Design and build quality
Since this was a review sample the box didn’t have all the accessories that a retail box would have.
Design wise the headphone seems to be of a sturdy build. The comfort factor is incredible ! I prefer the comfort of this $129 headphone to my $500 Sennheiser HD650. I don’t why most headphone companies can’t all design something that can be comfortable like this headphone. Full marks to Coolermaster for getting design right for their first headphone! All the cables used are of good quality and are braided to boot. Full marks to Coolermaster for making a sturdy product at their first headphone attempt.. The microphone can be retracted in case you don’t wish to use it. Microphone sensitivity isn’t that great though so one needs to speak up a bit. The headphone itself has rather high sensitivity which means if you aren’t careful you can raise the volume to ear splitting levels! One of the USPs of this headphone is the CM Tactical Mixing console.
Connecting a normal stereo headphone to a PC is very simple.
Every on-board sound card or discrete sound card has a 3.5mm headphone cum speaker female output jack and headphones generally come with a 3.5mm male connecter to plug into this jack. However the Sirus has to support 5.1 channel sound and so the connection is a bit more complex. There are two ways to connect the headphones. The analog method requires you to connect the headphones directly to your 5.1 capable sound card via the bundled adapter and cables. There is a detailed instruction booklet to explain how to connect the headphones properly. This connection method also requires you to also connect one USB wire to provide power for the headphone lights which look cool when gaming in the dark.
This method works best if you are blessed with a good quality discrete sound card like a Creative X-Fi or better. Unfortunately this method does not allow you to use the nifty CM Tactical console for on the fly volume adjustments. The nicely named CM Tactical mixing console is a backlit control device that allows you to adjust the volume of the main, front, rear and center channels along with the amount of bass. These settings can be adjusted on the fly and during a game or a movie without a sweat. If you (like me !) are stuck with on-board sound ,don’t fret. The The CM Tactical console is also a 7.1 soundcard in disguise. So just connect the headphone to the console and power up the console via the 2 USB ports and your on-board soundcard is bypassed. For Windows XP users and higher the connection is plug and play without any drivers.
Coolermaster also provides a free software from its website which gives a few EQ options to tweak the sound further. The Sirus built in soundcard is pretty good and a noticeable improvement over on-board sound. The real time volume control adjustments are very useful in gaming and audio alike so even if you have a decent quality sound card you might want to still use the CM Tactical Mixing console.
- Performance – Audio
Most gaming headphones aren’t really suited for music but CM thinks differently and targets the Sirus at both gamers and so called audiophiles alike. I fired up a few high bit rate MP3 and FLAC songs from varied genres expecting a rather mediocre performance but I was pleasantly surprised that it sounded rather good!
First off, for all those expecting the Sirus to have massive amounts of bass, they are going to be disappointed. The bass was decent but I have heard better at lower price points. The mids were surprisingly good, very neutral and detailed. Treble was another standout as it was clear and crisp without sounding very harsh. Soundstage was the definite trump card of these headphones as I haven’t heard much better at any price point. You can easily concentrate on any one instrument in the song playing. I am sure this will help figuring out where you are getting shot at in games as well. Ok there are negative points as well. Male vocals sound a bit weird and unnatural at times and no EQ can help with that. But other than that the audio performance was quite good though not exactly audiophile quality as CM claims.
Performance- Movies and Gaming
I fired up a few DVDs and enabled 5.1 audio. Movies sound quite different once you enable 5.1 audio. You can easily make out sounds coming from different directions which is good. However the bass performance wasn’t up to the mark to recreate those explosions and earth shattering sounds that so many movies have nowadays. Vocals were quite clear which was nice and positional cues thrown by the 8 different speakers did help improve the movie experience over normal 2 channel headphones.
All in all movie watching was nice for movies but the lower than average bass performance did take away a bit from the experience. Gaming was similar though fewer games support 5.1 channel audio. Playing MW2 was great as I could hear more accurately from where I was being shot at. I found myself sometimes inadvertently turning my head around when I heard some shots coming practically from behind me. Of course all this helped merely in seeing who was shooting me before I died since unfortunately 5.1 audio doesn’t help if you are a noob at gaming like me! All in all the gaming experience improved a notch with the Sirus.
And thankfully more and more games are supporting 5.1 audio.