TekNmotion Yapster Universal Headset ReviewIndybird - January 22, 2012
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To test the TekNmotion Yapster Blaster, I’m going to be primarily gaming as per its target purpose. Additionally, I'll also be throwing in a little bit of music for good measure. Before I start playing games or music, two things should be noted though. The first is that the input and output cables coming out of the amplifier are extremely long (about 12 feet total from end to end). This created a huge mess around my tower, as the USB power cable is only about a foot long, forcing me to keep the amplifier dangling from the computer. Secondly, I noticed very loud hisses, buzzing, and a lot of component noise coming through the earphones. This is most likely caused by cheaper components inside the USB amplifier. Temporarily plugging the headphones directly into the computer, I was able to remove the hiss and component noise, though the buzz still remained. Fiddling with the 3.5mm connectors was slightly helpful, but the connectors were very finicky; sometimes just touching them resulted in the buzz returning. The tests will all be conducted using the included amplifier, as it comes packaged with the Yapster Blaster unit.
- CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 965
- Cooling: Noctua NH-U12P SE
- Motherboard: ASUS M4A89GTD Pro/USB3
- Memory: Mushkin Redline 997013 4 GB DDR3-1600 MHz
- Video Card: XFX Radeon HD 6970
- Power Supply: NZXT Hale90 750 W
- HDD: Seagate 7200.11 750 GB SATA w/ 32 MB Cache
- Case: Corsair Graphite Series 600T
- Optical Drive: Lite-On DVD-R/W
- OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
For gaming testing, I have a suite of games that covers most of the gaming audio bases. The suite includes Battlefield 3 for fast paced highly directional sound, Skyrim for detailed environmental sounds, and Race Driver: GRID for a wide range of sounds from cars and tracks.
To start off, I played some Battlefield 3 campaign and online. First thing I noticed was that the sound was extremely muddy. Sounds such as footsteps and equipment were almost lost amongst the amalgam of ill-defined effects, while other sounds such as voices and vehicles sounded very "underwater-like". Gunfire faired particularly badly – shots had a ton of low-to-mid sound, but were missing the loud pop. The stereo image was average, though it probably won’t be enough to give you a competitive edge.
The next game was Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Skyrim immersion comes, in part, from its detailed environmental sounds. Unfortunately, the small details such as distant water, wind, and dungeon effects were very tough to distinguish with this headset. Combat sounds like magic, swords, and shields were passable, but they missed the crisp pop or clang to truly excel. Fortunately, the worst thing here was the voices, which were muddy but passable.
Lastly, I fired up Race Driver: GRID. Much like in Battlefield, the muddiness was apparent immediately. Engine noises in the game tend cover a wide range of frequencies, which made the headset’s over-powering low and mids extremely apparent. Voices were mediocre as usual, but everything else almost unusable.
Though primarily touted as a gaming headset, good music performance is still important to many users; whether they prefer having their own music playing in the background or just appreciate the in-game score. To test the music capabilities of the Yapster Blaster, I used my usual lineup of music genres: classical, 70’s rock, and modern electronic. Starting off with Camille Saint-Saëns’ 'Samson and Delila', I was not surprised to find the sound to be muddy again. Higher instruments such as flute and violins were present, but not particularly clearly. Lower instruments like contrabass were loud, but lacked texture. Next, I played "Us and Them" by Pink Floyd. Vocals are very important in this song and the fact that the Yapster is weakest in the normal vocal range rendered this song nearly unlistenable. Strangely enough, the saxophone didn't fair too badly in this song – it must be one of the only instruments in the Yapster's focused range. Lastly, I threw on "Propane Nightmares" by Pendulum to really push the limits of the headset. This was perhaps the first chance for the Yapster to spread its legs, volume-wise. Despite the hissing and buzzing, the amplifier allows the headset to go reasonably loud. "Propane Nightmares" is very bass heavy, so there was a decent amount of lows being pumped out. Unfortunately, the lacking mids and highs made this an unfavorable listening experience.
I tested the quality of the mic by gaming online in Battlefield 3. Playing with friends online, I was reportedly having average voice clarity, though with a lot of background noise. Using Windows Sound recorder, I recorded myself to listen to the quality first-hand. My voice was not amazingly clear, but definitely passable. The background noise was definitely prevalent and could cause issues on lower quality voice streaming applications.
Over the course of testing, the headphones proved to be neither particularly uncomfortable nor comfortable. The headband and ear pads don't do much in the way of cushioning, but the headset is so light and clamps to you so little, that it ends up working out. The trade-off, of course, from this lack of clamping is that these do fall off your head easily.