Cooler Master CM Storm Sirus
Cooler Master is another company expanding into the audio peripheral market, and its Sirus is part of the CM Storm gamer-oriented brand. These headphones offer true 5.1-channel surround via separate drivers for each audio channel.
This headset costs a more moderate $115, so we’re not surprised to see that Cooler Master amps up the fit and finish compared to Arctic's offering. The headphones look great (especially the illuminated red logo on the side of each ear cup). Although it weighs a hefty 13.3 oz, the Sirus is still comfortable, though perhaps a little tighter than we'd prefer to wear for long stretches of time.
The microphone can be deactivated by pushing the boom upward. When you do this, its red indicator light turns off. Our microphone tests demonstrate a bit of background noise and bright frequency response. The result is acceptable, though this isn't one of the best mics in our field of contenders.
You probably wouldn't guess it by looking at the Sirus, but each of its ear cups has four speakers in it. The center, front, and rear surround drivers are all 30 mm large, while the subwoofers are 40 mm. The headphones are rated for frequency response between 10 Hz and 20 kHz. Relatively large subs do a good-enough job with bass that they can be set to overpowering levels.
Cooler Master calls its control pod a tactical mixing console. It features headphone mute, microphone mute, and volume settings, along with rear, front, center, and sub channel level controls. The console also contains a USB audio chipset for folks who don't mind letting the headset handle processing. The large dial is smooth and heavy enough to sit on your desk. Its heft is much more satisfying than an inline remote with simple up and down buttons.
Cooler Master's bundle also comes with an analog cable adapter, if you'd prefer to use an add-in sound card for processing. The USB connector you see snaking off from that cable is used to power the illuminated logos.
Naturally, bypassing the tactical mixing console's integrated logic means that all adjustments need to go through your sound card's driver.
When you go the USB route, you're able to use the CM Storm Sirus' software for additional tuning beyond what the physical console facilitates. This utility isn't included, but Cooler Master does give you a download link instead.
The Speaker Settings page allows you to toggle between different surround sound modes.
The Equalizer page is where you can customize sound spectrum preference.
The Flex Bass II page is used to more granularly control the headset's low-frequency response.
The Environment Effects page includes a number of options for altering perceived room size, amongst other tweaks.
Xear SingFX includes a number of real-time voice effect presets: monster, cartoon, male, and female. There is no option to customize each profile, though. We also noticed that, when voice effects are used, sound levels seem to drop.
The Virtual Speaker Shifter enables software-based re-positioning of perceived audio sources.
Cooler Master bundles its tactical mixing console, an analog cable end, a second set of ear cups with cloth finish (instead of leatherette), which is much more comfortable, and a quick start guide. You don't get a driver disk, but the included documentation tells you where the control software can be downloaded.