|Mad Catz Cyborg F.R.E.Q. 5 Gaming Headset|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Audio|
|Written by Joey Peng|
|Friday, 03 May 2013|
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Mad Catz F.R.E.Q. 5 Detailed Features
In this section Benchmark Reviews will look at the detailed features of the Mad Catz Cyborg FREQ 5.
The first thing to note is the FREQ 5 does not need special drivers to be installed. This increases usability drastically as now you can carry this thing anywhere and instantly plug-and-play for full functionality without setup. The Cyborg FREQ 5 has built-in equalizer settings. It comes with Game, Music, and Chat presets. Using the Game preset as the baseline, Music mode essentially tunes up the bass, and Chat preset tunes down everything and boosts voices. It's sort of useful in games where you're chatting extensively and want to boost voices but keep the volume settings on games equal. Personally I would just use the Game preset and lower game volume.
The volume control is on the right ear piece and is synced with the system sound volume. It's oddly quirky though. Instead of mapping each tick of scrolling to x% volume change, the scroll wheel detects a certain scroll direction and adjusts volume by 10%. What does this mean? This means you can turn the volume knob really slowly, and nothing gets registered. Or alternatively, you can scroll really fast in 1 swift motion in one direction but it only moves 10%. This is a serious usability issue, not to mention that 10% adjustment is often too much. I ended up having to adjust the system volume directly many times. This is just poor design here and they need to update the drivers to get this fixed.
The microphone mute/unmute button is the only button on the headset that I dislike. The other two are extremely intuitive in their positioning, but the microphone button, with no exaggeration, took me 3-4 days before I started reaching for it in the right place. It still doesn't feel right. Functionality-wise it's a simple toggle. The light on the microphone really helps to let you know what exactly you're doing and whether or not the microphone is actually muted so you don't spew off saying something not intended for your Skype audience.
Another small design annoyance is the detachable microphone. Since it's detachable, Mad Catz included a small red "cap" to cover up the connecting jack. Truth be told, by now, 3 weeks into usage, I have no idea where that small cap is anymore, and I doubt if anyone will keep a tiny piece of plastic that's smaller than a penny.
The Cyborg FREQ 5 is a Mad Catz product. That means I'm expecting a lot of cool customization options or fancy knobs and gears somewhere. Turns out my expectations were little too high. Other than the standard bendable microphone, the headpiece length is the only other thing adjustable. You can extend either sides up to a little over an inch, sufficient, but not exciting. I'm not sure what material the frame is constructed out of, but it wasn't all that bendy and was very strong. The plastic also didn't creak and make noises like some of the competitor's products. The quality is great, just lacks a bit of functional excitement.
The way Mad Catz handles swappable connectors (USB/3.5mm) is by having a short wire coming out of the FREQ 5 headset with a custom connector which then can be attached to a USB or 3.5mm cable. The USB cord reaches up to 2 meters/6.5 feet and the 3.5mm chord is 1 meter/3.3 feet. This length is perfect for the respective usage scenarios.
I had extremely high expectations for the Mad Catz Cyborg FREQ 5 gaming headset. However after looking at the finer details, I found myself slightly disappointed. Make no mistake, the product is solid, but the biggest thing is, where's all the cool gadgets that I don't need but want? That's exactly how the Cyborg lineup has been differentiating itself for the past couple years to justify the high price tag (rightly justified if I may) but it's lacking in the FREQ 5.
In the next section Benchmark Reviews will dive into the details of the comfort and performance of the Mad Catz FREQ 5 stereo headset. With the acquisition of Tritton, hopefully this is where the Cyborg will shine again.