Another day, another gaming headset. We’re becoming quite the gaming headset encyclopedia over here (and we’re definitely not complaining). That said, after several other competitors gave us some of their best products to test, Coolermaster piped up, showing us their Sirus 5.1 offering. Let’s see how it compares and if you should drop your hard earned greenbacks on a pair.
Design, Comfort & Build Quality
From a design perspective, we really like the Sirus headset. It’s subdued and reserved in appearance — something we like. While overly flashy graphics and lights (like the SteelSeries Diablo headset) can be done well, we tend to prefer Coolermaster’s approach to headset design.
The plastic is, like the Roccat Kave 5.1, a soft-touch rubberized finish that really makes the Sirus 5.1 feel a cut above most headsets that feature an untouched, bare plastic design. The microphone resides on the left ear, is built like a tank and swivels up and down for easy use. Unfortunately, the mic is permanently attached and cannot be removed like Roccat’s Kave headset allows. Though, removal of the microphone on a gaming headset is something that perhaps most gamers wouldn’t really care for in the first place, especially if social/multiplayer gaming is their norm. (You have to be able to talk to people on your team…)
The headband on the Sirus headset is probably one of if not the most comfortable headsets we’ve ever used. Likewise, the earcups are super soft and squishy. The Sirus is one of those headsets you can put on and forget your wearing (almost), thereby playing for hours on end without any head or ear pressure/pain whatsoever. Coolermaster really hit the ball out of the park as far as overall design and comfort are concerned.
Comfort is definitely a big factor to consider when looking at gaming headsets. But perhaps more important is the real reason you’re buying a headset to begin with — audio performance. In this regard, Coolermaster once again delivers, and delivers on two fronts — gaming and music playback.
- four individual analog cables that handle individual channels directly via your motherboard’s built-in audio
- a standalone control pad that plugs in via USB
We tested both the analog method as well as Coolermaster’s dedicated control pad and found that, in our case, the dedicated control pad sounded better and got far louder than the individual cable/channel method. It’s worth noting that using your motherboard’s onboard audio is only recommended if you have a higher-end motherboard. If you have a high-end 3rd-party sound card installed in one of your PCI slots, then your sound quality should be even better yet, easily beating the motherboard’s integrated audio performance, and quite possibly Coolermaster’s control pad’s audio, too. That said, we have a Gigabyte P67-UD7 motherboard, that at the time (just ~1.5 years ago) was a “high-end” board. But even with the per-channel approach, sound quality was a bit lifeless and quite muted even with every slider we could find slid to “max” volume.
Plugging into the dedicated control pad for the Sirus, however, rewarded us with much better audio performance. All ends of the audible spectrum were boosted, clarity improved and spacial awareness felt larger (in games). In Battlefield 3, bullets whizzing by us and bouncing off rocks behind us was clearer and more perceivable than ever. Voices from fellow teammates was also more easily discernible as to which direction it was coming from. In Dirt 2, the engine sounds from competing cars, the sound of body panels banging against each other and the screeching of tires all felt more life-like and powerful than with other headsets we’ve tested.
Besides the in-game playback, we are also happy to report that Coolermaster’s Sirus 5.1 headset also does music playback very well. Where-as a few of the other headsets we’ve tested lacked considerably as soon as we changed to music playback, the Coolermaster’s powered on through, nearly besting our current #1 pick (for music playback at least), the SteelSeries Diablo stereo headset. Let it be known that the Diablo headset’s stereo focus no doubt contributed to it being better at such tasks. Still, after hearing several other expensive, high-end gaming headsets utterly fail at music playback, we’re happy to see Coolermaster provides an option that caters to both uses.
It’s worth noting that the Sirus headset does not require a dedicated driver program to use — simply plug it in and you’re off.
Coolermaster’s Sirus headset may not be the flashiest headset. But what it lacks in visual flare it more than makes up for in audio performance. As people who constantly jump between games and music playback, we most appreciate the Sirus 5.1 headset for being able to handle not only gunfire and engine sounds, but complex music playback, too. Catering to one or the other is easy enough. Catering to both, as we’ve seen, is apparently pretty difficult so we have to give Coolermaster credit here. Whether it be games, movies or music, the Sirus 5.1 can deliver some of the best audio around.
And now, decision time. Is one of the best headsets available worth $129.99 to you? If it’s not, we think it’s time you highly reconsider raising your spending limit – that is, unless, you want to settle for mediocrity.