Arctic Sound P321 Professional USB Headphones

Author
Rich
Editor
Aron Schatz
Posted
December 7, 2010
Manufacturer
Arctic Cooling
Product Page
Arctic Sound P321
Views
32638
Arctic Sound P321 Professional USB Headphones
The Arctic Sound P321 Headphones would make a great purchase for a gamer on a budget. They provide good sound in great comfort.

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Page 1
Introduction

Arctic Cooling has just launched a new line of headphones under the banner of Arctic Sound. Arctic Sound seems to have geared each of its new headphones to a specific customer. The Arctic Sound P321 is the second in line to the flagship P531 and seems to be geared towards the budget conscious gamer.

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

The box uses Arctic’s signature silver color everywhere possible. The front is primarily a showcase window revealing the headphones, in-line remote, and USB plug. The back lists all of the P321 features in multiple languages. There’s also a chart to indicate where the features of the P321 rank compared to the other products in Arctic’s headphone lineup.

Arctic_P321_InBox.jpgArctic_P321_BackBox.jpg
Page 2
Specifications

  • Frequency response 12 Hz -24k Hz
  • Sensitivity 97 dB/mW
  • Impedance 32 Ohm
  • Drive unit Ø50mm
  • Output power 40 mW
  • Plug USB
  • Cable 2.5m
  • Weight 225 g
  • Warranty 2 year
  • Manufacturer Code ORACO-ERM25-GBA01
  • EAN-Code 0872767003545

http://www.arctic-cooling.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=81_84&mID=617&page=spec

Marketing Summary

Quote

ARCTIC SOUND P321 is designed for enjoyment and pleasure. It features a high-fidelity driver to ensure minimal amount of noise and distortion while maintaining an accurate frequency response at the same time.

Main Features
  • High-fidelity driver ensures uncompromised sound details and dynamics
  • Powerful bass, crisp highs
  • Retractable microphone included
  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Distortion-free digital audio

The 50mm diameter driver in the headset can accurately reproduce ultra-low frequency sounds and deliver superb audio quality. Since the ARCTIC SOUND P321 is able to play powerful bass and crisp highs, it is a premium audio headset for movies, multiplayer gaming, and audio listening. The retractable and adjustable microphone on the headset is also convenient for users to start voice communication at ease.

The ARCTIC SOUND P321 features a comfortable and closed circumaural headset design to ensure optimum noise isolation. The leather-cushioned earcups not only give the headset a stylish appearance but also provide all-day comfort and additional durability. The adjustable headband with padding delivers versatility and maximum comfort as well.

The ARCTIC SOUND P321 uses digital USB connection to provide superior clarity and distortion-free audio from any computer or laptop. It also contains an advanced in-line remote for track selection, volume, mute, and bass boost control. The bass boost control allows users to intensify the bass and enhance their gaming and listening experience relatively. The plug-and-play USB connector along with the one-touch remote control panel in the ARCTIC SOUND P321 delivers convenience and simplicity.

http://www.arctic-cooling.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=81_84&mID=617


Package Contents

Arctic Sound has kept it as simple and doesn't include any fluff. The box includes only the P321 Headphones and nothing else.
Page 3
Using the P321

Just from holding the P321, there's a sense of high expectations. They have a quality feel to them despite the primarily plastic construction. They’re also surprisingly lightweight. The headband is cushioned for comfort with a faux leather-like material and is adjustable up or down from either side. The earpieces are are cushioned with the same faux leather-like material. Arctic has the “L” and “R” labels actually embedded into the plastic of the earpieces to indicate which sides they belong. The microphone is retractable from the left earpiece on a flexible cable that articulates just about anywhere it's needed. Its retractability is really handy when the microphone isn’t in use and is best out of the way. The rather long USB cable comes out of the bottom of the right earpiece. Along the cable is the in-line remote. The remote is constructed of hollow plastic and as a result seems to be the only thing that’s out of character.

Arctic_P321_Detail.jpg


Setting the P321 up was relatively easy, but inconsistent across different OSs. It was tested on a Windows XP laptop, a Windows Vista desktop, and a virtual instance of Ubuntu 10.04. Once plugged in, Windows will indicate that the device is ready to use. It should be noted that these headphones have their own audio processor. This operates as a completely separate audio device. This means that the onboard audio driver will not see these headphones as an output device. On the Windows XP laptop, the USB headphones automatically became the default playback device. On our Vista desktop and the virtual Ubuntu instance, we had to go into the OSs sound options and configure the headphones to be the default playback device. Once this was done, all audio was be played though the headphones. For games, there may be an in-game option to select the headphones as the playback device. This is, of course, depending on the game.

Arctic_P321_Strap.jpg


The P321 is really comfortable to wear. The cushioning around the earpieces fits snug and remains comfortable even when wearing glasses. The only adjustment the headphones have is in raising and lowering the headband. You’d think that this would be a fault, but they’re comfortable enough that further adjustment doesn’t feel necessary. Their weight also contributes to the comfort. They only weigh 7.75 ounces, so there isn’t any neck discomfort even after wearing them for a few hours. These aren’t noise canceling headphones, but they still do a good job of blocking outside distraction.

Testing audio devices can be extremely subjective. In an effort to make the review more objective, we’ve tested the headphones in different scenarios to look for consistencies. First, we used the P321 to listen to music. To ensure quality of the media, we only listened to music from media released directly from the recording companies. We also listened to a variety of different music to get examples of accentuated sounds from the low, mid, and high ranges. Overall, the headphones performed really well. Sounds from each range came in incredibly clear; even at high volume. There’s also a “bass boost” button on the in-line remote that works really well. This adjustment can be used at the discretion of the user and should be used only when appropriate. There were some instances where the “bass boost” pushed everything else so far to the back, that it took more than it gave. The sound quality remained consistently good when watching movies as well. The “bass boost” was really effective when watching action films to enhance explosions, gunshots, etc.

Arctic_P321_Retracted.jpg


To test the P321 for gaming, we wanted to use a game where sound was critical to gameplay and immersion. We chose “Amnesia: The Dark Descent” as it’s an excellent example in using sound design to effect the player. The clarity and accuracy of the game sounds really came through to drastically enhance the gameplay experience. Deep growls and loud splashes during the action sequences were just as crisp and clear as the subtle drips of water and light gusts of wind heard when walking through the environment. This kind of immersion is the only way to play.

Arctic_P321_Remote.jpg


To test the microphone, we made some recordings using the Windows’ built-in sound recorder. The test recordings were clear without any background noise or hissing despite the other noises in the room.

The biggest disappointment of the P321 is the in-line remote. Aside from the cheap feel of the construction, there seemed to be a lot of strange quirks with it. The volume control and mute buttons worked adequately to control the OS master volume, except during gaming. The volume control didn’t work while in game. The Play/Pause and track selection buttons would only work when the music playback application was the active window. The buttons that seemed to control the processor on the headphones were the only ones that worked consistently. One is the “bass boost” button that’s indicated by the LED indicator on the remote to show green when it’s off and red when it’s on. The other is the microphone on/off switch. Perhaps an optional driver would have made for tighter OS integration so the in-line remote would have been of better use.

Conclusion

Arctic Sound’s P321 is a quality set of headphones. Since they’re extremely light and comfortable, you can easily forget you're wearing them even after a few hours. The sound quality remains consistently good and the bass boost can be really effective when used appropriately. The sad in-line remote can be overlooked since the quirky functions can also be handled through application and/or OS settings. Looking at the rest of Arctic’s headphone lineup, It’s hard to imagine why they would price the P321 so close to the P531. The P321 retails for about $40 and the P531 provides true 5.1 surround sound at around $60. Even still, we can recommend the P321 to the gamer that really can’t escape the confines of their budget. This, incidentally, seems to be who the product is intended for.

Comments

images/siteimages/upload/2010/11/30/4363lw5.jpg Arctic_P321_ProductOnly.jpg images/siteimages/upload/2010/11/30/4364ls5.jpg Arctic_P321_InBox.jpg images/siteimages/upload/2010/11/30/4365lqp.jpg Arctic_P321_BackBox.jpg images/siteimages/upload/2010/11/30/4366l3p.jpg Arctic_P321_Remote.jpg images/siteimages/upload/2010/12/06/4368lik.jpg Arctic_P321_Detail.jpg images/siteimages/upload/2010/12/06/4369lxk.jpg Arctic_P321_Retracted.jpg images/siteimages/upload/2010/12/06/4370lxp.jpg Arctic_P321_Strap.jpg

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