Psyko 5.1 PC Gaming Headset Reviewhardnrg - November 1, 2010
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Let's take a look at the headset first. It's a circumaural design (the ear cups sit around the ear), which almost seems bigger than "full-size" because of the larger-than-usual headband.
This massive headband has five wide felt-covered spongey pads to distribute the weight across your head in a comfortable way. The reason the headband is so large is that it actually houses five 30mm headphone drivers. You can see, in the underside shot, how the outermost speaker chambers join through to the rear tunnel (at the top of the picture), which carries the sound down through the red sections to the rear of each ear cup. Viewed from the top, you can see that the drivers for the front left, centre, and front right channels have chambers that join through to the front tunnel section, which carries sound down to the front of each ear cup.
Psyko calls these tunnel sections "WaveGuides". They have been designed to mimic the natural phenomenon that exists for sounds reaching a person from one side, and contain materials to modulate the frequencies of the sound in the same way that your head affects the sound waves travel around it. As sound takes time to travel through the air (think of thunder and lightning), there is actually a small delay between the sound reaching the ear closest to the sound and the other ear. The amount of delay directly relates to the angle away from the central axis (straight ahead or behind). For example, the positions of the front left and right headphone drivers in this headset create a 0.35ms timing difference that relates to a 30° angle away from centre. This 30° angle is the same as one that Dolby and THX recommend for the front speakers in 5.1 speaker setups. The rear speakers have a timing difference to present a perceived angle of 30° back from straight out to the side (in other words, 120° away from straight ahead). The timing differences are constant, no matter how far away the sound is, so the ear cup can be adjusted up and down without affecting the perceived sound direction.
The sound emenates from the flanged red holes that are visible through the clear windows on the side of each ear cup. You can probably now visualise how the sound is directed in front of, and behind, the listener's ear.
Each ear cup has a 40mm driver to provide the the .1 of 5.1, the subwoofer channel. The ear cup is also a ported enclosure, which I would imagine allows a more dynamic sound compared to a sealed design.
Very uniquely, the clear windows on the ear cups are hinged and can be opened up. This allows the user to listen to other people in the room without taking the headset off. You know, sentences like "hey, you spend more time on that computer than with me, maybe you should just marry it", and "dinner's ready, you can't eat anything in that game you're playing!" Haha, jokes aside, it's a neat feature to be able to quickly hear someone speaking to you without reaching for the volume control, nor having to pull the ear cup off your ear. Flip open, flip closed, easy.
A microphone makes the difference between a set of headphones and a headset, and this one certainly is the most solid looking and feeling design I have seen. Usually, removable headset microphones have either a delicate boom, or an audio connector that is prone to breaking from repeated insertion/removal. This one has a rigid boom, with a 2.5mm audio jack connector. You can see that the connector resembles a headphone jack, and the plastic barrel section of the jack locates inside the hole for the microphone socket. This means that the metal part of the jack is not prone to stress damage during normal use, something that has been an issue with other headsets I have owned or tested.
As the microphone boom has a rigid body, it cannot be bent or angled up/down, but you can swing it nearer or further away from your mouth to achieve the optimum voice performance.
This headset does not use any digital trickery to emulate surround sound, it's straight analogue, no messing. I'm not trying to start a digital versus analogue debate, but simply pointing out that the headset provides realistic surround sound without any signal processing. So the only inputs required are the six channels (5.1) from your soundcard. Additionally, there is the microphone output from the headset down to the soundcard. This means the headset is terminated with four 3.5mm stereo jack plugs, which are colour-coded with the familiar PC System Design Guide colours to help you match each plug to the right socket.
So, wait, what? Where does the amp come in? Now. It comes in now.