Headsets, like many other peripherals, are quite difficult to test as the results are going to be based mainly around the users personal preference for bass and treble levels, and their ability to convey the quality of the sound. To fully test the headset though, we play different types of music, movies and games while wearing the headphones, which gives us as clear picture as possible of what the device can do.
Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 @ 3.2GHZ
MSI 680i Diamond
Super Talent 6400 4GB @ 1200MHZ
Vvikoo 8800GT 1GB DDR3
Auzentech Prelude 7.1
Western Digital Raptor 75GB, Western Digital Caviar SE 80GB
Windows XP Pro x86
Bare in mind that I’m using a high end sound card to test this headset with. While this means the sound quality will be better than if I’d used a weaker sound card, it means that I won’t have any bottlenecking in terms of quality, at the sound card end.
Call of Duty: World at War
Call of Duty World at War is a hectic World War II first person shooter that combines fast paced game play, with intense realism through historically accurate weapons; not least of all, the sound effects. Jumping into a game I proceeded to select my weapon of choice at the time, the suppressed MP40. Wracking up the volume on the headset, I jumped into battle and began gunning down the japanese willy nilly. I was immediately impressed by the realism this true 5.1 headset delivered, as I was able to hear bullets whipping past my head, and artillery barrages whistling towards the ground became terrifying.
After a few minutes however, I realised testing a headset, with a practically silenced gun, was a waste of time. So I popped out a bolt action rifle, set myself up in a covered sniper spot and began popping off the enemy at a distance. It’s a little hard to explain, but the fact that the Medusa NX is able to keep it’s clarity, even at high volumes, made firing the rifle during this game, a sheer joy. It’s something else to watch a Nazi hit the dirt, to the soundtrack of a cacophonous “Blam!” from your Lee Enfield.
Heavy machine guns were also a blast, and by the time you’ve released the trigger from a prolonged firing your ears are almost ringing as they would be in real life. Granted maybe I didn’t need the volume that high, but it made it damn fun.
Dawn of War II
Dawn of War II is more atmospheric in it’s audio, with a moody soundtrack and gruff unit voices permeating the alien landscape you traverse your troops around. While the audio isn’t anywhere near as mood enhancing as it is in Call of Duty, it can still play quite a big part; ramping up when the tension builds to a big battle, and calming slightly in the aftermath.
Due to the more omnipotent perspective, the 5.1 isn’t really utilised in this title, as you can’t really have a sound appearing to come from behind you, when you’re looking from a god’s perspective. That said, the bass in these headphones is very impressive indeed. It really captures the rumble of the drop pods as they crash to earth, or the shattering boom that accompanies the firing of another gigantic tank shell into a squad of light armored infantry.
One of the better high octane titles from recent years, Death Race stars Jason Stratham, playing his tough guys character with an odd accent, this time in jail; with elements of Megarace. I like to use the opening sequence from this movie as a test for sound equipment, as it’s got some top notch audio in the way of gunning engines, screeching tyres, and pounding machine guns. Needless to say, I was very impressed. I can honestly say that this movie was worth watching again, just with this new headset; the improved sound makes that much difference. When you can really hear the bullets pinging off the “tombstone”, and even the different noises emitted from the myriad of different guns mounted to the hoods of the cars, you feel far more immersed that you could otherwise. The 5.1 aspect of the headset really helps too, as the cars blur by each other, they feel like they’re whistling past you too.
Like Dawn of War II was to Call of Duty, Videodrome is to Death Race. It doesn’t utilise the 5.1 surround sound, and it doesn’t have manic, multitudes of sounds; what it does have, is some creepy atmospheric noises, and a soundtrack that doesn’t need any help from the visuals to ramp up the freaked-out-o-meter. Really, the Medusa doens’t enhance this film as much as it does with some of the noisier sources I’ve used, but the sound was very clear even at high volumes, and it does make the shrieks of James Woods whipping a TV that much creepier.
Pendulum and Disturbed
My musical choices for testing the Medusa were Pendulum and Disturbed. The former is a great mix of large stadium sounds, along with drum and bass, trance with some rock thrown in for good measure. They sounded phenomenal, with great clarity for all sounds, and unlike some headsets, there didn’t seem to be any spectrum of sound that wasn’t as strong as the rest. Low and high end frequencies came through with excellent clarity.
Disturbed is metal, or hard rock – depending on who you talk to – but either way, they rock, hard. They’ve got pounding drums, throaty vocals, and some blistering guitar work, that the Medusa NX played fantastically. The drums sounded amazing, and I listened until my ears were ringing; and I figured I better get back here and finish writing this up.
Comfort wise, the Medusa NX does very well indeed. It’s headphone pads are great at cushioning your ears, and even after several hours my listening cones didn’t have any aches or pains like you get with some headsets. The only thing I would have preferred is if the cushions sat around your ears, not on them; but that’s a personal preference, not a complaint.
Something that most wouldn’t consider is the cable length of the headset. The cable measures in at 3.8 meters which can be very useful if you like to wander around while wearing the headset. However, it’s also quite heavy, and creates a constant drag on the Medusa, which isn’t always noticeable, but can become a bit annoying over time. It can also get caught up in chair wheels, or under your feet; so it can cause problems. That said, it’s a very minor grievance.
The Medusa NX also have a pretty good noise cancellation ability. Of course it’s a long shot from in ear headphone buds, but for an external set of headphones it does very well indeed. Also, once you’ve got something playing in them, the acoustics are so well done you probably won’t be able to hear anything outside of what you’re listening to anyway.
That said, they aren’t so good at canceling out their own noise; IE. if these babies are on loud, people in the room will be listening to it as well. On full volume you could practically use these things as speakers; in short, they get very loud.
The only other grievance I can think of, is that the LED on the volume control is very bright. Distractingly so, but this is countered by turning over the controller. I’m being petty, but I might as well air pretty much the only problem I had wit
The Medusa NX headphones will set you back £65 which is on the border of becoming a very expensive headset. That said, you get what you pay for, and you can heard the quality in them so while the price is high, it’s justified.