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Zowie Hammer USB Headset

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Posted October 31, 2011 by Jake in PC Audio

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by Jake
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Listening Impresssions

Objective, quantitative conclusions based on rigorous scientific methodology is not ultimately easily applied to a headset in the context of daily use by a gamer, so the best way to test a headset is to just strap it on for a couple weeks and use it in a variety of different situations. So after using the Hammer for a few weeks solid, here are my impressions.

Comfort

The light weight of the Hammer USB headset really helps when moving around or gaming for extended periods of time, preventing any sort of neck strain. The earcups are soft and well cushioned, and very comfortable. The headband isn’t nearly as comfortable, however, as the area where it meets just above the ear cups seems to put a lot of pressure on the sides of your head; it’s quite a snug fit and I doubt most people are used to having hard plastic pressed against the sides of their head. So it’s a bit awkward, and takes some getting used to.

Microphone

The microphone produced clear transmission of sound with little background noise. I found it to be just as clear and capable as other headsets we have reviewed.

Sound Quality – Music and Movies

After a few weeks of continuous use, I noticed the low range was fairly clear but a mostly underwhelming, while the upper range faired better, with the treble tones clear and succinct. The midrange was full-bodied. The audio quality is clear across the spectrum, with minimal distortion when the volume is cranked up to high levels. Music sounded �good�, and the soundstage wasn�t too large but without a powerful base it ended up seeming a little tinny and not as intense as I would have liked.

Movies managed very similar, they hung in there pretty well considering the price point. The voices were clear and distinct, the mid-range wasn’t too belligerent. The low end was clear, but obviously not as thunderous or powerful as other cans that we have looked at leaving me wanting more.

Overall, the Hammer USB headset displayed decent performance in for a USB headset, but without any sort of Dolby or 5.1 surround emulation, it was a bit underwhelming.

Sound Quality – Gaming

In a first-person shooter, tracking enemies where subtle sounds make the difference between life or death is vital, and this is where this headset seemingly falls short. The 3D positional sound is unfortunately lacking, and with no advanced software in the bundle, you end up with a straight stereo sound and everything ended up being muddled together, making directionality rather difficult. This is important to gamers, so while the USB connection is convenient, but the lackluster positional audio is a poor tradeoff.

The lack of any real low end frequency here is very noticeable, and chances are your onboard control panel just isn’t up to task, leaving little option of compensating to bring up the low range into better focus. We’ve noticed that gaming headsets typically accenuate the mid-range tones for better positioning (at the expense of bass for immsersivity), but the lack of good 3D positioning unfortunately nullifies the built-in equalization settings. The lack of adjustments makes things strained.

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