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My [FAILED] Quest for new Headphones…

My [FAILED] Quest for new Headphones…

Over the past 4 days I’ve been attempting to find a decent set of upgrades to my “Fatality MK II”  ($70) computer headsets/headphones. My primary use is video editing/music listening, and occasionally when time permits…gaming.

I tested over *8* pairs of headphones over the weekend and I’m really shocked at how shitty they all were.

Still on the top for the best bass reproduction is the Fatality MK II, which is what I own and was trying to upgrade from. They are very uncomfortable, specifically on the top of your head, the headband seems to always put to much pressure, giving you headaches after a couple hours.

The Fatality MK II have really really good deep bass, but on a scale of 1 to 10 for mids and highs , there about a 5.5.

Now being that they are only $60-70, I figured that headsets that sell for $150~ should be much better quality, which started this epic journey to find some decent headphones.

So after two or three trips to Fry’s electronics, I decided to just buy the whole lot of their top end headphones and try them all out, since the employees there were really against me opening them and trying them out on a my iphone/(ipod) in the store. (In the end they all were returned, so they got the short end of the stick anyways…assholes).

MOST of them are 3.5mm analog connectors, only a couple were USB, the analog ones were plugged into the controller unit for my Logitech z5500, and volume was turned to absolute max. For the song I played the great Dubstep song “Wel’ard”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HNQTr3YyipI

I listen to all types of music, primarily though, good ol rock and roll, and sometimes when I’m up late, a nice Pandora dubstep station.

I bought the following headphones and tested them all out,

MonsterBeats by Dre
Tritton blackops headset
Sony DRGA500 headset
PSYKO 5.1 headset
Corsair HS1
Corsair HS1A
Creative WoW headset
Razer Carcharias
sound blaster tactic3d Sigma

Here’s what I thought of them:

Monsterbeats Dre: Garbage, I mean seriously, just WOW. Bass is all over the place, and has heavy distortion on mids and highs. Clarity is completely substandard when listening to other songs (Black Keys, Michael Buble, Coldplay). I can’t see why these are used by anyone besides hoodie wearing hoodlums on subways plotting their next $5 pickpocket mark. These are complete garbage, and uncomfortable to wear. Gaming on these was by far the worst experience as well, although I know these are not sold as “gaming” headphones, they should still have been able to hold some ground….but again, nope, nothing but weak reproduction and lackluster audio. These are definitely NOT worth the 299.99, they are most likely $30 headphones with the traditional “Monster” markup.

Tritton Black Ops Headset: These were like having headphones with drivers (speakers) made of recycled paper. The sound was very “pale”, had no thump or ear shaking bass needed to reproduce a grenade explosion or mid to low bass in any song I played on them. As for comfort they were just “ok”.

Sony DRGA500: The Mids and Highs were great, very clear, but the Bass was almost completely absent. Keep in mind I’m not just talking about thumping “rap” bass, but deep bass of drums during rock and roll songs as well. During gaming, voices were clear and great, but again, just lacking that extra “umpfhh”. Comfort was one of the top three from the ones I tested.

PSYKO 5.1 headset: These headphones were decently comfortable, but the sound was very flat, on mids and highs and on bass. Aside from the aesthetic design, there was nothing impressive or really negative on these. They were simply “mediocre”.

Corsair HS1 & HS1A: One is analog and one is USB. Although you’ll find in the Corsair forums, some people describe the USB one as louder and better quality, they are sadly WRONG. They are physically identical, and the only difference is the USB one has an onboard audio processor, which I have to say doesn’t do much. They are by far, out of ALL headphones I’ve ever used in my life, the most comfortable headphones *right out of the box*. Out of all the headphones I tested, these were also by far the easiest to setup and get BOTH the headset and mic working flawlessly. The mids and highs were exceptional, but they both lack ANY bass what-so-ever.

Creative WoW headset: These are marketed as specifically for playing World of Warcraft. They must specifically only sound great while playing WoW, because aside from decently reproducing voices, they don’t do a good job at much else. Bass would fall during heavy parts, and mids and highs were just ok, I also noticed a faint hissing from these, I double checked all connections but it seemed to be limited to only these headsets out of the whole lot.

Razer Carcharias Ahhh, finally at least one headset that came very close to the Fatality MK II’s in bass reproduction. These headsets felt rather cheap and plastic-y, very light, and not to comfortable. However the mids and highs were clean and clear, and the bass was pretty decent, they could have been a tad more stronger in the deepness of the bass. Out of all the headphones, these were really great, and *almost* ….do I dare say , almost remained when I took all the other  headphones back. However Ill explain why I didn’t in a second.

Sound blaster tactic3d Sigma: These ones made me laugh genuinely.
On the box for these as I opened them I noticed it said in big letters “MEGA BASS!!!” which was obviously a complete marketing add-on. They were very poor on bass reproduction as well as very pale mids and highs, as if I was listening to a cassette tape. I honestly laughed because the quality packaging came across as if these would actually be a decent set of headphones. During gaming I had the same “distant” and cassette tape sounds, glass shattering in Metro 2033 didn’t have the same high treble crackling.

So in the end I am deciding to go another route, and either wait for a different, new, possibly better headset to come out, or to just fork out more cash for a professional grade of headphones. I use the Sennheiser HD800′s at my office, and there the definition of  badass, however they are $1500 headphones, and wouldn’t be practical to buy another pair for home, or to lug them back and forth and possibly get damaged or lost.

The Razer Megladons were going to be my next test, but as I found out they are USB only which means that they can’t be that loud, and reviews list them as the same as the Carcharias but only with the addition of a sound processor and a $150 price tag.

This leads me to be very disappointed in Computer headset manufacturers. Obviously were paying a enormous markup for what seems to be $30-50 China/Taiwan made headsets. And the “ultimate” ones costing around $200-$300, were still getting shit quality, nowhere near the quality of a entry level Sennheisers or Marshall headphones.

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  1. December 8, 2011, 9:32 pm

    [...] one thing I learned that applies to any wireless speakers / headphones globally. If it is wireless, then it IS NOT loud. Loud speakers require more power, power which cannot be [...]

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  2. Flav says
    March 13, 2011, 11:58 pm

    You know, I can’t say I’m that surprised at how bad the consumer stuff is. I am surprised that you didn’t consider ‘pro audio’ headphones. He’s a quick list of headphones I’ve had personal experience with:

    Sennheiser HD280 PRO – great sound, perhaps a little tight until you wear them in a little
    Sony MDR7506 – good if you like the dj style headphones, fairly comfortable
    Fostex T50 – classic studio headphones, most durable, also fairly natural sounding

    best part? these guys are usually < $150.

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