Zalman Surround Sound Headphones
Product Name: Surround Sound Headphones "Theater 6"
Review Date: 02.03.04
Zalman is mainly known for silent cooling products in their Computer Noise Prevention System line.? The newest product to come from Zalman has nothing to do with lowering noise levels but rather creating noise.? They have changed focus away from cooling products to create a new set of 5.1 channel headphones.? During the night, or at LAN party loud speakers are not very practical because you don't want to wake someone sleeping in a different room or bother the gamer sitting next to you. These headphones are designed to reproduce the big sounds created from 5.1 channel home theater speakers, but in a much smaller package.? Today at TwistedMods, we will be checking out Zalman's new Theatre 6 Real Surround Sound Headphones.
They come packaged in a plastic dome showing off the headphones in their folded position along with the three plugs.? Instead of some flashy artwork Zalman let's you see what the actual product looks like, and everything it comes with.? The packaging is fairly sturdy and protects the headphones well.? The gray cardboard piece hides the rest of the cord and also an instruction booklet in several languages.? On the back of the package features and specifications are listed as well as a quick illustrated installation guide.
Once out of the packaging you can really see what they look like.? Everything is either gray or black, (which gives the headphones a futuristic look.)? The headband is made from plastic and in the middle where it rests on your head it is covered in a soft material with the Zalman logo printed on top.? The headband has an adjustable slider on each side of the padded area.? They can slide in and out about two inches on both sides so even big heads will feel comfortable in these.? One of the nice features of this headset is the folding headband.? This makes it easy to fold up the headphones for transportation or storage.? It looks like Zalman got a few ideas from DJ headphones with the rotating ear cups and folding headband.
Another nice feature is that the cable is nearly ten feet long, I do not like to be tied down to my computer while wearing headphones.? The three headphone jacks are color coded.? The white plug is the front channel, gray is the rear channel and black is the center/LFE channel.? It would have been nice to see the plugs use the same colors that most other products use.? Installation would have been much easier because you would just have to look at the colors and plug it in instead of trying to read the small letter on each plug.? Sometimes full 5.1 channel sound is not available. To use the headphones to their full extent connecting all three plugs is necessary, but they do still sound good even if only one jack is plugged in.? All six speakers still produce sound but it is not as distinct, clear, or loud as it is with all three jacks connected.
Like the headband, the ear cups are covered in the same soft material and are designed to cover the entire ear blocking out external sounds.?They are fairly comfortable to wear and are definitely better than my old pair of $20 RadioShack headphones.? The ear cups do extend out more than normal but it is not enough to block your vision at all.? The odd shape is due to there being three speakers in each side for a total of six speakers in the headphones.? Some may say that six is a overkill but it is really necessary to truly have 5.1 channels.? The shape of the ear cups with the six speakers allow the headphones to produce a real surround field like a full 5.1 channel speaker system.? The six channels are center, left, right, rear left, rear right, and a sub-woofer to produce low frequency effects.?? All six speakers working together produce a discrete sound source and realistic directional effects.? Normal headphones with only two speakers cannot create these sounds so they rely on virtual surround sound, which does not sound as good as true multi-channel sound.
I plugged the three headphone jacks into the onboard sound on my ASUS A7N8X Deluxe motherboard.? Next I used the test tone included in the nForce control panel to test the headphones.? The location of left and right is very clear.? Left rear and right rear however are somewhat blurred together, it is difficult to distinguish between the two although I can tell they are in the rear.? The center speaker works by blending the forward two speakers on each side.? The subwoofer is hard to hear with the test tone but when actually using the headphones with a game or a movie the low frequency effects are very noticeable.? It adds a lot of depth to the sound unlike other headphones which sound shallow.? I also listened to music and played games for many hours to put them to the test.? After playing Desert Combat for about an hour with my old headphones, I switched and put the Theatre 6 headset on.? Compared to the old pair of headphones I was using, the Zalman set is like night and day. The difference with games was simply amazing.? The speakers create low frequency effects very nicely especially in Desert Combat.?? With music they did perform well but there was not as much of a noticeable difference as with games.? Games sound better than audio because most games take advantage of all 5.1 channels. Music is only two channels, and the Theatre 6 headphones are really designed to use all 5.1 channels.
One feature that I found absent in this set was a volume
control on the cable.? Having to use software to adjust the volume can
become quite annoying.? Although they do perform well no headset is going
to be better than a decent set of speakers.? If you are used to high end
headphones I would not recommend these but if you are an average user the
Theatre 6 headphones will be a nice addition to your computer setup.? They
may not be the best headset around but for their price (~$50) they perform very
well.? The Theatre 6 headphones are Zalman's first attempt at a product
outside the hardware cooling market and they have succeeded.