Ozone Strato 5.1 Gaming Headset ReviewIndybird -
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To test the Ozone Strato 5.1 Gaming Headset I’m going play some games and movies in 5.1 and then test some music for pure sound quality. Since the headset has a built in sound card, I won’t have to worry about the quality or processing capabilities of the test system’s audio card.
- Processor: AMD Phenom II X4 955 BE
- Cooling: Noctua NH-U12P
- Motherboard: ASUS M4A89GTD USB3
- Memory: Mushkin Blackline 996782 PC3 12800 2x2GB
- Video Card: XFX HD5870 1GB
- Power Supply: OCZ 700W Modular Power Supply
- Hard Drive: 1 x Seagate 750GB SATA
- Optical Drive: Lite-on DVD-RW SATA
- OS: Windows Vista Ultimate 64-Bit
- Sound Card: Razer Barracuda AC-1
To test out the Strato’s gaming performance I started up Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 for PC. With the Strato control panel set to 6-speaker input and 6-speaker output, the game defaulted to 5.1. Starting up an online match, I immediately noticed that the headphones were above-par in their clarity. As for the surround sound, the differences in front and back weren’t immediately apparent. After a while though, I could (just barely) distinguish sounds at my back. I’m not sure if it was enough to give me an edge but it was there. However, I never really established a front-center direction.
Next, I put on “The Hurt Locker” to test the Strato’s movie performance. “The Hurt Locker” has won several awards for sound so this made it an ideal choice. While watching the movie on the Strato I noticed two major things. The first is that this headset has very strong bass. It's not overpowering or boomy, but it was noticeably stronger than most headphones. The second is that the surround sound exhibited the exact opposite behaviour, the center was slightly better established while I could not distinguish the rear from the front speakers.
Lastly I threw on various types of music to test pure audio quality. These being some classical pieces, some 70s rock and some electronic music. I started with Camille Saint-Saëns’ Samson and Delila. This was the first point in which the Ozone Strato disappointed me in pure audio quality. The headphones seemed to be very focused on mids and low-mids, making the orchestra sound ever-so-slightly muffled. Moving onto 70s rock, I threw on Us and Them from Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon”. This song focuses a lot more on vocals, theoretically making the behaviour noticed in Samson and Delila more favourable. This ended up being true to a degree. The voices, guitar and bass came through very clear, but the whispers were lost in the background. Lastly I put on some electronic music and for that I listened to Propane Nightmares from Pendulum’s “In Silico”. This song has a lot of bass but has a generally full spectrum of highs and mids also. Here the strong low bass I noticed during “The Hurt Locker” really came through. In addition the synthesized brass was strong and clear.
Testing the microphone quality I found it to be average. It was neither particularly clear, but I’ve heard a lot worse. During in-game chat and skyping with friends, they reported it to sound “ok”.
Overall, the surround sound feature proved to be somewhat sketchy. Center and Rear speakers were intermittently distinguishable, but even then I had to train my ear to hear them. The audio quality was pretty good actually, but it seemed to be slightly lacking in high tones. During use, the inline control pod worked great and I really didn’t have any operational gripes with it. Comfort-wise, I was however, disappointed. The earcups, being supra-aural (or on-ear), are supposed to clamp on to your head as opposed to resting on your head and ears. The Strato has the clamping ability but it is centralized on the top of the earcups. This not only made them slightly uncomfortable, but also made them fall off my head if I looked up or down, or turned too fast.