IF YOU'RE A LONGTIME PC user, you might remember Turtle Beach as one of the original manufacturers of computer audio hardware—we’re talking soundcards that competed with the best that Creative Labs had to offer. You might also have been dismayed in recent years, as the company became known for producing high-end headsets aimed primarily at console gamers. Turtle Beach has never forsaken its roots, though; its lineup has always included some solid offerings for the PC. The Ear Force Z6A is the latest in that line.
The Z6A features perfectly respectable build quality, with ear cups that swivel and flex to fit comfortably on any shape of head. The padding on the headband and the ear surrounds isn’t exactly plush, but we found it comfortable enough for extended wear. As is generally the case with Turtle Beach products, the Z6A boasts stylish design, with sharp-looking chrome accents and deep blue detailing.
You run into all kinds at CES, from big name OEMs introducing fancy Ultrabooks models, to companies like Scosche, which has been dabbling in accessories and car audio for over three decades. The latest products from Scosche include three brand new additions to its Realm line of premium headphones, a free tuneQ equalizer app for iPhone and iPod touch devices, and nearly half a dozen chargers of various utility.
Money can’t buy you love, but 100 bucks will buy you a better set of headphones than we would have thought possible before we strapped Sol Republic’s Tracks to our noggin.
The Tracks feature a very unconventional design in which the ear cups slide up and down—or even completely off—a spring-plastic headband with a thick but short cushion at the top of its arc. The ear cups are large—nearly 1.5 inches thick—but generously padded. The design seems rugged enough, but it’s not very portable (even if you dismantle it, remove the cable, and stash the components inside your computer bag).
There's a ton of competition in the gaming headset market, but that didn't deter Corsair from rolling out its new Vengeance line. Corsair says these headsets "reflect our desire to build the products we want to use and can't find anywhere else," and what might be most appealing to gamers are the price tags. Each one costs less than a Benjamin, and one of them doesn't even cost half that much.
We've never been big fans of headphones that use active noise cancellation, chiefly because they mask ambient sound by generating noise of their own. Sony's new MDR-NC200D headphones are equipped with a pair of tiny microphones that monitor ambient sound and adjust the frequency of noise they generate to cancel ambient noise. And active noise cancellation isn't the only electronic trickery that Sony uses with the MDR-NC200D.
Klipsch is one of those names that takes us back to a different era, to a time when home audio on the PC was all the rage. Companies like Creative freed us from the shackles of crappy onboard audio, while Klipsch played a big role in bringing true multimedia speakers to the desktop. Klipsch's ProMedia speaker line duked it out with Logitech for both 2.1 and 5.1 supremacy, and then in the blink of an eye, Klipsch declared its work was done and pretty much stopped making speakers for the PC. Well, Klipsch is back, but this time the company is touting its first ever pair of gaming headphones.
It’s recently become popular for major PC game releases to be accompanied by their own line of branded peripherals, custom designed by big-name peripheral makers like Razer and SteelSeries. Frequently, these products are no more than a reskinning of a popular model, as is the case with the Call of Duty: Black Ops Stealth Mouse, which is essentially a rebranded Cyborg R.A.T. Other times, the tie-in is more substantial, as with the SteelSeries WoW mice, which feature unique, game-inspired designs as well as features and software intended to help you play the game better.
So, when we got the complete set of StarCraft II custom peripherals in for testing from Razer, we were curious to see whether they would be more like the former or the latter scenario. What we found out was surprising.
Sennheiser isn’t a name you usually associate with gaming headsets—the company hasn’t, after all, traditionally been a player in that market, and its entry into it hasn’t come with much fanfare. All the same, we were pretty psyched when our review unit of the company’s new G4ME 333D headset came in.
Mad Catz, one of the biggest players in the third-party peripheral market, just scored a major win by convincing Microsoft to let it produce and sell audio headphones co-branded under Mat Catz's Tritton and Microsoft's Xbox 360 brands, Mad Catz announced (PDF).
Under terms of the deal, Mad Catz has the worldwide rights to manufacture, market, and sell licensed, co-branded wired stereo headphones and exclusive rights to produce licensed, co-branded wireless stereo and Dolly 5.1 headphones for the popular console. The new line of headphones will ship in time for the 2011 holiday shopping season, and incidentally, Mad Catz claims it will mark the first time that licensed and co-branded wireless cans will be available for the Xbox 360.
Remember that ugly plastic we keep mentioning? With the Banshee, it seems Razer ended up with some sort of surplus of the stuff, and just decided to see how much it could possibly slap onto a single headset. The individual ear cups are simply enormous—bigger than any gaming headset we’ve used. That’s OK though, as bigger cans theoretically means room for bigger drivers, and that’s a good thing. We also know that with this set, Razer has opted to store the external soundcard hardware in the set itself, rather than in a dongle on the cord, as is more popular, which would account for some of the additional bulk.