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Psyko Carbon

Eight 5.1- And 7.1-Channel Gaming Headsets, Reviewed
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Psyko Audio made a name for itself when it released the Psyko 5.1 in 2010, a unique gaming headset designed with surround sound in mind. The company updated its product with the Psyko Krypton the following year. Even newer, we have the Psyko Carbon.

The Carbon is the most expensive headset in our comparison, and it sells for $200 from Psyko's website. Weighing in at 1 lb, 1.4 oz, it’s also the heaviest headset in this round-up.

We're impressed with Psyko's sturdy build quality and snug fitment. However, its weight coupled with a tight squeeze cumulatively lead to pronounced discomfort over time. Psyko's headsets certainly boast a unique design, and while I haven’t tried this model's predecessors, I can't discern any significant visual difference between pictures of the Carbon, the original Psyko 5.1, or Psyko's Krypton. The company’s signature style looks good, though. It's a mean-looking, unapologetic headset to be sure.

Psyko offers the only detachable microphone in our round-up, mounted on the right ear cup. This is far and away the best-sounding microphone in our tests, delivering excellent voice reproduction and low noise.

A true 5.1-channel surround headset, Psyko won't divulge the Carbon's driver specifications. Based on the best measurements we could take without completely dismantling our review sample, it appears as though the center, front, and side speakers are 30 mm, complemented by a 40 mm sub. Assuming this is correct, the Carbon's configuration is similar to the CM Storm Sirus. All of the speakers except the subwoofer are mounted in the headband, directing sound through plastic tubes to the intended direction of the audio channel.

The ear cups have a unique pivot-open cover that allows ambient sound to pass in at the expense of some bass and overall sound quality. This is an awesome feature, and I wish other manufacturers would catch on. If you're gaming but still need to hear what's happening in the world around you, it's nice to have the option to let some noise in. 

Psyko includes an amplifier that requires power from an external AC adapter. The amp boasts two dials: one for bass and one for volume. Also, indicator lights visually reflect when each channel is being used, except for the sub. Although you can bypass the amplifier, it's probably not recommended. Because the company doesn't provide any specifications for this headset, we don't know what its impedance is. Assuming they're on the higher side, though, given their size, additional voltage from an amp should help drive a higher listening level.

The Psyko Carbon requires a sound card with either six- or eight-channel analog output, and it does not support USB connectivity. Although USB is much more convenient, many enthusiasts prefer to use higher-end discrete sound cards with their own on-board audio processors, so Psyko's decision to market its premium headset to that crowd makes sense. Of course, as a result, there are no drivers to install and no software written specifically to control this headset. Instead, you'll have to go into your sound card's control panel to fine tune the output you get from the Carbon.

Psyko includes the aforementioned amplifier and an owner's manual in the Carbon's bundle. For a $200 package, that's pretty lightweight.

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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 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. :) 
  • 13 Hide
    cleeve , February 10, 2012 3:32 AM
    xtreme5amazing stff.


    Wassat stand for... "Space, The Final Frontier"? :) 
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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