Psyko Audio Labs 5.1 Gaming Headset
Author: Zahn Funk
Editor: Shawn Knight
Date: 11-28-2010
Provided by: Psyko Audio Labs
Installation / Testing

Due to the length of the cables you will likely need to place the amplifier somewhere fairly close to you, either on a desk or top of the computer. The audio plugs are color-coded between the headset and amplifier using pink, green, yellow and black designators. When connecting to the onboard Realtek ALC889 jacks on my MSI 890FXA-GD70 motherboard, I used the pink, green, orange and black respectively. The Realtek control panel detected the connected device as supporting 5.1 surround sound, and automatically enabled this within Windows. Performing the surround sound test confirmed that I was hearing a distinct separation between each of the six channels. Since I also have a speaker system connected to my PC, I just have to remember to set the headset as the default playback device.

Once Windows is configured correctly, it's time to make sure that surround sound is enabled in the game itself. Half-Life 2 defaulted to the 5.1 speaker configuration. In Wolfenstein I had to manually select it. Other games like Crysis will automatically use whatever sound setup Windows is set to use, and can't be changed in-game.

The user guide offers this recommendation concerning the tone adjustment: "Note: Increased bass decreases the userís ability to recognize directionality. The lower the bass, the more directional a set of sounds will appear to the user. The amplifier bass control is designed to allow the user to boost even the smallest bass effects. But, for sound sources with lots of bass it may be necessary to reduce the bass level to prevent the Psyko subwoofer system from producing an unrealistic or distorted bass level." They also recommend to "disable all enhancements" such as effects or equalization control in the software.

Although the bass adjustment knob can tune the low frequencies, I found that the highs were extremely bright, rather shrill or piercing almost. By comparison, the mids and lows were more subdued, and tended to disappear if the volume was turned down too far. You can compensate the lows of course by turning the bass up, however this causes distortion at higher volume levels, and loss of separation. What I ended up doing was applying an equalization effect to smooth out the sound. I chose a preset named "Pop" which boosted the middle frequencies while leaving the highs and extreme lows basically untouched.

Let's wrap things up with some final thoughts and conclusion.

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