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Maximum PC Staff

Jun 28, 2010

Psyko 5.1 Gaming Headset

At A Glance

Psycho

Excellent directional sound; unique technology; cans with ventilation windows.

Marnie

Bulky; requires an amplifier; noise leakage; so-so music performance.

Drivers sit on top of your head, not near your ear

The Psyko 5.1 takes the idea of 5.1 surround sound in a gaming headset to its logical extreme. Not content with using two drivers to simulate 5.1 surround sound, the Psyko 5.1 actually packs seven drivers into the headset; five for directional sound, and two for bass. The Psyko isn’t the first headset with that many drivers, but the way it uses them to achieve its surround-sound effect is truly unique.


The best positional sound we've experienced from a headset--and perhaps the heaviest, too.

It’s a bit complicated to explain, but we’ll try: When gaming on a traditional surround-sound system, when a sound is played on the front-right speaker, the sound from that speaker hits your right ear a millisecond before your left ear, from the front. With the Psyko 5.1 headset, the same bullet sound would also be played primarily on the front-right speaker, except that now it’s located on the right half of the headband. The sound then travels through an acoustic channel, and is piped into the front of both ear chambers. Because the sound originates on the right side of the band, it hits your right ear first, producing the same effect as a physical speaker. Sound from the rear speakers works the same way, but is piped into the back of the ear chambers.

Very unusual. But does Psyko’s unique tech pay off? In terms of directional audio, it emphatically does. Simply put, the Psyko 5.1 headset delivered the best directional audio we’ve heard in a gaming headset. Sounds in games are clear and easier than ever to locate. There are, however, a few drawbacks to Psyko’s approach. First, the headset is big—it has to be, to fit all those drivers—and that makes it heavy (a whopping one pound, three ounces). Even though Psyko has gone to great lengths to make its headset comfortable, with extra padding, an adjustable band, and ear cups that open for ventilation, the sheer weight of the set proves somewhat uncomfortable during longer play sessions.

Sound quality for non-gaming applications is passable, but not great, and because the drivers need to be extra loud for the sound to reach your ears, the set requires an inconvenient external amplifier, and suffers from a lot of noise leakage.

Though we’re intrigued by the technology behind the Psyko 5.1, and love the directional audio, we’d have to wait for a version 2 at a lower price or with expanded general-purpose audio features before we would give it an unqualified recommendation.

THE VERDICT

Psyko 5.1 Gaming Headset

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