Gaming and Stuff
Several games were used to test the HS1 and Xtatic SP, including Starcraft 2, World of Warcraft, Dirt 2, and Battlefield 2:Bad Company 2.
Due to time constraints, only Dirt 2 and Bad Company 2 got benchmarked. All the games presented we used FRAPS to capture framerates in 60 second chunks running through the same portion of the game, repeating the same activities to minimize variation from run to run.
- Intel i7-875K@3.4GHz
- Gigabyte P55A-UD4P, F13 BIOS
- Corsair XMMS3 DDR3@1600MHz
- ATI HD5770 Catalyst 10.10
- Windows 7 64-bit Enterprise
A shout out to one of my bros, Sixxtty for this game. I hadn't played Codemaster's Dirt 2 until several months ago, but since I'm also a Subaru fan, this game blew me away. The very interesting feature of this game is a unique sound 'engine' that will model noise bouncing off the environment as you and your snarling STI rip past. It's the perfect thing to show off headphones (aside from binaural recordings) and the immersive experience of this great game. The HS1 turned in a very good performance, where it brought out pretty good detail, especially in engine noise. The bass didnt quite get me there, the chunk of a gear change and the mortars at the finish line didnt have the impact of the other headsets.
Compared to the Xtatic SP, the engine noise is very hidden, but the backfires, gear changes, and the mortars are very present and accounted for. The Xtatic SP have very subdued treble range, so there is obvious missing sounds, crowd noise, gear whine, etc. This did became somewhat distracting because I knew the sounds were in there, just not present at all with the Xtatic SP. Bummer. They just didn't quite capture the full sound detail of the game.
Anyway, the comparing both to the AKG K701, the HS1 brought out detail that I did not hear with the K701 like a birds (at least in the Croatia series of maps). Yup, there are bird sounds in Dirt 2. The K701 did redeem themselves by bringing out a spectator yelling, Hey! at the starting gate and swinging a much more satisfying bass.
The HS1 did a fine job of portraying snarling rally cars ripping down some God-forsaken strip of track, in some cases better than the K701 and much better all around than the Xtatic SP.
Bad Company 2
The lineage of Battlefield games is long and always come with outstanding sound. Battlefield 2 and Battlefield 2142 supported the 128-voice sound that was supported by Creatives X-Fi. Of course Vista and Windows 7 changed all that by killing off DirectSound, replacing it with its own software solution in an effort to increase stability of Windows.
Bad Company 2 is a team game, so voice chat quality is important here. Voice is excellent on the HS1, players had no trouble understanding my spots and trash talk, however the microphone imparted a slightly distant sound, even after applying maximum gain. The Xtatic SP was also quite clear, having a very close-up sound, we found it required very little gain in games. Both headsets were fairly good at blocking external sounds. In this We also had a problem with a 60Hz hum on the Xtatic SP, which was quite distracting, but enabling the low-pass filter in Windows at 80Hz fixed that.
As for a headset with Bad Company 2, the HS1 and Xtatic SP are evenly matched. I liked the Statics SP bass thump actually, and voice chats come through intelligibly well, we didnt really notice the lack of some sounds in all the action. The HS1, however, doesnt skimp on high frequency sounds. It was not harsh at all, there was just a lot of it, and it got a little bit fatiguing after a couple of hours. Voice was very clear, of course, and it was remarkable how many other chats didnt have the same clarity. Nice!
Ah, sweet memories come flooding back of playing away many nights with friends online. There wasnt Skype or voice chat back then; it was IM or old fashioned telephone. And to think that Hilberts been doing reviews since that time, too, is just amazing.
The sounds in Starcraft II havent changed a whole lot, thankfully. There are some new unit sounds and new sound bites of course, and they all sound clear through the both HS1 and Xtatic SP. I'm very glad the Siege Tank sounds are still 'fiesty' though. The Xtatic SP does pretty well with Starcraft 2, but my deepest fear that while the bass is punchy and fairly clean, it would overpower everything when the fights got on. Bass is good, and I like a good firm bottom end, but it wasnt as overwhelming as I suspected. There is a downside with having so much bass: when the action gets hot and furious, all you get is bass and not much of the critical midrange. It all gets muddied to my ears and I missed a few notifications for units and whatnot. I'm still a terrible player, but having good sound won't hurt. The Turtle Beach HPA2, also having a vibrating bass, doesnt have this effect. The AKG K701s of course dont either, its bass is au natual.
World of Warcraft
Im not sure I can any more about WoW than what has already been said. The game is getting on 6 years old and doesnt seem to be slowing down any. Its massive popularity shows that Blizzard made a landmark game, and even made it possible for geeks to utter words like, night elf and raid at company holiday parties with listeners bobbing their heads in acknowledgement.
We tested the HS1 and Xtatic SP in both casual PUG and Raid settings and were surprised with a universal praise for both microphones. In Skype calls the HS1 is very clear, but still with a distant perspective, and the Xtatic SP was very close sounding, requiring minor adjustments to make levels not too loud.
After all the hardware, software, audio, and gaming, both headsets are pretty good. The gaming headset market isn't hurting for more competition, that is for sure, but these are surprisingly good for the sound quality and microphone in games. The HS1, while it lacks the massive bottom end of the Xtatic SP, has the edge with its detailed midrange and treble reagions.