The Sound Blaster World of Warcraft Wireless Headset from Creative aims to provide hardcore World of Warcraft fans with the tools they need to communicate effectively while playing the game. It boasts a range of features that seek to make gaming more immersive and teamwork more effective, but, with a hefty price tag of around £150, does this headset do enough to justify its cost?
Break free from wires
The headset communicates wirelessly with your PC via a 2.4GHz transmitter, which connects to a USB socket. You'll find an on/off switch, microphone-mute button and volume keys built into the left earcup, cunningly hidden amongst the decorative glyphs.
Charging is handled via a USB cable that plugs into the headset. You can expect to get around 8 hours of battery life out of the headset, with a full charge taking roughly 4 hours.
Pretty pair of cans
Visually, the headset's most arresting feature is the pair of glowing orbs that adorn each earcup. You can customise these by switching between the two sets of lenses that come packaged with the headset, representing either the mighty Horde or the noble Alliance, depending on where your in-game allegiances lie.
Once you've downloaded and installed the accompanying software, you can tinker with the colours on display, choosing your own from a palette or setting the headset to cycle though a preset range of hues. You can even set the lights to pulsate, and alter the pulsation intensity. We can't deny that we had an unseemly amount of fun playing with the various options, and the lights themselves are of a high quality -- colours are intense and the interchangeable lenses deliver a crisp, moody glow.
Sadly, the build quality of the rest of the headset fails to measure up. Although we appreciate the angular, armour-esque World of Warcraft touches, the headset feels plastic and cheap, and not at all durable. The earcups, however, are comfortable enough, and are unlikely to slip or become irritating during prolonged gaming sessions.
The headset's sound quality is decent, and a frequency response of 20Hz-20kHz (generally accepted as the human hearing range) means you're unlikely to miss audio cues when playing the game. Taking the price tag into account, however, we'd have expected far superior sound quality. Still, the THX TruStudio technology creates a good sense of surround sound, and you'll be able to hear sounds coming from both above and below -- something that's bound to come in handy while fending off hordes of enemies.
Speak your mind
The microphone attaches to the left earcup and is angled slightly away from the user's face. We found the microphone had a tendency to pick up unwanted ambient noise, and there was a slight delay in registering input. Nevertheless, voices are transmitted with an impressive clarity that your guild members will undoubtedly appreciate.
The headset doesn't come packaged with any software -- instead you'll be asked to download the Audio Control Panel program from the Creative Web site. Pleasingly, the software is styled to resemble the World of Warcraft in-game menus, and lets you tinker with an impressive range of features, including an equaliser and a key-bindings menu, so you can perform tasks such as switching on the bass boost or muting the microphone using your keyboard.
One feature we particularly like is the VoiceFX voice modifier, which alters your voice to sound like those of various World of Warcraft character types, from female gnomes to Mal'Ganis. Technically, it's a cheap trick, but it will undoubtedly impress other players, and it does make for a more immersive experience.
Our only complaint in the software department is that setting the headset up is far from simple, and you'll be pestered to register the product, allow scheduled update checks and perform a mandatory restart before you're able to actually access the Audio Control Panel program. It's a minor gripe, but it means that set-up is a lengthy affair, ruling out using the headset's best features during a quick blast on a friend's PC, for example.
We also found the wireless range to be rather disappointing. If you're hoping to keep up the chat while you pop to the kitchen for a mid-raid snack, you might find the signal degrades and dies before you've even left the room.
Creative's Sound Blaster World of Warcraft Wireless Headset does a reasonable job overall, performing adequately as regards sound quality, microphone clarity and software design. But an astonishingly high asking price makes this piece of kit very difficult to wholeheartedly recommend. Diehard World of Warcraft fans will appreciate touches such as the VoiceFX vocal modifier and the distinctive glowing earcups. For everyone else, we'd recommend checking out the Logitech Gaming Headset G330, a smaller, comfortable, wired headset, available at about a third of the price.
Edited by Charles Kloet