The primary function of the headphones is for gaming, so that is where I spent a good bit of time testing. I am not a huge gaming fan, but for this review, I did install a few games. The first is a personal favorite of mine, Farcry. Yes, I know it is 4+ years old, but it still looks great and is even more fun in multiplayer mode. It took me a bit to relate "work" with "gaming", but since I was testing out the headphones in-game, all was well.
I also tried another multiplayer game, F.E.A.R. Combat demo. Using the Ventrilo software, myself and Rutledge played this game for a bit. After working out some initial microphone issues (aka turning on the mic boost), we could hear each other extremely well. He reported that my mic was "as clear as any he had heard". Once the gaming started, I did have to take a few minutes and adjust the in-game music, sound effects and whatnot so I could hear both them and Rutledge.
The Pulsar SX headphones performed above and beyond my expectations in both of these games. I was able to accurately hear enemies approaching from every angle, and things like gunfire and explosions sounded very nice.
Another important scenario I wanted to try was music. I am constantly listening to music when I am on the computer (which is, always), so being able to handle a wide variety of music is a must for me.
Straight out of the box, the headphones had a bit too much bass and not enough treble for me. After making a few adjustments in Winamp's equalizer, I found a happy medium that seemed to work very well for every type of music I listen to. Rap music and similar bass-filled tunes sounded absolutely amazing through the headphones. The bass was extremely deep - much like what I experience with a dedicated subwoofer - while the mids and highs were still accurately represented and not muffled as I have heard with some other headphones. The majority of rock and alternative songs I listen to sounded good as well.
Both in games and when listening to music, I was able to turn the volume all the way up and did not experience any distortion or popping. I found myself keeping the volume level around 8 or so out of 10 when I really wanted to "rock out". Anything over this was just too loud for my tastes.
The LED intensity lights are a neat addition, but I don't see myself ever using this feature. One feature I was pretty impressed with, however, was the vibration. Much like the volume adjuster, the vibration level goes from 0-10. I found that a setting of 2-3 actually added a lot of depth to bass-filled music and games. You could actually feel the explosion or the bass in a song, but at such a low setting, it wasn't over-the-top as you might expect. Anything over level 3 seemed to be a bit much, but that is just my personal opinion.
Overall comfort of the Pulsar SX headphones is superb. The leather and padding on the earmuffs and headband really do a great job. I wore the headphones for hours at a time and my ears and the area around them never became uncomfortable.
The ability to use either the standard 3.5mm jacks or USB for connectivity didn't seem like that big of a deal to me, until I actually used it. I found that, with USB, I could keep the headphones attached to my computer and simply use the switch on the control module to turn the headphones on. When the switch is set to standard, audio is played through my computer speakers as normal. Not a huge deal, but it is very convenient to not have to constantly connect and disconnect the headphones.
The control module has a belt clip so you can easily attach it somewhere, but I just left mine sitting in my lap. I do wish the volume "up" and "down" were reversed. I kept finding myself adjusting it the opposite way that I intended. Also, there are two LEDs on the control module, a green one to indicate the vibration feature is on and a red one to indicate that USB is being used. The green one remained solid, as did the red one when no audio was being played. When audio is active, the red LED pulsates on and off. This didn't really bother me, since I had the module in my lap, out of sight.
The last thing I want to mention is the included battery pack. This is used to power the lights / vibrations if you are using the headphones on an MP3 player or any other audio device or when connected to the computer using the standard 3.5mm jacks. Again, a nice addition, but I don't see myself going through the hassle of loading it with batteries and hauling it around with my iPhone just for lights and vibrations.
As of writing, the TekNmotion Pulsar SX Gaming Headphones retail for $54.99 at a popular online reseller. Compared to other gaming headsets on the market, I consider this a fantastic price for a great budget headset that offers serious performance, comfort and usability.
OCIA.net has awarded the TekNmotion Pulsar SX Gaming Headphones our Seal of Approval!