Date: May 27th, 2008
Article by: Karl Van der Walt (Hardware Reviewer)
Edited by: Nathan Glentworth (Owner / Head Editor)
Product was submitted by: Cyber Snipa
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PRODUCT PICTORIAL AND WALKTHROUGH
The inline volume/mic control also houses the USB soundcard in a tidy little package. The control sports volume up, volume down and mute buttons. A mic on/off switch is located on the side of the control. There are also a power and mic on indicator LEDs. I find it odd that they opted to use blue LEDs instead of red to match the color scheme of the headset. Another peeve is that the LEDs are ridiculously bright. Maybe it's just me but it seems like hardware manufacturers take great pleasure in hurting my eyes… Come on guys, no one wants a Christmas tree of obnoxious LEDs around their PC.
PRODUCT INSTALLATION AND TESTING
Testing, as I always do with this type of review, was performed over a period of a week of daily use: playing games, listening to music and watching movies. Skype was used to test the mic.
The Sonar 5.1 headset is nothing if not comfortable, the adjustability of this headset is second to none and the padding is more than adequate to avoid sore ears. The one issue I had with it was sweat; the velvet like material the cushions are covered in produced significantly more sweat than other headsets I have reviewed. But given that the other headsets I have reviewed were all, with the possible exception the SteelSound 3h, exceptional in this area this is not a big deal. The velvet lining is still significantly better than the pleather coverings a lot of other headsets come with.
It works, what more can I say really. As boom mics go this is a good one, it stays where you put it and doesn't fall in your way when you move your head too much.
Now the meat and potatoes, how the Sonar 5.1 headset sounds. When I first hooked these bad boys up I have to admit I was extremely disappointed. The sound was flat and rather tinny and the center channel was overpowering everything else. At this point I was all set to give the Sonar 5.1 headset a scalding review and never look at the things again. But for the sake of writing a good review I took a good look through the manual and then played with the settings. The difference was night and day, I felt like I just switched from a set of airline headphones to concert speakers. Cyber Snipa really should adjust the default settings set by the drivers on installation to better showcase the headset because the settings currently defaulted to are horrible and really give a bad impression of the sound quality.
Clicking the button boxed in red gives you access to the individual volume controls for each driver unit. Once you set things the way you like and trust me when I say there is a lot you can set, these headphones really do perform. As I expected, the high treble and midrange are a little weak owing to the small driver units but they are still fairly respectable. What sets this headset apart from the rest though is its bass, the subwoofers in these things are insane, when Cyber Snipa say, “you can feel the action” they certainly weren't lying.
Set the bass enhancement to “DVD movie” after clicking the button boxed in red and crank up the volume to it and you almost expect the headset to vibrate off your head. Did I say the bass was awesome yet? It is.
The surround sound of the Sonar 5.1 is actually better than I was expecting, playing Counter Strike Source with these did yield a noticeable difference over simulated surround with stereo headphones. Given that you can adjust the volume of each driver unit individually you can really tweak the settings until you find your comfort zone.
The USB sound card doesn't support a lot of the features found in PCI/PCIE soundcards but it does its job well and takes up only a tiny amount of space. I was rather impressed by the sound quality it puts out to the headset when properly configured. I never use most of the fancy features like EAX 3 and 4 etc on my existing soundcard anyway so their absence means nothing to me. In all honesty, if you see this as a negative point you really shouldn't be looking at headsets in this price range anyway. You can't have everything.
Overall the Cyber Snipa Sonar 5.1 headset performed well. Whilst it doesn't sound quite as good as a good stereo headset it does produce staggering bass and pretty good surround sound. Watching DVDs with explosions literally rattling your ears is always fun.