Zalman’s best known for silent heat sinks but they’re starting to branch out. They were nice enough to send me their latest invention, 5.1 headphones. The ZM-RS6F
, or Theater 6
headphones try to simulate surround sound without the speaker setup. It certainly won’t replace a true 5.1 speaker setup but let’s see how well it does in trying to provide surround sound in a small, portable and private package.
The package is pretty unique with the headset folded up in a small space. Once taken out of the bubble package, you can see how unique the shape of the earpieces is. The reason for this is that there are actually separate front, center, and rear speakers in each earpiece. If you look at this picture from Zalman’s website, you can see the three speakers in this view.
On the back of the ends are vents for the front and rear speakers. Each earpiece has very nice, comfortable cushion. Adjusting the size is as easy as sliding the bands on top of the headphones. Putting the headphones on for long periods of time, I found them to be very comfortable to wear. The large earpieces also engulfed the ears really well and blocked out any outside sound.
The folding ability of the headphones allows you to carry to LANs or other places in a smaller space. It’s pretty convenient if you transport the headphones a lot. It also helps storage because of the smaller space that it takes up.
To attach the set to an audio source, the ZM-RS6F
has three plugs: center, front, and rear. Most computer sound cards these days now have the three 1/8” inputs for you to use with the headphones. The three connectors are different color and gold plated for optimal connection. The cord length is very generous allowing you to sit pretty far back from the source. Unfortunately, there isn’t a volume adjusted for the headphones. Having used headphones with a volume knob, I definitely miss the feature on the Zalman’s and one I think would’ve been a great feature.
For the test of how well these headphones performed, I used my AMD computer with the onboard sound card. For movies, I watched Attack of the Clones
and Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
. After watching the two for a while, I found that the front sounds were loud while the center channel was a little quieter than what I liked. The rears though were practically non-existent and I could barely hear anything that was suppose to come from the rear. For a movie experience, I would say the headphones did an ok job but definitely had some problems with rear channels.
With games such as Unreal Tournament 2003
, I found the same effect as watching movies. The rears just didn’t have the oomph needed to create a good surround effect. It did help a little by turning up the rear volume in the control panel and lowering the others. Using it for regular stereo games, the headphones performed very well with the highs, lows, and bass coming through the speakers really nicely.
headphones are a nice attempt at trying to recreate 5.1 surround sound for private listening. The physical design of the product is pretty good. Sound wise, the headphones did well at reproducing stereo sound. It was clear and loud. For 5.1 surround sound, the effect isn’t as pronounced as I wanted it to be and definitely doesn’t come close to a true 5 speaker setup. It’s a nice attempt and I hope Zalman continues to improve on it.
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