by Ryan Perry on October 17, 2011 in Audio & Media
Finding a 5.1 gaming headset isn’t hard, but finding one that’s not riddled with problems is. Many companies have been entering the audio market in this way lately, and Cooler Master proves that it’s not about to be left out. With its Sirus, we’re given one of the best-looking options to date, so let’s see if it lives up to the hype.
So, it’s headset review time again. Big deal, right? You’re darn tootin’ it’s a big deal because we have the CM Storm Sirus 5.1 surround sound gaming headset from Cooler Master staring up at us from the review table.
Other companies such as Corsair and Arctic Cooling have branched out into the audio market, so now it’s Cooler Master’s turn. To do this, the company has chosen its CM Storm brand to be the one to break into the audio scene, which isn’t surprising considering the focus is on gamers.
But despite that focus, Cooler Master claims that the Sirus headset provides sound quality that will make audiophiles smile as well. While I can’t speak for them, I can hopefully speak for the majority of the gamers out there by the time this review is finished.
The Sirus headset won a Red Dot Design award for 2011, walking away with the prize after being poked and prodded by design experts from around the world. Previous awards aside, the Sirus will have to work just as hard to earn an Editor’s Choice award with us, so let’s get to it.
Starting at the closed, circumaural cups, each is made from gray molded plastic just as the majority of the headset is. Running up the center of each cup is a black accent that is covered by the same rubber-like surface found on CM Storm mice.
Smack dab in the middle of this is a recessed mesh area, along with the CM Storm name and logo. When powered on the mesh and logo glow red to give it a little bit of flash. There isn’t much in the way of movement as the cups only slightly rotate where they meet the headband and flip out about the same amount at the hinges about midway down the cups.
Hidden from view by the soft foam ear pieces on the inside of the cups are separate front, rear and center drivers (or speakers if you will) that each measure 30mm. The subwoofer comes in at a heftier 40mm and all four from each cup combine to create the surround sound experience. The removable ear pieces slide over a plastic bracket that then snaps onto the cup.
Attached to the left cup is the flexible boom microphone that can be positioned straight up when not in use or moved about 135 degrees downward. If the mic is left up, it is automatically made inactive. Once it is moved down far enough, a red LED comes on and shines through a translucent insert along the top of edge to indicate it’s active. Another carry over from the CM Storm mice is the braided cable that runs from the bottom of the left cup to the “Tactical Mixing Console” that we’ll look at that shortly.
The headband is made of the same molded plastic with the black accent carried on from the cups. On the top is the CM Storm name that spans most of the area. Sizing between the headband and the cups is done simply by pulling the two apart.
There is more of the same soft foam on the inside of the headband that is used to disperse any downward force to eliminate fatigue.
The mixing console mentioned earlier hooks up to the headset using a 10-pin connector. This heavy desktop mixer replaces the typical in-line mixer found on most surround sound headsets. The large gray dial increases or decreases the volume of the selected channel while the middle “Advanced” button between the headphone and mic mute buttons switches between them.
More red LED back lighting is found here, too. Running from the mixer are two gold-plated USB connectors for the sound and power. The USB connection means sound is processed by the CPU and driver, ridding the requirement of a discrete sound card.
The underside of the mixing console is covered with a rubber base to eliminate slipping and to help protect whatever surface it may be placed on.
Folks with a separate sound card that would rather have it handle sound processing instead of the USB driver can use the included 3.5mm analog adapter that does away with the mixing console altogether. However, a free USB port on the motherboard I/O will still be needed to supply power to the headset.
Included with the Sirus are a set of pleather-covered ear pieces for those who prefer them over the pre-installed foam ones, and a small black envelope that would nicely fit a driver CD. If you’re looking for the driver disk, though, you’ll find that our princess is in another castle and that the software needs to be downloaded from the CM Storm website. Inside the envelope is information on where to download the driver and a quick-start guide with some information about how to get things going.
All of the features on the outside might as well be buzz words if the software isn’t there to allow users to fine-tune their listening experience, so that is what we’ll look at next.