The Box and Goodies -
Cooler Master has done a great job on the box. When you look at it you will have no doubt as to what you are getting. Between the picture on the box and the clear plastic that lets you see the sound control unit you get the full picture.
Just in case you were in any doubt; just flipping the box over to the back will fill you in the details. The side of the box fills in some additional blanks for you (if you need it). As we mentioned before, the Sirus has four drivers in each ear piece and comes with its own control unit. This is also a USB audio card and provides direct power to the Sirus headset (but we will talk more about that later).
Reading further down the box we find that the specs on the Sirus are fairly impressive. The 40mm sub is capable of dropping down into the sub aural range of 10Hz which should give your low end a nice feel to it. The impedance is a tad higher than I would have thought at 32 Ohms for the front, center and rear speakers and 16 Ohms for the 40mm Sub. To give you an idea of the difference here; your typical home speaker runs at 8 Ohms while a decent Sub runs at 6-4 Ohms. However considering that the smallest sub is around 4 inches (that is 101.6mm) and most drivers are a tad more than 30mm the higher impedance is not too terribly bad. We will talk more about the specs and what they mean later though.
Inside the box, in a cocoon of plastic is the reasons you are here. We find the Sirus 5.1 Gaming headset and all the toys that Cooler Maser has thrown in with it. These include two sets of Ear Cups (one noise dampening and the others breathable). You have two methods for connecting the Sirus to your system as well. You get the powered audio controller complete with control for the individual channels and an internal amplifier to boot. In addition to that you also get a set of passive cables if you already have an audio card you want to use. You will still need USB power to run the headset (there are all the lights and an amp as well).
The Sirus 5.1 Gaming Headset -
Cooler Master’s CM Storm Sirus headset is rather bulky. It looks like something from a recording studio (or maybe an Air Traffic Control Tower) more than a gaming headset. The one thing that makes you aware that this is meant for gaming is the CM Storm Logo and the fact that it lights up Red when you have everything connected.
But despite their bulk the Sirus Headset is fairly light and the padding makes it rather comfortable to wear, even for extended periods of time. The each cups are removable and can be quickly switched out. I found that I personally favored the breathable ones over the noise dampening. This was a comfort issue as when I used the noise dampening set my ears got hot quickly. The Sirus is adjustable (of course) but does not collapse down like other headsets can. This means that there is little movement in the ear pieces. You have to rely on the ear cups to give you a secure fit.
When you do remove the ear cups you will see the four independent drivers that are in each ear piece. The three at the top are your 30mm drivers for front, center and rear, while the larger one at the bottom is the 40mm sub. Let’s take a minute to go over the specs again. You already know that the combination of these four drivers creates a 5.1 surround effect. It does this by placing the drivers at specific points around the ear. The frequency response of 10Hz to 20KHz is actually very good for the price range the Sirus is in and covers most people’s audial response range (the typical human ear can here between 20Hz – 18-20KHz). It is not as high as some of your more expensive headsets out (like Sennheiser), but it certainly can get the job done. The THD is rated at less than 1% (which is average for quality audio gear) with a sensitivity of > 105DB. All in all not bad specs considering what has to be done to get all eight drivers working in concert.
For those of you that like to talk to others while you play your games you get a built in microphone on a flexible boom. This mic boasts some fairly decent set of specs like the drivers in the ear pieces. Again like the drivers the microphone is not top of the line, but it does very well for the price range. You get a response of 10Hz to 10KHz which gives you great low end response but is shy on the upper end by about 3-6KHz. This means that if you have a high pitched voice it could possibly have some trouble picking it up properly. The sensitivity level is good at -46DB (+or – 3DB). Again the Microphone will get the job done but might have some issues with higher pitched voices.
As we mentioned before you have to have power for this headset. You are not going to get away with just running a standard passive audio out to them. In fact the cord from the Sirus Headset won’t allow it. It is a 10 pin DIN connector. You can connect this to your PC in one of two ways (as we briefly covered before). The first is the recommended one (by me and cooler master). This is using the Tactical Mixing Console (which also happens to be a pretty good USB audio card). This has two gold plated USB connectors (one for Data and one for Power). Simply plug these in, connect the Sirus Headset and you are ready for some gaming.
However there is more to the Tactical Mixing Console than just being a USB audio card. You can independently adjust the level of each pair of drivers. (front, center, rear and Sub) in addition to having a single master control. You also get two additional buttons, one to mute or activate the mic and the other mutes the headset speakers. The level control dial is a step less one (meaning there are no clicks or start and stop points) and has a finger indent for easy adjustments.
The other method for connectivity is a group of 1/8-inch mini din connectors that can be hooked up to the 5.1 output jacks on any properly equipped audio card. You also have to have an available USB port to power the Sirus headset. It is a rather nice setup and a good entry for Cooler Master into this rather picky market. Now let’s see how they perform.
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.
Gaming was the easiest one test and also the easiest one to observe. The look on people’s faces as they maneuvered through Medal of Honor 2010 and Modern Warfare 2 was something to see. You could see that they were impressed with the quality by the smiles and the nods I saw.
The numbers are shown below, while the words used to describe the gaming quality were;
For my own part the gaming was incredible. I like first person shooters and have found that many audio cards and speaker sets cannot reproduce the sounds of gun fire or explosions properly. The Sirus headset is probably the closest I have ever heard. If anyone has ever heard the sound of gun fire in close proximity then you know that there is more to it than just a “pop” especially when it is a large caliber weapon like the US M2 .50 Caliber Machine Gun or the Soviet 12.7mm. There is a very low frequency thud (for lack of a better word) that you can feel more than hear with every round that leaves the barrel. The same thing goes for the 30mm canon on the A-10 Warthog. When I was playing through Medal of Honor 2010 again I found the new audio experience was dragging me into the game. The sound was very immersive. Especially using the Tactical Mixing Console, I would highly recommend it for gaming.
Movies was an easy one also, I have several Bluray 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 response was not as good as the gaming, but still the surround piece did seem to impress. The numbers and words are shown below.
The movie quality was not as good as I was expecting. With some of the titles that I played I really wanted something more. I can still remember seeing my first movie with true surround sound and also remember watching my kids as they heard that for the first time in the house. It was magical to watch them follow the sound with their eyes as Stich clattered through the ventilation shaft. However that same magic was not quite in the Sirus. It was good, but it was not quite what I had hoped for.
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. Other 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. The numbers for this along with their corresponding one word comments are below.
The audio playback here was very impressive to me. I own a Tech On Model 55 Tube Amp and usually use that for listening to my music. However I was very impressed with the quality of sound that the Siru put forth. I found the same level of enjoyment from listening to Stevie Ray Vaughn as he hammers out Little Wing on his guitar. You really can hear the buzz of the amp and his fingers sliding up and down the strings… it is very moving.
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. We told you before that the Sirus will set you back around $130 from your average e-tailer. This is a great price for what you are getting (an audio card, multiple methods of connectivity, full 5.1 surround and solid audio quality) We looked around and comparable products and could not fand many that matched the specifications and the accessories that you get with the Sirus.
The Sirus Headset is quite an impressive entry into audio peripherals for Cooler Master’s CM Storm line. We were impressed with almost every aspect of its performance. It was only when it came to movies that had 5.1 or better audio encoding that we had any issue with the performance. Even then the audio was good, it just felt like it was lacking something. Perhaps it was a lack of depth that was the problem, but it was still there. For gaming, I have to say that this is one of the best headsets I have used. The low end range makes for very nice gunfire and explosions while the surround sound pulls you into the game deeper. I really cannot stress enough how different the gaming experience was with this headset on. I know I will be replaying other favorite games again to experience them in a new way with this set. In the end if you are looking for a gaming headset that is really going to bring something new to the table then the Cooler Master CM Storm Sirus headset is what you are looking for. It will change the way you experience almost any game.
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