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Razer Megalodon Headset
Razer is synonymous with gaming gear. Anyone having a doubt must see the packaging of this current product, a 7.1 headset model called the Megalodon.
Design and features
This monster is clad in black. Headband, earcups, inline control et al. Let's take the IN line control pod first, as its really shouting out with all its little blue LEDs. The crossectional views are actually trapezoidal, thus we have smaller top face, populated by a central jogwheel. The finish is gloss black, and has a flat button on top that turns on the Maelstrom engine (we'll get to that in a bit). The bottom strip has 3 round push buttons for mic mute, on/off and level respectively from left to right. The cord of the headset is covered by braided weave, instead of regular rubber.
Now on to the headset. The first thing to note is the lightweight nature of the product. It's also very comfortable to wear, due in part to the cushion and foam rims of the cans, and also because of the foam on the underside of the headband. The headband is actually made to slide on a 2 wire parallel wire frame, poking out of the cans. The headphones are circumaural in nature, thus enclosing the pinnae fully. In keeping with regular Razer tradition, a blue LED, shaped like the razer logo, lights up on the outer side of the earcups. The slim mic is attached to the left, and rotates out in front pretty smoothly.
There are a few good points about this model. Firstly that there is no need to install anything - it's true plug and play via USB. It takes about 20 seconds for Win XP to register, but uses none other than the inbuilt USB driver. This is good for users who go outside for LAN games where installing stuff is not allowed. Also, it is not possible to adjust volume control from the OS. It is greyed out in the Sound and Audio properties. Thus the only way of adjusting levels is through the inline control pod.
The Maelstrom engine that was mentioned earlier basically is a DSP circuit integrated that aims to create virtual surround, by using "military Grade" HRTF (Head Related Transfer Function) algorithms. Only these guys have tweaked the engine for gaming use. That's good marketing for all the Battlefield and CoD Fanboys.
We plugged the headphones into the USB slot of our HTPC, and lined up Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Prince Of Persia, Left For Dead and Crysis. Also regular stereo music test along with test Dolby(AC3) files. Strictly speaking, the headphones have boomy bass, the opposite of a tight sound. The kick and thump is missing. Rather the lows are slightly bumped at about 150 Hz, and overpower the rest of the bands of frequency.
But, on the other hand, the highs and mids are quite clear and present. There is no extra sibilance or edginess in the treble. Moreover, I also like the loudness the response can achieve, it's clean and distortion free.
On testing with surround files, the sound does appear to come from around you, but it’s a very "in your head" feeling. This is obvious due to the impending fact that it’s a headphone, though it works perfect for games and movie sound effects. But still the spaciousness and separation derived from surround audio is not quite there in music.
The heavy bass helps in explosions and low rumblings of artillery, while the forward sound of the mids is good for gunshots. The control pod responds perfectly, and is quite a good quality device. Regular stereo music run through the Maelstrom processor does not sound good. It has the usual hollow out of phase response that I personally do not like.
At Rs. 9999, this product can only be recommended for hardcore gamers with a buck or more to spend on gaming audio, which in essence is still just a part of the gaming experience. It's not so good for music as the bass is boomier than normal, but then again Razer never meant it to be. It sure looks killer, and build quality is good, thus it gets an above average rating, but the price does not justify a wholly positive review.