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Logitech Wireless Gaming Headset G930
A great case for cutting the cord
The G930 is a wireless headset, with a number of practical extra features. The set comes with a puck-shaped USB device that powers the wireless transmitter dongle and simultaneously houses a pass-through charging cable. This allows you to charge and use the G930 at the same time, without using up two USB slots on your PC, as with the Sound Blaster Tactic Rage 3D.
Some of the joints on the headset are a little plasticky and creaky for our taste, but the earcups themselves have a nice range of motion, and are themselves quite solid and hefty. In fact, the set as a whole suffers from being a little too heavy. The padding on the headband is plenty thick, but we still started to get some dull head pain after just two hours wearing the set.
The G930 comes equipped with three user-bindable buttons on the earcup
Our only other qualm with the G930’s build quality is that the circumaural earcups don’t provide as much sound isolation as some of the other sets in this roundup. Other than that, though, they’re very comfortable, and they do a great job of providing crisp sound with a decent bass response and clarity. The G930 also features Dolby 7.1 virtual surround.
In all, this wireless set’s got a lot to offer, though the cheaper Sound Blaster Tactic Rage makes a compelling alternative.
Logitech Wireless Gaming Headset G930
Is this futuristic set worth the price?
Another headset that’s not for the faint-of-wallet, the MadCatz F.R.E.Q. 7 brings the Cyborg line’s quirky design and high-quality construction to the gaming-headset realm. That line has so far been a bit of a mixed bag, providing some of our very favorite gaming peripherals, as well as a couple of so-so entries. The question is, where does the F.R.E.Q. 7 fall?
Like all Cyborg products, the F.R.E.Q. 7 lays the futuristic aesthetic on thick
The common threads among all the Cyborg peripherals are their hyper-futuristic design and rock-solid construction. The F.R.E.Q. 7 is no exception, built out of metal and durable-feeling plastic and featuring a design that’s sure to turn some heads. Though the set is on the heavier side, the extra-squishy rubber pad under the headband kept head pain to a minimum. The earcups are passable, but they’re a little under-padded, and we felt like they applied pressure unevenly, pinching harder in the back than in the front.
Sound quality was quite good, overall, but in order to use the USB equalizer and other audio-processing features, we had to download drivers and software totaling 284 megabytes. Even in this broadband-connected age, we’re willing to call that number unacceptable. This set also features Dolby 7.1 virtual surround.
One oddly frustrating thing about the F.R.E.Q. 7 is its volume wheel. In any high-end headset, we expect to be able to quickly adjust playback volume from the headset itself—usually with a button or roller on the earcup or on an in-line remote control located somewhere along the cable. The F.R.E.Q. 7 features a nice scroll wheel on the right earcup, but it is almost bizarrely unresponsive. Each spin of the wheel only barely moves the overall volume. In order to get the headset to go from minimum volume to maximum volume, we had to scroll, pick up our thumb, move it to the bottom of the wheel, then scroll again a total of 20–30 times.
All the issues we had with the F.R.E.Q. 7 are minor problems or inconveniences and overall we still very much enjoyed the headset’s sound quality, solid construction, and futuristic design. That said, every inconvenience is amplified when you spend $200 on a set of cans.
MadCatz F.R.E.Q. 7
If you’re using a laptop, or a desktop PC without a discrete sound card, you might be wondering what’s with all the fuss about audio processing. If you plug a pair of speakers or a headset into your motherboard, you’ll get sound that seems fine, so why should you shell out for a USB headset with built-in processing, or a sound card?
The idea is that, while your computer’s onboard audio hardware is able to faithfully reproduce the sounds encoded in music, movies, and games, by processing that audio you can actually make it sound better. That seems a little too good to be true at first—after all, if it was possible to simply make a song sound better, why wouldn’t they do that when they recorded it?
To answer that, remember two things. The first is that almost all audio files are compressed, one way or another. To make them use up less hard disk space, memory, and bandwidth, files such as MP3s are compressed, losing audio information. Further, to make songs stand out to listeners, recordings are usually subjected to dynamic range compression, which increases the overall perceived loudness of the song, at a cost of dynamic range. Some audio processing, such as the SoundBlaster Crystallizer, attempts to algorithmically restore data lost during both types of compression.
The second thing to keep in mind is that not all audio hardware is created equal. Equalizer features and bass boost can help take advantage of the strengths of your hardware, and shore up its weaknesses, while virtual surround sound processing (such as the Dolby 7.1 Surround processing found in several of the headsets in this roundup or Razer's Surround software) takes a surround sound audio source and algorithmically reduces it down to a stereo output, employing psychoacoustics to trick you into perceiving more sound sources than actually exist.
Like any other bit of PC hardware, headsets have developed quite a bit of related jargon. Here’s a quick glossary of headset vocab that you might encounter in reviews and on store shelves. Knowing these terms will help you pick out the set that’s right for you.
Analog vs. USB: Traditional headphones are analog—that is, they connect to an audio source using a normal audio connector. A USB headset connects to the PC using the USB bus, which allows it to process the sound before you hear it, increasing audio quality. However, USB headsets bypass any audio hardware you might have, so if you have a soundcard you should buy an analog set.
Wireless: There’s a lot of wireless audio hardware out there, and most of it is bad news. Bluetooth audio is the worst culprit: Sound is compressed before it’s transmitted, audibly decreasing quality. The kind of high-end wireless headsets found in this article transmit uncompressed audio and don’t cause any loss of sound quality, but they don’t come cheap.
Circumaural vs. Supra-Aural: All the sets in this roundup are circumaural, which means the earcups are meant to fit fully around the outside of your ear. Other sets are supra-aural, meaning they are meant to sit on top of your ears. Circumaural sets are better at keeping outside noise out, and your own audio in, but they tend to be heavier and more expensive.
Open-Back vs. Closed-Back: Open-back headsets do not form a complete seal around the ear. This can create a more natural-feeling sound, but allows sound to leak out more easily, potentially disturbing anyone nearby. Most gaming headsets, including all the ones in this article, are closed-back.