Need to buy a gift for somebody who loves technology but you can’t afford the big ticket items?
A comfortable gaming headset
- Balanced sound, comfortable velour ear-pads, decent price
- High clamping force, poor isolation, weak treble
Creative’s latest mid-range headset performs quite well considering its price. It’s nothing ground-breaking but it is a solid option for anyone looking for a versatile gaming or VoIP headset.
Price$ 59.95 (AUD)
Creative's HS-450 headset sits in the middle of the market, between the premium Fatal1ty unit and cheaper models like the HS-350. The headset has some stiff competition from the Sennheiser PC30 but the HS-450 offers a few advantages like larger ear-cups and an in-line volume control. Sound quality is decent and they're comfortable enough for long gaming sessions or voice conferencing.
It's a typical over-the-head model, with ear-pieces that sit on top of the user's ears. Because the headphones aren't sealed, a lot of sound leaks out. If you play games or talk with your friends at high volumes, people nearby may be able to listen in. The headphones are well-built without being particularly heavy. Lightweight plastic is the main component, but they're not as flimsy as some other models we've tested. The ear-cups have plenty of foam padding and are lined with soft velour. This material is usually only found on more expensive headphones, so it was a pleasant surprise to find here.
When putting them on the high clamping force was instantly noticeable. Obviously adjusted for smaller heads, this can easily be remedied by bending the headband or extending it. The headphones are quite versatile and can be adjusted to suit all kinds of heads. They're comfortable, so wearing them for extended periods of time doesn't cause noticeable discomfort.
Sound quality is quite good; it's more than acceptable considering the budget price point. This headset delivers a warm sound, with a significant amount of bass. It does an acceptable job at reproducing music. For testing purposes, we listened to music and streaming Internet radio through the analog ports of a Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1.
Bass is one of the more noticeable elements of the headphones. When listening to bass-heavy tracks, there's sometimes a pervasive low-frequency muddiness that overwhelms other notes. However this is only a problem at higher volumes and doesn't affect most music.
Mid-range is surprisingly even as well. Cheaper headphones are usually biased toward mid-range frequencies, giving the audio a bloated feel. Thankfully, this isn't the case here; the headphones sounded balanced throughout testing. Explosions during movies and PC gaming were loud and clear without being too overpowering.
Higher treble frequencies are the weakest link. When playing PC games and listening to music, it felt as if there was an artificial cap upon the higher frequencies, with sounds often lacking crispness and clarity. If you're intending to listen to music with strong vocal components like jazz or opera this headset isn't the best choice.
The microphone isn't fantastic but suffices for Internet chatting and simple voice recording when quality isn't of high importance. The microphone can be swivelled out of the way, and it has limited range for inward adjustment. However, its rubber casing causes it to slowly return to its original position, which may be annoying.
At 2.5 metres in length, the headphone cord can stretch to the rear of a PC and still leave room for movement. However, the in-line volume control is quite heavy and puts strain upon one side of the headphones. Thankfully a clip is built in so the volume control can be attached to clothing.
If you need an affordable headset that's comfortable enough to wear for long periods of time, the HS-450 will suit. Voice communication is easily handled, as is gaming and most music. However, anyone looking for exceptionally crisp or clear audio should consider other options.
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