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Saitek Cyborg 5.1 Headset

Surround Sound On Your Earssaitek_headphones

The Bullet Points:

The Cyborg 5.1 headset is a USB stereo headset with a built-in 5.1 sound card. It delivers 5.1 surround sound in all applications that have 5.1 sound as well as conventional stereo for media players through conventional stereo jacks. It has a detachable microphone boom.

What’s In The Box:

Cyborg 5.1 headset, boom mike, software CD-ROM, manual, and hard shell carrying case.

System Requirements:

USB 2.0 port, Windows XP, XP64, all Vista versions.

The Review:

You’re peeking around the corner down what you know in your heart is an alien infested hall. Suddenly, a growl. Left? Right? Front? Back? Frantically, you look around, seeking the source. Then BAM! -- you’re down. The victorious creature dances before your eyes as your sight fades and you lose another life. . .

Replay that scenario with 5.1 sound: you’re peeking around the corner down what you know in your heart is an alien infested hall. Suddenly, a growl, from behind you to your left. You pivot to your left rear, spot the ugly threat and blast it before it can slime you. Victorious, you return your attention down that dark, forboding hall seeking the next challenge.

The difference? As any FPS (First Person Shooter) gamer will tell you, surround sound wins the day. Gaming software relies heavily on surround sound to provide a 3D environment that you can’t get from the tunnel vision of a PC monitor. 5.1 sound silicon is common in recent desktop computers, but 5.1 speaker systems are not: six speakers trail a lot of wires. But using a 5.1 headset, you can get surround sound without stringing wires all over the room.

Enter the Cyborg 5.1 headset. It’s a complete 5.1 sound solution: it’s USB, and it contains its own 5.1 sound silicon. It also has conventional jacks for analog stereo, suitable for MP3 and other media players. It has a plug-in boom mike, useful for VoIP as well as on-line game play.

Installation is straightforward: plug it into a USB port and follow the New Hardware wizard. Windows Vista and XP detect it as a C-Media 5.1 sound card and provide controls for volume levels on each channel, but you want to install the included software from the CD-ROM to get all the features of the headset.

The directional sound is excellent, with 6 individual sonic drivers in the ear cans. While the headset delivers solid bass, the middle and high tones are a bit muddy. This is not bothersome while using it in games, but it does detract from the experience while using it for Dolby-encoded 5.1 music or 5.1 sound tracks in movies. It does, however, deliver audio that is superior to your average PC speakers.
First impression is that the head clamp seems tight, but the headset is light and wears comfortably for long periods. The ear cans fit over the ears rather than resting on the ears, which helps the comfort level considerably. Isolation from outside noise isn’t very good; it’s practically like wearing no earphones at all. This is not bothersome when using it for games, but it makes the headset useless for isolating you from noisy environments while listening to music or movies.

There is an in-line control unit for selecting 5.1 or stereo sound, and for controlling the volume, muting, and the sound source. The control unit is located midway along the 6 foot cord, about lap distance when wearing the headset. It has no clip, so it’s difficult to find the unit in a hurry, a liability during game play.

Conclusions:

The Cyborg 5.1 headset is a gamer’s dream, providing real 5.1 sound on systems that do not have it. If you have replaced your desktop PC with a laptop,it probably lacks 5.1 sound. The Cyborg’s sound quality is better than PC speakers, but falls short of an audiophile’s ideal. For gaming, it’s great; for 5.1 music and movies, it is a desirable enhancement, and it’s about the same price as a decent set of 5.1 speakers. Even if you don’t do games, you want it. Highly recommended.

Product Information:

Cyborg 5.1 Headset
MSRP $79.95
Saitek Industries
2295 Jefferson Street
Torrance CA 90501
(310) 212 5412
www.saitekusa.com

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