Enthusiast Audio (5)
Sound cards, Speakers and other items for high-end sound
A rather long time ago (in computer years) when real audio first came out on the computer the market was pretty bare for not only sound cards, but also for anything to use to listen to them. I can vividly remember buying an expensive ISA Soundblaster card and not being able to find any decent speakers to use with it. There simply was not a lot of choice out there to reproduce your audio. Of course before that I can still remember only having 8-bit audio through the motherboard speaker so decent is relative there. Now the market is flood of products many are just plain terrible (bad design, bad quality and bad audio playback). There are a few companies that have been working to break the “good enough” trend in audio. Cooler Master is one of them as we have shown you with their CMStorm Sirus headset. Now Cooler Master has another gaming headset available. This one is called the Sonuz and features a pair of massive 53mm drivers to push the sound deep into your skull. Let’s listen to them shall we?
We have had a couple of products from the House of Marley in the lab and in the whole have found them to be excellent offerings for the price that they go for. The Reggae themed headsets combine renewable materials with exceptional tuning and a great sound. So far we have taken a look at the Zion in ear and the Redemption Song on-ear headsets. Today we have another one of the On-ear style headsets in the lab. This time it is the Stir it Up (Harvest). These have the same price point as the Redemption Song $199.99 so let’s see if they have the same quality in terms of build and sound.
Webster defines the word sound as; “mechanical radiant energy that is transmitted by longitudinal pressure waves in a material medium (as air) and in the objective of causing hearing.” In other words, sound is waves of different pressure intended to impact our ears. This is exactly what the House of Marley set out to do when they began their work on a line of headphones. Inspired by the works of the Great Bob Marley and the Reggae sound these products seek to encompass the not only the sound, but the feel of the music you listen to. In addition to audio quality the House of Marley also claims to have very eco-friendly products. They accomplish this by using recycled material and parts they call sustainable. So let’s take a look at the House of Marley Redemption Song On-Ear Headphones and see if they can really convey not only the sound or the music we listen to, but the feeling and emotion.
For those of you that have not guessed it yet, I am something of an Audiophile (ok snob). When it comes to the audio on my TV, PC, Car Stereo, etc. it needs to be very good quality. This is especially true on the PC where the sound quality of the games I play can make or break the game experience for me (and many others). Recently Cooler Master released a new gaming head set under their CM Storm line up. As I have found Cooler Master’s recent endeavors into the gaming peripheral world to be of excellent build and quality I wanted to check the new Sirus Gaming headset out. According to the write up the Sirus is true 5.1 surround with three 30mm drivers for front, center and rear along with a 40mm driver for a sub-woofer. Of course that is not all that you get with the Sirus so let’s dive in and see if this $130 headset is worth your time and money.
In the PC world audio components are often overlooked. There are only so many items that your average consumer can keep track of. They know CPU, GPU Motherboard. Some will know about the power supply but really not much else. After all, Intel and others have been fighting to say the build in Audio CODEC on your average motherboard is as good as a discrete audio card so why should consumers think different? Well, if you think about it logically this does not make sense. After all, can you name one IGP (integrated graphics processor) that is as good as even a simple mid-range discrete GPU? I would not even say that the IGP on the i7 2600K is as good. So why would anyone think that an on-board audio CODEC would be better or even “just as good”? It is all marketing. We have tested multiple boards and also multiple add-in audio cards and can attest to this. Now I think I have found “the one”. The one audio card that finally brings the audiophile level expectation to the PC world. This is the Xonar Xense. It is Asus’ flagship audio card and one that has them partnered up with Sennheiser. The Xonar Xense comes complete with a pair of Sennheiser PC 350 Xense Edition headphones, a tuned audio card (complete with custom gain levels), and a head phone amplifier this is one serious piece of audio gear for your gaming or multi-media audio pleasure. So let’s put the PC 350 Xense headphones on, sit back and see what we can hear.