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.
I’d be lying if I said that I expected the Sirus to take things to a whole new level when listening to music. The previous 5.1 headsets that I had tested had trouble with the mid-range but handled the highs and lows well. This time around things were a bit different when listening to the same tracks as before by Alexisonfire, Fear Factory, Pearl Jam and Pendulum.
Out of the box, the Sirus provided crisp highs and the mid-range for the most part stayed quite clear once the EQ was tweaked, but the bass was where things fell a bit flat. When listening to tracks with heavy bass usage it felt like I had reached the threshold very early on at which point distortion became an issue.
Toning down the sub helped that issue, but the treble took over a bit too much for my liking. Flex Bass did help too, but if the cutoff was set too low the bass would cut in and out instead of giving a full, steady sound. Ultimately, I found that the requirements changed from track to track.
Our movie du jour is 2007’s live action Transformers. I’ve watched this movie about 100 times using other surround sound headsets and a simple 2.1 stereo setup so I’m well aware of what things should sound like. Once again the highway scene has been chosen because of the high level of action and general chaos happening all over.
Overall, the Sirus did well with the positional portion of the audio but low end sounds came in distorted again. Instead of clear, defined thumps, there were washed out thuds mixed in with a general rumble where individual sounds within the low end became hard to pick out. Tweaking the EQ here was the key again.
When it comes to games, the Sirus really steps up. Call of Duty: Black Ops greeted me with clear sounds all across the board. Whatever was going on with music and movies seems to be remedied while in game, although there isn’t as much going on in the low end while playing this particular title.
My favorite map of them all is Nuketown because it’s fast paced and there is always something going on within earshot but outside the field of vision. Gunfire in the backyard while coming through the bottom floor of one of the houses was easy to pick up, and an enemy reloading behind me was also picked up on so that I could at least spin around to see firsthand who shot me.
As I said before, I’m far from being an audiophile, so maybe there is a difference that my untrained ear is unable to pick up. But, I didn’t notice any change in sound quality when the Sirus was connected by USB or directly to the on-board sound that makes uses of Realtek’s ALC889 codec. This really bodes well considering it is a complaint that I had heard from others who bought other headsets with dual connections.
To test the mic a recording was made using Windows Sound Recorder. Without speaking too loudly, I found that my voice was picked up very well even though the mic was not directly in front of my mouth. Though, that does take some getting used to. The quality was very good too with almost all noises being filtered out except for a crying 2-year-old in the other room.
Through all of this I experienced no fatigue caused by the size, shape or weight of the Sirus after three hours of solid use. The Sirus headset is quite heavy but the super-soft foam ear and headband pieces do an excellent job of distributing the weight and clamping force. The cups are also large enough to fit over my ears without making them become overly warm. All of the foam pieces are also removable and machine washable, so the geek can be cleaned off after a stressful LAN.
The mixer is a great addition although having to cycle through each channel to reach the one I want instead of having each channel at my finger tips took some getting used to. Having to rotate the dial clockwise to turn the volume down also threw me off seeing how that’s the opposite of every knob or dial that I can remember.
One point that may make or break the Sirus as a possible headset for readers is the very limited amount of movement of the cups on both axes. I didn’t notice any comfort issues myself due to this and I often have one cup resting behind my ear in order to keep tabs on things around the house. The lack of movement seemed to be balanced out by the foam ear and headband pieces yet again.
Even though the Sirus may require tweaking the EQ often, it does put out some impressive sound especially when gaming. This is a great first attempt at a surround sound headset.