Impressive 53mm drivers make for great sound quality -- but what about the rest?
By Tim Colwill on October 24, 2012 at 8:10 pm
Cooler Master certainly didn’t start their hardware career in the gaming peripheral field, but they’re taking it seriously: with an impressive range of mice, pads, headphones and keyboards, the Taiwan-based company are aggressively expanding out of the case market and trying to capture other aspects of gaming life as well. They sent over a pair of their latest CM Storm-brand headphones, the Sonuz, for us to take a look at — and we were only too happy to oblige.
- Driver diameter: φ53mm
- Frequency range: 10 – 20,000 Hz
- Impedance: 45 Ω
- Sensitivities(@1kHz): 98 dB ± 3 dB
- Connector: 3.5 mm gold-plated headphone jack
- Inner Ear Cup Diameter: 97.0 mm
- Cable Length: 2.0m
- Max Output: 200mW
I’ve been using the Sonuz exclusively for about two weeks now, and perhaps the the part of it that I’m enjoying most is that they are genuinely comfortable to wear for hours on end, even in spite of the fact that my head is approximately the size of a small house. Two large metal bands extend the generous 97mm earcups down to almost a ridiculous length, and the headband is flexible enough to fit even my enormous head. There’s not very much mobility in the cups themselves, but they’re large and comfortable, and tilt just enough to cover the ears.
Hidden under each cup’s foamy padding (which, by the way, you should not attempt to remove — it’s infuriating to try to put back on) is a booming 53mm driver. The sound quality difference between these and other headphones I’ve tried recently is impressive: deep, rich bass and clear high notes make the extra cost Cooler Master have spent in incorporating the larger drivers definitely worth it. The speakers have a response range of 10 – 20,000 Hz, which means it includes sounds you technically can’t actually hear — but the sub-harmonics it generates make a great deal of difference. Even at maximum volume, there’s no noticeable distortion.
It’s a disappointment, then, that the microphone that ships with the Sonuz is only of middling to average quality. Although it scores points for being detachable — with microphone jacks on each side — the actually sound quality through the mic itself is nothing to write home about. It’s a little bit crackly, but most of all it’s just on the quiet side: I had to boost it by 10 dB in Windows controls to get useable in-game audio levels, with my team-mates often complaining that I wasn’t coming through clearly. Skype calls were serviceable, but the overall performance of the microphone is far outweighed by the impressive audio. The boom arm is also non-flexible, which means there’s no way to get it closer to your mouth without snapping it off and jamming it in there — not a recommended technique.
The Sonuz uses standard 3.5mm audio and microphone jacks — not gold-plated, alas — and is natively split into the pair rather than the combined jack that some manufacturers are beginning to favour. The cord incorporates a mic on/off switch and volume control, and the cord itself is thick and braided, stretching out to a length of two metres. It’s here that the Sonuz earns itself another black mark — the cord twists up faster than a Twister champion at the World Twister Championships, resulting in irritating bundles of twisted cord all along your line and dangling right up to your ears. This may not annoy every user but it annoys the hell out of me, and I’ve had to hang it up from a curtain rail and let it untangle itself three or four times now.
Overall the Sonuz offers a compelling package, especially for the price tag. At $80 it’s a little on the expensive side, but offers deep, rich sound that you won’t find matched by other offerings in the same price bracket. The microphone isn’t the best, but it’s certainly no worse than other gaming-headset microphones in its class, and if you don’t like it you can always plus your own stand-alone microphone into the headset jack (or into your computer, even). Even if you just end up using them for audio, the Sonuz is a solid buy — especially if you, like me, suffer under the burden of having an enormous head. Recommended.
- Solid design, flexible yet chunky
- Great sound quality from 53mm drivers
- Comfortable to wear for hours on end, even with my watermelon head
- Microphone is detachable, can be attached to either side
- Microphone quality is average
- Braided cable twists up constantly
The CM Storm Sonuz retails for around $80 at most stockists.