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Arctic Sound P531

Eight 5.1- And 7.1-Channel Gaming Headsets, Reviewed
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Arctic is relatively new to the audio industry; the company is arguably better-known for its cooling products. Its premium surround gaming headset is the P531, which is only one of three products in this round-up to feature true 5.1-channel surround with discrete drivers for delivering positional audio.

The headset is attractive, though it doesn't suggest the use of high-quality materials. That's perhaps understandable, given its relatively low $50 price point. At 13.1 oz, this is one of the heavier headsets at which we're looking. Wearing it isn't fatiguing, though. The contact surfaces are both soft and comfortable, and they don’t squeeze much when worn. That's good for long gaming sessions. Arctic's ear pads are small, but just large enough to make me think I should be squeezing my ears inside of them, rather than wearing them on top.



The microphone boom rotates up or down, and it also bends into the curve shape you prefer. It has a good, deep response without much background noise, but it’s light on the high-end of the frequency spectrum.

Arctic includes real-time profiles to change the sound of your voice, as we'll explore shortly.

Each cup includes four speakers: one center channel, one for the front (left and right), one for the side (left and right surround), and a subwoofer. The front speakers are the largest and have the widest range, 40 mm drivers with a frequency response between 18 Hz and 20 kHz. The center and surround channels are both 30 mm drivers frequency response between 20 and 20 kHz. And the subwoofer is a 27 mm unit capable of reproducing sound between 10 and 400 Hz.

This is a unique arrangement. The other headsets with true 5.1-channel arrangements employ 30 mm drivers and a 40 mm subwoofer. Theoretically, it's nice to see the important front channels armed with larger drivers. Although the small subwoofers are cause for some skepticism, they still pack a modest punch.

The remote is a bit odd on that it doesn’t come with a clip to attach to your clothes. It's larger than most inline remotes, but too small and light to sit on a desk without getting knocked around. It has a microphone mute switch, level controls for each channel, and a master volume control. As with the rest of the headset, the remote doesn't seem very durable. It gets the job done, though.

The cable terminates with a USB connector, and there is no analog option for folks who'd rather have their sound card handle audio processing.

The Arctic Sound P531 comes with a driver that gives you a tray icon and access to output options. The Main Setting tab lets you choose system inputs and outputs. I’m not sure why you’d want to use anything less than six-channel output (Ed.: Perhaps for stereo material?), but it's important to set the right input to match the source you're playing back. You can also apply a virtual 7.1-channel speaker shifter that moves the perceived sound source.

The Mixer tab allows you to control line levels.

The Effect tab provides access to environmental effects and a graphic equalizer, which power users will want to fine-tune to taste.

Magic Voice is a toy used to disguise your voice in real-time based on preset profiles: monster, cartoon, male, and female. Key shifting and voice cancellation options are also available on this tab.

The headset comes with a pamphlet user manual and driver CD. It might not seem like a comprehensive bundle. But really, this is all you need. Plus, in light of the lowest price tag in this round-up, we don't expect a lot of frills.

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  • 15 Hide
    Anonymous , February 10, 2012 3:53 AM
    Thanks Toms for doing a review on 5.1 headsets. I been researching one for the past two weeks on other review websites, and online stores, but didn't feel satisfied. Could you guys do a review comparing these headsets you reviewed already to a dedicated audio card like the Asus Xonar Essence STX (with a pre amp) with a Sennheiser HD 598 Headphones (or HD 800)? I want to know if it is like night and day compared to these 5.1 headsets (also make readers see what they are missing from using onboard audio). I know its a few hundred dollars more, but i found out that i was more happy gaming with a $70 audio card than seeing 8x AA (using Nvidia Inspector) with a $500 GPU.
  • 13 Hide
    cleeve , February 10, 2012 3:32 AM
    xtreme5amazing stff.


    Wassat stand for... "Space, The Final Frontier"? :) 
  • 13 Hide
    cleeve , February 10, 2012 4:02 AM
    bunnywannyCould you guys do a review comparing these headsets you reviewed already to a dedicated audio card like the Asus Xonar Essence STX (with a pre amp) with a Sennheiser HD 598 Headphones (or HD 800)? I want to know if it is like night and day compared to these 5.1 headsets (also make readers see what they are missing from using onboard audio).


    I like the idea, but it'll probably take a while to make it happen.

    Next up on the audio to-do list is a full-sized 5.1/7.1 surround system comparo. :) 
Other Comments
  • 0 Hide
    xtreme5 , February 10, 2012 3:24 AM
    amazing stff.
  • 13 Hide
    cleeve , February 10, 2012 3:32 AM
    xtreme5amazing stff.


    Wassat stand for... "Space, The Final Frontier"? :) 
  • 7 Hide
    spookie , February 10, 2012 3:46 AM
    great read! Never thought virtual surround sound was that good
  • 3 Hide
    cleeve , February 10, 2012 3:47 AM
    spookiegreat read! Never thought virtual surround sound was that good


    Yeah, me neither. Surprised the hell out of me.
  • 15 Hide
    Anonymous , February 10, 2012 3:53 AM
    Thanks Toms for doing a review on 5.1 headsets. I been researching one for the past two weeks on other review websites, and online stores, but didn't feel satisfied. Could you guys do a review comparing these headsets you reviewed already to a dedicated audio card like the Asus Xonar Essence STX (with a pre amp) with a Sennheiser HD 598 Headphones (or HD 800)? I want to know if it is like night and day compared to these 5.1 headsets (also make readers see what they are missing from using onboard audio). I know its a few hundred dollars more, but i found out that i was more happy gaming with a $70 audio card than seeing 8x AA (using Nvidia Inspector) with a $500 GPU.
  • 13 Hide
    cleeve , February 10, 2012 4:02 AM
    bunnywannyCould you guys do a review comparing these headsets you reviewed already to a dedicated audio card like the Asus Xonar Essence STX (with a pre amp) with a Sennheiser HD 598 Headphones (or HD 800)? I want to know if it is like night and day compared to these 5.1 headsets (also make readers see what they are missing from using onboard audio).


    I like the idea, but it'll probably take a while to make it happen.

    Next up on the audio to-do list is a full-sized 5.1/7.1 surround system comparo. :) 
  • 4 Hide
    killeeeeer , February 10, 2012 4:03 AM
    It would of been great if you tested the Roccat Kave but other than that great review. Been searching for headset for long time , now ill go with the Corsair Vengeance 1500 for sure .
  • 3 Hide
    crysex , February 10, 2012 4:06 AM
    Thanks Toms so much for doing this review. I have been searching one for a long time. Ready to buy a good quality sound card + headset after my next paycheck!
  • -5 Hide
    iamtheking123 , February 10, 2012 4:32 AM
    I'll stick to my $100 stereo headphones instead of $20 headphones + $80 spent on fake surround sound and marketing. We've all tried virtual surround sound in PowerDVD or WinDVD and it sucks. Makes everything sound underwater and no where close to having 5 actual speakers set up throughout a room.
  • 3 Hide
    tomfreak , February 10, 2012 4:40 AM
    I am still sticking with more expensive traditional speakers, simply due to my ear need some air to breath. These headphone arent comfortable especially during summer.
  • 12 Hide
    cleeve , February 10, 2012 4:41 AM
    iamtheking123I'll stick to my $100 stereo headphones instead of $20 headphones + $80 spent on fake surround sound and marketing. We've all tried virtual surround sound in PowerDVD or WinDVD and it sucks. Makes everything sound underwater and no where close to having 5 actual speakers set up throughout a room.


    I disagree.

    As mentioned in the article, six blindfolded testers were consistently able to point out the source of virtually-placed audio behind them, beside and in front. Every single tester.

    That's hard evidence that cannot be ignored.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 10, 2012 4:53 AM
    Hi, Do you check current prices when you make these comparisons? The Logitech G35 is only $95 on Amazon.com and has been for several months. Seems like you should use current pricing to make the comparison.

    The Corsair 1500 is only $10 cheaper and im curious if the Logitech software extras and minimal price difference actually beat the Corsair headset? I have the Corsair set and im not to impressed with the bass on it. For 50mm drivers i would have thought it would have better bass. (yes i tweaked things in the equalizer and put the first 3 columns all the way up and its still not very bassy).
  • 0 Hide
    cleeve , February 10, 2012 4:57 AM
    keylayHi, Do you check current prices when you make these comparisons? The Logitech G35 is only $95 on Amazon.com and has been for several months. Seems like you should use current pricing to make the comparison. The Corsair 1500 is only $10 cheaper and im curious if the Logitech software extras and minimal price difference actually beat the Corsair headset? I have the Corsair set and im not to impressed with the bass on it. For 50mm drivers i would have thought it would have better bass. (yes i tweaked things in the equalizer and put the first 3 columns all the way up and its still not very bassy).


    Well, in our tests the Corsair beat the heck out of all competitors except the Megalodon when it comes to the whole sound spectrum. There are some models with heavier bass, but it comes at a price as there are significant lows in other parts of the spectrum.

    Yeah, we check current prices, but I must have missed that Logitech $95 deal on amazon. I'll check again, might have to adjust the article a bit.
  • 1 Hide
    nikorr , February 10, 2012 4:58 AM
    Very cool. Great review Don Woligroski : ))
  • 1 Hide
    Earnie , February 10, 2012 4:58 AM
    wow!no roccat kaves,no sennhieser,no logitech 930's.....seems like the better ones were left out.
  • 10 Hide
    cleeve , February 10, 2012 5:21 AM
    Earniewow!no roccat kaves,no sennhieser,no logitech 930's.....seems like the better ones were left out.


    I understand that the Logitech 930's are simply a wireless version of the G35, so no difference there.

    Sennheiser refused our invitation to the roundup.

    Roccat, well... can't find them for sale in the USA, and this is a US-based publication. :) 
  • 4 Hide
    Eman25th , February 10, 2012 5:30 AM
    this was a great review, i received a pair of corsair 1500s two weeks ago and i love them. I was worried about the virtual surround sound at first because i have a Logitech 7.1 setup for home use, but the 1500s sound just as good, only complaint is that i cant hear teammates at LANs very well with them on, but then again i cant hear my wife either ;) 
  • 1 Hide
    jasonw223 , February 10, 2012 5:42 AM
    I've got a G35, and just so you know, the red light doesn't just come on when the boom is folded up. It's mainly meant so that when you push the mute button on the side of the one headphone (and the mic is in front of your face) - you don't forget it on. With my last headset I did that plenty of times and wondered why everyone was ignoring me...

    And secondly those 3 buttons are great for pausing music and changing tracks if you don't have media keys on your keyboard. Although I think playing Starcraft using your headphones instead of your keyboard would be pretty sweet.
  • 11 Hide
    mrkdilkington , February 10, 2012 5:44 AM
    iamtheking123I'll stick to my $100 stereo headphones instead of $20 headphones + $80 spent on fake surround sound and marketing. We've all tried virtual surround sound in PowerDVD or WinDVD and it sucks. Makes everything sound underwater and no where close to having 5 actual speakers set up throughout a room.
    You're a fool if you think 'virtual sound' in PowerDVD is even remotely the same technology implemented in these headphones.
  • 0 Hide
    Maziar , February 10, 2012 5:53 AM
    Great review,but it's strange that in a fairly older review of Megalodon,the writer didn't give it a good score overall(and only 7/10 for the Comfort)
    http://www.tomsguide.com/us/Surround-Sound-Headsets,review-1357-5.html
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