Whether it's playing games or watching movies, sound is an integral part of many experiences on a computer. For movies, it's all about immersion. You want to be able to experience what's going on, as if you were there. For games immersion is also a factor, but depending on the genre of game sound can also help you win. Many 3D shooter enthusiasts swear by multi-channel surround sound setups, saying they allow them to hear their enemies coming from all corners. Many of those same enthusiasts live in environments where owning a 5.1 or 7.1 computer speaker system is a bad idea; either due to size or disturbance of the peace. That's where the surround sound headset comes into play.
This category of PC headset has become very popular in the past few years by offering users a full surround sound environment delivered from multiple distinct speakers, and offering those around the users some peace and quiet. Today we are looking at the latest 7.1 set from ABS Computer Technologies.
A Quick Look at the Features
The product we are looking at is the FX-8 USB DTS Surround Sound gaming headset. Now I would be lying if I said I had heard of ABS before this review. They aren't exactly a household name in my circle. However it seems they are well known enough to have quite a few reviews of their products on a few retailer sites.
Anyhow it seems ABS specializes more in OEM computer systems, and these are accessories they provide for purchase with their systems. The FX-8 does have it's own product home page, but of course we'll run down the important features here.
- All About Sound - Combining extra-large speaker drivers and a high-power digital amplifier, FX-8 headphones deliver super-deep bass.
- Extreme Comfort - Soft ear cushions and headband padding for extreme comfort.
- 8 Speaker system - DTS Surround Sound with 8 Precision Speakers, 4 Speakers each side, Individual speaker for front, back, centre, positions and subwoofer.
- Less noise, more music - Truly immersive sound experience by drastically reducing unwanted outside noises.
- Digital Enhance - Digital enhance USB audio for premium sound quality.
The FX-8 headset in particular carries a price tag of $89.99 USD on the ABS home page. That's a fair chunk of change, and places the FX-8 within range of headsets from companies like Razer and Saitek. Actually for that kind of scratch, you can even get a nice Tritton headset on sale. Let's hope you get some good value for the money.
What Else is in The Box?
Since the FX-8 headset is USB based, it doesn't require many accessories to get things going. Included with the headset itself is the drivers disk and instructions. The drivers are compatible with Windows 2000, XP, Vista, and quite possibly Windows 7. As for the instructions, I do have a bone to pick with them. Whenever I test a product like this, I try to treat it like a normal user would.
You see, I know that with USB peripherals you want to install the drivers first and then plug in the device. This is true on 99.95% of all the USB devices I've ever setup. According the instructions the ABS FX-8 headset fit into that 0.05% of devices where you plugged in the device then installed the disk. That was all fine and dandy, except it didn't work.
So I went with the proper way to install a USB device, and noticed that there was an instruction on the disk saying to installed the drivers first then plugin the device. This was the opposite of the written instructions, and if I was a normal user I'd be slightly confused. Luckily I'm not, and things started working just fine. ABS does need to run some QA on their documentation though.