TekNmotion Yapster Universal Headset Review

Indybird - 2011-12-05 02:45:03 in Speakers/Headphones
Category: Speakers/Headphones
Reviewed by: Indybird   
Reviewed on: January 22, 2012
Price: $29.99

Introduction:

With the ever-growing popularity of online gaming and gaming in general, headsets designed for video games are becoming more and more popular. Gaming headsets distance themselves from standard ones primarily with features such as inline controls, comfort over extended periods, very clear audio, and durability. In addition to these fairly standard headset features, you may often find them equipped with amplifiers, built-in sound cards, and audio processing. These features typically separate budget headsets from the premium ones.

Today, we have the Yapster Blaster by TekNmotion. Bridging the gap between basic and premium headsets, the headset has a fairly basic feature list: adjustable mic, inline controls, and separate 3.5 mm analog plugs. What separates the Yapster Blaster from other budget headsets is two features, the included USB amplifier and Xbox 360 compatibility. So TekNmotion is promising an enhanced gaming experience with this unique package – let’s see how it delivers.

Closer Look:

The Yapster Blaster comes in clear plastic packaging, allowing a clear view of the contents inside. This means in the place of a photo of the headset, you get a view of the headset itself. Around the back, you get a basic list of features alongside a diagram of how the headset and amplifier are set up. The right side presents just a recap of the front's list of features, while the left side gives you detailed specifications on the headset.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inside the package, you’ll find the headset itself, a quick start guide, the USB amplifier, a 2.5 mm microphone adapter, and a 3.5 mm to RCA adapter.

 

Now, let's take a closer look at the headset.

Closer Look:

The Yapster headphones don't have any striking design features out of the box – aesthetically, they consist almost exclusively of a cheap-looking black and silver plastic. The silver portions have a dull finish, with clearly visible and rough "plastic seams". The headband is covered in decent-looking smooth vinyl material, but with very little padding underneath. The ear pads themselves are also relatively hard and covered in a similar very thin vinyl-like material. Around the outside, TekNmotion has stamped their logo on the headband and the glossy black panels of each ear cup. The microphone boom is made of a light metal and is very flexible; you could bend it into any shape you prefer. Covering the microphone itself is a foam pop-filter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Yapster uses standard color-coded 3.5 mm headphone and microphone connectors. The inline control pod has a microphone mute switch on one side and a very small analog volume dial.

 

Let's take a look at the technical specifications and see how it performs.

Headset Specifications:

Model
Yapster Blaster
Channels
Stereo
Driver
Neodymium 40 mm
Impedance
32 Ohms ± 15
Ear Coupling
Supra-aural
Frequency Response
20 Hz – 20 kHz
Mic Pick-up Pattern
Omni-directional

 

Amplifier Specifications:

Max. Power Output
~50 mW per channel
Frequency Response
50 kHz (@ 32 Ohms)
Total Harmonic Distortion ~0.2 % (@ 8/16/32 Ohms)

 

 

Features:

 

All information courtesy of TekNmotion available at: http://www.compuexpert.com/teknmotion/yapsterblaster.html

Testing:

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. 

Testing Setup:

 

Gaming:

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.

Music:

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.

Microphone Quality:

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.

Comfort:

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.

Conclusion:

The TekNmotion Yapster Blaster Universal headset proved to be a primarily unfavorable experience. Out of the box, the headset looks and feels cheap in the hand. There are rough "seams" on the plastic and it has no physical give to it – most likely very brittle. The amplifier unit is a similar story, but the main problem here is not the build quality. Instead, the amplifier suffers from poor design choices, such as two individual 6 foot input/output cables. This wouldn't be such an issue if the headset itself didn't have a 12 foot cable of its own.

Testing the sound quality of the headset didn't yield any better results. The defining con of the headset was its muddy sound; low-mids were very intense, while high-mids and highs were very weak. If your sound card has built-in equalizer functions, then the muddiness can be partially fixed in games and music. However, this is not a proper solution, as it is not an option on most integrated audio or an Xbox if you so choose. Ultimately, the lack of mids and highs primarily affected voices and foreground effects, making it not optimal for most games. The only redeeming features of the Yapster Blasters audio are its decent microphone quality and amplifier that allows you to crank the volume up reasonably loudly. In the case of the volume, the plus is, however, cancelled out by the amplifier's intense hissing and buzzing.

Overall, the Yapster Blaster is a very mediocre headset. The pros such as comfort and loudness are vastly outweighed by the major cons like the muddy sound, poor build quality, and amplifier hiss. Even at an inexpensive suggested price tag of around $30, I would have a hard time recommending this headset.

Pros:

 

Cons: