Date: August 23, 2006
Author(s): Matthew Harris
In gaming what you hear can be as crucial as what you see. Indeed what you hear can make the difference between victory and defeat. Today we take a look at a gaming headset that promises to give you the upper hand by isolating you from your real environment while immersing you in your virtual world.
Everglide is a gamer’s company, they seek to immerse themselves fully into the gaming experience. Offering mice, keyboards, mouse feet, pads and headsets Everglide has covered most of the bases and put themselves on inroads into the gaming enthusiast’s market. Today I’m taking a look at their gaming headset, the s-500. The s-500 isn’t a 5.1 headset, it doesn’t feature an outboard power supply nor USB connections. It’s not even blessed with an inline volume control but it does offer some very nice features that help to distinguish itself above the crowd.
First let’s see what Everglide has to say about the s-500’s shall we?
Ultra-light Membrane for Instantaneous Audio Response
The Everglide™ s-500 Professional Gaming Headphones feature an ultra-light membrane for instantaneous audio response. Faster than most conventional speaker drivers found in traditional headphones, the Everglide™ s-500 Professional Gaming Headphones are optimized for millisecond feedback to provide gaming response.
Optimal Noise Isolation
Recognizing that most professional gamers often compete in high volume noise environments, Everglide’s engineering team has designed the Everglide™ s-500 Professional Gaming Headphones for complete noise isolation without compromising on audio quality. The Everglide™ s-500 Professional Gaming Headphones have an oversized circumaural leather muff to reduce ambient noise. Making them one of the quietest noise-isolated circumaural headphones in the world
Enhanced Audio Positioning and Gaming Frequency Response
s-500 Professional Gaming Headphones The Everglide™ s-500 Professional Gaming Headphones deliver top notch audio positioning sound quality by accentuating key gaming sound frequencies. From weapon sounds to footsteps, Everglide™ s-500 Professional Gaming Headphones provide crystal clear audio positioning quality, allowing you to pinpoint with pixel perfect accuracy the position of team-mates and opponents on a map
Designed for Comfort and Extended Wear
The Everglide™ s-500 Professional Gaming Headphones have a unique circumaural earmuff design that provides an extremely comfortable fit. Designed to be used over an extended period of time, the Everglide™ s-500 Professional Gaming Headphones can be used for extended gaming marathons without subjecting you to headphone fatigue or discomfort.
|Frequency Response||20Hz – 20,000Hz|
|Nominal Impedence||16 ohm|
|Max Sound Pressure (SPL)||102dB|
|Max Power Rating||100mW|
|Weight (w/o cable)||360g|
|Available Color||Carbon Black, White|
The s-500 comes in a full color box that’s very eye catching. It’s done up in the company colors and shows very nice product shots along with much of the same information I’ve listed above.
The packaging shows a bit of wear for the trip here from Everglide’s facility. Does this mean anything negative for the end users? In a word yes. Everglide sells their product online themselves and these particular headphones are nearly impossible to find elsewhere so this shows that Everglide needs to make a bit of improvement in their shipping packaging. Happily there was no damage to the s-500 so the packaging was doing it’s job of keeping them safe. The packaging consisted of the box pictured and what you see pictured below.
Yep, that’s it. No molded foam, no peanuts, no bubble wrap. Just a bag with the headphones inside them and the mic in a zip baggie.
Inside the bag resides the s-500. They feature a full ten foot non-coiled cord with gold 3.5mm mini stereo connector (no adaptor for use with home stereo equipment, sadly) and oversized ear cups. The headband is thickly padded as are the ear pads and both are covered in a very supple leather. The mic is a clip-on lapel type condenser microphone with a six foot cord. This is nice since it’s not tied to being clipped onto the cord for the headphones. In fact it can be clipped to your shirt, collar or, if you game shirtless, the cord for the headphones.
The size adjustments for the ear cups are plastic but to my precision fingers it feels like the headband inside the leather-wrapped padding is a thin spring steel band. The tension on the headband, whatever it is comprised of, is pretty much on the money. There’s not too much pressure on your head making for very comfortable extended sessions of use. They stay put but don’t make you feel like your eyeballs are going to be blasted from their orbits after a few hours use.
The ear cups on the s-500’s are very well insulated. The level sound dampening is likely close to 10db. *Science content warning: reading the next few sentences could lead to an increase in knowledge and understanding of some technical matters.* Sound is measured in decibels (db) and to double the acoustic output as perceived by the human ear requires a gain of 10db of output. This in essence means that 70db is twice as loud as 60db, 80db is twice as loud as 70db and so on. This in turn means that by decreasing the sound reaching the ear by 10db you’ve just cut the perceived sound to one half of it’s original level. This benefits the wearer by reducing the volume level required to overcome ambient sound levels.
This aids in allowing you to hear the subtleties in the game such as footsteps behind you without requiring you to crank the volume to such a point that shotgun blasts and RPG explosions are deafening. This in turn helps to prevent fatigue from exposure to loud noises for extended periods of time.
Sadly, Everglide doesn’t publish the specs of the drivers used in the s-500 headphones. I’m interested to know what they’re made from and how the diaphragm is configured but I imagine that I’ll never know. Most headphones in this price range will specify the type of driver, the diameter of the driver diaphragm, what it’s made from and the voice-coil diameter. Everglide might want to include these specs if they want to attract buyers with knowledge of the benefits of these various points in the configuration of the headphone’s construction. This is like buying speakers and not knowing if they’re a 2-way, 3-way or single driver design.
I tested the s-500 headphones with games, movies and music, I’ll cover my findings here.
I played Day of Defeat: Source, The Ship and Counterstrike: Condition Zero for the gaming testing. The sound was spacious. Environmental sounds were well placed and the cues were easy to track as you moved around the maps. The sounds of the various weapons were reproduced with realism and authority. Bullets whizzed by sounding very good as they tracked from left to right and in The Ship, it was pretty easy to clue into the sound of your hunter creeping up on you. During the testing I left my TV going at normal conversation levels to simulate background chatter found in LAN gaming and at moderate volume levels it wasn’t distracting in the least. Compared to my baseline headphones (Koss UR-40) I found that I wasn’t pushing the volume nearly as high to follow softer sounds.
I watched Star Wars EP III and compared the experience that I got from the s-500’s to the experience afforded me by my Logitech Z-560’s. The speakers (4.1 THX certified set) gave a bit more immersion in the sound from the movie. The center sound stage was better with the headphones while the rear channels with the speakers gave a higher level of realism. I found that tonally the s-500 was very close to the Logitech’s. This is pretty impressive as the Z-560’s are THX certified and that’s a pretty grueling process that requires very high fidelity. The s-500 are great for movie watching if you like to watch your movies at the volume that allows you to hear even the faintest of whispers. This is difficult for those of us with neighbors or family members on the other side of every wall.
I like my music loud. Up until recently I haven’t been able to listen to my music the way I like it since I couldn’t achieve the volume levels that bring a smile to my face. The Z-560’s get brutally loud but with neighbors on five sides out of six I can’t listen to my music at chest thumping levels. The Koss UR-40 headphones have a very refined sound, they have great bass for headphones but they have a bad tendency to break up at ear bleeding volume levels especially in bass heavy music. Not only that but they’re a bit "dark" sounding. By this I mean that the upper midrange doesn’t have the shine to it that I’m used to hearing, it’s a bit muted. The s-500’s on the other hand have a satisfying brilliance in the upper midrange without being brassy and harsh. Listening to "Redneck" by Lamb of God, the guitar had a very nice grind to it. The vocals had a nice natural tone to them even at ear splitting volumes and the bass never got muddy with no loud crackling from the drivers overloading during big bass drum kicks.
The s-500 headphones are slightly on the heavy side at 360g’s (12oz’s) and are a bit bulky but you quickly get used to them. I wear a hat when I game and the adjustment on the s-500’s easily accommodate my huge melon (size 7 5/8ths hat) while wearing my cap. They don’t bind even with the fact I wear glasses. Normally I run into trouble with headphones due to the fact that they press the temples on my glasses up against my head pressing them in between the ear cups, my ears and my head. Over extended periods of time this eventually leads to a roaring migraine. The UR-40’s and the s-500’s are about the only full ear headphones I’ve used that don’t do this to me. Yes there are the small open-ear style headphones but in my experience they don’t offer the same level of isolation nor do they have nearly the bass response and overall volume that full ear headphones do.
The s-500 Professional Gaming Headphones are a pretty nice set, they offer a great gaming experience giving pretty good cues considering that there are no front and rear drivers. The sound is very open and expansive without being harsh. Loud sounds are rendered nicely without distortion and thanks to the isolation afforded by the ear cups you don’t have to listen to them at ear splitting volumes to distinguish between quiet sounds. Happily though they sound great for music and movies, they have a very musical sound with good bass response and a nice bright presence that’s not overly bright and hard.
They’re comfortable which is a plus although if you’ve got a tiny head you might run into issues with them being a bit loose. The long cord on the headphones is another plus, this gives you a bit of mobilty while sitting behind the keyboard without requiring you to yank the headphones off every time that you want to slide a few feet away from your position. I wish that they’d put the same length cord on the mic, if you’re using the mic you’ve lost four feet of mobility.
Overall I’m awarding the Everglide s-500 Professional Gaming Headphones an 8 out of 10. The sound and comfort are both awesome, true you lose some spacial cues but what you gain in terms of fidelity is well worth the trade off. If you’re in the market for a new gaming headset (or new music headset, music headset, Etc) do yourself a favor and give these a look. At nearly $100 they’re a bit on the pricey side but they sound and feel worth it.
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