In school science class, you learn early on that sound travels through air (or similar medium that allows vibrations). Yet here I am, tasked with reviewing a headset that is as light as the air that the sound moves through. Is it possible to have good sound and for the headset to be tough enough to be used despite how wisp-light it is? Come inside to find out.
Once again, UPS was wonderful and the box showed up with nary a scratch nor dent. The headset arrived in pristine condition ready for me to put it through its paces. The first thing I noticed was how surprisingly light the box was. After reviewing a couple of beefy headsets with beefy sound, my first thought was that there could be no way that headphones that feel as light as air could sound good. Will I be proven wrong on this? Read on to find the answer.
Headset Box Contents
The contents were cleverly packaged. Instead of being loose and hidden behind the plastic casing inside, they were held in a folded piece of stiff paper to help keep them neat – and to help the box look snazzy through the front window. This time, the pack-in slip contained the specifications for the headset in multiple languages and just a couple small advertisements.
Specifications and Features
While not showing a lot of information, model number and system requirements are present on this side of the box. Though it does not say so, I do suspect it may work with the mysterious forces known as Linux and OSX.
I finally had a V8. Use a flatbed scanner and suddenly specs on a box do not come out so blurry anymore.
Cooler Master CMStorm Ceres
As I mentioned earlier, the first impression I got about this headset was how absolutely light they feel. The plastic does not feel cheap, but in my hands, it is slightly fragile feeling. After two hefty headsets, this was a surprise. The padding in the headset is not the softest that I have ever felt, but it is not hard, either. Like the littlest bear might say: It is just right.
I did notice a massive improvement on this headset versus the issue that concerned me on the prior headset from Cooler Master. The plastic coloring in the tip-n-ring part of the connectors is much easier to see, to which I have to give a big thumbs up.
Inline Control Module
The ICM on this headset is very light. The roller for volume moves easily and holds its position well. The microphone on and off button is a slide button. It is a bit stiff to move, but when you move it to on or off, you cannot mistake it as you feel it ‘give’ when it goes into position. There are no lights to indicate whether it is on or not.
Fit and Adjustability
Being very light, I did worry about if the headset would be able to stretch to fit my head without breaking or messing up the headset. At first, as I put it on, I heard two small pops as I spread the headset apart to get it on my head. This worried me at first, so I took them off to inspect them. I noticed no damage or stress marks. I went to put them back on and had the same 2 small pops. After a few times of putting the headset on and off, the popping noise went away. I still have no idea what caused it as the headset shows no damage or stress marks.
Despite having what could at best be considered a medium amount of padding, the headset was comfortable to wear. I felt only very slight pressure on my ears and over my head. The microphone, while not super adjustable, rotates up and down with a ratchet-style system.
Testing of the Headset
I try my best to be impartial when it comes to my testing. I generally spend a week with the headset on nearly constantly so I can get used to each set’s idiosyncratic tendencies. The first day is just random spot-testing with me hopping from music genre to music genre, fiddling with equalizer settings, and random video clips to get a rough idea of how they respond. Then over the next 5-6 days, I give them a thorough workout as my only headset and try not to let first impressions influence me on how they sound. However, comparisons are inevitable. Now that I have a prior stereo headset to compare to, questions will probably be asked comparing the headsets and I will try to give proper comparisons.
Something that was brought to my attention during my testing is that this headset is not very private. The type of foam padding on the ear-cans, while very comfortable, allows a lot of sound leakage that people in the same room can hear very clearly. While I had no personal issue with this, there may be times that you do not want people to listen in, and this could be a drawback for those times.
As with the prior headset from Cooler Master, even when the dial on the ICM is at max and my sound control panel is maxed out, the headset is very powerful, yet not painfully loud. Music sounds great, and the headset responds tightly and smartly to equalizer changes. My first impression is that the while the mids and highs sound spot on, the bass is a bit off – as if the bass is slightly muffled. It is there, yet it isn’t as full as I would want. Based on my initial worries about the headset because of how light it was, it became quickly apparent to me that slightly muffled bass was a byproduct of Cooler Master making the headset so light. After a few days of using the headset, I started to appreciate the slight muffling. The bass response was spot-on, and just because it does not get throaty and grumbly does not make it poor bass.
When it comes to music, this headset is wonderful. Vocals never get overpowered, and every small nuance of the music is there. Bon Jovi and Ted Nugent sound like they are in my room, not on my computer. Daft Punk’s Derezzed had me thinking I was in the mainframe running from Clu. Throughout all the music I threw at the headset, I continued to hear powerful, clear music that lacked only one thing their bigger cousin from my last review had in spades: very powerful, throaty base. The bass is clear and sounds good, but just is lacking that oomph that I love. Personal feelings wishing for more bass aside, the musical capacity of this headset is top notch. Another thing I noticed is that I cannot push these nearly as hard as the last set. At 113% in VLC, slight static and popping is introduced. At 125%, it is very pronounced.
One last note before I get on to the next part of the review: Yatta has never sounded better.
Moving on to movies, I put the headset through its paces. After a couple of days of getting used to the headset, I noticed that while the bass was not throaty and grumbly, it was still full and didn’t miss a beat. Lord of the Rings was wonderful with every rumble and clash of steel and hushed whisper coming through as clear as can be. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World came through with all the sound effects being fully recreated and transporting me back to the days of 8-bit chip-tunes. Musical scores were velvety smooth. The speaking parts in Harry Potter sounded wonderful with no hollowness to the voices as I ran into with the prior headset.
Despite initial concerns that I would run into the hollow-voice issue with this headset, it did not happen. Voices were crisp and clear. The only thing really missing is a good throaty bass. All the bass is present and sounds good, but it is missing that distinct grumble that great bass offers.
Last is gaming. There is very little I can say that hasn’t already been covered in the prior two sections. The sounds are spot on, powerful, and very clear. Sounds never get muddled no matter how much is being thrown at the headset. As stated previously, the only thing that I really miss is that throaty grumble on the lower end of the spectrum. Explosions are loud and extremely crisp, yet are just missing that hint of grumble. For gaming, as long as you do not mind having no surround sound, then this set is definitely first rate.
I did run into one issue in gaming. The microphone, while it did pick up my voice, did so with a very tinny, AM Radio quality to my voice. No matter what volume I spoke at, the same volume of voice came through for the people on the other end with the same tinny, AM Radio quality to my voice. However, considering that it always picked up my voice and translated it to the same volume no matter whether I whispered or whether I was shouting, I am willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.
Comfort – There is no doubt about it. This headset is extremely comfortable. I’m not sure what sort of foam padding was used, but it feels like air and is wonderful to wear.
Volume – Powerful, clear, and accurate. Missing a bit of the lower-end growl and not as capable of being over-driven as its heftier cousin in my prior review.
Input – Very sensitive microphone pickup, but strange effect it puts on the voice no matter what volume you speak. Strictly average overall.
Construction – Extremely light, feels fragile, but is far from fragile in real use.
Price – MSRP is $49.99 for this headset
When it comes to music, you expect something that is very light to have poor sound quality. Years of experience teach you that good quality requires hefty drivers. Yet, here I find myself listening to a headset that totally sets that notion on its head. Was I proven wrong? Yes. Just because it is light does not mean that it is incapable. Sometimes, it feels good to be proven wrong. This is one of those times.
I would like to thank Cooler Master for allowing us here at Overclockers the opportunity to review this headset before it hits the market.