So, here I am, listening for the sound of wonderful. To every person in this world, that is a different sound. For some, it is hearing the twang of banjos. For others, it is an orchestral hall with full symphony. There are even those people that prefer it so loud that they really can’t hear it, but instead feel the sound. For me, it is hearing clearly all the sounds, no matter what the source. I find myself at an impasse. After being wowed by headsets that can do surround sound and do it well, can I be wowed by a stereo headset? Tune in to find out.
When it comes to packaging, this headset was par for the course. I did not feel the need to take a picture of the shipping box this time as UPS was the deliverer and the box arrived in pristine condition. The box that the headset came in was pretty large. Then again, these are some large headphones. The box was pretty simple to open, with just a single clear round tamper seal over the slip tab keeping the box shut.
Headset Box Contents
Upon opening the box, I saw a sight I have never seen before in a headset: braided covering on the connector cable. It looks very snazzy, feels very good to the touch, and makes the cable very resistant to self-tangling. The little pack-in booklet that came with the headset is basically nothing more than advertisements for other Cooler Master products. All it did was make me pause and think to myself, “Advertisements instead of instructions. Really? They must be pretty confident in this headset.” Confidence of that level can be a good thing, or a big bluff. Normally to me it speaks of a massive bluff. Does that hold out or will Cooler Master’s confidence in its product payoff?
Specifications & Features
- Driver diameter: ø53mmFrequency range: 10 – 20,000 Hz
- Impedance: 45 Ω
- Sensitivities(@1kHz): 98 dB ± 3 dB
- Connector: 3.5 mm gold-plated headphone jack
- Inner Ear Cup Diameter: 97.0 mm
- Cable Length: 2.0m
- Max Output: 200mW
- Frequency range: 100–10,000 HzSensitivities(@1kHz): -47 dB ± 3 dB
- Signal-to-Noise Ratio: 58dB
- Pick Up pattern: Omni-Directional
- Diameter: 4×1.5mm
- Audio Usage: Devices with 3.5mm audio jackAudio +
- Microphone Usage: Devices with 3.5mm audio + microphone combined jack (Compatible with Apple iPhone®, HTC®, BlackBerry®)
- 2 years
- Massive high quality 53mm drivers deliver amazing sound quality
- Innovative detachable 3.5mm microphone for use on either side of the headset
- Huge 97mm earpads provide great comfort
- Flexible headband for a perfect fit
- In-line remote with Volume control and microphone on/off button
(Specifications and Features courtesy Cooler Master)
Pretty simple and self explanatory. The big selling point of this headset is the detachable microphone for connection on either side. More on this later in the review.
Cooler Master CMSTORM
This headset is pretty standard fair in the weight department. However, I was taken aback by how stiff the headset was. The strap over the head has practically zero flex. All adjustment abilities in this headset rely on the adjusters for the length/positioning of the cans, and on the very thick and very plush padding on the cans and inside the overhead strap.
An issue I ran into was how to tell which 3.5mm connector was which. Both have intricate designs on their casing, yet nothing to indicate which is which. I am partially colorblind and could not figure it out. It took me taking the headset to a family member who has full color vision to get it sorted out. The connectors are made distinct in a way that I have to seriously, seriously ding Cooler Master for. The plastic spacers on the tip-n-ring section of each connector is supposedly colored either Green or Pink. Both looked pure white to me. This is a drawback for me and probably will be a drawback for others with color vision problems. While I could plug/unplug to figure it out, I should not have to experiment to make a headset work.
Aside from that small issue – an annoyance more than a design flaw, the headset just had me wondering how well it would fit if I could not flex it to allow for my larger than normal head.
Inline Control Module
The control module on this headset is very simple and straightforward. It has a switch to turn the microphone on and off, and has a roller wheel to adjust volume up and down. Both are very easy to use. The volume adjuster is very sensitive to even the tiniest of adjustments and holds those tiny adjustments without slipping.
Fit and Adjustability
Whenever I do reviews for headsets, I try my best to remember that if I have difficulties getting a headset to fit, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I have admitted in the past to having a larger skull than average which has caused me problems for years with headphones, hats, and other head-related fittings. This really concerned me when it came to this headset. As I mentioned earlier in the article, there is practically zero flex in the headset. When I first put them on, I could tell immediately that if it were not for how soft and well cushioned the pads on the cans were, that I would never be able to wear these for any extended time. The fit is very tight for me. However, other family members that I had try them had either no problems or in one case, the opposite problem: with my 4 year old having a smaller head, this headset was too loose to fit her.
Testing of the Headset
Since I am relying on my built in Realtek HD for this review instead of nice software as what came with the USB headsets, I knew I would have a different experience. After much experimentation with the various equalizer presets, I ended up putting my equalizer on the Powerful setting to get the most out of the headset. With my music volume cranked to max in the sound manager, and the volume knob on the inline control module at 50%, I started my tests. I soon found that even at 100% volume on both, that the headset was powerfully loud, yet not painfully loud. Some experimenting with switching from Windows Media Player to VLC let me go above the ‘hard’ limit of 100% volume. In VLC, I was able to get to 125% volume with it still very clear at full volume on the headset. Above 125%, distortion started to creep in, and by 150%, it was pure noise.
The first test I put any headset through is still music. AC/DC to ZZTop. Classical Symphony to Heavy Metal. Bluegrass to Rap. If it is a genre of music, then it is fair game in my tests that put each headset through its paces. Music sounds great on these. I dare say that this is the best stereo headset I have ever used just on the quality of the music. While bass is not as loud as I want – probably due more to my Realtek HD than anything else – it is still powerful and clear. Mids and Highs are also very clear and short of purposely putting it above 100% via VLC, never gets muddy or distorted.
Lord of the Rings is usually a good test. I was very impressed with the beginning of the Fellowship of the Ring, especially where Sauron explodes after the ring is cut from his finger, then it got to parts of the movie with speech in Hobbiton. Voices sounded hollow and empty. I then tested with random parts of the 8 Harry Potter movies, then the entirety of The Matrix and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. While sound effects were awesome, any section of any movie I tried had the same issue with voices – they just did not sound good. No matter what equalizer setting I used, voices never sounded right. Aside from voices, everything else was great. For this alone, if you are an avid movie watcher, this set will just not do it for you.
It is hard to go back to stereo after two surround sound headsets. Yet these were awesome with games. Team Fortress to Dragon Age to Dead Island all were awesome. Every little growling engine or explosive percussion in World of Tanks exploded with near eargasmic delight. After my experience with movies, I was wary of voice effects yet those had none of the issues in games that were had in the movies and I have no good explanation why.
The microphone on this headset is awesomely sensitive. While I was at the mercy of my Realtek HD for sound filtering (it did horribly), the microphone is so sensitive, that people I chatted with could hear sounds from 3 rooms away that I could not hear myself with my normal ears. Very good for people with quiet voices.
The next part of the microphone is also cool. On both cans on the headset, there is a plug for the microphone to go into so you can change it to whichever side you prefer. The other one will contain a nice rubber plug to cover it up so you do not see the hole for where the microphone plugs in. This feature works great and honestly, is something I sort of wish came standard on headsets as being able to change the side of the microphone for greater comfort is something that can spoil you.
Comfort – While not quite comfortable for me, they were tolerable, especially with how soft and forgiving the cups on the cans were. For the average person, these should be extremely comfortable, so I do have to take that into consideration.
Volume – Clear and Loud all the way. Short of forcing the issue with VLC, these things had nary a hiccup from minimal volume up to maximum volume. Color me extremely impressed.
Input – Too good. Microphone is very sensitive, which is both a positive and a negative. On the whole though, this is a lot better than a microphone that can barely pick up a loud yell, even 2 inches from your mouth.
Construction – Extremely sturdy. Not a one-size-fits-all, but a one-size-fits-most. The padding is probably the most comfortable I have ever felt and is the only reason I could give the comfort level a good rating despite how hard it squeezed my ears.
When it comes to movies, look elsewhere, but for music and games? This set is top notch. These Cooler Master headphones sound great. If it wasn’t for the fact that I’ve gotten used to surround sound in a headset, these would be my go-to set. Despite the one true negative (voices in movies), this headset far outweighs that in all other areas.
As for the answer to my earlier question about confidence: It pays off. Cooler Master was confident in their product and they had good reason to be.
I would also like to thank Cooler Master for sending this headset for review.