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Two headsets, One Winner: The SteelSound 5H vs. The Icemat Siberia

Last response: in Tom's Guide
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April 28, 2006 1:02:00 PM

We look at two headsets designed for very different applications. While the SteelSound 5H is intended for the gamer set, the Icemat Siberia's designers had VoIP use in mind.
April 29, 2006 4:51:33 PM

I'm heading overseas for a year and I've been doing some research on headphones. I will be gaming and using Skype - not to mention increasing the amount of music that I listen to on the PC. One of the options I had considered was a good 5.1 headset, but I've heard mixed results on sound quality and implementation of surround sound in the 5.1 headsets.

I read some good reviews on the HC Technology DH-720G Dolby Headphones, but was unable to find them for sale anywhere. How does the DH-720G compare to the Steel 5H? Are the Steel 5H headphones the best 5.1s on the market? The HC Technology website and store site seem to be down. Is the company still around and producing headphones? If not, then what happened to them?

I found a deal on some Sennheiser HD-555 headphones - $119 shipped. How does the sound quality compare between this set, the DH-720G and the 5H? The HD-555s have a 120 Ohm resistance - will onboard sound be able to sufficiently drive/power these headphones? Are there any mobos with onboard sound with a decent DAC and some amplification? How much improvement would I see by getting a soundcard with a DAC/amplifier? Good options in the low-moderate price rages?

I've just got all kinds of questions today....Thanks in advance for any and all feedback!
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May 1, 2006 12:42:44 AM

:oops:  Obviously I didn't do a ton of research on those particular headphones.

Which surround sound headphones are you using? Ever heard anything on the DH-720G headphones or HC Technology?
May 1, 2006 7:39:32 AM

basically i won't talk about quality , i will talk about durability i think 5H durability is the worst headset that i've ever seen , i've got a 5H about 10 months ago after two months one of its speakers didn't work so i changed it again after three months the same problem appears then i've got a ICEMAT siberia black headset and it's working for over 5 months without any problems.
May 1, 2006 12:52:43 PM

I use the Medusa 5.1's, though some have reported problems with them.

As for the durability issue, I agree with Manwe that it's exceptionally important. My day-to-day headset is actually the Speed-Link Triton's, which are holding up quite well over time. TBH the 5H doesn't look like a pair that I could knock off the desk quite so many times as the Triton and come out of it with perfectly balanced sound. However I haven't tried doing so, so will have to go with Manwe's assessment – though a huge amount of headsets just come apart over time, for review purposes this can be a bit impractical to test. Hrm, I must have a think about that...
May 14, 2006 8:38:36 PM

I've been a Siberia headset user for almost 2 years now, I currently own 2 pairs of them, and have bought 3 in total. I bought the 5h's and they lasted 8 days before the microphone just stopped working. That was on the USB version, so when I returned them I got the dual 3.5mm jack version. 12 days after that the left speaker stopped working. As far as sound quality goes, the USB version of the 5h's are horrid, and IMO was only fair on the 3.5mm jack version.

I'm an audiophile and when I first got my Siberias 2 years ago I had them teamed with an Audigy 2 platnium Pro, and they were nothing short of Amazing. Today I use them with my Sound Blaster Xi-Fi Fatality, and again I am just blown away by the sound quality produced by these mid range head phones. I honestly can plug my AKG K 1000's into my computer and recieve equal sound. For the price these headphones are a steal.

I'd like to ask the writer of the review why there wasent a more technical approach to the review, that i've come to expect from Tom's. It sounded more to me like a little kid got a new toy and felt like bashing something beautiful, then actually testing 2 products against each other.
May 15, 2006 10:45:16 PM

Hi,


We're going for this new approach with headphones - but remaining totally audio graph nuts for speakers - because we've found that the majority of people don't want headphone reviews to go into every specific detail down to the audio analysis. They want, we've found, a clear, consistent review style (which we have down). Even in the most technical reviews the assessment of build quality and so on is the same as the way we do it for our current headphone reviews.
May 16, 2006 1:35:59 AM

New approach? how about atleast stating weather you used a USB or analog version? How about what soundcard you performed the test on? I'm sorry if this is just something that isn't done with the "Den Guru" reviews, this being the first one I have read, but I'd like to know. I would like you to find me one person, who wouldn't want to know WHY a certain pair of headphones is better then another, for me, thats the only reason why I read reviews.

I've been an avid reader of TG reviews for quite some time, and I've always found them balanced and fair, but after reading your review Aaron, I just seem to have had a completely different experience then you, and I'd like to know why. I have another question about one other statement you had,

Quote:
The headset meets the sound-quality demands for Skype and other VoIP applications, but for the $79 asking price, there are far better offerings on the market.


If this is the case, whats the point of even reviewing a "non top quality headset" vrs the 5H? Because they were from the same "Parent" company? Im pretty intrested in your reply.
May 18, 2006 10:12:56 AM

At $79 one might presume quality. We do not simply review products we know we know that we will be able to rate highly. I am taking account of your feedback, and I intend to implement some of it in further headset reviews.
May 19, 2006 1:18:23 AM

Thanks Aaron. But I'd still like to know answers to those questions =P if your not to busy.
May 19, 2006 8:43:15 AM

Right, sorry, soundcard was a creative audigy 2, and the connector was (as I think I said...) 3.5mm, not USB. Same for the other one.
February 23, 2007 6:07:13 PM

Yes, at $79 one may presume quality, and quality is exactly what you get from the Icemat. This headset is not only absolutely stunning looking and extremely comfortable to wear over extended periods, it also has excellent manufacturing quality and well thought out design features that make it one of the best choices for extended business computer use.

The review exhibits a disturbing lack of real-world understanding of how headphones get used. The extra long cables on the Icemat give me extra room to move about at my desk, allowing me to reach the bookshelf without having to remember pulling the plug before it rips out of the connector. True, in an armchair these long cables would not be great - but one can always plug them in without the extension and rely on the laptop's volume regulation. But that for me happens perhaps once a month, whereas desk use is daily and continuous. Having the volume control on the extension cord means I can have it within comfortable reach and field of vision, without having to finger around along the cable. Besides, if the cable is too long for you, just tie up a part of it with a rubber band.

I have never been partial to boom-style mics sticking out in front of my head, and I want to be able to eat and drink without worrying about the mic. I usually prefer a shotgun noise-cancelling mic, but I also like the Icemat's clip-on mic, which can also be attached to the monitor instead of the lapel/shirt. A nice feature are the rubber connectors linking mic cable to headphone cable - they make cable management a snap. One more word about the cable: it is sturdy and rubberized, and won't ever twist or warp, unlike most other headphone cables.

The reviewer completely leaves out a review of the mic's pickup quality, noise cancellation or isolation features, subjective or objective - nothing there. Since I don't have the direct comparison I'll shut up about this topic, but I found the Icemat's mic quite adequate.

These are certainly not the best-sounding audiophile phones out there, but they do just fine for daily use including games and music, they won't give you red ears or pressure spots, they'll last you a really long time, and if you don't like their looks I can't help you - you probably don't like Porsche design either. Yes, they look like a Mac accessory - and most people agree that Mac stuff looks pretty hot.

I work all day and night at the computer and spent a long time searching for just the right phones - these are a dream come true!
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