Full-blown headphones are not for everyone. They are often bulky, not suitable for travel, and more often than not, look kind of daft out in public. Earphones, and their cousin, In-Ear Monitors (IEMs), are often preferred when on the move, or when you don’t want that extra weight putting pressure on your head.
When it comes to gaming, having earphones is one thing, but you’ll also need a mic to coordinate tactics, or trash-talk your opponents. More often than not, the combined mics found bundled with a lot of headsets can be lackluster. Cooler Master took on the challenge of making a pair of earphones for gaming, but with a decent mic as well, for the intrepid road (armchair) warrior.
The CM Storm Pitch Pros are IEMs rather than earphones, made of metal which house the rather impressive (for the size) 10mm drivers. There is an in-line mic attached to the left ear piece, which doubles up as a play/pause button, and can also be used for answering calls on mobiles.
The cable is 1.2 meters long, making use of what feels like silicone; it has an anti-tangle flat shape, rather than the more usual round. This cable does take a little getting used to, since it holds onto its wrapped shape.
The CM Storm Pitch Pro comes with an assortment of useful accessories. The 3.5mm connector uses a TRRS arrangement (tip, ring, ring, sleeve), sharing the mic and stereo output on the same connector. This means plugging it into a normal soundcard won’t work; however, it should be fine with most mobiles and tablets.
However, it does come with two adapters. One converts the dual ring connector into two normal 3.5mm jacks, for plugging into separate headphone and mic sockets; it also comes with an airplane adapter, should you decide to listen in on any in-flight entertainment.
There are three sizes of silicone ear buds that use a standard IEM fitting, should you decide to swap out the tips for something a little more luxurious. The included buds are are a little bit too firm for my liking, so keep a look out for some replacement tips.
The technical specifications, as listed by CM, are available in the table below.
|CM Storm Pitch Pro Gaming IEMs|
|Freq. Response||10Hz-20KHz||Freq. Response||70Hz-10KHz|
|Impedance||16 Ohms||Signal/Noise Ratio||58dB|
|Sensitivity||106 +/-3dB||Sensitivity||-42 +/-2dB|
|Max Output Power||15 mW|
A Note On IEMs
For those that are more used to earphones, rather than the in-ear variety, IEMs can take a little getting used to. The idea is to have them form a seal inside your ear canal, providing substantial isolation from background noise. However, this isolation can disrupt stereo separation and can be fatiguing on the ears.
One of the main issues with IEMs is that the sound quality and bass response are extremely sensitive to the performance of the seal. If it’s too loose, not only can the IEMs fall out, but you can lose much of the bass response. If the seal is too tight, you will feel significant pressure on your ears (a severe ache after a while), and the bass response can completely overpower the rest of the music.
Finding that balance can be quite hard, and with that in mind, it’s a good idea to pick up a large variety set of replacement earphone tips (be they memory foam, silicone or gel), so that you can find the best fit for your own ears (or get some custom molds).
Another pair of IEMs that I have been using for a while are SoundMagic’s E10s. These are not exactly high-end, but they’re decent enough to listen to on a day-to-day basis, and not be too worried if they get broken.
On paper, the main difference between the old discontinued CM Storm Pitch and the newer Pitch Pro is the better bass response and improved build quality. With a tight-fit on the ear tips, the bass is definitely boosted, and over-powering in my opinion. If you look at the frequency curve that’s on the box, both have a very strong U shape, meaning strong bass, reduced mids, and a strong treble. These are definitely not for analytical music listening.
If you are used to this type of audio curve, then you won’t be disappointed. While IEMs won’t make your head vibrate like a good pair of headphones or big studio speakers, they certainly provide a strong bass kick.
With the tips swapped out for something smaller, the bass is pulled back a fair bit, and actually puts it into a more linear audio curve; something that I’ve grown accustomed too over the years. This, to me, made them much more enjoyable. The strong treble still comes through, though, so for gaming, this helps with gun fire positioning.
The mids are somewhat understated, due to the strong bass and treble. The rockers and metal-heads are likely to enjoy this, but in games, it will make listening out for dialog in a busy fire-fight a little more challenging.
Due to the 16 Ohm impedance, these CM Storm Pitch Pros can be driven by pretty much any soundcard or device. Audio quality and distortion might creep in on some cheap handhelds, but that’s a different topic entirely. Needless to say, pretty much any device will be able to crank up the volume on these things without issue.
One of my main criticisms of these CM Storm Pitch Pros are that the tips being made of a dry and somewhat firm silicone. I personally found them uncomfortable after a couple of hours, and frequently had to take them out just to give my ears a rest.
I ended up switching out the tips for a spare pair I had with my E10s. Because ear canals are of all different shapes and sizes, this is not too surprising. The Pitch Pros do come with three different sizes, but they are all made of the same firm silicone.
This is not to say that these earphones are bad, or the silicone is of bad quality; this is just more of a personal preference for comfort (some of us are more sensitive than others). Again, it might be worth investing in a variety of different buds, and put the effort into finding one that you like.
The in-line mic that’s connected to the left ear piece (and doubles up as the pause/play button) is not the most sensitive mic (in that it requires a fair bit of amplification to be heard), but its vocal range is decent for a small mic. Providing your soundcard or phone has a decent mic input, then the Pitch Pro should be fine.
This is a far cry from the over-compressed and often unbearably noise-canceled USB mics you often hear with headsets. If your sound card is not up to the task, the recipient of your voice will struggle to make out what you say. With a proper input, your voice will come across perfectly clear.
The 1.2 meter cable is quite short, so these IEMs are really meant for phones, tablets and laptops. If you like to use IEMs on the desktop, you will need an extension or pass-through connectors on your keyboard, or an external soundcard/DAC.
The flat silicone cable makes it extremely resistant to knotting, so props to CM there (as earphones are often stuffed into a bag without thought, leaving you to unravel spaghetti when you next need them).
The buds attach to the drivers extremely firmly, so they are not likely to remain in your ear when you pull them out. This also means they are a little fiddly to replace, so you might need a dab of soapy water to help them slide on and off.
The CM Storm Pitch Pros tick all the boxes for a pair of gaming IEMs. The audio is decent, if a little bass heavy, the microphone is quite clear if your soundcard can amplify it adequately. The ear buds weren’t for me, but the standard fittings meant that I could swap them out for something a little more comfortable.
The cable remained knot-free through testing, even after a hasty bag stuffing when I headed out with my tablet in hand. My only real grievance, if you can call it that, is the typical gaming audio curve; too much emphasis on bass for my taste. Still, the large assortment of accessories and adapters means you can plug it into pretty much anything – although an extension might be needed if you plan to use it on a desktop – which kind of defeats the point of being mobile.
If you are in the market for a pair of IEMs with a built-in mic, be sure to check out the Cooler Master CM Storm Pitch Pros.
- Good bass and audio.
- Snug fit.
- Tangle-free cable.
- Very good microphone (if connected to a decent mic input).
- Assortment of adapters and accessories.
- Ear buds are firm and might not be for everyone.
- Mid-range can be overpowered by bass.
Pricing And Availability
The CM Storm Pitch Pros have a recommended price of around $40 – putting it around the same area as many other IEM gaming earphones. Currently, availability is limited, so you may need to shop around.