5.1 Surround sound is well and good if everyone in the room is listening to the same thing as you, but if you want individual surround sound, then Arctic Cooling may have just what you need for your PC.
Sound is very important if you’re a PC gamer. It’s important if you speak to your friends on Skype on your PC. It’s important if you want to watch a film or listen to music at your computer. And yet many of us buy a pair of cheap crappy 2.0 speakers and have done with it.
For me, while I have a 5.1 sound set-up on my PC, I don’t actually use it that much. The main reason is because no one else in the house wants to listen to it at the same time I do. Headphones are of course the answer here, but I do like my surround sound.
offer 5.1 sound, a Microphone, USB plug’n'play installation and peace and quiet for anyone else in the room/house. I’ve used 5.1 headphones before, and never been completely sold on the idea or implementation of the ones I’ve tried, so let’s see if these can impress me.
|Powered by Radeon® HD 2600 PRO GPU – 650MHz(Turbo)|
|Superscalar unified shader architecture|
|120 stream processing units|
|512MB/256MB 128-bit DDR2 – 1050MHz(Turbo)|
|Comprehensive DirectX® 10 support|
|Built-in HDMI and 5.1 surround audio|
|Dynamic geometry acceleration|
|Game physics processing capability|
The box for the Arctic Cooling P531 Headphones is the standard Arctic Cooling affair. Silver with black text, and a nice large window so you can see what you are getting. Through the window, you can see the headphones and the controller for the speakers, as well as the USB nature. The reverse of the box gives you all the specifications and features.
Opening the box, you can easily be forgiven for missing the CD taped to the back of the box. Along with the headphones, and a paper manual in the CD envelope, that is the sum total of the contents.
The headphones themselves are wire twisted into a shaped plastic mould, so you’ll need to get them out first.
Once you do, you’ll find them to be a little heavier than they look (but not uncomfortably so, more of a solid quality weight) but there is a certain professional or business look with just a hint of cool to them.
The top band of the Arctic Cooling P531 Headphones bares the Arctic Sound logo in embossed gloss on matt black. It’s not something your (obviously) going to see often, but it’s nice none the less.
Moving down the band to the joints that hold the cups to the headband, you can see something that looks quite complex but is pretty simple. This ‘elbow’ allows the cups to fold into the band, swing around to the shape of your head etc., and are spring loaded.
The left cup bears an Arctic Sound P531 logo, while the right has the Microphone boom. Much like the Cyber Snipa 5.1 headphones we reviewed a while ago, Arctic have chosen to use a flexible boom which allows you plenty of scope for getting the Mic into the right position. The Mic of course rotates up and down to allow you to move the boom up to the head band.
Turning the cups around, you can see the nice velour grey padding which provides a nice closed environment for your ears.
The cups themselves extend backwards and forwards with some sort of fins on either side, which are little distracting in your peripheral vision some times.
The Arctic Cooling P531 Headphones use USB and an in-line controller, so you won’t be relying on your existing sound card for sound quality or software. The controller has multiple dials and switches to control the volume and separate levels of the Front, Rear, Sub and Centre The Volume, unlike the separate level dials, is a spring loaded rocker switch, which means you can’t accidentally roll the dial and deafen yourself.
The Microphone mute is a sliding switch. The white strip in the middle is a light indicator, and unfortunately, quite annoying. Arctic are not alone in this respect, as many 5.1 USB controllers use an LED indicator for power and usage. The light glows a nice soft blue (it’s not blinding like some) but the annoying part is that when sound can be heard, the light blinks. As if the sound coming through the speaker cups wasn’t indication enough.