Arctic Sound P531 USB Gaming Headset

Author
Aron Schatz
Posted
November 11, 2010
Manufacturer
Arctic Cooling
Product Page
Arctic Sound P531
Views
56946
Arctic Sound P531 USB Gaming Headset
The Arctic Sound P531 is a great headset with bargain retail price. With true 5.1 channel sound, this headset is an easy recommendation.

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Page 1
Introduction

ASE Labs is no stranger to Arctic Cooling products and the range of industries that they have branched into is very wide. Their Arctic Sound brand produces good quality »products for »each »market »segment. Diversification usually spells disaster for quality since the company loses focus on their usual specific niches, but Arctic Cooling keeps the quality up time and time again. They have just released new gaming headsets and the Arctic Sound P531 is the flagship USB gaming headset for review today.

About Arctic Cooling

Quote

ARCTIC COOLING is a privately owned company founded in 2001 with headquarters in Switzerland, offices in Hong Kong and the USA and production facilities in Asia. The ARCTIC COOLING team consists of international highly educated people with business, technical and communicational skills. The attitude to work is based on Swiss principles of innovative spirit and high standards of workmanship for which it is recognized internationally. This striving for excellence is integrated in all processes as a matter of course. ARCTIC COOLING´s core competencies are multifarious including systematic noise reduction,copper and aluminum heatsink development, customization of thermal solutions, as well as designing quiet fans. More recently quiet and cool PC Cases and Power Supplies have been developed.

http://www.arctic-cooling.com/catalog/static_info.php?tid=ABOUT_US


Packaging

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Arctic Cooling's packaging remains the traditional silver and white. Brand recognition is so important in the industry and keeping the product packaging looking the same creates that awareness from consumers. You can see the P531 through the box.

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The packaging was a bit mangled in shipping, but the P531 inside was secure and safe. The packaging gives you many details about what you're buying and shows off some of the various articulations of the headset cups and microphone.
Page 2
Specifications

  • 5.1 channel gaming USB headset
  • Installed with special subwoofer to produce deep bass
  • Distortion free digital audio
  • Microphone included
  • Lightweight and highest noise absorption
  • Designed for ultimate gamers
  • Features 4 individual drivers in each earcup for uncompromised 5.1 surround sound details and dynamics
  • Integrated vibration units to provide extra sensation to gaming experience
  • Closed cicumaural design to isolate outside noise
  • Cable 3m
  • Weight 462 g
  • Warranty 2 year
  • Manufacturer Code ORACO-ERM22-GBA01
  • EAN-Code 0872767003552


Front Speaker
  • Frequency response
    18 Hz -20k Hz
  • Sensitivity
    100 dB/mW
  • Impedance
    32 Ohm
  • Drive unit
    Ø40mm
  • Output power
    400 mW


Center Speaker
  • Frequency response
    20 Hz -20k Hz
  • Sensitivity
    108 dB/mW
  • Impedance
    32 Ohm
  • Drive unit
    Ø30mm
  • Output power
    200 mW


Surround Speaker
  • Frequency response
    20 Hz -20k Hz
  • Sensitivity
    108 dB/mW
  • Impedance
    32 Ohm
  • Drive unit
    Ø30mm
  • Output power
    200 mW


Subwoofer
  • Frequency response
    12 Hz -24k Hz
  • Impedance
    8 Ohm
  • Drive unit
    Ø27mm
  • Output power
    600 mW


Microphone
  • Sensitivity
    39dB±3dB
  • Impedance
    2.2K Ohm
  • Drive unit
    Ø9.7 x 5mm


Most of the specs on headsets are small compared to speakers. The output power of all the speakers are less than a cheap desktop speaker set, but these are headphones. They are designed to fit around your ear and close in the sound to provide a more immersible audio experience.

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A chart located on the box and the Arctic Cooling website provides a comparison of this to other audio products they produce.
Page 3
Marketing Summary

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ARCTIC SOUND P531 is the most professional computer headset and literally elevates gamers to a new dimension of sounds. It is like having a home theatre crammed into a headset. This 5.1 channel surround sound gaming headset that can be connected via USB. This headset is designed for ultimate gamers as it features four individual drivers in each earcup to provide true surround sound.

To enhance exceptional gaming experience, the ARCTIC SOUND P531 is integrated with vibration units on the earcups to provide extra sensation. The ARCTIC SOUND P531 is installed with a special subwoofer to produce deep bass sounds The illuminated remote control is dedicated to tune the drivers individually.. Thanks to the 5.1 surround sound system, gamers can experience 3-dimensional game settings during their game play. From enemy footsteps, to grenade explosions, gamers can experience everything on a whole new level with this headset. With its integrated microphone, gamers can easily communicate with their teammates.

The ARCTIC SOUND P531 features premium soft fabric and ultra-thick cushioned earcups to provide optimum comfort for long-hours of game play. Its circumaural design and padded adjustable headband is to provide secure fit and eliminate any noise interruption. The earcups are reversible for added flexibility and the 90-degree swivel earcups mechanism is designed for easy single-ear monitoring. This foldable design allows users to fold the headset into a compact unit for protection and portability.

Since the ARCTIC SOUND P531 uses an USB connector, it delivers pure digital audio straight from the source without much distortion. The distortion that affected analog devices from alternating current is no longer an issue because the built-in sound processor ensures superb quality. Gamers can concentrate on their intense game play without being interrupted by much distortion.

http://www.arctic-cooling.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=81_84&mID=618


Package Contents

parts.jpg


Along with the P531, Arctic Cooling gives you an installation manual and some software for Windows. A word about the software: Most USB headsets work with the USB sound standard and will generally work without drivers on most operating systems. We'll go into more about that later.
Page 4
P531

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Most gaming headsets are pretty standard on the high-end. You get the full can style that hopes to block as much noise as possible from the outside. The P531 is no different. Arctic Cooling does set itself apart from the pack by providing true 5.1 sound. Most headsets rely on faking 5.1 or 7.1 sound with the software. The shape of the headphone (with the extended portion near the ear) holds the extra speakers. This isn't a simple stereo headset, but a true 5.1 surround sound system.

The parts that touch your body are felt-like and soft to the touch. Many companies use leather (or faux leather), but the felt creates a soft feel. In practice, this is a personal choice depending on your taste.

hs2.jpg


You can see a better shot of the extended speaker layout. This not only makes the P531 larger, it also makes it heavier. The extra padding on the top of the headband allows it to take the weight off and distribute it evenly on the entire surface. The microphone articulates in nearly any direction and can be bent to position throughout the wire, itself. The P531 also retains the Arctic Cooling look and colors.

hsext.jpg


It is very important to be able to resize the headset to accommodate head size and ear position. Since the headset earpieces articulate, they'll hit your ears without issue. The headband adjustment is independent to each ear which is important. Most people may find it more comfortable to adjust each separately rather than doing both at the same length. Each headset is label to let you know which ear it belongs on.

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We can't stress enough how important it is to have the earcups articulate enough. With a heavy set like these, the more you can adjust, the better. The microphone is no different and can be moved to most positions. If you've got a giant head, it still should reach your mouth.

control.jpg


This is a strictly USB headset with no 3.5mm jacks. All the conversion between digital and analog happen internally to prevent any sort of extra distortion caused by the conversion. This control unit houses the CM106 sound device that drives most headsets of this type. It has independent volume adjustments for each set of channels and a volume control for the OS. The LED bar will flash when sound is being pumped through the headset. A microphone switch allows you to disable communication when needed.
Page 5
Software

We tested the P531 on Linux and Windows XP. Under both operating systems, the P531 was recognized without issue without any drivers. Linux saw the 6 channel sound support and Windows provided basic 2 channel support. With some configuration, Windows could do the 6 channels, but didn't support some extended features. The installation of the driver on Windows provided this extended support. Still, it is nice to be able to use devices without having to load drivers.

The video review has an overview of the software and we welcome you to watch it. It is attached in a later section.

Testing

Testing the Arctic Sound P531 included listening to music and playing games as well as other related audio tasks. The video review was partly done with the microphone used with the P531. Please watch that for more views of the P531 and to hear how the microphone sounds. Playing music with heavy bass is indeed something to enjoy with this headset. There is a real kick with the lows, but the highs remain clear. There was no hissing or popping present. As this is a sound device, the testing is all subjective. I will also state that loudness is not something I can test since I prefer the low end of the volume. Even at the lowest OS volume level, the headset was fairly loud. It was loud enough that I had to lower the volume on the control unit at some points. If you already lost hearing and like REALLY loud headsets, these are them.

While listening to music was okay, gaming is where this headset was designed for. Starcraft 2 was played for a few hours (or more) to see how well the speakers hold up. One thing you notice is the weight of the headset. Some people may not be destined to wear headsets and I may be one of them. Still, the headset was comfortable when adjusted properly. Positional audio was handled very well. In Starcraft 2, positional audio is used to give audio cues on where things are happening on the map. You can really tell that a shout from a marine was coming from the top left with this headset.

Voice chat is important in games. With Starcraft 2, USB microphones are wonky. They work and then they don't work. Blizzard seems to be dragging their feet on this one. This is not a problem with the P531, but with Starcraft 2. When the P531 did work, it sounded fine. The voice was clear enough so others could understand. Some microphones aren't good quality and many times you'll hear a whine or hissing. Listen to the video review to hear samples of audio recorded through the mic.

These aren't noise canceling headphones. While the cans do block out some ambient noise, they are not tight enough to render you oblivious to outside audio. This might be due to my sensitive hearing, though.

It would be nice if there was a way to use the headset with 3.5mm audio devices, but most gaming headsets are geared to PC gaming and USB is the way to go. Maybe devices will start using USB sound to drive speakers instead of analog audio. We doubt it, though.
Page 6
Video Review



Conclusion

The Arctic Cooling Arctic Sound P531 USB Gaming Headset retails for about $60 which is on the lower end of the spectrum for high-end gaming headsets. This is a true 5.1 speaker headset and positional audio is handled very well. You can clearly hear where audio is coming from and while the weight may be an issue, the construction of the P531 remains comfortable in extended use. Arctic Cooling's products are surprisingly well built for the price. Other companies would charge about $100 for a product like this. ASE Labs can easily recommend the Arctic Sound P531 USB Gaming Headset.

ASE Labs would like to thank Arctic Cooling for sending this product for review.

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