CM Storm Sonuz Gaming Headset Review

Waco - 2012-06-27 07:51:32 in Speakers/Headphones
Category: Speakers/Headphones
Reviewed by: Waco   
Reviewed on: August 2, 2012
Price: $69.99

Introduction:

CM Storm is Cooler Master's brand for high-end gaming devices and components. Begun back in 2008, CM Storm products are developed by working directly with the gaming community to tailor products exactly to gamers' needs. CM Storm claims to have injected every product with its signature "Storm Tactics" with a focus on Strength, Security, and Control. Sure, it's just marketing, but it does inspire confidence knowing that whatever CM Storm product you buy has been shaped by the gaming community. Today I'll be taking a look at the CM Storm Sonuz, a new gaming headset that has just hit the market. It promises great things with its 53mm drivers, comfortable 97mm ear pads, and detachable microphone (which can be placed on either side of the headset).

Cooler Master claims that this headset is designed for the highest sound quality. With its large drivers and simple stereo design the Sonuz looks like it might be a winner. It's not common for companies to actually push for high sound quality and hit the mark in an affordable headset, so continue on to see how the CM Storm Sonuz lives up to its tagline: "Don't let poor audio get you killed".

 

Closer Look:

The box for the CM Storm Sonuz is garnished in the trademark red, grey, and silver of the CM Storm line. The front of the box has a large photo of the headset blending into the window that allows you to peek at the actual headset itself. The blending between the photo and the headset is a bit odd because of the different perpectives and makes it look like the headset has been twisted around the top spine. Moving around to the side of the box you can just barely see the headset peeking through the window. The backside of the box introduces the basic features and specifcations of the Sonuz in English as well as seven other languages. Spinning around further the other side of the box lists the specifications of the headset, which are further detailed on the Specifications and Features page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overall the box is quite attractive and will successfully distance itself from other packages on the shelves of your local store. There's enough information to get you familiar with what you're buying before you take them home and get to gaming!

 

 

 

Popping open the top of the box is a simple affair with the headset and accessories sliding out easily. The headset itself is packaged in a formed plastic carrier that holds it very securely – it won't be going anywhere in shipment no matter how malicious your UPS or FedEx driver happens to be. Along with the headset, Cooler Master bundles an instruction booklet and a plug for the detectable microphone.

 

As seen above the headset comes packaged securely in a clear plastic carrier. It's actually twist-tied into the carrier with no room for movement whatsoever. Centered in the middle of the packaging is the inline microphone and volume control. This is a welcome feature as I absolutely hate tabbing out of a game to change the volume level! The ability to quickly mute the microphone is something that should get some good use during extended gaming sessions when you don't want to transmit eating noises (or whatever you do when you game). Click on to the next page to see the CM Storm Sonuz in the raw!

Closer Look:

Extracting the headset from the packaging was quick and easy. In the process of doing this the bag holding the extra plug for the microphone mount fell out of the packaging; this should come in handy if you decide to remove the microphone entirely. The headset itself has a bit of an odd shape to it and looks somewhat alien in nature. I don't think anyone will wonder what you're wearing on your head when you put these on but you might get some funny looks regardless. The inline microphone and volume control is a fairly simple contraption with a 2-position switch for the microphone and a small wheel to control the headset volume. The volume control is labeled as the center volume, which I found a bit odd on a 2-channel stereo headset. The headset cable itself is fairly light and is covered in a very soft woven sheath. Thankfully Cooler Master has kept the cable a single strand until just before the headphone and microphone plugs. This should avoid any tangles when you plug them into the front of your computer and with the fairly short length (roughly 6 feet) you won't be plugging them into the back of your computer without an extension. This will reduce clutter but at the same time it would have been nice to have the option to plug them into the outputs on the rear of my machine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See what I mean when I say that the CM Storm Sonuz have an odd shape? The design flows smoothly from the earcups up through the bridge across the top but it does look a bit…weird. You'll notice that the earcups themselves aren't very far apart when resting. Normally I wouldn't worry too much about that but the frame's rigidity makes me think that they may feel quite tight on my somewhat large head. The pad at the top of the headset is made of soft foam and looks to be comfortable enough for long gaming sessions. The microphone has plenty of range to swing in, out, up, and down to hit your preferred position. Although the microphone does swing up out of the way quite easily it does not automatically mute, so make sure to flip the switch on the inline controller if you want to mute your voice.

 

 

 

Here you can see the quite large range of adjustment available on the CM Storm Sonuz. I have a fairly large head and I found that I needed only two clicks out of the 11 available to form the headset to my head. I cannot imagine anyone would ever need the full range of adjustment as they are absolutely huge when fully extended. This is a bit of an issue if you have a small head as even on the smallest settings you might find that the top padding won't make contact with your head – leaving the entire weight of the headset to rest on your ears through the earpads. Upon initial fitting I found the headset a bit tight, but as I wore them, the sensation went away and they were surprisingly comfortable even in extended wear.

 

 

The earpads themselves are absolutely huge and unless you have Dumbo-size ears they will fit comfortably over your ears without any issues. The pads are made of the same soft foam as the top bridge padding and are quite comfortable even with the higher pressure on them from the rigid frame. The backside of the earcups has a slice through it filled with metal mesh, which won't win any awards at keeping outsides sounds out (or vice versa). I didn't notice a great deal of noise leaking out of the headphones compared to some but if you crank the volume everyone will know what you're listening to.

 

 

The microphone on the CM Storm Sonuz ships without any kind of wind-blocking foam so if you happen to breathe across the microphone everyone will hear it. That said, I didn't notice too much noise through the microphone from breathing or yelling as the large adjustment range allowed me to position the microphone off to the side enough to mitigate any issues. The microphone is designed to be removable and can even clip on to the opposite side of the headset should you desire to have the default left side of the headset open for drinking, eating, etc. Removing the microphone entirely is also an option with the included plug for the microphone mounting hold. Removal of the microphone couldn't be easier as all it requires is swinging up the microphone and pulling it out of the mount.

 

Specifications:

Headphone Specifications:

Driver diameter:
53 mm
Frequency range:
10 – 20,000 Hz
Impedance:
45 Ohms
Sensitivities:
98 dB +/- 3 dB (at 1 kHz)
Connector:
3.5 mm gold-plated headphone jack
Inner Ear Cup Diameter:
97 mm
Cable Length:
2.0 m
Max Output:
200 mW

 

 

Microphone Specifications:

Frequency range:
100 – 10,000 Hz
Sensitivities:
-47 dB +/- 3 dB (at 1 kHz)
Signal-to-Noise Ratio:
58 dB
Pick Up pattern:
Omni-Directional
Diameter:
4 x 1.5 mm

 

Features:

 

 

 

 

All information is courtesy of: http://www.cmstorm.com/en/products/audio/Sonuz/

Testing:

Testing the CM Storm Sonuz 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.

 

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Headsets:

 

Games:

Upon initial listening with the CM Storm Sonuz headset I found the sound to be a bit thin, however as I continued to use them they opened up quite a bit. Perhaps they needed breaking in? Regardless, after an hour or so of playtime they sounded much better and that sound is what I'll be basing my opinions on. First up in my gauntlet of tests was gaming because what's the use of a gaming headset that's no good at gaming? I started out playing around in the beautiful world of Skyrim, moved on to hunting zombies in Left 4 Dead 2, and finished out with a few games of Warhammer 40K: Retribution. I can honestly say I don't have any major complaints here! The bass response isn't quite as dramatic as other headsets I've used but is certainly no slouch in either volume or extension. They won't rattle your head if you crank them up but perhaps that's a good thing with the amount of bass being pumped through games these days. Midrange and treble response is spot-on, though I found the very highest registers to be a bit down in response from flat. The microphone performed admirably with my gaming companions reporting no difficulties or distortion in my voice.

 

Movies:

Cooler Master probably didn't have movie playback in mind when it designed the Sonuz headset but many people do use their headsets while watching movies to avoid making a racket late at night. I fired up my favorite scenes from The Matrix, The Lord of the Rings, and Gone in 60 Seconds to put this headset through its paces. They didn't ever distort, even on huge bass drops, but I again found the bass response to be slightly thin in the lower registers despite the large 53mm drivers. Perhaps with a dedicated headphone amp you could tune the sound to be a bit closer to flat but as they ship and running off of the onboard sound of my motherboard they still don't disappoint. Dialog was easy to understand and loudness was no issue as you can easily give yourself a headache with these guys.

 

Music:

I love my music and whenever I have a pair of headphones on my computer they spend the majority of their time playing music while I'm working, browsing, and gaming (I tend to play music over my games). My usual mix of dubstep (yes, dubstep), classical, and rock music put the drivers in the CM Storm Sonuz to the test. The same notes I had about gaming and movie viewing hold true here – the bass response could be better down around the near-inaudible notes that impart impact more than play something to be heard. That said, the midbass and midrange response of this headset is spot-on. Impact is great, the midrange stays clear and un-muddied, and treble is bright and clean. While they aren’t the best sounding cans I've had on my head they certainly don't come anywhere near the worst. This headset is miles above any on-ear or in-ear headphone set…they sound big and that's a good thing.

Conclusion:

Overall I don't have too many complaints about the CM Storm Sonuz headset. The sound quality is pretty good for a gaming headset but it is by no means audiophile grade. They feel well-built and the adjustability of the microphone is perfect. The short length of the wires requires you to either plug them into the front of your computer or use an extension cable, which is something I'd like to have seen included with the headset from the start. The inline volume and microphone control came in very handy and didn't exhibit any odd behavior or noises when adjusting.

So there you have it. The CM Storm Sonuz is a pretty good headset at a reasonable price: $69.99. There are cheaper headsets that sound almost as good and there are more expensive headsets that sound better. These fall right in the middle of the pack in terms of sound quality. The microphone is flawless and the ability to move it to either side is quite nice. I think my only real complaints here are that this headset is definitely only designed for larger sized heads and the bass response could be a bit better. Around the $70 price point there are a lot of options (no less than 58 results on Newegg between $50 and $75) and I think you're best off trying a few of them on at a brick and mortar store before committing to any of them, but the CM Storm Sonuz should definitely be on your list of headsets to try on.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: