The other day some of our acquaintances from CCL came into the TrustedReviews offices. CCL had been kind enough to supply us with the recently reviewed Razor Diamondback Plasma mouse for review and during the conversation the subject of other gaming peripherals that CCL supply cropped up. Two of these I found of particular interest – a Saitek Eclipse keyboard and a Medusa 5.1 Surround Headset. For me, these two items together with the Razor mouse soundedg like three essential gaming items. The Diamondback is a high precision optical mouse that’s perfect for left-handers such as myself, the keyboard with its blue backlight would enable me to play games late at night in the dark as I am wont to do (review coming soon), while the Medusa headset would enable me to play at full volume in surround-sound, without waking the rest of the family up.
Naming a headset Medusa does seem unusual but if you know your Greek mythology if makes perfect sense. Medusa was a woman whose hair consisted of many snakes and equally the Medusa headset is many headed as rather than just the normal two drivers, the headphones contain multiple speakers in order to mimic the effect of a 5.1 surround field - two for fronts, two for the back, one for the centre and one for bass effects.
The appeal is obvious. It’s not always possible to play with a full-on surround speaker setup and when you switch to a regular set of stereo headphones, you lose that front to back feeling. With its new X-Fi sound card, Creative makes much of the fact that you can obtain a 3D soundfield from a stereo source but not having heard it myself I can’t vouch for its effectiveness. However, our reviewer Paul Weir wasn’t that bowled over by the effect, though as he admitted some are more sensitive to it than others.
Speed Link is not a name I’ve was previously familiar (turns out its big in Europe) and not one I’d associate with audio but then again neither is Zalman who also produced a set of 5.1 headphones. I own the Zalmans making me well placed to compare to the Medusas. Firstly, the Medusas are more conventional looking, though that’s not too hard compared to the frankly bizarre looking Zalmans. They’re also more comfortable to wear, thanks to the Medusas having a thick velvety pad around the earphones and a padded headband. The headphones are of a closed back design which helps to increase bass. It also ensures that sounds are kept in so that you don’t disturb others nearby. This makes them ideal for LAN parties, where everyone can play together, but also in their own world, without disturbing each other. To aid portability, the phones fold up into the headband making them that bit more portable.