“Great sound and good looks, but feels a tad frail”
Gaming headphones are quite popular among users who seek a dedicated audio solution for their gaming needs. Be it immersive audio or the ability to communicate with fellow gamers to decide the next strategic move, gaming headsets offer great utility. Zebronics, a brand known for PC and mobile accessories, has a new pair of gaming headphones out, and quite aptly, has chosen to call it the Iron Head. While the cans are designed to offer maximum utility and comfort to the gamers, let's find out how worthy they really are.
Dressed in glossy black and bright red accents, the headphones offer a design that should please anyone who loves to play PC games. The headphones feature an over-the-head design with a padded headrest and ear-cups for comfort. The ear-cups have a rectangular design that covers the ears well. The ear-cups are connected to the headband with a pivot joint that swivels both horizontally as well as vertically to give a snug fit, while accommodating the curve of the user's head.
The microphone is provided on a swivel boom placed on the left, which is handy since the mic is usually required only during gaming and can stay in its slot when not in use, without causing any hindrance to the user or getting tangled with the cable.
The Iron Head headphones are fashioned out of plastic, which means they're lightweight but quite fragile as well. There's no metal reinforcement in the headband... which is a point of concern since plastics are flexible only to a certain extent and beyond that there is a chance the headband might break. Although the quality of plastic used is good, we would've been happy if metal had been used for added strength, especially considering the level of excitement an avid gamer experiences while in the midst of a frenzied gaming session.
These gaming headphones are a non-standard accessory as they use a USB connection in place of the regular 3.5mm connector used by most headphones. They come with a mini CD that includes the driver required to make this pair of cans work. The mini CD itself is a problem for users with slot-in optical drives (and those that do not have an optical drive at all) as this will not work for them and they would be required to transfer the files using other means. Also, the driver provided only works with Windows and therefore the Iron Head will not work for Macs or Linux-based PCs.
The bundled audio utility is useful for gamers as well as for audiophiles, and gives ample options to create surround sound effects for a better and richer listening experience. Although the software offers 4/5/7 channel emulation, the quality of sound is best in stereo channel output only... and other modes seem mere gimmicks as they make the sound feel artificial.
On the positive side, installation is quick and painless. It takes less than five minutes to get the device installed and ready to rock. While USB might be a hindrance for some, it can also be a boon as users are no longer required to plug in multiple connectors to make the apparatus work. Also, if you've managed to damage your audio connector somehow, the Zebronics Iron Head should be a good solution as it has nothing to do with the existing audio hardware on your computer or notebook.
The Iron Head gaming headphones feature an integrated digital audio processor and amplifier to power the stereo drivers. In terms of sound quality, they pack a powerful punch and the 40mm drivers do full justice to the audio by offering deeper bass as well as clear highs. Grenade explosions in games bring the headphones' potential to the fore, and give you a real-world feel. The headphones also come with an in-line remote that controls the volume and can mute the mic and the ear-cups when the need arises. The cable provided is sturdy and is covered with a nylon sleeve for longevity. Quite ironically, we're sure that the cable will last longer than the headphones themselves.
Overall, the Zebronics gaming headphones impressed us with their sound quality. Also keep in mind that the headphones should offer good sound regardless of the quality of your existing audio hardware... with the key downside being the not-so-sturdy and plasticky build. Priced at an MRP of Rs 2,700, the Zebronics Iron Head should be available in the market for around Rs 1,800, and considering their sound quality and overall utility, we think they're a worthy buy for gamers on a tight budget.