Monoprice, the popular accessories website, is diving head-first into gaming with their 7.1 Dolby Digital Amplified Gaming Headset for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. The unit, given it’s power and versatility is a potentially groundbreaking product for console and PC gamers alike. The news is exciting for gamers, because Monoprice has consistently delivered the goods already for gamers by offering top quality cables, accessories and peripherals at unparalleled prices. This amplified headset from Monoprice offers a ton of compatibility and versatility, while being ridiculously price competitive at the same time.
The list of features boasted by this headset is rather impressive.
- Designed for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC Gaming
- Compatible with anything that has a standard stereo jack
- Includes two detachable boom microphones
- Supports Xbox Live Communication
- Includes both analog stereo and optical digital (Toslink) cables
- Approved by Dolby for Dolby Digital, Pro Logic IIx, and Dolby Headphone
- Amplified audio output for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC
The highlights here are the fact that this headset can be used on a PC, Xbox 360 or PS3 for Dolby Digital Surround Sound plus be amplified to nearly rupture your eardrum. For those that want one amazing set of headphones and have them work between your preferred devices, the Monoprice Amplified Gaming Headset offers that versatility. The fact that it also supports Xbox Live communication and is approved by Dolby are big selling points to gamers.
Let’s take a quick look at the specs of the Monoprice Gaming Headset.
- Driver size: 40mm
- Impedance: 32 Ohms
- Frequency Response: 20Hz ~ 20KHz
- In-Line Controller Cable Length of 10.5 feet
When the unit is plugged in and the amplification is turned on, these puppies are literally the loudest headset we’ve ever tested. To reiterate a point, they are monumentally loud. Is that a good thing? Not necessarily, as clarity of sound is really what separates the contenders from the pretenders. The good news is that between the impedance and frequency response, there’s a really solid spectrum of sound emitted, offering a very nice auditory experience.
Installing the unit does take some time and a little patience. For PC users, the unit will only work through a standard stereo jack or through the use of an optical cable. This will mean that the unit plugs in to an optical port (via the sound card or integrated audio solution) as well as a USB port in order for audio to make it’s way in. The headset itself can be unplugged and used directly into a stereo jack, for usage in mobile situations where a USB plug is not available to power the amplifier. With the Xbox 360, PS3, or the PC, gamers will definitely want to plug in the USB cable to take advantage of the amplifier.
To summarize the installation experience, the amplifier will need to plug into the optical port or the stereo jack port in the back of the computer. Then the amp will also need to have the standard USB cable plugged into it with the other end plugged into any USB 2.0 port on a computer or console system. Then there’s another cable that plugs into the amp (which can have two plugged in simultaneously) that then plugs into the headset via a standard stereo jack.
While it’s certainly not as simple as “just plugging in one thing” and running from there, once everything is all set up, it’s pretty easy to move and migrate to other platforms. Total time shouldn’t take the average gamer more than ten to fifteen minutes to assemble, install and test.
Performance – Games
When tested on both a PC and PS3, the Monoprice Dolby Digital Amplified Gaming Headset proved to be extremely loud, to the point where we genuinely want to convey that you might do damage to your brain if you crank it to the upper reaches of the maximum output. With the Dolby Digital surround sound activated, the performance of the headset while playing games is extremely impressive. There’s an unquestionable surround sound feeling when playing games (and listening to music) to the point where more than once we had to take off the headset to make sure that the audio was actually playing through them and not coming out from the standard speakers. For games that have a lot of explosions and rumble, this headset delivers the goods, especially if gamers aren’t snobbish about tremble/highs. A negative is that when the headset has the amplification turned on, but no sound coming through, it will emit a faint amount of static and an ever-so-slight “thumping” that might annoy gamers. When the music/gaming begins, that goes to the background and isn’t noticeable.
Overall, for gaming performance, the Monoprice Dolby Digital Amplified Gaming Headset impressed in the areas of rumble, bass, and lows. It doesn’t quite handle highs as well, plus the ambient state is less than ideal.
Performance – Music
The sounds came through loud and proud, and while there was a great amount of bass and rumble, the highs and crispness that audiophiles might crave didn’t come through. Sure, audiophiles are snobbish and elitist when it comes to their preferred headphones. There’s an overall crispness missing from this unit that would have rounded it out perfectly, but given the price point (under $85), the quality of the headset for music and gaming makes the headset more than a bargain for gamers.
It’s not to say that music won’t play impressively. A classic piece, such as Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 that tugs at the heart of highs and is balanced by deep tones, plays wonderfully with the headset. It’s simply all about setting expectations and with this headset, gamers are going to get perhaps the most agile headset we’ve ever reviewed, with impressive performance for games and good solid performance for music.
Performance Using Stereo Jack, No Amp
When disconnected from the amplifier and plugged directly into an iPhone, the headset performed admirably. There was the ever-so-slight dullness in some of the music we heard before when testing with the amp plugged in, but again, that’s nit-picking as an audiophile might. For everyday consumers, they work great and music sounds good.
Comfort, when rating a headset, is just as important as the sound quality. Why? Well, if it isn’t comfortable, a gamer isn’t going to wear it and if they don’t wear the headset, then it’s simply not going to get used at all. Fortunately, the Monoprice Dolby Digital Amplified Gaming Headset is extremely comfortable to wear. First, they are surprisingly light, and given the amount of power that comes and goes through these things, it’s a wonder how Monoprice got them to be so lightweight. Second, the headset is designed extremely well, fitting even folks with large ears very well for a nice “cover the ear” experience with plush cushions well-placed on the sides and at the top of a gamer’s head for maximum comfort.
Very simply put, this is where the Monoprice Dolby Digital Amplified Gaming Headset outshines everyone in the known universe. The unit is Dolby certified, has an amplifier that will blast sound through, allows you to use this on a PS3, Xbox 360 and PC, plus bring the goods in terms of solid quality for sound. Given that all those features typically costs in excess of $120-$150, it comes as a shock that Monoprice prices these under $90. They’re about the most diverse set of headphones we’ve ever reviewed; they sound really good for games and pretty solid for music, plus are extremely comfortable. Gamers simply aren’t used to getting that level of value from their trusted brands. Monoprice has simply delivered the goods at this price point.
Overall, the Monoprice Dolby Digital Amplified Gaming Headset represents a great value for gamers looking to get a powered headset that includes a mic and can be used not just on one system, but all major consoles and a PC. The unit is well manufactured, comfortable and performs very well for games. Consumers are used to seeing comparable headsets go for around 50% more than what these go for, so they come highly recommended. If you haven’t checked them out already, do your life a giangatic favor and visit the folks at Monoprice.com.