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Old 07-01-2007, 09:22 PM   #1
Rob Williams
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Default Speedlink Medusa 5.1 and Sennheiser HD555

The choice between stereo and 5.1 headphones can be complicated, so we are taking a look at a popular sub-$150 offering of each type to see which one will come out on top. As we find out, the choice can make quite a big difference depending on what you will use your PC for most.

You can read the full bout here and discuss it here.
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Old 07-02-2007, 12:38 PM   #2
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I hope that people in the market will find this review useful.

One thing I forgot to note was that CMSS 3D was always enabled in the Creative Audio Console during testing.

Last edited by NicePants42; 07-02-2007 at 04:50 PM.
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Old 07-02-2007, 03:58 PM   #3
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Default umm.... no amp required?

The 555 list both 50 and 120ohm impedance, my senns 280pro with (replaced pc ver) mic runs 64ohm and I run a portable amp on them to play games and listen to music/movies. I'd recommend an amp on headphones above 32ohm impedance that are powered by a PC soundcard. Try it on these and you'll see, its not overpowered, but properly powered cans that make the difference.

http://www.headphone.com/guide/by-ma...ser-hd-555.php

That site has the most respectable info on quality cans.
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Old 07-02-2007, 04:42 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Senn Geek - Nexus View Post
I'd recommend an amp on headphones above 32ohm impedance that are powered by a PC soundcard. Try it on these and you'll see, its not overpowered, but properly powered cans that make the difference.

http://www.headphone.com/guide/by-ma...ser-hd-555.php

That site has the most respectable info on quality cans.
Cheapest amp = $200 = audiophile. I'm sure those amps are great, but considering that both headsets in the review cost $150 or less, assuming that people will spring for a $200 amp is stretching it a little, I think, especially considering how great the HD555s sound without an amp.

From a gaming perspective, I didn't have any trouble hearing the sounds that the HD555s were producing, and I cannot imagine how signal impedance (a constant) could have any noticeable impact on 3D location accuracy, much less $200 worth.

Last edited by NicePants42; 07-02-2007 at 04:50 PM.
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Old 07-02-2007, 06:44 PM   #5
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Default flawed review

I first would like to start off by saying I've had Both set of head phones,
At first I came to the same conclusion as far as sound goes. I was so upset with the sound I couldnít believe company would tray and sell these for $150. I proceeded to play around with head set on my home stereo headphone amp and became much more impressed with the quality. To get great sound from these you need to do 2 things
1. The inline volume control should not go beyond 7 (I found 3-4 works good for games) and 2nd the amp should not be turned above 60%. Now all that being said I wouldnít recommend the MedusaÖ. Iíve had mine for over a year and had several ampís fail. (twice my bad)
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Old 07-02-2007, 09:14 PM   #6
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I'd like to know what the flaw is, if you could elaborate. For this response, I'm assuming that you're talking about the Medusas.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
I first would like to start off by saying I've had Both set of head phones,
At first I came to the same conclusion as far as sound goes. I was so upset with the sound I couldnít believe company would tray and sell these for $150.
This is not the conclusion I've come to, so I don't know why you say that your conclusions were the same as mine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
I proceeded to play around with head set on my home stereo headphone amp and became much more impressed with the quality.
If you're using a stereo headphone amp, then you're getting stereo output, right? That would make sense if you were using the HD555s, but the Medusas are 5.1. If you can clarify this, I'd appreciate it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
To get great sound from these you need to do 2 things
1. The inline volume control should not go beyond 7 (I found 3-4 works good for games) and 2nd the amp should not be turned above 60%. Now all that being said I wouldnít recommend the MedusaÖ. Iíve had mine for over a year and had several ampís fail. (twice my bad)
I tried turning the inline remote settings down and up a couple times while playing CS:S, and didn't observe any quality difference. However, I was using the amp that came with the headphones, so maybe you were using something different?
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Old 07-03-2007, 06:26 AM   #7
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Wow you get ripped off in the US. The medusa's have been out in Europe for ages (I've had mine for a few years now) and cost £40 tops (< $80). Being as the US is normally cheaper I'm amazed how much you get charged.

Incidentally mine still work fine after years of use - although I see the amp design has changed since I got mine - not a bad thing.
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Old 07-03-2007, 08:54 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
Wow you get ripped off in the US. The medusa's have been out in Europe for ages (I've had mine for a few years now) and cost £40 tops (< $80). Being as the US is normally cheaper I'm amazed how much you get charged.

Incidentally mine still work fine after years of use - although I see the amp design has changed since I got mine - not a bad thing.
From what I understood about their warranty program, the headphone manufacturer is a company in the UK, meaning that they might have sold a distributorship for North America or something. That's my best guess on the price disparity. It looks like Medusa is selling the Home Edition for £50.95 on the UK site, which comes to $102 USD at the moment. Yikes.
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Old 07-04-2007, 05:24 AM   #9
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I thought that this review was interesting because of the headphones compared. On one hand we have entry-level audiophile equipment from a world renowned company in audio equipment and on the other hand we have the Medusa's from speedlink, when as far as I know is only known for its over-rated razor mouse line. Comparing these two pieces of audio equipment is like comparing a balanced combat knife to an above-average Swiss army knife. You likely don't want to hunt with the Swiss army because the knife isn't sharp enough, and you likely don't want to try and be MacGuyver with the combat knife because it only cuts. In the same vein, I wouldn't use 5.1 noname headphones for music listening, but I also wouldn't use stereo headphones for a scifi or action movie (I would use my 5.1 home theater).

Despite the mis-matched comparison, for the intent of the review the products are seemingly appropriate. The review seems fair, the reviewer noticed every time the senns produced higher quality sound and when having 5.1 made helped spacial recognition in gaming/action movies.
I also thought that it was interesting that the reviewer found that 5.1 sound actually helped. In my gaming experience I have found stereo to be just fine as most 3d games have audio engines that simulate noise coming from different directions, and furthermore sound card developers like creative have spent millions on R&D developing technologies (like EAX) that revolutionized 3d audio in gaming and a lot of that work has been geared towards stereo due to 5.1 gaming never really catching on. I always thought 5 speakers for a PC was a little odd because I have never seen a computer setup where I could properly place all 5 speakers. The rear speakers seem to be brutally inconvenient to place unless attached to the back of a lux armchair.
I thought it was odd that you said you absolutely didn't hear some sounds (things from behind) in some games. That's either PEBKAC (not telling the game/sound drivers that you are using stereo headphones) or poor sound engine design. Something like that shouldn't be an issue IMHO. It is the intent of 5.1 sound to give properly placed natural sounding audio, not "extra" sounds.
Over all it seems that there are few 5.1 headsets and those that exist aren't exactly quality. Based on the review I think that I would always pick a stereo solution as there are more options available and much higher in quality.

Some people in this thread have been speaking about headphone amps and I thought I would comment a little.
The Sennheiser HD555's in their current revision have a nominal impedance of 50ohms. These do NOT require a headphone amp, but would ABSOLUTELY benefit sonically from the use of one.
I think there were older revisions of the HD555's which had different impedances, one being 120ohm. An owner of this revision would really want to think about getting an amp and might find them quiet with out them.
200+ is where you really MUST have an amp, but a general rule of thumb is that if the headphones have a 1/4" TRS connector (the fat "phone plug") they would likely benefit from a headphone amp. Unless the amp is cheap, try the amp with your headphones first, you might not see any improvement at all and you would see your money go to waste.

$200 USD is not the cheapest headphone amp you can find. There are DIY headphone amps out there called Cmoy amps, which are named after its inventor Chu Moy. You can google cmoy and find instructions including schematics, or you can ebay the same query and find them for sale at around $50 USD. This DIY amp is credited for being cheap while producing audiophile quality amplification.
Aside from the DIY stuff, headphone.com (Headroom) sells two different headphone amps <$200. The first is for $100 USD, and the other has a USB interface so you can use it as a sound card (and have it bypass annoying OS generated sounds) for $150. Most non or entry level audiophiles should find these amps suitable.

I ended up writing this twice, you guys took your forums down sometime between the time I read the thread and when I was posting. And then there was a DB error!Tisk Tisk!
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Old 12-24-2008, 08:22 AM   #10
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Quote:
Although many extras are included, the $150 price tag is higher than some other 5.1 headsets available
I'm curious what other headsets you're referring to.
Sadly I haven't been able to find a great lot other than the turtlebeach ones.

Could you perhaps elaborate on that point?
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Old 12-25-2008, 09:19 AM   #11
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In my travels looking for a decent headset, I've seen that the USB version of the Steelseries 5H v2 headset offers software 7.1 (I think) and Zalman also have a 5.1 offering.

Hope this helps . Probably going for the 555's myself.
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Old 12-25-2008, 02:21 PM   #12
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Triton 5.1 surround headset
http://forums.techgage.com/showthread.php?t=2086
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Old 02-19-2010, 12:43 PM   #13
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Default Anyone using these on todays games?

A friend of mine from work had an "epiphany" the other day and handed me this headphone set. More power to him, he said I could them and pay him if I choose to.

I have a cheap pair of headphones at home that I plug in to my volume control for my Logitech 5.1 setup. In my pc I have a X-Fi Titanium card. I mostly play Call of Duty type games, L4D 1 & 2 and (soon) Battlefield Bad Company 2.

So... my question is, has anyone played these games with this headset? Any issues? Did you find yourself tweaking the audio settings for each game?

Thanks,

Zeke

PS: Even though this review is old and I just dug up an ancient thread... it's the best one I found looking on Google today. Seems very fair and straight forward with no bias.
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Old 06-23-2010, 07:17 AM   #14
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Default Nice review

Nice review and for me very useful. But i wonder if you correctly did the setup in the "Game mode" for the Sennheisers. You have to enable "CMSS3D" and "Headphones" in Game Mode of the X-fi App and 5.1 speakers (!) in Windows. Tested with GTA IV i was impressed. I Think you have configured headphones or 2.1 Speakers in Windows so you have no 3D. With this Setup i think you can throw away the Medusas ;-)
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Old 02-02-2012, 02:15 PM   #15
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Default Medusa NX: fragile and unreliable

A note from unhappy user: Medusa series headphones have fragile joints above ear cups. Mine broke down after 4 months, and producer refused to replace it/repair.
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