CM Storm Sirus Headphones Review
More on Features and Build
Quite a few high end headphones utilize 50 mm speakers, but that is not necessarily a prerequisite for good sound. Cans like the Grado SR-125s use 40 mm drivers and I certainly have no complaints about the quality of those particular products. The Sirus headphones use 3 x 30 mm drivers for the front, side, and surround channels, while a single 40 mm driver handles the subwoofer/low frequencies. The only issue I have with the construction is when the earpads are taken off, we see a pretty solid piece of semi-perforated plastic that covers all the drivers. Yes, those drivers are well protected by the plastic piece, but it looks like the sound could be heavily muffled, or at least influenced, by the construction of this covering.
The rubberized back of the puck ensures that it stays put when placed on a flat surface.
The headphones come with two sets of ear pads. The first is a coarse micro-fiber type of pad that is comfortable to wear and breathes quite nicely. The second is a pleather type material which insulates the ear from outside noise, but is not breathable and can get a little sweaty. These are very easy to swap out.
The driver and software control setup is annoying. I realize this is a very new product, and improvements will come. While a user can change some of the sound settings provided by the USB audio portion, it is not terribly intuitive nor is it expansive in its functionality. It allows the basic volume changes to the different channels as well as some effects. The control panel also has a tendency to pop up whenever an application is opened which will utilize audio in some way, and oftentimes the control panel will pop up again when that application is closed as well.
I try to use headphones for several weeks, which allows the drivers to break in some and mellow their sound. It also allows me to test out a variety of applications under different circumstances to see how these headphones perform. The three basic categories are music, movies, and games.
The look of these headphones means business.
The microphone is of fair quality. Voices are clearly represented, but overall tonal quality and transparency are lacking. This is not a high end microphone by any stretch of the imagination, but audio quality for gaming communication purposes is adequate for the job.
These are not terribly musical headphones. Even though in two channel mode each cup will have an active 40 mm and 30 mm driver, it does not translate into clean listening. I listen to a variety of sources from CD’s, MP3s, DVD-audio, and the random piece of high bitrate content. None of the styles play particularly well on the Sirus headphones. I was under the impression that there was a piece of paper stuck between the drivers and my ears, as the sound was muffled overall, and clarity was lacking. Bass was not all that punchy, and vocals were again muted and fuzzy overall.
They could stand to have a little bit more padding on top, but I still had no problem with the overall comfort of these headphones.
It obviously was a bit disappointing to me, as I have had good experiences with products from Grado and Corsair which proved to be very able performers when it comes to music. The soundstage was also quite compressed as compared to other headphones in its price range. The less expensive Corsair HS1As are far more expansive. The Grado SR-125s are another step above the rest in terms of clarity, tightness, and a wide soundstage with excellent separation.
I was honestly expecting better out of these headphones, especially with two separate drivers; one handling the low end and then the other taking on the midrange and highs. While overall clarity was decent, I am wondering if the internal design of the cups, and the need to fit four drivers per cup, lead to a lot of tradeoffs that negatively affected overall sound quality. If music is the primary use for these headphones, then it is better to look elsewhere.
The multi-channel nature of these headphones should appeal to users who want to watch movies in their full 5.1 speaker glory. I tested several movies using both DVD and Blu-ray content. Blu-ray audio was a bit more clear and expansive than the older DTS 5.1 and DD 5.1 encoding methods, but the differences with these headphones was not night and day. To get the full effect of DTS Master Surround or Dolby Digital True HD, then a dedicated receiver with high quality speakers should be used. A set of $129 headphones will not replicate that experience anytime soon.
Boom mic extended!
This is an area which these headphones should excel in, but the experience was not nearly as visceral and satisfying as I was expecting. There is some separation of sound, but it is not nearly as distinct as a true 5.1 speaker setup in an acoustically neutral setting. Rear sound effects sort of felt like they come from the rear, but it is mostly from the side. Front channel dialogue was much the same story. Just like with most headphones, the sound almost seems like it emanates from between the ears rather than “in front” of the listener.
The performance in movies is much better overall than in music. Multi-channel sound from multiple drivers did help in this particular application, but it is nowhere near what can be achieved with even a very modest 5.1 speaker setup on the computer. However, not everyone has the ability to correctly place a set of 5.1 speakers around their computer, or perhaps living in situations where noise is a factor (shared apartments, thin walls, residence hall living, etc.) then these are a viable alternative for those wishing to experience multi-channel surround in headset form.