360-degree photos of me wearing the Psyko Audio Labs 5.1 headphones
Subjective Wear Testing
Before I started testing the performance of the Psyko 5.1 headphones I had to try them on to see how they would feel on my noggin. My initial thoughts were pretty positive as you could really tell that the overall design and extra padding helped distribute the extra weight from these massive headphones. The extra padding around the bridge and ear cups ensured the headphones didn’t overwhelm the user because the weight really can be an issue for certain people. I found them to be very comfortable, but I’m used to wearing kevlar helmets for a living.
Test System Configuration
Our PC gaming system is based off the Intel LGA 1366 platform using the following hardware components:
Motherboard: Gigabyte X58A-UD3R LGA 1366
Processor: Intel i7-920 2.8GHz
Graphics Card: XFX Radeon HD5770 1GB
Memory: OCZ Technology 6GB DDR3-1600 Triple-Channel
Storage: Western Digital 150GB Raptor SATA
CPU Cooler: Coolit Systems ECO A.L.C. Water Cooler
Monitor: Westinghouse L2410NM 24″ LCD (1920×1200 resolution)
Subjective Performance Testing
Our testing focused specifically on PC gaming using some of our favorite First Person Shooter games, including Call of Duty Modern Warfare, Left 4 Dead 2, and Battlefield Bad Company 2. We set our display resolution at 1920×1200 and turned on all the 5.1 audio enhancements to hear everything we could using the Psyko 5.1 headphones.
Our objectives during testing were two-fold — to gauge how well these headphones help us locate where specific sounds are coming (directional/positional sound) from and to evaluate the headphones’ overall sound quality during online FPS gaming.
Game summary: Battlefield Bad Company 2 is primarily a squad-based online first person shooter based around modern warfare. Additionally, the game includes a single player campaign whose storyline is a continuation of the original Bad Company. The game’s Destruction 2.0 engine allows for destructible environments,and multiplayer maps contain an array of vehicles, aircraft and turrets and allow for a number of game modes.
One of our favorite, and most anticipated, FPS games to arrive this year was Battlefield Bad Company 2. This is the latest FPS game from the popular Battlefield series that focuses more on team and squad strategy than individual accolades and kills. We played several types of online, multiplayer matches over three weeks of testing to evaluate these headphones.
Right away we were blown away with the directional sound quality of the Psyko headphones. The high environmental sounds were crisp and we could even pinpoint where snipers were shooting us from, which helped us keep ourselves and our teammates our of harm’s way. The loud booms from airstrikes and C4 explosives left us a bit disoriented as we started to rely on the directional sound more to help us navigate the playing field.
The overall sound quality was a bit out of sync too and required us to make some optimizations through the amp included with these headphones. We tried to decrease the bass, which increases the directional sound at the same time. But, this didn’t seem to work very well in this game and made the treble a bit overpowering and the bass too low.
I wouldn’t say the overall sound experience was bad, but I didn’t feel that the sounds integrated well together to create an overarching environment that combined my visual and sound abilities in a harmonious way.
Game summary: Left 4 Dead 2 is set during the aftermath of an apocalyptic pandemic, and focuses on four survivors fighting against hordes of the infected. The survivors must fight their way through levels, interspersed with safe houses that act as checkpoints, with the goal of reaching a rescue vehicle at the campaign’s finale.
The next FPS game we wanted to throw against these Psyko headphones was Left 4 Dead 2. I don’t have too much experience playing this particular shooter, but from what I’ve heard it intertwines all of your senses very well into the dark and creepy suburban environment.
It didn’t take long for me to notice this when I started playing online. I could hear zombie noises coming from all directions and I was even able to detect certain sounds like footsteps better than other environmental sounds. This was a great help to myself and teammates because I was again to give my team an edge by pointing out where potential enemies were located on the map.
The 5.1 sound experience functioned exactly as advertised, but this FPS game seems to favor higher sounds as opposed to deep and low sounds. This caused the headphones to be a bit pitchy at times, which didn’t improve much after adjusting the headphones’ amp. Overall, the sound quality lacked the bass I’ve become accustomed to with other gaming headphones.
Game summary: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare takes place in a fictional near-future around 2012, where a radical leader has staged an execution order against the president of an The multiplayer portion of the game features various game modes, and contains a leveling system that allows the player to unlock additional weapons, weapon attachments, and camouflage schemes as they advance.
The final game I wanted to concentrate my performance testing on was Call of Duty 4. I’ve played the entire COD series over the years and would say I’m highly proficient in the functionality of the game environment as well as how sound is used in this game to enhance a gamer’s overall experience. After enabling 5.1 sound in the game settings I was off to try these headphones in Free For All and Team Deathmatch modes.
During my Free For All matches, the sound was so precise that I had a difficult time determining where enemies were coming from because everyone on the map was my enemy. After finding a couple places to camp for a bit, I could focus on specific sounds like gun fire, airstrikes, grenades, and footsteps, which increased my ability to time where enemies were tracking me from. This worked like magic as I started to go on 5- and 6-kill streaks and eventually owned an almost 2-to-1 kill to death ratio in Free For All game mode.
During Team Deathmatch game mode, the 5.1 headphones seemed to shine further and created a good balance between high and low sounds after setting the amp to 50 percent directional sound and bass. At one point during the game, I had three enemies try to attack me from behind, but I was able to hear their movements and quickly counter their attacks. I felt I had a huge advantage by being able to gauge the distance an enemy was from my position. I used this excellent directional sound quality to help my teammates in determining where we could cap flags and how far enemies where from our location.
The overall sound quality was pretty exceptional in this game as opposed to my experience in Left 4 Dead 2 and Bad Company 2. The low and deep sounds in COD4 seemed to integrate well with the high-pitched sounds through these headphones, and did so with minimal adjustments to the headphones’ amp. The harmonic balance between these various sounds not only helped my game play with excellent directional sound qualities, but overall sound as well.