If you're anything like us, then your gaming days are over and you now have to sneak in a quick blast of Gears 3 when the family has gone to bed. The trouble is, playing that late means you can’t really turn up the volume and enjoy the visceral gunfire or high-pitched gear changes. If you're really considerate, or married to a light sleeper, then you probably struggle to hear your game over the console's fan.
To help you, Creative has generated a product with the most absurd name in the world: the Creative Sound Blaster Tactic 3D Omega Wireless headphones. These headphones have more to offer than an over-long name though, as they promise to work with your console too.
The headphones, like their name, are no small package. They are big and weighty, but very comfortable. They consist of a large headband – padded of course – and two even larger leather padded cups that encase your ears. They are well built with little flex and can be adjusted to fit different head sizes.
The left cup features a clip in boom microphone for voice chat, but this can be removed if you’re not much of a talker. The left cup also features a volume, mute and power buttons as well as inline volume socket for Xbox 360 users. The headphones are, as we mentioned, wireless and are charged via micro USB. The good news is, you can continue to use them while they are charging.
The Creative Sound Blaster Tactic 3D Omega Wireless headphones are minimal in design although do feature a glowing blue circle on each cup when on. But seeing as you’ll be wearing them alone and in the dark, you won’t really be interested in any of this will you?
The headphones are just one part of the package. The other is the wireless dongle that you connect to your PC, Mac, PS3 or Xbox 360. It's the size of a coaster and about the height of a bar of soap and it’s the gadget that sends the digital audio signal through the air. It does this on the 2.4Ghz frequency range, -the same as many wireless mice- and doesn’t need a line of sight to work.
There's also a third element; a stand, and both the wireless dongle and the headphones sit nicely upon it, ready to be used for a midnight fight when you next need them.
The Creative Sound Blaster Tactic 3D Omega Wireless headphones promise THX TruStudio Pro sound, 50mm drivers and bass to make your rib cage shudder. In reality the THX TruStudio Pro sound is only capable if you use the Creative software and drivers with your PC or Mac. Console users won’t get it.
We tested the Creative Sound Blaster Tactic 3D Omega Wireless headphones on the Mac, the Xbox 360, and the PS3.
With no drivers in the box you’ll have to nip over to SoundBlaster.com to get started. The drivers are easy to find and at 27MB aren’t going to take an age to download. Once installed you get a control panel that lets you manage the sound of your new headphones.
The software offers you the chance to tweak the THX TruStudio Pro settings, change and enhance the Equalizer, mess around with a voice changer, and change the intensity and pulse levels of the glowing blue lights on the side of the device. It’s a piece of software you'll open once and then never use again.
For our tests we listened to a variety of music from Daft Punk’s Tron Legacy via Spotify to Johnny Cash via iTunes. We also had Skype conversations to test out the microphone capabilities. Overall sound is very good with bass and treble well represented. At the loudest volume settings there was no distortion. The ‘phones coped very well with “Hurt” dealing with Cash’s voice and the guitar fighting against it.
The people we phoned on Skype said that our voice was clear and easy to hear, but not any clearer than other headsets they had used or been at the other end of. There could be a number of reasons for that but it’s worth noting that if you are talking to friends online with these, the performance won’t disappoint, they just won’t blow your mind either.
Our first problem was connecting the Wireless dongle to the console. We have an Xbox 360 Slim and connect it directly to our television via a HDMI cable that not only handles the picture, but the sound as well.
For the Creative Sound Blaster Tactic 3D Omega Wireless headphones to work you have to intercept your Xbox 360 or PS3’s composite AV cable with one from Creative. This sends the sound signal to the wireless box, which gets fired over the air to the ‘phones on your noggin.
Sounds easy enough, but the Xbox 360 S is designed in such a way that you can’t have the composite and HDMI cables plugged in at the same time. That means either downgrading your picture quality or finding a different way to do it.
For the Xbox 360 you can connect the headset to the Xbox 360 controller via an inline volume control, but then you’ve started introducing wires into the mix, and we aren’t really sure that fulfils the “Wireless” promise in the product name.
Once we had got it working through a bit of cable work around the sound is good, and the performance is good enough to enjoy those crashes, bangs, and wallops. We tested the headphones with Gears of War 3, and Forza 3.
Installing the headphones on the PS3 was a lot easier. The cables can work side-by-side and we had no problem listening to music and keeping the HDMI for HD gaming. We tested the headphones with Resistance 3 and were, once again, impressed with the sound the headphones produced.
A full charge, which takes around 8 hours will give you 10 hours of gaming and you can listen and charge at the same time. That’s not fantastic, especially for the hardened gamer, but it’s better than a smack in the face with a wet kipper.
The Creative Sound Blaster Tactic 3D Omega Wireless headphones promise wireless gaming, and for PS3, PC and Mac users it does so nicely. We struggled to easily achieve that with our Xbox 360 S.
For Xbox 360 owners they will probably want to wait a little longer for the Mad Catz Tritton Warhead 7.1. These have Dolby Wireless Surround and are designed for the Xbox 360 and made in cooperation with Microsoft.
PC and Mac users might like to remember that while the ‘phones are impressive, we get the feeling they will be just too big and cumbersome for desk use. Which really just leaves the PS3 gamers to take a look at these interesting headphones.