Reviewed: February 22, 2008
Type: Gaming Headset
What's in the box
In today’s gaming market there are a lot of peripherals to make our gaming experiences more enjoyable. Most of these products are fairly pricey, but they get the job done. To us gamers this is a small price to pay to lay the smack down on the bad guys. Saitek is one such company that thrives on the gaming industry and has produced several award-winning products since the company’s start in 1993. This year Saitek evolves with another line of PC hardware known as the Cyborg Range Series. This new line is not to be confused with the prior releases that hold the Cyborg name. The subject of this review is the Cyborg 5.1 Headset for the PC.
Aesthetics - 9
Over the years, I have been using various means to get the best sound out of my computers via basic speakers. Surround Sound setups and even headphones. But I have yet to find a means to really enjoy my movies and games…until now. Enter the Cyborg 5.1 Headset, Saitek’s newest product to send you into gaming euphoria.
The Cyborg 5.1 Headset comes with a pretty nice package. You get a pretty sturdy carrying case that while looking soft could take a few blows before damaging the headset inside. As this is a headset and not just another pair of run of the mill headphones you also get a removable noise-canceling microphone. But perhaps my favorite part of the Cyborg is the in-line control unit. The control unit sports an integrated sound card pumping out True 5.1 Surround Sound via USB. If you’re not feeling the need for some 5.1 euphoria, haha yeah right, then you can use the attached 3.5mm analog plugs to get stereo sound.
Not only do they put out some impressive sound, the headset sports one of the coolest designs I have ever seen. The low-profile cans are decked out in glossy black and silver. When you are using the USB port, the Cyborg logos on the cans are lit up bright green and red. While you can’t see them, your friends will definitely know when you’re completely oblivious to the outside world. That and if you playing in the dark you won’t lose them.
The detachable microphone itself is also a nice piece of work. Not only is it a noise cancelling boom, it is delivers the same professional grade sound that the headphones do. The headset is VoIP ready and works with every game that I tried that supported headsets.
Durability - 9
I’ve been using the Cyborg 5.1 Headset for just about everything that you can think of for the last week. Several hours of playing CoH and using separate VoIP software, I was hooked. I experienced no interference from ambient noises and the people I was playing with had no complaints either. The headset sans the mic, are now my favorite headphones to use on my Zune. I take them everywhere and so far they are still going strong. Trust me I love my music.
The headphones fit comfortably over my ears without squashing my ears, so they are perfect for long gaming sessions. The rotating can and adjustable, padded headband see to that. The only thing that bugs me a little is the fact that USB and analog connectors are all on the same cable. So if you are using just the USB the other two are just dangling. This is all well and good until the two loose plugs touch each other and you receive a blast of static to the ear. I ended up making sure the two didn’t touch via tape. Plug covers would have been a nice touch but no such luck. One the same note the connectors seem to be short for a reason. My guess it has something to do with the pass-through ports on the new Cyborg keyboard due to hit stores in the near future.
Performance - 9
The Cyborg 5.1 Headset works straight out of the box for basic operations for any gamer, but to get the full use you’ll want to install the included software. The install process is painless and doesn’t take that long to install. After playing around with the various “equalizer” settings and effects I was very pleased with the performance. I have used very few headsets that are better than this one.
The software not only allows you to choose from one of the 5 available settings (ranging from headphones to 7.1 channel sound) it allows you to make use of a Virtual 7.1 Speaker Shifter mode. Here you can move the location of the virtual speakers to give you the best possible 7.1 Surround Sound. While this is a great feature, I rarely used it at all. The 6 sonic drivers gave out amazing directional audio, so I knew exactly where my butt was getting shot from while playing my favorite FPS’ titles.
The software also features a Karaoke/Magic Voice option for the microphone. Here you can make your voice sound like a monster, a cartoon and even the opposite sex. I had way too much fun pranking a few of my online gaming buddies with that last option.
Value - 9
The Cyborg 5.1 delivers amazing sound and microphone quality without hindering each other. Most headsets out there each have great sound at the loss of mic quality or vice versus. The Cyborg delivers both beautifully and I will not be trading these babies in for a long time. Well not until they come out with a True 7.1 version that is. The headset cans also rotate and lay flat for easy portability, something I cherish in headphones, in the protective hard case. The Saitek Cyborg 5.1 Headset retails for around $80.00 bucks, but that’s money well spent.
Overall – 9.0
In the week that I’ve used the Cyborg 5.1 Headset, they have practically never left my side. With the versatility of being used as plain stereo headphones or as 5.1 Surround Sound powerhouses at the flip of a switch, the Cyborg 5.1 Headset is my new champion in gaming bliss.