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2.24.2009

Medusa 5.1 Surround Gaming Headphone Mini Review

I've been using my Medusa 5.1's Home Edition headphones for over a month now and wanted to relay my impressions.

I think these are great headphones for the price.  They sound very nice, and come with a great cable and preamp package.  I'm loving having real surround audio while gaming, and it's really added to my multiplayer game experience.  I've been playing Left 4 Dead a lot lately, and I've frequently found myself being able to turn and shoot a flanking or leaping enemy because of the positional audio clues.

The build quality of these 'phones is good.  I have no complaints there.  Everything feels solid, the ear pads are nice and comfortable.  They're not too heavy, and they adjust well.
The integrated mic sounds good and is clear and rejects background noise well. 

I only have one hesitation about recommending these headphones.  You need a good sound card to drive them.  You need something with bass redirection or a crossover in the drivers.  I had problems getting the rear channels and bass to sound good until I upgraded from an integrated Realtek HD to a X-Fi. 

People often complain of the rear channels sounding tinny on these headphones, and they need to realize that the drivers in this headset are very small, and the rear channels are even smaller than the side and front ones.  To get good sound from the Medusa 5.1's you need to:

  • Set your sound card output to 5.1 Surround.
  • Set speaker size to small instead of large / full range. (this stops heavy bass from being sent to the "satellite" speakers)
  • Turn Bass Redirection on.
  • Set up your Bass Crossover point to 200Hz or whatever you feel appropriate.  The goal being to send highs and mids to the surround channels, and almost all the bass to the subwoofer/vibration channel.
  • Now set the volume on the preamp up about 50% or so.  This gets a good level of bass to the drivers.  Now adjust the volume on the individual channels on the headset down to taste.  I leave Bass/Vib on about 7 or 8 and the other channels on 4 or 5.  Sometimes I turn the rear channels up 1 notch.

I've found this to be a good combination and it's working well for me with all games and I'm very happy with the results.  I have noticed that Valve games tend to have more issues with tinny rear channels when compared to other developers, so there may also be some kind of issue with the way they process surround.  

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