An important part of multimedia entertainment, right alongside the visual experience, is the equally important audio immersion. Whether a movie or a game, the sound can mean the difference between just watching and actually feeling immersed. For a gamer, the ability to feel like they enter the middle of the world can be the difference between just playing and enjoyment.
Andrea Electronics makes headsets for schools and audio records. As part of their diverse offerings, they’ve created a new product just for gamers: the SuperBeam 3D Surround Sound Recording Boom Free Headsets.
SuperBeam 805 Headset Cans
At the top of the SuperBeam product line are the SB-805 Cans. In what quickly seems to be a signature feature of the SuperBeam product line, the first thing that is noticeable besides the quality of the material is the ability to fold. By folding, the 805’s are able to fit within the pouch that comes provided.
Back to the quality, for which there is plenty, from the thick cable to headrest. The materials feel substantial and solid while allowing the cans to adjust in size. The padding, for which there is a thin layer on the top, gives a surprising level of comfort despite how little there is. The cans themselves have a thicker layer of padding to surround the ear. The design of the cans allow the SuperBeam 805’s to block most outside noise, giving the chance to really enjoy the sound quality.
The high-grade plastic makes the 805’s sturdy, even with the inclusion of the hinges used for folding. This gives the 805’s a feeling of both quality and strength, but it can also make the weight noticeable after extended usage. The thick padding around the ear can also cause a common issue in cans: warm ears.
The 805’s cans house 50mm speakers that provide large, clear sound that you don’t often get in gaming headsets without the need for an external control box. The bass could be very booming on the high end, yet balanced in the mid-range. For added control there is an in-line audio control for volume and microphone mute. While a useful addition, the low end of the volume control would exhibit a strange cut-off point for some audio files rather than a gradual mute. Whether listening to podcast or music or playing games, the sound quality comes through very smoothly. The audio quality from this headset rivals that of many more costly high-end alternatives.
By utilizing dual microphones, the SuperBeam 805’s are able to identify the direction of sound and decrease background noise. This does mean that the headset can only be worn in one direction, where others headsets might allow for more customization with the microphones. The trade-off, however, is worth it for improved audio quality and a more natural feel without the typical single microphone in front of your face. Plus, there is the bonus of never having to adjust the microphone to improve the sound of your voice over chat.
During video calls using programs such as Skype – for which the SuperBeam headsets are certified – this design also gives a clear view of your face, creating a more friendly and personal interaction rather than the typical telephone operator look.
Thanks to their simplified design and understated dual microphones, they can be worn on the go and be identified as simply a quality pair of headphones.
SuperBeam SB-405 Portable Headset
For those looking for more flexibility and the ability to travel light, the SuperBeam SB-405 line offers on-ear headphones while increasing portability. The 405’s are smaller, lighter, and more portable, but they aren’t without their trade-offs.
The first major difference is the ability of the 405’s to fold flat, small enough to fit comfortably in the front pocket of most pants. This size makes them perfect for those who like to game on their laptop or travel. To help with this, the 405’s come with a hard shell casing that holds the headset and any additional cables to protect them.
To help with the ability to fold flat, the 405’s lose the cans and instead use on-ear headphones. This means a loss of the seal that the cans use to cut outside noise. While the headphone cushions are soft enough to offer a general seal, they are not as effective. Plus, since they sit on the ear, some movement can cause noise of its own. Another reason the 405’s can fold flat is the reduced form and lighter materials.
These lighter materials give the initial impression of being too light and bordered on the feeling of being delicate. This is especially true when referencing the U-shaped headphone connectors, which allow the ears to turn inwards to create the flat profile. The plastic that makes the SuperBeam 405’s so light feel hollow, and the chrome accents feel like their weak points.
Despite this feeling, these headphones held up well over an extended period of testing that included traveling and conventions. After such regular usage, we gradually built up confidence to use them without fear of damage. The sound quality produced is essentially a smaller version of the 805’s, producing clear and loud audio without interference. The bass might not be capable of being overwhelmingly booming like the SB-805’s, but the 405’s can certainly get the job done.
The lighter weight, portability, and breathable earpieces made the SuperBeam 405’s the headphones-of-choice for not only attending conventions and gaming tournaments, but for daily use.
The Mobile Adapter can be used to combine the audio and microphone jack into one input. This makes any SuperBeam headset compatible with mobile devices. By using this, you’re able to use the phone to listen to music as well as make calls. While the sound quality is good, it does not allow for the use of the noise-canceling ability or the AudioCommander software.
AudioCommander Recording Software
As nice as the hardware is, the most distinguishing feature of the SuperBeam product line is the software. Gamers who want to take their gaming to an new level might wish to not only play, but share their experience and knowledge. With the built-in dual audio microphones and the USB adapter included, the SuperBeam Headsets are able to use the Andrea Electronic’s AudioCommander software.
AudioCommander creates an interface that is easy to understand and use within minutes. Each of the four main sections can be hidden or moved independently depending on need. The first things you’ll notice are the dual inputs for left and right sources. This seemingly simple inclusion allows the audio recording software to do a few tricks that would otherwise require more laborious and expensive equipment to achieve. The recording is done in complete 3D Surround Sound, where the software recognizes the difference in time noise takes to travel and recreates it. Even sounds from behind the head or slightly to the left can be differentiated from sounds to the right.
The dual recording also allows the software to create a stereo array microphone that eliminates “boom” from a central microphone, a common problem in sound quality. Instead, the software recognizes the direction of your voice for clearer recordings when using the SuperBeam headsets.
However, most impressive of the AudioCommander abilities might be its noise elimination protocols. There are two settings besides the standard audio settings. One will concentrate the audio sound from your voice while lowering and eliminating spikes from sounds around the headsets. This results in a clearer recording and less background noise in a low to moderately active setting. The next setting is called “aggressive,” and for good reason. This moderates all noise to within a few decibels and severely cuts out background noise. While using this setting, crowd murmur during a recording in the middle of a large convention center was brought to a whisper; unfortunately, this also means that our voice was lowered as well. This resulted in a clear recording, but gave the illusion that we were feet from the microphones on our SuperBeam headsets, rather than just inches.
These are premium headsets, and being priced as such, they might turn some people off. Both the SB-405 and SB-805 offer different things, one being better suited to portability, while the other offers a clearer audio sound. They also have their own unique qualities and issues inherent to their design. When compared to similar high-end headsets in their price range – especially considering they’re for PC only – the SuperBeam headsets stand equal to competition at and above their price range. The inclusion of the AudioCommander software offers a simplified interface, surround sound recording, and advanced noise reduction that make the SuperBeam headsets a great choice for professionals, gamers, and anyone else interested in audio quality and recording.
Are you a console gamer? Looking for headset without audio software? See how the SuperBeam Headsets compare to the Tritton Pro+ Surround Sound Headset.