LTB Magnum 5.1 AC97 Headphones

Admin - 2007-08-11 10:54:51 in Speakers/Headphones
Category: Speakers/Headphones
Reviewed by: Admin   
Reviewed on: August 12, 2007
LTB Audio
LTB Audio
Price: $69.99

Introduction:

I’m sick of breaking a tooth whenever I try to have a drink of whatever I choose while I’m using headphones. Let’s face it, whether you’re gaming, using VOIP, listening to music or watching a DVD, headphones are an essential part of owning a computer. I find myself using them almost half of the time I’m at the computer, and the most annoying part is that microphone sticking out in front of me and causing some kind of trauma to my face at least 10 or 20 times a day.

There is a solution: LTB Audio has a set of headphones with a built in microphone. Don’t worry about misplacing them either, they are bright red and the finish is made of a rubberized paint to enhance your grip when picking them up. A while back we reviewed the LTB Magnum 5.1 USB Headphones, the new Magnums are also 5.1, but have AC97 hookups. I’m curious to see if there is any difference in the quality or if LTB has produced yet another quality alternative to the other, more expensive, headphones on the market.

"LTB, which stands for Listen To Believe, represents a product line focused on providing cutting edge audio headphones designed to meet the demands of the latest digital media in Games and Movies as well as music and discrete 5.1 Audio. LTB was formed in 2002 and released the Mentor Series 5.1 Headphone products. LTB is quickly becoming recognized in gaming circles and game centers around the planet.The company controls various key technology patents, including Safebass, a safe resonance technology designed to limit bass pressure levels to within responsible limits. LTB engineers are continuously making strides in new technologies to enhance digital audio headphones."

 

Closer Look:

The headphones come packaged in a clear plastic box which allows you to see its contents. The red ear pieces stand out and are hard to pass by even if they were on a shelf with many other headphones. The rear of the package shows the headphone specifications and lists some of the patents that LTB owns.

 

 

The headphones are constructed of lightweight plastic and have a unique finish to the ear pieces; the paint is rubberized to give a more comfortable grip. The volume, mute and microphone are built in to the left ear piece.

 

Closer Look:

The top of the headphones are cushioned for comfort, as well as the ear pieces. The ear piece cushions are removable, so they can be cleaned or replaced. There are four AC97 minijack connectors, Black for the microphone, Pink for the front speakers, Green for the rear, and Blue for the center/subwoofer. The headset also includes a USB jack for power.

 

 

 

 

Also included are an AC Power Adapter in case you don't have an extra USB port available and a microphone plug extension cord for front panel use. The quick install guide contains both text and pictures to assist in installing the jacks and accessories correctly. The headphones also come with a one year limited warranty.

 

 

Installation:

Installation was not very hard after looking to make sure I used the right colors for the right input. I'm wondering why LTB chose to use totally different colors than the norm? At the rear of your computer, find your speaker inputs whether they be on an add-on sound card or onboard, plug the mini jacks into the correct inputs and then plug in your USB power. You will notice that the LED above the mute button lights up, this will ensure that your headphones are powered.

 

Specifications:

 

 

Technical Specifications:

 

Features:

 

"The LTB-MG97 is a must for serious Gamers and for Multi-media PC's. The Magnum 5.1 system with it's Built-In MIC is ideal for VOIP, Team gaming and communicating through your PC."

"The LTB® MG-AC97 headphone system is designed to keep you in the action. The built in microphone works seamlessly with VOIP and team gaming features. The AC97 Interface allows you to take the most from your high performance PC sound card."

Testing:

Testing for the LTB Magnum 5.1 AC97 Headphones will consist of four different types of applications: Music, VOIP, Gaming and a DVD Movie. I will be comparing them to the LTB Magnum 5.1 USB Headphones.

 

Testing Setup:

 

Benchmarks and Apps:

 

iTunes:

I listen to many types of music, so being able to take a set of headphones out of the box and hook them up without having to worry about installing software is a plus. Since the AC97 headphones are not USB as their predecessors, this was a plus. While listening to the music I noticed highs that were a little more dominant with the AC97s than the USBs. I did use the same exact settings for both, but while listening to one of the songs (GIGI D'Agostino - I'll Fly with You) I was able to hear birds in the background, something that I have never before heard with any headset I have owned. I ended up pulling out a couple of other pairs to see if I could duplicate the effect and it was a no go, the sounds were too faint.

After every section I will place a graph just to put a numerical idea of how I felt with the quality ranked in each test. The scale will be from one to ten. Ten being the absolute best I have ever heard and one being the worst.

Testing:

 

Teamspeak:

With both headphones, voices were clear and concise and even those who didn't have their volumes up too high were easy to make out. The microphone picked up my voice a little too well, which is a plus. I found that I had to go in and set the voice activation toggle more toward whisper than shout (halfway between normal and whisper). The USB headphones didn't pick up as well, so I couldn't keep the same volume level on my microphone as the AC97. One other problem that is across the board with the USB headphones is that you need to disable your on board or add on sound card drivers in order to use them to their full potential. When I reviewed the USB headsets last year, I did not have HD sound, which I do now, and the CMEDIA Drivers tend to cancel out the other drivers. I once got such an ear piercing screech while connecting the USB headsets I thought I blew an ear drum. For those of you who can remember to disable your other sound card drivers when choosing to use the USB headphones there should be no problem.

 

Call of Duty 2:

While playing my favorite PC game, I had no problems with either of the headphones while communicating with my fellow teammates. I did notice that the USB headphones picked up background noises a little better than the AC97s, which was a little odd to me considering the results I had while listening to music. Bomb blasts seemed a little farther away and it was a little harder to hear faint footsteps.

 

Godzilla Final Wars:

What can I say, I like SciFi movies and Japanese Monsters are at the top of the list. This is where I felt the headphones did their best. The many sounds effects that are associated with these movies are a true test of any set of headphones. There are bombs dropping, lasers firing, monsters wailing and people screaming. At times I felt I was right there, the surround sound worked perfect; in one scene a monster comes out of a spaceship that is off to the left and not on the screen. When it began to wail, I caught myself looking to the left to see what was coming. The sound separation works to its fullest potential while watching a movie. Both headphones performed in the same manner.

 

Comfort:

The LTB Magnum AC97s are very lightweight and I would have to say the earpieces are almost like those of the Bose Quiet Comforts. I have worn these headsets for hours without any problems, my neck was not sore as it has been with other hearphones, and the ear pieces are just the right size, so they don't cover too much or too little.

Conclusion:

I’ve tested many headphones in my short time on this earth (41), mostly back when I was growing up and was a big time music buff. I never could seem to find a set that wasn’t too bulky or wasn't too big for my head and fell down to my neck with them adjusted to the smallest setting. I could also remember that some of the bass was too low while the treble hurt my ears. Headphones have come a long way since then, and with the advent of personal computers and HTPCs, headphone manufacturers have found another market to try. Computer Stereo Surround Sound headphones can top the $300 mark if you’re willing to spend that kind of money, but where the heart of the market is would be the $50 to $150 price range.

The LTB Magnum 5.1 AC97 headsets are both a price and performance competitor. They have a stylish lightweight design and can be very comfortable during long hours of use. As with any headphones they do at times require a little tweaking from your music control panel to achieve the sound you desire. I have never found them to be too tinny or have overwhelming bass. They work just the way they are supposed to.

The AC97s have a ten foot cord and the ear pieces are very tactile with the rubberized paint (maybe they could make them in purple). The built-in microphone is a plus, no more broken teeth, but the microphone also has a flaw, it picks up too well and at times was a hindrance until I adjusted its settings a bit lower. The LTB Magnum AC97s perform well and are at the right price; they are a definite competitor even when compared to some of the $150 headphones on the market today.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: