Thermaltake BAHAMUT External Sound Card ReviewBluePanda -
Category: Input Devices
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Tt eSPORTS BAHAMUT External Sound Card Introduction:
There are a few reasons why you might need or want an external sound card; two I find most rational. First, you have a laptop: most laptops (especially lower end models) have, pardon my French, shit for onboard amplifiers. If you are lucky you can obtain "loud", but it sure won't be quality sound. My second reasoning is the headset itself just can't be driven all that hard with your motherboard. A great example of this is the Pulse-R headset from CM I reviewed a few weeks back. It sounds great, but doesn't go very loud, though I think it could if I could drive it. There are plenty of other reasons why you might want or need an external sound card: too lazy to install an internal card, too afraid of an internal card, need more volume, need volume control at your fingertips, want to plug things in without getting up. I could go on for a while, but quite simply reasons exist that allow the Thermaltake eSPORTS BAHAMUT external sound card to show up at my door for this review.
Enough with the reasons, what really is this Tt eSPORTS BAHAMUT thing I speak of? It's an external USB sound card. What does that mean? It means you can plug it into any of your USB ports and acquire sound! Really it's a little more complicated than that; the USB really provides power to the little unit, which internally has a tiny soundcard inside (much like the headsets with built-in sound cards have). This card takes the output your motherboard would normally see and converts it internally to something your ears should enjoy, at least if the AND, OR, and NOR gates are all correctly connected. It's essentially the same concepts of a standard PCI sound card minus the PCI slot. The Tt eSPORTS BAHAMUT comes to us today promising an "external soundcard for the versatile gamer". Let's take a look at what's in the box and find out just exactly what this little piece of hardware can do. Also, if you haven't looked at the price, you may want to wait and look at the end of this one (sigh, as I feel you all just looked now).
Tt eSPORTS BAHAMUT External Sound Card Closer Look:
So the box; well, it's a box, and a typical Thermaltake eSoprts (or really Thermaltake alone) style box. It's a bit flashy, with lots of "things" going on. There's the image of the product itself infused by action of LASER! Okay, maybe not lasers, but pretend blue traces are lit up as power passes through. Techy, corny, and yet subtly neat, it's how all Tt packaging is done; slightly over the top. But, talking in a more serious manner for those of you who gawk at packaging in stores it is pretty. BAHAMUT is written out in one line letters (in the sense you'd write without picking up your pen) and as an odd font catches you coming back to read it at least a second time to ensure it's what you read. What I call the Tt red chicken is in the upper right corner and again pasted to each panel of the box. The back of the box rattles off features in the seemingly effortless list of 15 different languages. One day, I just want to see a made up language on there and see how long it takes someone to notice – perhaps it's already there?
Pulling things from the box there isn't as much bling as you might expect; simply an envelope of with the warranty and user guide stuff (toss to the side), and the BAHAMUT USB sound card itself. Nothing too fancy to get all worked up about, but at the same time exactly what you ordered. Now if restaurants could learn this concept (give me what I want) then I think we'd be on a good path. Back to the product, the DTS features of surround sensation headphones is publically plastered to the front of the controls; it's the first thing I see. I don’t know that I care really, but it does stand out. The next obvious is the glossy-ness of the entire body; it's calling for fingerprints. Neither of these things really bother me, but as first two words out of my mouth on the product: DTS and glossy.
Continuing along, we always have this shot of the back of a product, seemingly no matter what the product is. You can look here and gaze at the model number, the fact that it was made in China, read the barcode, or realize it's not trash worthy? Other than that, it's just a picture to look at and get a real feel for what "it" is. You can see the rubber feet, the red sources of lighting, the grooved backing for looks, and just a general idea of the product. So despite the "silliness" of this shot, it's rather revealing.
Taking a literal closer look you can see the obvious etching for the symbols on the rubber dome buttons. The left representing a mic mute and the right a simple volume mute. Each of these light up in a bright red color to match the rest of the scheme you'll see together later. The buttons are super soft and give a rather audible click when pressed. You know you've pressed the button, even if you don't hear the click.
Zooming back out and looking at the BAHAMUT as a whole it's quite the simple build. It's basically a rectangular glossy box with a spinning wheel, two buttons, two 3.5mm jacks, and some red lighting. The essence of chrome (though I completely and utterly despise chrome anything) feel at home here. Tt eSPORTS Gaming System is engraved neatly below the red chicken logo volume knob. The LED etching at the top grows with lighting as volume is increased and both the maximum and minimum are indicated by such lighting. I slowly got past my usual hatred for glossy products (thanks to a few cases) and really saw it bring the product together as a binder of quality.
Stepping aside for a moment, let us take a look at how this thing connects to your machine. If you hadn't figured it out from the numerous times I've mentioned it, the BAHAMUT is a USB soundcard; it plugs in, you guessed it, via USB! The USB plug is gold plated with a red and black body sporting the Thermaltake "Tt" logo in red. The rest of the awesome braided black cable can easily be wrapped up with the built in Velcro strap. It also bears the "Tt" logo.
Bringing the focus back to the front it has some pretty red lighting. As much as you've heard me bicker about the color red and how I want blue, etc., this isn't that bad. The lighting actually serves a purpose and looks kinda cool while doing it. Plugging it in, the chicken lights up red in the center of the volume knob; the volume indicator lights up at the lowest volume setting beyond "off". Turning up the knob the volume indicator grows in red lighting, providing a physical increase to the infinite spin knob. Unfortunately there isn't a stop to find maximum with the knob, but the volume indicator fills with red as a visual, at least. The mic mute and volume mute buttons glow red when pressed "on" and display no color when "off". So all in all, glowing red at least provides physical feedback for what is (or should be) going on.
Overall the BAHAMUT soundcard from Thermaltake eSPORTS looks pretty awesome. It's small enough to place on your desk and gives you the infinite volume control compared to the discrete notches of your keyboard. It tucks nicely between two of my monitors on my desk, making it always just an arm's length reach away. The red lighting is rather subtle, so even in a dark room it doesn't interfere with my vision or distract me from gaming or working. I guess the most important part of all isn't how it looks at all though, it's rather how it works. Keep reading to find out more. If you really want to know how it works, just skip the "boring" stuff and head to page four now!!