a spin to tell you if it is worth your hard earned dollar or if the competition in this segment of the PC audio market is simply too steep already."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Sound card? Never heard of it, what's it for?

Subject: General Tech | October 3, 2011 - 05:00 PM |
Tagged: audio

It is becoming difficult to discuss the quality of soundcards with anyone, since very few people use them.  We've gone from needing a sound card to play back a reasonable amount of channels since the onboard audio could not handle it, to saving CPU cycles by pulling the responsibility of processing audio onto a sound card, to a point where they seem obsolete.  Putting aside the fact that many PCs are outputting audio and video over a single HDMI cable or onto a USB headset, most non-audiophiles will be satisfied with the variety of outputs available on the back of a motherboard and the processing power that the onboard audio Codec needs is minuscule.  At The Tech Report you can read about one technophiles experiences with sound cards and his recommendation focuses more on the importance of providing yourself with a decent sound system and top of the line speakers before in preference to upgrading your sound card.

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"In his latest blog post, TR's David Morgan upgrades his integrated "In his latest blog post, TR's David Morgan upgrades his integrated motherboard audio and wonders whether discrete sound cards are still relevant."

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Boost the audio performance of your laptop with Creative's new USB DAC

Subject: General Tech | September 27, 2011 - 02:31 PM |
Tagged: Creative, X-FI HD USB, usb audio, audio, digital audio converter

It has become commonplace to see USB headsets that can be plugged into any system and will work without drivers needing to be installed.  That has not been widely spread to actual soundcards yet but Creative is changing that with the release of the X-FI HD USB, which does need drivers but should happily function on any machine.  For under $100 you get a small box which acts as a headphone amplifier and mic receiver but can also take audio from almost any source to be recorded to your PC.  It is a really good deal for a Digital Audio Converter, especially for notebook users which is why [H]ard|OCP heartily recommends the device for those looking to easily boost their audio performance.

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"Creative's latest sound card is an external model that sports a USB interface and boasts high quality digital, analog, and dedicated headphone connectivity options. We tell you if this may be the audio upgrade that laptop users and those of you with no free expansion slots in your desktop PC have been looking for."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

A quick peripheral roundup, Corsair's Vengeance series

Subject: General Tech | September 20, 2011 - 12:20 PM |
Tagged: corsair, Corsair Vengeance, audio, keyboard, gaming mouse

Over at Overclockers Club is a look at Corsair's Vengeance series of keyboards, mice and headsets.  They captured several slides from a recent presentation that show a brief history of Corsair's products as well as having hands on time with the newest members of the Vengeance lineup.  From the M60 mouse with a dedicated sniper button to the K60 mechanical keyboard, they've focused on the needs of gamers, not casual users.  The Vengeance 1100 headset and it's noise cancelling microphone also gets a look.

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"The M60 is Corsair's new enthusiast grade-gaming mouse that looks to improve user experience in first-person shooters. Like the M90, the M60 utilizes an Avago 5670 DPI sensor with lift-detection for real-time adjustments. However, the M60 utilizes an aluminum unibody design with an adjustable center of gravity and PTFE glide pads. Making the Vengeance M60 potentially even more powerful as a FPS tool, there is also a red "sniper" button that lowers the DPI on-the-fly. When activated, the mouse toggles between a high-speed DPI mode and a precision mode. This serves to improve accuracy when using in-game sniper rifles, and could come in handy whenever a lower DPI is required for kills."

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Turtle Beach is still alive and kicking bass

Subject: General Tech | August 29, 2011 - 02:10 PM |
Tagged: audio, headset, turtle beach, DPX21, 7.1

Old time techies will remember Turtle Beach fondly, as there was once a time when they were the only choice in sound cards other than Creative.  ASUS blew that market wide open and now we see many other manufacturers releasing sound cards, even if the majority of users now depend on onboard codecs.  Turtle Beach does still make sound cards, the Riviera being their current model, but they've also expanded into headsets.  The newest Turtle Beach headset is the DPX21 which is a package containing the PX 21 headset and the Ear Force DSS controller which allows you different connection choices as well as a host of controls.  The Ear Force has separate volume controls for the game and chat, and bass tuning, there are also two controls that tbreak suggests you avoid, one which is a sound ‘expander’ and an option to force Dolby-esque surround sound.  If you leave those two controls alone though, tbreak loudly proclaims their love of the virtual 7.1 surround sound and feel it is worth the $150 investment .

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"While the name may evoke imagery of cute turtles and soft sunny beaches, for the techie among us, the name Turtle Beach only evokes one picture: kick-ass surround sound gaming headsets. And what a lovely picture that is. Turtle Beach have been at the game for a long time, making a name for themselves by churning out impressive, high quality headsets for the current gen consoles."

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Source: tbreak

Dr. Dre is shilling for Monster Cable

Subject: General Tech | August 12, 2011 - 03:45 PM |
Tagged: audio, monster cable

The Beats by Dr. Dre Studio Headphones are made by everyone's favourite overpriced cable vendor, Monster Cable, helping to explain the $300 price tag ($350 direct from Monster Cable).  [H]ard|OCP nevertheless forged ahead with reviewing them, hoping that perhaps this time Monster Cable produced something worth the price of admission.  They compared them to similarly priced headsets from Beyer-Dynamic, which outclassed the Beats Headphones in every metric, as did the studio quality Audio-Technica M50 they tried.  Their final verdict is not kind.

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"Few brands of headphones have achieved popularity and consumer adoption as quickly as Monster's Beats by Dre series. We recently purchased our own pair of the Beats' Studio Edition headphones to tell you if these are merely marketing fluff or the "real deal.""

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

The ASUS Vulcan ANC Pro Gaming Headset has gaming in its name for a reason

Subject: General Tech | August 2, 2011 - 03:43 PM |
Tagged: asus, ROG, Vulcan ANC Pro, headset, audio

If you find yourself gaming in a noisy environment and are trying to keep your contribution to the noise down by using headsets it can be frustrating if you cannot hear the game you are playing.  ASUS has a way to solve that, thanks to the active noise cancellation in their Republic of Gamers Vulcan ANC Pro Gaming Headset.  Red & Blackness Mods tried out a pair for review and were impressed by the light weight of the headset as well as detachable mic for when you don't need to communicate with team mates.  They were not overly impressed with the sound quality but as these are specifically designed for gaming that is not a major concern and not attempting for high end audio helped keep the price down.

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"Asus mostly known for their high end laptops and motherboards have recently started pumping out various accessories and even touchpads. Today we are taking a look at the Asus Vulcan ANC Pro Gaming headphones that you can pick up for around 50$. What type of quality and sound quality can we expect from these?"

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Source: R&B Mods

A little something for the audiophile; M-Audio Studiophile Reference Monitor

Subject: General Tech | July 26, 2011 - 06:21 PM |
Tagged: audio, studio quality, audiophile

There are speakers and then there are studio monitors, with the difference being quality.  For most gamers and movie watchers there is no point in picking up a pair of studio quality monitors, not only because of the lack of a discerning ear but also because the audio source is unable to provide the quality these monitors need to perform.  Much as Scotches or wines taste similar to the untrained palate, studio quality speakers are for professionals with professional level needs.  If you are one, or simply want the best possible sound reproduction and are willing to spend $300+ for a pair of monitors then you should check out the M-Audio Studiophile CX5 Active Studio Reference Monitor review at ModSynergy.  With a proper audio card and file as a source these monitors will equal a $1000 pair of monitors and are a great deal for those with the ears to enjoy them.

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"Today I will be providing a long-term review on a different beast. Today you will be reading the review of one of M-Audio’s latest offerings on the market within their Studiophile lineup, the CX5 High-Resolution Active Studio Reference Monitor. Read on to see how this 90-watt near-field studio monitor performs and holds up. Will this be your next investment?"

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Source: ModSynergy

CoolerMaster's new Storm headphones have nothing to do with JK Rowling

Subject: General Tech | July 19, 2011 - 02:05 PM |
Tagged: CoolerMaster Storm Sirus, audio, 5.1 headset

Naming a product Sirus right now might attract an odd crowd, then again maybe it is best that they are using headphones to watch or listen to their favourite series.  CoolerMaster's newest member of the Storm lineup is not a case, mouse or fan, it is a 5.1 surround headset.  One of the more interesting features is that there is only one wire coming from the headset, connecting to a small round controller.  From there you connect to the PC using USB, or preferably, 4 of the analog jacks on the back of your PC.  The controller allows you to adjust the levels of each channel separately, which is a very nice touch.  Unfortunately however Neoseeker adjusted it they couldn't bring it up to audiophile standards, but they have no reservations recommending it for gamers.

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"Not one to be left out, Cooler Master enters the PC audio market with a 5.1 surround sound headset of its own that can connect to your audio source via analog jacks or USB port. See how well the Sirius stacks against more specialized headsets in our latest audio review."

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Source: Neoseeker