Headset? Check. 7.1 Surround? Check. USB only? Now wait a doggone minute! I looked forward to the Rosewill headset as it promised comfort as well as surround sound which I’ve never tried in a headset before. Now on to the star of the show, the Rosewill RHM-6308 headset!
Packaging and Contents
When I got it, it was in a very large, very heavy box. I thought for sure there had been a mix up and I had been shipped someone’s PSU by mistake. I was pleasantly surprised when I opened it up and saw the headset package. It just turns out NewEgg decided to go heavy on the protection measures – which to be honest, I don’t mind as they reached me in perfect condition.
The package comes with the headset itself, a driver CD, and a small folded sheet of paper with information and basic instructions on it as shown in the picture below.
The user manual is a half sheet of paper that is well laid out and easy to understand. The instructions are very simple. Plug into USB port and then install the software that comes on the mini-CD. Here is where I ran into a small issue. The driver CD doesn’t auto-run. Not an issue for me, but for Joe-Average it could be an issue. 15 seconds later after installing the appropriate driver and a 30 second reboot, it works great. For those curious, they do work just fine without the driver but just as a stereo headset. You cannot choose the surround sound settings without the driver/software package.
A Closer Look
Inline Control Module
The Inline Control Module is a the part of the headphones that you will become very intimate with in short order. The buttons offer great tactile feedback, and are not overly sensitive nor are they too hard to get to react. From left to right in the above image, the buttons are Microphone Mute, Volume Up, Headphone Mute, Volume Down, and the tiny little ‘button’ at the end is actually the super-bright blue LED that lets you know it is getting power. The little module is made pretty solid as well, thankfully. A very clumsy friend of mine accidentally stepped on it in heavy work boots and it didn’t do more than put a little scuff on a corner. Definitely a plus for me or for those of you with friends/family that are rough on equipment.
Fit and Adjustability
One thing that has always turned me off in the past to most headsets has to be the utter lack of adjustability in them. While the one-size-fits-all mentality works for the large majority of the population, I happen to be an outlier in the world of headgear. My cranium is larger than most people’s and thus I usually have to search a lot harder for adjustable headgear, be it hats or headphones. Headphones that adjust and are flexible are something I am always on the lookout for. When I read other customer reviews of these headphones, I noticed a few similar statements on them being very adjustable, and as I found out, they in fact are!
They have a great range of flex without any apparent strain to the part that goes over the head. The leather strap along the inside is there for more than just looks. It is very comfortable and has enough give to help the headset ‘form fit’ your head. The cans themselves are on a 2-part swivel system. The main part flexes in and out about 15-20 degrees. The inner part allows me to roll them completely inward or outward if I wished. This leaves a lot of room for finding the proper fit for your head and ears. The microphone is probably the only part I had any issues with. While it is very flexible (almost infinite variability in position in/around your face), as I get into later in the review, I had to set it too close to my mouth for comfort so it would pick up my voice.
As for my personal reaction to them? While working on the review, I kept a string-of-consciousness set of notes and the rest of this paragraph is a direct quote from my notes: “Now for the acid test on fit. I extend them to full extension. They fit on my head like a glove. They go comfortably over my ears. I can’t even tell that they are on. These feel great! However, I did notice the default volume is way too high the moment I put on some music to check that they are working. It was a common complaint I noticed in similar reviews.”
Using the software included, you can set the headphones for 2, 4, 6, or 8 channel output. Seeing as how I have nothing with 8 channel output in my music, DVD, or gaming library, I will set it for 6 (5.1). There are many settings in the software for equalizer, virtual speaker placement, listening environment, and more. The settings are definitely for fine tuning to each person’s individual likes.
When it comes to music reproduction, compared to anything I have ever used before (including a couple different pairs of $100+ headsets), these have probably the clearest sound I’ve heard. The sound is clear enough for me to even hear the ‘hiss’ of the needle on vinyl from LP conversions I’ve done in the past. That is even more impressive to me as even the $100+ sets didn’t reproduce that sound. Quadraphonic tracks sounded great with the music tracking around my head like it was supposed to. It really brought me back to the days of listening to my dad’s vinyl records on his quadraphonic setup back in the 80’s when I was little.
During the music tests I did find a bit of a drawback. For those that want lots of thump, these will not get it done. While the bass is clear, distinct, and sounds great, it will not overpower the mids and highs. Even with equalizer tweaking to try to force the bass way out of balance, I could not get the bass to be muddy, much less overpowering. That is not to say it wasn’t loud and clear, but it just could not be made extra heavy for those that love the extra thump in their music. For some people this won’t be an issue as they will prefer clear distinct bass to purposeful overpowering bass.
In my 2nd test of the virtual surround, I used some DVD sources. After a few movies, I found that your mileage will vary with the source. Some sounded just like my home theater setup – for example The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. During the Battle of Helm’s Deep, it sounded like I was actually there in the action with clangs and crashes and oomphs and screams all around me. The musical background was wonderful and aside from the lack of rumble in the floorboards from no sub, I could barely tell a difference between the headset and my home theater setup. Unfortunately another DVD I tried – Hulk Vs. – while on the box saying it supports 5.1 surround, really fell flat. The sounds were great and clear, but I could not tell it was 5.1. It really depends on whether the source was designed as surround from the beginning like most theater releases or if it was a direct-to-dvd release like many of my favorite marvel animated movies.
When it comes to gaming, I came away impressed in most aspects except one. The microphone just did not ooze the same quality that the headphones did. In Team Fortress 2, the microphone barely picked up my voice at all until I did a lot of fiddling with the position of the mic. I had to position it closer to my mouth than I am comfortable with. Once positioned right, it picked up great with no feedback and zero unwanted noise during chat. Even with mic gain turned all the way up, the pick-up is very soft requiring the close placement to the mouth. If there was an improvement to be made on these, it would have to be a better microphone.
The surround does work very well with some games and not so well with others in a manner similar to the DVD’s. Dragon Age: Origins did not do so well and I had to set it to stereo in the game settings for it to sound okay. On the other hand, Dead Island had me jumping at almost every sound as I could hear zombies running up behind me. It definitely helped make Dead Island a much more intense experience. As for Team Fortress 2? It is much easier to pinpoint Deadringer Spies now that I can hear the direction they are decloaking in instead of just a general ‘brzzaaapp’ sound.
As for how I feel about them overall? After about a month of using the headset:
- Comfort – Great. I found them very comfortable, which is very rare as I have a rather large cranium and most headphones are very uncomfortable. I can wear them for 6-8 hours at a time without even knowing they are on my head aside from the fact I am getting sound directly into my ears.
- Volume – Above Average. Too loud at default settings. Very clear sound, but really no way to enhance bass, mids, or highs to emphasize one part of the sound spectrum despite fiddling with equalizer settings. With the inline volume tuned down a bit, it does get better. I feel it just takes too long to find the happy middle ground of ‘loud enough, but not too loud’ – unless you happen to be hard of hearing in which case you will be happy with the defaults.
- Input – Below Average. The microphone is the definite weakness of this headset. Took way too much fiddling with position and tweaking software settings to get it working well.
- Sound Quality – Great. Very good sound reproduction. Very accurate. The virtual speaker placement really changes how well the surround responds. Definitely a plus for those that want it ‘just so’.
- Construction – Good. While these are in no way flimsy, they do have some give that I believe contributes to why they feel so comfortable.
In conclusion, for the price you pay, this headset is Overclockers Approved. The quality and ability of this headset for the price range it is in is superb. For the person who wants surround sound on the cheap, comfortable wear for those of us with larger skulls, and accurate, clear sound, these are for you.
I know I’m enjoying my set.