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Cyber Snipa Sonar 5.1 Headset Print
Written by Scott Harness   
Sunday, 24 May 2009
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Cyber Snipa Sonar 5.1 Headset
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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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