Ozone Spark and Attack Headset Review

nVidia_Freak - 2010-10-19 14:34:23 in Speakers/Headphones
Category: Speakers/Headphones
Reviewed by: nVidia_Freak   
Reviewed on: December 19, 2010
Price: $40, $35

Introduction:

Ozone is a relatively new face in the endless supply of computer peripherals marketed toward gamers. They only just made themselves known late last year with the introduction of their Smog gaming mouse. Recently, Ozone have expanded their repertoire to include two more headsets, the Spark and Attack.

Gaming headsets are all-in-one solutions that offer a pair of headphones, a microphone and often a volume control pod. They are targeted toward competitive gamers and as such need to excel at comfort, durability, sound quality and ease of use. In addition, they must have a quality microphone. The large amount of headsets on the market should be a sign that this is no easy task. Today, I'll be examining Ozone's Spark and Attack headsets to see if they're up to the challenge.

Closer Look:

Packaging for the Ozone Spark and Attack headsets looks sleek, though it is rather standard. The company name and headset model are plastered all around the box along with the usual marketing nonsense.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What's unusual, is that the marketing points don't sell the headsets, instead, they tell about things that are standard on every headset. Here are a couple of them:

- This refers to the earpads and although not every headset will claim to feature leather, it's not something that would sway me one way or another. Essentially, all Ozone has told me is that the headsets have earpads. I should certainly think they do!

- This, obviously, refers to the headband.  The headbands for these headsets are the standard shape and design, so ergonomics isn't a part of the equation.  'Adaptive'  is just another word for adjustable, something that every headset and set of headphones has had from the beginning. Again, something that doesn't need to be mentioned, because it's a given.

These are things that are standard on every headset. They're present even when they aren't mentioned. Some of the marketing points are plain weak. Take this as an example:

- This refers to the colour of the fabric cover that protects the drivers within the earcups. This is a moot point, because, nobody will see the inside of the earcups when they're being worn.

All these things are standard and shouldn't be mentioned unless there is something specifically unique about them. So far, Ozone hasn't made an effort to make their headsets stand out but I won't judge so quickly, yet.

Besides marketing, little else is present on the boxes. On the rear, technical specifications are given in five languages and a CAD drawing of the headset shows the locations of the marketing points. Ozone's logo, O³ (the chemical composition of atmospheric ozone), is simple, but clever enough. Their slogan "It's all about evolution" is hidden away on the rear of the boxes, in a bottom corner, in small font. It's as though this was an afterthought. It should be boldly announced somewhere on the front of the box because that slogan would make Ozone's products stand out. It implies that Ozone is a step ahead of the competition and is, without a doubt, the best.

 

 

Whether the decision to tuck the slogan away means that Ozone isn't so sure of that claim is unclear. Next, I'll see if the first impressions of these headsets shed any light.

Closer Look Continued:

One of the first things I noticed with these headsets was how lightweight they are. With everything out of the box, it's obvious as to why - the headsets are nearly all you get. The plastic moldings are thin and in the case of the Attack, quite ugly. Both the Spark and Attack have the same lone acccessory - a dual 3.5mm female mic/stereo to single male 3.5mm adapter. However, the Spark's adapter is shorter for one reason or another. This adapter provides the ability to use these headsets with mobile devices such as the Blackberry and iPhone. Though, I can't imagine why anyone would use these ungainly things for that purpose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both the Spark and Attack have some level of flexibility to accommodate personal fit, though, the Spark is the more flexible of the two. Both have the standard ability to raise and lower the earcups to fit multiple head sizes. However, the Spark's earcups can also swivel and fold inward, making them more compact and travel friendly.

 

 

The microphones are designed to be mildly different in appearance. However, both have the same 165° (approximate) from vertical tilting ability. The swivel feature is the only adjustment available for the microphones.

 

 

 

The control pods are located rather high on the cord and both have a plastic clamp on the reverse side to attach to a shirt collar or pocket. Both feature a toggle switch for the microphone and a rotary pot for volume control. There are no lights on the control pods and they are small and will comfortably fit in even the tinniest of hands. Their location and size can make them difficult to get hold of though. The rotary pot allows for more precise control over the volume than those with membrane buttons. The cord itself is plenty long and is braided the entire length although it is somewhat thin, even with the braiding.

 

 

Onward to testing!

Specifications:

Ozone Spark

Driver dimensions 50mm
Impedance 32Ω
Frequency Response 20Hz - 20KHz
Sensitivity (SPL) 100dB +\- 3dB
Mic. type
Omnidirectional
Mic. Impedance
2.2k Ω
Mic. Sensitivity (SPL)
-45dB +\- 3dB
Cord length
2.5m
Connection
3.5mm Mini x2 (Mic. and Drivers)
Net weight
342g

 

Ozone Attack

Driver dimensions 40mm
Impedance 32Ω
Frequency Response 15Hz - 25KHz
Sensitivity (SPL) 98dB +\- 3dB
Mic. type
Omnidirectional
Mic. Impedance
2.2k Ω
Mic. Sensitivity (SPL)
-38dB +\- 3dB
Cord length
2.5m
Connection
3.5mm Mini x2 (Mic. and Drivers)
Net weight
258g

 

Features:

Ozone Spark

 

Ozone Attack

 

Information courtesy of Ozone available on product boxes, http://www.ozonegaming.com/product.php?id=5 and http://www.ozonegaming.com/product.php?id=6

Testing:

Because the Spark and Attack are gaming headsets, more weight will be given with regards to how they perform while gaming. However, in order to determine how well rounded these headsets are, they will also be tested with stereo music to help judge the overall sound. Test system specifications are shown below. The same test system is used throughout the duration of testing.

Testing Setup:

Comparison Headphones and Headsets:

Keep in mind that sound is very subjective and also that this review is intended to be as objective as possible. In order to give an opinion on the sonic characteristics of headphone, a somehwat subjective comparison needs to be made. Refer to the above listed comparison headphones and headsets to understand where my opinion comes from.

Ozone Spark

 

Music:

The Spark's sound signature can be described as muffled. Bass is not overpowering but it lacks punch and is somewhat flabby. Mid-range is particularly honky and fatiguing which doesn't make these the best choice for extended use. Treble is recessed and the mid-range bump certainly exasperates it. Overall, the Ozone Spark is not a very musical headphone.

Gaming:

To test the Spark during gaming, several rounds of multiplayer L4D2 were played. During gaming, the Spark is average in its delivery of positional cues. Positional sounds such as those from Special Infected, are fairly easy to pinpoint. Guns sound somewhat like banging a wooden spoon on an aluminum trash can because of the honky mid-range. Also because of it, long gaming sessions can be rather fatiguing if you don't turn the volume down. But, that just makes things hard to hear and locate in general and might cost you the game. The microphone is also very average. Voice is transmitted loudly, but not any clearer than most headsets. The control pod's location is rather high up and is somewhat hard to get a hold of if you're used to the traditional position that is located more toward the waist. But, the toggle switch does mean that accidental microphone muting shouldn't happen very often.

Comfort:

The Spark is not an uncomfortable headphone. However, grip is very light and uneven. Those with larger heads will not likely notice this but the uneven grip should present itself across heads of all shapes and sizes. The grip is slightly stronger on the right side than it is on the left and as such creates a slight volume bias toward the right side. Adjusting the right earcup two to three notches lower than the left alleviates the channel imbalance but wearing the headset unevenly feels very odd (editor's note: maybe the reviewer's ears aren't level ;)).

Ozone Attack

 

Music:

There's certainly no shortage of bass with the Attack but it isn't overwhelming. Bass is dominant, but not bloated, not particularly flabby nor particularly punchy. Simply, rather average. Both mid-range and treble are partially veiled by the bass but both are clear and mid-range isn't honky. During testing, the Attack performed best with electronic music. The Ozone Attack is much more musical than the Spark but is decidedly average.

Gaming:

The Attack is much better for long gaming sessions because it's not as sonically fatiguing. However, the curious oblong shape to the earpads will physically fatigue your ears because the sides have a tendency to rest on them. Gunshots are clear and you can almost feel the percussion waves. Positional cues come across about the same as they do with the Spark. The microphone, like the Spark's, is average. Your teammates will hear you and not be surprised by the amount of clarity. Also as with the Spark, the Attack's control pod is very high on its cable but it also has a toggle switch. For gaming, this is the better overall headset.

Comfort:

The Attack is nearly a mirror copy of the Spark in terms of comfort. It is not an uncomfortable headphone however, grip is very light and uneven. Those with larger heads will likely not notice this, but the uneven grip should present itself across heads of all shapes and sizes. The grip is slightly stronger on the right side than it is on the left and as such creates a slight volume bias toward the right side. Adjusting the right earcup two to three notches lower than the left alleviates the channel imbalance but, wearing the headset unevenly feels very odd. Additionally, the oblong shaped earcups rest on the ear rather than around it, even on those with smaller ears. Despite having a light grip, this does create slight discomfort after approximately one hour.

Quality Control:

Before I move on to give my final opinion on these headsets, a mention must be made of possible quality control problems at Ozone. The first review samples that I received both worked. However, both developed a severe bass imbalance toward the right channel within a few hours. The replacement samples I received both had finicky mini-jacks as well as channel imbalance toward the right caused by the uneven grip. Additionally, the first Attack's microphone transmitted voice extraordinarily low even when yelling with maximum gain in software and game settings. Furthermore, the replacement Spark I received did not work fully without my intervention as the ground wire in the right earcup had detached from its solder and had to be soldered back on manually. Though the major auditory problems were not present on the replacements, the fact that such large problems were present to begin with is cause for concern. This is not to suggest either of these headsets should be purchased, but, that you should be wary if you do.

 

Configuration

Utilizing the 3.5mm mini jack interface, all the Spark and Attack require to work is that they be plugged into your computer's sound card.

Conclusion:

I've evaluated Ozone's two newest headsets - The Spark and the Attack. The headsets are relatively inexpensive with the Spark being the more expensive of the two ($5 to $10 more).  But, even though both of them are priced competitively and the Spark just a bit more money, I have a hard time seeing how that extra cost is justified. The Spark's sound is very honky and muffled, as though you're wearing earmuffs. The microphone specifications look better on paper but it really produces no discernable differences from the Attack. The Attack on the other hand, is very musical, clear, nowhere near as fatiguing and is cheaper. Although Ozone's questionable quality control makes it hard to recommend either of these headsets, it's an easy choice for me to recommend the Attack. It's not only better than the Spark, it's cheaper, too.

Spark

Pros:

Cons:

 

Attack

Pros:

Cons: