I tested the Vulcan against a formidable opponent in the AKG K701 headphone mated to an Audio-gd Sparrow A DAC/AMP combo, over a wide variety of music from pop to classical. There are some very good things coming out of the Vulcan! I suppose a more fair contest price-wise would be a pair of Grado SR-125, but I would probably prefer the Vulcan for a number of reasons. Mainly, the in-yo-face Grado sound just isnt in my ears anymore. I appreciate the sound, but I like a little more laid back sound, something you can listen to without getting too tired.
The second point is that the Vulcans are very comfortable for long periods of gaming.
Lets get on to the subjective tests, though. I say subjective because its highly unlikely that you will perceive sound the way I do, and while I am striving for objective descriptions of the Vulcans sound based on my reference AKG K701, its still subjective objectivity. Yeah, chew on that for a bit.
I played several songs through the Sparrow DAC/AMP combo over a S/PDIF connection and marked the differences I heard. I can tell you, I was surprised at how good the Vulcans sound. These are great headphones! They dont have any obvious coloration from the earcups like I expected. Sometimes you can put on a pair of headphones expecting it to hurt a little bit, but the Vulcan almost reached in and gave my eardrums a massage.
The Vulcan are detailed enough to get you through a song without thinking you were missing anything. In Jimi Hendrixs I Dont Live Today, the backing guitar tracks had a nice warmth to them and the harmonies were laid out exceptionally well, which plays well to the Vulcan's up-close and personal presentation. This is where I started to really like the Vulcans not just for gaming, but also for music.
They have good punch and very good bass extension, giving a giving a lot more bass than the K701s with Beastie Boys Intergalactic. With Bjorks Hyperballad or Chromeos bass-drum extravaganza Needy Girl, the Vulcan bass was just perfect. It sometimes could be too much, though, like in Whitest Boy Alive, Figures, where the kick drum could overpower the bass guitar groove. Some might feel that big bass is an advantage, and Im with you, but in regard to accuracy, the Vulcans are a little bit wooly in the bass and could be a little cleaner sounding. Midrange through mid treble were very nice actually, vocals came through pretty natural sounding as were high-hats and cymbals being crisp and clear.
In songs that are mixed a little dark, like Barenaked Ladies' Spider in My Room, the Vulcan sounded a little muffled.
Not a trace of zing or harshness in the treble range with any songs I threw at them, and they brought out just a little less detail than the AKG K701.
The Vulcan do have some shortcomings, however. They dont impart a very large soundstage. That is, they have an upfront and intimate soundstage, much like Grado do, but not cavernously large like the K701. They do provide strong bass and punch, but at the expense of overall clarity. The Vulcan also have slightly a muddy mid-bass making some bass lines a little difficult to follow in the texture of the mix.
To compare the Vulcan against something a little more garden variety, I busted out a pair of Corsair HS1s, my previous headset favorite. The HS1s have noticeable grain in the treble and are lighter in bass by comparison, but both are exceptional in the midrange, where accuracy counts the most. In this case, the Vulcan are much better to my ears.
So now, after all this verbiage, I can definitely say that the Vulcan ANC are the best gaming headphones currently available. If there is something better, Ive not heard it. I am aware that CM also have a gaming headset, but we havent reviewed that product, so there it is folks, the Vulcan stands on sound alone top of the heap for gaming headsets.
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