Image courtesy of Arctic
Last week in Pt 1 of the Arctic reviews, I took the P531 5.1 Surround Headset for a spin, and found that they were indeed impressive. This week I am checking out the P301 which is your basic 2 channel with adjustable microphone. I again turned to my gaming roots and suffered through a few more hours playing Black OPS on my PC. I like testing sound equipment with games because of the many different types of sound and how precisely you can measure the smallest of details. Black OPS has a quite the soundtrack, and when playing — if you have good sound, then you’re definitely at an advantage over your opponent. The sound of a reload can tell you if they are close by, footsteps can tell you when they are really close or right behind you. A great sound setup can also help you immerse yourself into the game and make it your sub reality for those few hours that you’re playing. And when it comes to a headset for communication with your fellow teammates, crisp voice and low distortion are what it’s all about.
Dimensions (Packaging) 260 L x 100 W x 235 H mm Frequency Response (Hz-kHz) 12-24 Sensitivity (dB/mW) 97 Impedance (ohm) 32 Driver Unit (Ømm) 50 Output Power (mW)40 Plug Gold-plated 3.5mm x2 Cable (m)2.5 Limited Warranty 2 years Weight0.52 kg
Pulling the P301s out of the package the first obvious thing I noticed was how light they were. This is a good thing, because light headphones mean more comfort which in turn allows you to focus on your game rather than a strain in your neck. Sometimes when headphones are too lightweight it’s not good, because it makes you wonder how well the item is made and if the drivers are really gonna sound good. Heavier drivers doesn’t always mean they sound better, but when it comes to speakers usually a nice hefty magnet plays a big part. These are built from all plastic but feel pretty solid. The adjustable strap at the top is very sturdy, and it’s lined with comfortable leather. It does not move unless you want it to, so once you’re adjusted to your liking, you should be good to go. The ear cups are super plush in a leather-like material, and I found that they fit really well around my ears. They are pretty tight against my head, but overall were extremely comfortable and lightweight. My ears do not hit the inside of the cups, so that hasn’t bothered me at all, either. So far so good.
The headset connects through a standard 3.5mm headphone and microphone jack, and the plugs are gold-plated for corrosion resistance and maximum signal throughput. The cord is a standard plastic coated cord which has a speaker volume and mic switch button on the fob closer to the top. This is quite handy for when you want to mute the mic without having to do it in your computer sound panel, or by unplugging from the back. I am using a Sound Blaster X-Fi, so if you’re using this for any reference, please keep that in mind. My experience should be slightly better than those using on-board audio.
I instantly noticed the heavy bass and lower frequencies of this headset. In a combat oriented game there are a lot of low frequencies sounds and music, which in terms really brings the battle to life. The bass was clear and consistent,and I noticed very little distortion even when the sound was turned up and the battle became more intense. The highs really bring all the gunfire, brass casing falling, and overhead air support sounds to life. These headphones are crisp and clear, and at no time did I hear any tinniness or crackling as bullets screamed past my head. If I have to say if anything was lacking it would be in the mid levels. By no means were they non-existent, but I noticed the highs and lows more distinctly over them. This could all probably be controlled by software in my control panel, but I figured I would mention it briefly. The imaging from 2 speakers was also great, and even though they are not surround sound, the headset still gives the impression of 360 sound.
Footsteps and voices were all heard distinctly and often saved me from a few re-spawns when I heard the enemy coming closer. The P301 is definitely a great headset and offers everything an entry-level gamer or someone looking to upgrade from basic gear would want. They are very comfortable, sound great, and will run you under $30. I cannot compare them to some of higher end headsets that I have used in the past from companies like Razer, Creative, and Sennheiser, but in the under $50 category I think they would be among the top contenders.
The comfort really sets them apart for me. Some of the other sets I have used hurt my ears after extended playing time due to the fact that the ear cups were not deep enough for them to fit. I did not have this problem at all with this headset. I tested out the mic and was told that I was coming through clear and without feedback or distortion, so there is not much else that I can say about he mic except that it works fine. These are available now from the Arctic web site for $26.46 and from other online retailers.
The Artic Gear P301 Professional Stereo Headset is available directly from the Arctic website and from other online retailers.
What I Like: Very inexpensive for the quality you get; as comfortable as most of the higher end headsets I’ve owned; crisp and clear sound, great for gaming, music and movies; cord is long enough to stay out of your way; retractable and adjustable microphone
What Needs Improvement: Plastic cord feels a little cheap and feels like it would twist up easy; mid’s were not as distinguishable as the crisp highs and lows
*Thanks again to Arctic for sending us out this great headset to review. Stay tuned for Pt 3. Read Part 1, here.