|Mad Catz CoD: Black Ops 5.1 ProGaming Headset|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Audio|
|Written by Joey Peng|
|Wednesday, 08 December 2010|
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Mad Catz CoD Headset Software, Testing & Results
After using the Mad Catz CoD Headset for a variety of games, music, and movies, the headset reveals some significant drawbacks as well as advantages over competing products.
First and foremost is the quality of its true 5.1 surround sound. The Mad Catz CoD Headset lives up to its name, offering exceptional directional audio. The advantages of true surround sound from eight distinct drivers are obvious through any content that supports surround sound. The difference is significant even when comparing with top virtual surround sound headsets like the Logitech G930. One of the most notable differences comes from clear distinction of sound channels. Virtual surround sound tends to mix the different channels as it plays from a single speaker, unable play the original as it was meant to be heard. The Mad Catz CoD Headset is capable of delivering crisp and clear audio, especially obvious if listening to high quality music formats such as flac or ac3. Stereo quality is also excellent, as the rear and center speakers simply mute. The headset can be adjusted in stereo mode to deliver strong and resonating static-free base difficult to achieve on other headsets using a software equalizer.
At high volumes however the Mad Catz CoD Headset suffers from significant static noise from every speaker. I don't believe it to be a problem of the audio jacks as my other headsets/speakers work perfectly fine. While not noticeable during use, it becomes instantly audible when nothing is playing.
I also happen to find the controller sitting in my lap most of the time as the provided clip is unable to keep the weight in place. Since my computer is located beneath the desk, with analog jacks in the back, most of the headset's wires lie on the floor. I ended up treating it as a "special speaker" rather than a portable headset, with cables routed the same way as my monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Naturally unplugging it for travel then becomes a hassle. While a different desk setup can potentially remedy this problem, you will still find the headset better described as a convenient private speaker.
Another disappointing feature is the mic. While very flexible, it never stays in the shape you bend it as, and is almost incapable of vertical manipulation. Since Mad Catz does not provide any software for the headset, by default a lot of acoustic noise gets picked up. Using Realtek HD Manager a lot of it can be eliminated, but at the cost of significantly lower volume. The most annoying aspect is how well it picks up breathing. The only way to avoid that is by bending the mic vertically, but, as mentioned earlier, it simply returns to its original level. Even the quality and clarity is noticeably lower than other high-end headsets, which could be a result of proprietary software.
While heavy, the Mad Catz CoD Headset is comfortable to wear for long durations. It applies minimal pressure from the sides, but can still tolerate movement without slipping.
This review wouldn't be complete without mentioning its performance for the game Call of Duty: Black Ops. Compared to other games, Black Ops has one of the better and more accurate implementations for surround sound. Rear and front channels really make a difference in experiencing the game. It's hard to consciously point out the difference for subtle noise, but gunfire, explosions, and character speech really stand out directionally. Of course the experience also holds for games of other genres, such as StarCraft II.
Overall the Mad Catz CoD Dolby Digital 5.1 Gaming Headset delivers strong audio performance. Some flaws are by design hard to avoid, such as unwieldy wiring and controller placement. There are areas that can be improved, but its surround sound audio quality exceeds many other headsets.