The Box and Goodies -
Tesoro put the Kuven Pro into a trapezoidal box, which makes it stand out a tab from some of the others we have had in the lab as if the purple color did not already do that. The front is fairly typical in that it has a picture of the headphones and a log or two intended to entice you into buying them.
Under the front flap (yes there is one) you get a glimpse at the Kuven Pro headset and the audio controller. We are not sure why Tesoro decided not to show the whole product, but they did. However, that should not distract you from the impressive specs that are on the inside of the flap.
Once you are done looking at the box and dive inside Tesoro has made sure that you have everything that you need.
The Kuven Pro 5.1 -
The Kuven Pro 5.1 is an interesting design and is also on the heavier side of the bulkier side of the market. The ear cups are rectagonal and also attached to the head bar at a slight angle. This along with some other design choices gives the Kuven Pro a very blocky and industrial appearance. Overall the construction is heavy gauge plastic with brushed aluminum on the ear cups as well as inside the head strap.
Focusing on the ear cups for a minute you can see that they are not the standard oval, but Tesoro made them rather deep which could indicate a comfortable fit despite the odd shape. Inside the leather (?) pads and hidden underneath a thin layer of foam Tesoro has squeezed four actual speakers (center, front, rear and sub). These combine with the provided amp to give you 5.1 surround sound. Tesoro does not list the size of the drivers in their headset, but from looking they are about not very large (call it 20-25mm). Still as we have found size does not always matter if the cabinet is constructed correctly.
Tesoro has opted to hardwire the cord to the left ear cup on headset which is not a bad thing until the cable gets kinked or you have an unfortunate impact on that area of the headset. This cord is a little thicker than most so it is pretty obvious that Tesoro was thinking about this during design.
The ear cups also rotate 90 degrees which should help in storage and portability. The hinge is part of a large and blocky connection into the head strap. The head strap is, like the rest of the headset, very bulky. It is quite thick and also padded very well. The Tesoro name is embroidered on the top which is a nice touch. The arms inside the head strap are wide which gives them a solid feel when adjusting them.
The microphone is connected to the outside of the ear cup instead of underneath it like we find on many other models. This placement, while odd actually works well when you want to lift the mic out of the way. The mic book is flexible allowing you to bend it to where you like it. There is a light at the end of the mic that lets you know when it is active.
Like many recent 5.1+ headsets the Kuven Pro 5.1 uses their own amplifier and mixer. This mixer uses USB to connect to a PC. This means that your sound will be bypassing the audio on your motherboard and using the built in audio processing chip in the Kuven mixer. Now in some cases you can simply plug the headset directly into your system, but Tesoro decided to use an HDMI connector to make sure all 5.1 channels are properly passed from the mixer to the headset. We did try plugging this into a GPU and using the HDMI audio function, but that failed to power the headset meaning you are stuck using he mixer if you want audio.
The mixer does allow independent channel adjustments as well as muting the mic and headset all together. You do have to download and install an application to get it to work.
This driver/application did become an issue for us as we had problems getting it to work on a couple of different systems. Most notably on an Asus UX303L laptop where the mixer failed to register at all. This is most likely a fault in the laptop’s USB 3.0 chipset and not the Kuven Pro, but it is something to be aware of.
Overall the Kuven Pro 5.1 is a blocky design that is surprisingly light with the right amount of tech to keep your interest. Now let’s take a look at how well it performs.
With audio gear it is hard to be objective. After all different people like different music and even people that like the same music might like to listen to it in different ways. To make sure that I cover the audio products that we get here at DecryptedTech I like to have more than one opinion. Usually I gather 5 other people to listen to different audio types (gaming, movies, MP3 and CD-Audio). I then ask for a rating of one to five with one being the worst and 5 being the best for each category. As an added item I also ask for a single word to describe the audio quality. I then follow up with my personal feelings and observations. While the Kuven Pro 5.1 is primarily a gaming headset we will still be seeing how it performs while listening to music and the audio from movies.
Music (MP3 and CD-Audio) -
For Music I have a few favorite tracks that I like to use. These are not always other people’s favorites but they serve as a baseline and have some impressive audio features to them that can distinguish between good audio and bad. One of them is Stevie Ray Vaughn’s rendition of Jimi Hendrix’s Little Wing. It is an amazing track. Others are A Day in the Life by the Beetles, Are you Experienced by Jimi Hendrix, and Cage the Elephant’s Ain’t no Rest for the Wicked. To this listing we added some jazz, funk, and of course Reggae (Bob Marley’s Stir it Up of course).The numbers for this along with their corresponding one word comments are below.
The Kuven Pro 5.1 had a fairly full sound to it. There was an odd digital feel, but it was so bad that it took away from the overall experience. The bass was also well done thanks to the “sub-woofer” in each ear cup. There was a slight “digital” feel to the audio, but it was certainly not a deal breaker.
So for this test we did something a little different. As we have mentioned (and you can see from the box) these are meant for portable personal media players like the iPhone, iPad iPod and even other tablets. We decided that in addition to our normal gaming tests with a few choice PC games we would also throw in a couple of games on our Note 4 just to see how good the audio reproduction is there.
As you might imagine the Kuven Pro 5.1 did must better at gaming than it did at simple audio reproduction. This is what it was designed for and does an excellent job at pushing the sound. You may want to adjust the different channels to your tastes, but even out of the box things are pretty spot on for most games. Even the thump of large caliber weapons (think Call of Duty).
Movies was an easy one also, I have several Blu-ray titles that are great for this including Pirates of the Caribbean. So I loaded up this title and then dropped in a couple of other movies that have good surround effects. The numbers and words are shown below.
The gaming focus of the Kuven Pro 5.1 lends to great performance when watching movies. The Blu-ray titles that we used for testing all came through sounding great. There was more than enough separation in the channels to make the surround work well. You do not get room shaking bass for explosions, but it had enough force to fool your ears into feeling the rumble when they hit.
When I pulled the Kuven Pro from the box my first thought was that this would not be a comfortable headset to wear. It felt heavy and out of balance and looking at the ear cups had me worried about pressure on my ears. However, it is surprisingly comfortable even after extended usage. The deep ear cups seemed to decrease the amount of pressure on the sides of my head while maintaining a snug fit. They also added to the audio experience by allowing for more room (air) inside for the sound to work with.
Value is another very subjective topic. What is expensive to some might be a deal to others. You can look at this topic in multiple ways. One is raw price and the other is what you get for the money. Each is accurate and both are correct ways to look at price/value. We tend to look at features, performance and real-property when we discuss value. However, we also take into account the raw cash cost of the item. At around $90 from most e-tailers the Kuven Pro 5.1 is a great deal. This price is in line with other multi-channel headsets that do not perform as well. We would have liked to see an option to use the headset without the mixer, but you cannot have everything.
Tesoro is one of the newcomers in the gaming peripherals market, but they have certainly made an impression with gamers and the technical press alike. Their Kuven Pro 5.1 headset is a worthy addition o their product line up and one that gamers will certainly benefit from. We found the Kuven Pro 5.1 to be surprisingly comfortable given their weight and design as well as sturdy considering the materials that it is made from. The audio was vibrant and alive with very little digital feel to it. The tuning of the audio is ideal for games with immersive sound (5.1 audio is a must), but you will not be disappointed if you only have a stereo option available. The USB mixer was a bit of an issue when we tried to use it on a couple of laptop USB 3.0 controllers, but we have a feeling that was an issue with the controller and not the headset. This leads us to our only really “wish” for the Kuven Pro 5.1: we wish there was an adapter that would let you run this without the need for the mixer. If that option was available then the Kuen Pro 5.1 would certainly be a must have for any gamer looking for real surround sound headphones on a budget.
For its combination of performance comfort and price we are happy to award the Tesoro Kuven Pro 5.1 our silver key award.