CM Storm Ceres-400 Headset ReviewWaco -
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Testing the CM Storm Ceres-400 headset required some serious music listening sessions, a movie or two, and some intense gaming sessions. Granted, there's no easy way to measure sound quality, but I will do my best to describe any flaws or drawbacks in the sound reproduction that these sound-quality oriented headphones can deliver.
- Processor: Intel i7 2700K @ 4.4 GHz
- Motherboard: Gigabyte Z68AP-D3
- Memory: 16 GB (4x4 GB) G.Skill Sniper DDR3-1600
- Video Card: Sapphire 7870 Flex Dual-X
- PSU: PC Power and Cooling Silencer Mark II 950 Watt
- Hard Drives: Seagate Barracude 7200.10 750 GB w/ Corsair X128 using Intel Smart Response
- Optical Drive: N/A
- Case: Cooler Master HAF 932
- OS: Windows 7 Ultimate 64-Bit SP1
My first gaming impressions of the CM Storm Ceres-400 were that they were a bit heavy on the bass and midbass. This impression tended to stick as I continued my listening sessions and gave the headset a fairly warm sound compared to many other headsets I've listened to in the past. I started my play session with the recently released Borderlands 2 from Gearbox Software. The added midbass and bass really added to the impact in Borderlands 2 and made rocket launchers and grenade launchers sound just a bit more powerful than I am used to. This isn't necessarily a bad thing and I would bet many will appreciate the heavier and warmer sound. This trend continued in a few sessions of Skyrim and Warhammer 40K: Retribution as well. The treble response is, by comparison, a bit lacking and tended to sound a bit darker than the other headsets I've dealt with. Extension isn't an issue though – treble response extends up past the limits of my hearing (roughly 18-19 KHz thanks to concerts and loud music). Speaking of loudness though; this headset is loud! The specifications page wasn't lying when it boasted the 108 dB sensitivity rating as very little input produces prodigious output. I did notice that at higher volumes I detected a bit of distortion when really pushing a lot of bass and midbass through the drivers but nothing to the point of being obnoxious. The microphone mutes both work well and my in-game partners had no trouble understanding me and had no complaints about background noise.
The warmer sound the Ceres-400 produce really helped movie production. Bass response is impressive even when pushed with very challenging soundtracks like those in Transformers: Dark of the Moon, The Matrix, and Gone in 60 Seconds. Dialog and overall sound quality is what I would call very acceptable and even though the bass was a bit heavy and the treble a bit relaxed, the overall sound is pleasing and doesn't fatigue the ears over long listening sessions. The distortion I noted when pushing the drivers a bit harder was more prominent here but was again not very distracting. The volume levels required to get this headset to distort will damage your hearing quickly enough that you probably won't be able to hear the distortion after a few months anyway.
Music production is by far my most critical category in this review so I will do my best to explain the overall sound of this headset. My first impression held true when moving on to my music tests, which involve a rather odd mix of dubstep, classical, and rock music. Perhaps I'm more picky than most (okay, I am more picky than most) but I found these drivers just a bit too easy to overwhelm at moderate volume levels when listening critically. They are by no means dirty when being driven at relatively loud levels but the combination of the overemphasis on bass and midbass combined with the distortion I described earlier left me a bit disappointed. In complicated passages the drivers seem to hold their composure at lower volume levels but when listening a bit elevated they tend to get muddy and blur details slightly. Granted this effect isn't dramatic but if you're picky like me it will probably annoy you a little bit. The solution is quite easy: turn them down. At lower levels they don't distort much if any even on the most complicated soundtracks. The same darkness (lower treble response) is still present as well but many people find this pleasing especially for long-term listening. Overall they perform quite well and I certainly have no major complaints about the sound quality especially considering the price.