In an age where PC gaming is a serious business and multiplayer gaming via the Net is the biggest growth area, the dedicated gamer is demanding higher quality in everything from graphics and frame rates to interfaces and enhanced audio.
It’s in this latter category that manufacturers have particularly thrown their weight recently, and this latest headset from Altec Lansing is designed to provide a total gaming experience without disturbing the people in the next room.
The kit comes in three parts: the padded headphones, the attached microphone and the sound controller. The headphones are the closed cup variety (both for comfort and to further restrict ambient noise) and are pleasantly comfortable to wear. They’re naturally adjustable, though anyone with a slightly larger than usual head size might struggle to get them to fit. Visually they’re stylishly cool in silver and black with the company logo stamped on the sides.
The microphone can be tilted up or down to the best talk angle (or completely away from your face) and the connecting arm can also be bent to fit the shape of your jaw – very handy in moments of stressed first-person shooting! The frequency response is 100Hz to 10kHz and there’s a built-in noise-rejection system to cut out background annoyances.
The silver controller is shaped like a cigar container and seems unfeasibly large compared to the rest of the headset. It’s powered by an AAA battery (not included) so you’ll have to remember to switch off after a hectic night’s gameplay. Although a clip is provided to attach it to your belt, realistically you’ll need to keep it in view most of the time as there are three adjustable controls.
One is for the SRS surround sound feature (the main reason for buying this kit), another is for the general volume level and the third is for the microphone (high, low or mute). As any or all of these are likely to be varied in the course of a full-on game, your best plan is to place the controller on the desk. So some kind of desk attachment would have been ideal.
Now the crunch issue – what about performance? Well, for most non-gaming applications, like MP3s and DVDs, the sound quality is generally clearest and most faithfully reproduced without the surround feature on – apart from a good war movie or Terminator film, for example, where you want the effects to be heightened.
The difference really shows when you hit the ground running with shooters like Unreal Tournament 2004 or Star Wars Battleground, where the bass response is especially pounding and you get the full effect of activity and explosions happening in 360 degrees. For stealth games or games where footsteps are crucial to knowing where the enemy lies (e.g. Splinter Cell or Thief), a simple adjustment of the SRS controller will balance out effects and music perfectly.
Microphone sound is equally clear, though it’s difficult to see when you would use the low setting unless you have an aggressively loud bark when bellowing orders to your team mates…
Company: Altec Lansing
Contact: 0870 458 0011