Cyborg 5.1 Surround Sound Headset Review - 29/05/2008

There aren't many affordable solutions to those of us seeking the most atmospheric gaming experience possible, particularly on consoles. While Saitek's Cyborg headset is marketed at the PC audience, with good guality 5.1 channel sound, it also works as a comfortable and slick looking stereo headset when used with a television, MP3 player or laptop.

If there's one thing we learnt from our review of Saitek's Cyborg gamepad, it's that they're all about build-quality and good design. While the Cyborg headset isn't quite as robust or ergonomically satisfying as some of the other products we've seen, it does its job well and for a much cheaper RRP than the majority on the market.

The iconic Cyborg logos really gives this headset an edge.

Sporting the obligatory black finish, and the now iconic red and green Cyborg logos adorning each side of the headset, it's a nice looking piece. It's quite a dinky set by alternative standards, but that means it can fit in the provided carry case and stows-away much better than most of the more luxurious options on the market. It also hugs your head a lot more snugly than most, but the downside is that it's not as adjustable as you may need if you've an irregular shaped head. But, it is very comfortable indeed for normally-proportioned people. The height of the set and the earpiece angles are fully adjustable, it just doesn't quite feel right sometimes.

It comes complete with a neat case that zips up and can be taken on the move.

As for the sound quality, which is of course the all-important factor when it comes to audio's pretty good. It's got a lot more bass than most of the stereo headsets we've used for one thing. There's a control nodule attached to the wire from the headset which allows you to control surround sound volume, and switch between stereo and 5.1 channels. It works using an integrated 5.1 sound card which means even if your PC doesn't support 5.1, you'll be able to get full surround sound using the headset and the provided software.

Surround sound goes through the USB, stereo and mic through the line-out and mic-in connections.

Speaking of which, it's a breeze to install, taking no more than five minutes and a quick-restart to hear 5 directions of sound in your ears. There is also a small asteroids-type game on the disk, a helicopter demo to test your setup, and obviously a control panel which takes a little bit of fiddling with, but is easy if you follow the instructions provided. From our experience, the overall audio quality of the Cyborg headset is top notch. While you can never get the bass that a subwoofer and standalone 5.1 speaker system provide, it fares more than admirably, and you really get a sense of atmosphere, particularly as a headset blocks out all external noise. You can certainly hear whether an enemy or source of noise is to your left, right, front, or back, though there's a small blind-spot, so to speak, as the sound source moves round.

Here's how it looks on the newly-appointed TGSN Accessory Dog. Pretty good work there...

You also have a microphone attachment, which is pretty tiny, and slots into a jack neatly on the side of the headset. So it doubles up as a VoIP accessory and online gaming headset, complete with very accomplished surround sound. Not bad really for the price.

The remote nodule allows you to switch sound modes at the touch of a button.

It doesn't have the audio clout of some of the higher-end headsets available on the market, but you get a real sense of atmosphere and direction that most gamers will love. It's probably up there with many of the best as an overall package and in terms of value for money though. If you're a home theatre enthusiast, chances are there's a better, but far more expensive option you'll want to go for - everyone else though: this is the solution that is cost effective, well produced and won't keep your neighbours up during midnight sessions of Call of Duty 4.

For a full list of specs, check out the official website.

- Mike Hazleton

Final Score:
Better value for money than virtually any of its competitors.