Cyber Snipa Sonar 5.1 Headset

back2.JPGCyber Snipa Sonar 5.1 Headset

USB, 5.1, Microphone, and enough bass to vibrate down your ear canal and into your throat. They don’t cost a fortune either so we just had to check out these Gamers Cans.



Gaming is very important to me. I’m not what you would call a hardcore gamer, I certainly don’t play every game that comes out, but I do enjoy gaming and I play every day (given the chance). My wife is not as enamoured by my gaming as I am, especially the usual guns, explosions, roaring engines and shouting voices that seem to feature in pretty much all the games I play. No doubt, if it wasn’t for headphones I would either be less of a gamer or divorced.

But games have been stretching forward with more cinematic presentations for some time now, and I don’t mean just the visuals. Surround sound plays a big part in many games these days. My current favourite game is Left 4 Dead, and in this game, directional sound is very important indeed.

Enter the Headphones. Sporting eight speakers, a red and black theme and a quite low price tag, I’ve high hopes of a positive experience. On paper at least, I can have my surround sound in private and keep the wife happy too.

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Connection USB
Cord Length 3.0m
Mic Dimensions Ø9.7mmx5.0mm
Sensitivity -39dB±dB
Directivity Unidirectional
Impedance 2.2KO
Front Center Rear Subwoofer
Drive Diameter Ø30mm Ø40mm Ø30mm Ø27mm
Impedance 32O 32O 32O 8O
Frequency Response 20~20KHz 18~20KHz 20~20KHz 10~400KHz
Output power 200mW 400mW 200mW 600mW
Signal to noise ratio >50dB >50dB >50dB >50dB
T.H.D 0.4% 0.1% 0.4% 1%
Sensitivity (S.P.L) 108dB 100dB 108dB

box box box box

The Cyber Snipa Sonar 5.1′s come in a box that clearly shows you what you are getting. The headphones can be easily seen as can the in line remote control. The rear of the box explains in great detail the features of the headphones. Inside, the headphones are held in place with a clear moulded plastic tray. I have to admit I was expecting to see a manual and/or driver CD, but at first inspection I couldn’t see either. Turns out they were behind the reflective backing used inside the box.

Whilst a driver CD is included, you can still download the latest version of the drivers from the Cyber Snipa website, and if you get caught short, the headphones will function without drivers in a standard stereo capacity.

cup cup

Let’s begin our tour of the headphones at the ear cups. The back of them are metal mesh covered in bright red, with a ribbed black plastic to offset. The cups themselves easily rotate as well as the expected rotation. Additionally the cups can be moved up and down so the Sonar 5.1′s should sit on your head almost perfectly.

cup cup cup

On the front side of the cups we find more red in the form of a velvet like fur padding. A little kinky but it makes them pretty comfortable to wear. Inside each cup there is no less than 4 speakers.

mic mic

The microphone extends from the left hand side and can be rotated at it’s base as well as manipulated along it’s entire length.

band band

The head band is heavily padded, which is just as well as these are quite heavy headphones. The top of the head band sports the Cyber Snipa logo.

Image Image control control

The wire for the Sonar 5.1′s is 3 meters in length giving you plenty of cable to plug into a USB port. Part way along we find the in-line controller. This controller also supports it’s own sound card and can be clipped to your clothing by a crocodile clip on it’s rear. The front of the controller is inset with chrome coloured plastic. There are three buttons and two LED’s. The top two buttons control volume while the lowest button is the Mute button for the Mic. The two LEDs are for power and Mic respectively; both are bright blue.


On the side of the controller is a sliding switch to enable the microphone which in some ways does make the mute button a little redundant.



software software

The software for the Sonar 5.1′s is probably going to be recognized by many. Five tabs in the software allow you to control the various settings. The first tab deals with system input and headphone output. DSP activation for virtual 7.1 is also here. The second tab is the mixer tab so you can set the various levels for microphone and speaker output.

software software software

The third tab is for DSP Environment settings and EQ functions. The Fourth tab allows you to set the Sonar 5.1′s for karaoke functions and the final and fifth tab is the information display.

In use


Wearing the Sonar 5.1′s, you do quite quickly get a sense that these are much heavier than regular headphones. That said, the head band is heavily padded so it’s not like it digs into your head or anything, but if you don’t set them on your head right, you will find that when you remove them after extended use, you do notice a little discomfort. However, if you adjust them so that some of the weight is supported by your ears, then this is not much of an issue. The ear cup area is large, so large infact that I have plenty of play in situating the headphones where I wish. I have a loop ear ring too and the cup is large enough for my ears and the ear ring to dangle freely. The cups ability to rotate mean they fit to the shape of your head almost perfectly.

I wear glasses, and as anyone else who wears glasses knows, you often find that headphones will push the arms of your glasses into the top of your head and/or crush the top of you earlobes into the arms. This is not the case with the Sonar 5.1′s. I can easily declare these ‘phones as glasses friendly. The fur lining is soft and plush, not too firm and quite softly padded and the result is very comfortable indeed.


They are quite open backed, which no doubt helps provide the abundance of bass, but it does also mean that folks around you can often clearly hear what you are listening too as well, albeit at a much reduced volume. I guess a few folks won’t like the red, but red is the new blue it seems.

The in-line control unit also houses the sound card and does get quite warm. You’ve seen the two LED’s on it in the previous pages. When the MIC is activated, the MIC LED lights up bright blue. When plugged in, the Power LED comes on (again blue), but rather annoyingly the power LED also flashes on and off when sound is being played. I’ve honestly got no idea why it does this or who thought it would be a good idea. It’s not. Nothing that some strategically placed electrical tape won’t fix.

I really like the microphone boom. With a lot of headsets, you are quite limited in your microphone placement. You often get the ability to move it up and down, and occasionally you can also move the Mic closer or further away from your mouth. But generally speaking the actual boom itself is fixed and a fixed length. The Sonar 5.1′s boom however, well, you could probably tie a knot in it. It’s not loose, and you can pretty much twist the Mic into the correct position very easily. It will happily stay exactly where you set it, and then you can rotate the entire boom, in it’s set position, to above your head when not in use. Good stuff.

The Mic comes through very clearly, which is great for me since I’m a Brit and most of my gaming friends are American; they have enough trouble with my accent without having to deal with a crappy microphone as well.

Music Test

Sonar Software settings, 6 CH, no DSP, No effects, Middle Sized Room Environment

The Prodigy, Voodoo People – Lots of highs and lows, alternating and building to crescendo’s. A near constant sub bass tone in the background that you simply will not hear without a proper subwoofer. But I can hear (and feel) it with these headphones. The highs go high, and the mids are where they should be, but it’s as though the high and mids have frequencies missing in between. It’s not bad and frankly if you’ve not heard all of them before with higher end equipment then you likely won’t miss them. When you consider the target audience and price of the Sonar’s, it’s hard to knock them.

Additional Prodigy song test; Funky Shit – When the beat kicks in on this … well it damn near shakes the windows out in my car and it goes down quite low with a repeating bass line. The Sonar’s are quite close to replicating that, enough that you can hear it, but the vibrating feeling just isn’t quite there. It’s damn close though.

Evanescence, Bring Me To Life – At first things sounded a little flat, but nothing that a little EQ tweaking couldn’t correct. The mid range here was a little overpowering, the 2k range specifically. The highs were quite good, without the tinny ‘lisp’ like effect you get at the end or beginning of some words with some cheaper headphones/speakers.

Queen, It’s A Kind Of Magic – Nice High hat, and the bass line is pretty good, but again it lacked the vibration. Not a bad thing, but I kinda liked it. Maybe I should dial up the bass. Still, there is a satisfying thump in the all the right places. There is a sweeping high tone that goes from left to right about half way. I’m listening at full volume which can be painfully loud at times. This is one of those times. And yes I love it. That said, I am going to dial down the volume a little. Not a hint of tinny sounding lisp though, but again the EQ needs a little tweak to reign the mid range in.

Queen, Living On My Own – This has a pretty good bass line, which alters frequencies in a definitive way. It’s easy to tell that the lower we go, the harder the Sonar has to work. It may sound negative, and I guess it is, but you have to remember these are pretty cheap headphones and the sound is exteremely good despite the loss. Basically the bass is there, but the lower we go the less vibrating it becomes. The thumping bass however is most certainly there and rivals many a high end systems in sound and feel.

Prince, 7 – Again, plenty of bass and highs, but this is the first time I’ve heard the Sonar struggle on the highs, specifically the high treble of a tinkling bell that is heard now and then. It plays, but there is a slight … stutter to it. It’s only really noticeable at full volume which is uncomfortably loud anyway. Dialling it down to ‘safer’ levels and the stutter disappears. Not an issue but I’m including the information for the sake of a complete review. My comments make things sound pretty negative but honestly it’s not. I’m nit picking for the most part, and when you think of the low price of these headphones all the negatives are very easily forgotten. The sound is plenty good enough, very high quality for this price point.

U2, Pride – Lots of mid range, which gives it a very artificial sound. Again, it’s all EQ fixable.

Jeff Wayne, Eve of the War – Here, the voice at the start has an echo which fades into bass and is nicely reproduced here. The strings sound well and again the bass line is nice but with this music it never goes really low. Still a very satisfying thump mind you, which is as it should be. The Sonar maintains the ‘spacial’ feeling of the music very well, and you get a clear impression of certain instruments in different places. The pan pipes are very good even at highest trebles.

The Island Soundtrack, The Island Awaits You – Very orchestral and a nice heartbeat sounding bass, lots of build up. Works well here.

Star Wars III Soundtrack, Battle of the Heroes – the Tuba’s sound fantastic here. And the choir voices are nicely done. I’m not really a classical music kind of person but I must admit this sounds pretty good.



Sonar Software settings, 6 CH, no DSP, Bass Enhancement set for DVD Movie, Middle Sized Room Environment

House of Flying Daggers – The sound on this film is incredible. I jumped straight to the drums scene where our ‘blind’ star plays the drums with her sashes. You get a good sense of area when the audience is clapping. When the police chief throws the entire bowl, you can hear the beans raining down all around. Rear direction is however a little lacking, and enabling 7.1 DSP doesn’t really help. I’m not going to knock the Sonar’s for this however as this is something I’ve seen … heard on pretty much every 5.1 headset I’ve tried. It’s simply near impossible to recreate the correct directional sound without having the speakers placed in the correct places. Now the Sonar 5.1′s do the centre and front channels almost perfectly. The surround speakers I suppose technically sound where they should, to the side and back a little (not rear, surround speakers should not be to the rear, that’s where 6.1 and 7.1 come in to play). But I was hoping for them to sound a little further back and make more of a definitive distance from the front speakers. Don’t get me wrong, you can tell the difference and it does sound technically correct, but I’ve always preferred to set my surround speakers back a little further than they should be, so perhaps it’s just me. That aside, the sound is good and very enjoyable.

Star Wars Episode III – This movie showed a much more defined surround experience. A recurring theme with these headphones is that the mid range is a little strong, so again some EQ tweaking had to be applied. I must admit I was expecting a little more bass too, so I dialled that up a little as well. Starting at the beginning of the film, watching the two ships fly through the space battle, you get very good spacial sound with the ships, weapons fire and debris seemingly moving past your ears. The bass is incredible, as it was in House of Flying Daggers. You get vibrations right down your neck and almost into your throat; subtle vibrations, not uncomfortable, and the overall effect is great. I increased the bass to near maximum in the software’s EQ, raised the treble a little and lowered the middle ranges a bit and was very happy with the sound. Voices were clear but a little less directional than the rest of the sound. The light sabres could also be a little powerful due to the bass. However, I then applied the Generic effects setting and with the EQ tweaks this removed the flatter sound and provided a much more real sound to the voices, giving them depth and direction. The Vulture droids gave a satisfying hollow thud when R2 zaps them and the collapse against the wing of Anakin’s fighter. When talking to R2 in the hangar bay of the Generals ship, the echo was quite good although it did have a lot of direction to it which is something an echo should lack. And Obi Wan chasing the General on the lizard was great. I did mean to only watch certain extracts for the sound for this review but I ended up watching most of the film and really enjoyed the aural presentation.

Batman Begins – When Batman calls for back-up, the bats flying through the SWAT members gives a distinct impression of surround, but as is general for these headphones, there is little sound to the rear. It’s still good and as I have said before, technically correct.

Iron Man – This was great. When Tony shows off the Jericho, the vibration went straight to my throat. Love it. Much like Star Wars, the sound here is very directional and I used the exact same settings. The Audi’s engine is very realistic and you get both the high and the low with the Iron Man suit repulsors.

The Island – The flying bikes and the train wheels on the freeway sound great. Voices are also very good but again lack a little direction. They are exceptionally clear and well balanced with the rest of the sound however, so if you are someone who often finds that surround sound systems can dull voices sometimes, you will certainly appreciate these headphones for film watching.


Sonar Software settings, 6 CH, no DSP, Bass Enhancement set for DVD Movie, Middle Sized Room Environment

Left 4 Dead – The Sonar 5.1′s perform very well here, with directional sound being very clear. Here, without any effects applied, you get a more defined impression of which sounds are to the rear and which are to the front and centre. When someone throws a pipe bomb (which beeps as it goes) you can clearly track it’s movement even if you stand still. Sound is so important in this game, especially directional sound. You don’t want to be looking around for your downed team-mate when you should know by sound where they are.

Dead Space – Within the options for this game is a Test Speakers entry, which allows you to (obviously) test your separate speakers. The Sonar’s give a very good perception of direction in Dead Space. You can easily place sounds within the 2D plane around you and with a little experience from playing the game you can also often determine sounds from above and below. Stereo sound is usually fine for gaming and many gamers (myself included) often gain a true enough sense of direction while playing on stereo headphones, but 5.1 does take it further, and certainly the Sonar 5.1′s do well with this game.

Final Words

I must admit, that at first, I was happy but not overly impressed with the . If you take all of the negatives I’ve mentioned, and then couple that with wide stereo sound, you can see why. But then I played with the software. While Windows was happy to push 5.1 sound to the headphones, the headphones were not set to output in that manner by default. Once everything was set correctly, it made a huge difference in the spacial presence of the sound.

These are very comfortable headphones, despite their weight, and those of you with goggles will appreciate being able to wear your glasses without leaving indentations in the side of your head. With extended use, you may experience a little discomfort on top when you remove them, but the extra padding on the head band minimizes this. I would even go so far as to say these are the most comfortable headphones I’ve worn. Ever.

The in-line controller can get a little warm, and the flashing LED is irritating, but the controller itself works well. I like the crocodile clip. There is plenty of cable too, so if you still live in the dark ages and have no front USB, you should have plenty of play to plug in the back of your case, even if it’s at floor level.

The bass is great. It really does thump. Subwoofer bass vibrates down your ear canal and into your throat at highest levels. The lower the bass line goes, the lesser the bass volume becomes, but apart from a few songs this won’t be noticeable to the majority. The Prodigy’s sub bass line is just at the limit, lower than this and you lose the vibrations. Mid range is often a little over powering, but the software does have an EQ which you can pretty much set and forget; a little more treble, lower the mids and raise the bass frequencies. The Effects settings can help while watching movies where in some cases voices become a little flat sounding, and it does it well enough (depending on the setting) without overly effecting the rest of the audio. For music and games however, it’s best to go ‘au naturale’ and rely on the EQ tweaks. I did find that on occasion there seemed to be a jump in frequencies between mid and high, like there was a gap towards the higher end, but I highly doubt that most people will notice or care. Audiophile headphones these are not, but the sound is really damn good for the rest of us mere mortals.

Gaming audio is where the really shine, which since they are aimed at a gaming audience is a good thing. You get plenty of spacial indication, a good sense of aural direction. Sounds that are behind are not quite behind you, but I’ve yet to hear any 5.1 headphones get this completely right for my own personal preference. The are close enough with a sort of further left and right and to the rear effect. Centre sounds are a definitive centre as are front left and right (respectively). All of this however does rely on you tweaking the software to adjust the speaker levels; by default the centre channel is a little overpowering and the rears too quiet.

There is a lot to like with these headphones, and if you take into consideration the price, then the nit picking or correctable issues are very easily overlooked. True audiophiles should look elsewhere, but in all honesty I would highly doubt they would even consider these headphones to begin with because of the price point. If you get what you pay for, then these headphones are a bit of a bargain for the rest us. I’ve no doubt that for many, the sound will be some of the best they have heard, especially the thumping bass. I experienced no distortions (with one extreme exception at highest volume level, a level that frankly most folks won’t listen to because it’s too loud) and the sound was highly enjoyable. These will certainly be my headphones of choice while taking on the zombie horde.

One thing I will say is that are selling the for cheaper than , so you should certainly look around for the best price.




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