Zalman was the first manufacturer to launch a 5.1 surround sound headphone many years ago. It didn’t sound very good and it went out of the market rather quickly.
However many other manufacturers decided to launch their own versions of 5.1 headphones and today there are plenty of big name computer accessory manufacturers like Razer, Logitech, Corsair and others.
The headphone for review is from well-known PC PSU manufacturer Rosewill, owned by NewEgg. In addition to PSUs, Rosewill makes PC cases, Network routers and gaming accessories like headphones and mice.
Unlike a lot of so-called ‘surround sound’ headphones, the Rosewill actually has multiple drivers in each housing for a more authentic 5.1 surround sound experience.
5.1 headphones come in two general flavours – with or without a built-in USB sound card. Some (like the CM Storm Sirus) come with both options!!! (For those who purchase a better sound card later on.)
The Rosewill RHTS-8206 (poorly named in my opinion !) comes with a built-in sound card but lacks any option to connect the headphones directly to the sound card. So you may have the best and most expensive soundcard ever assembled made of solid gold and encrusted with diamonds BUT the headphones CANNOT use the sound card and it will use the built-in USB sound card ONLY.
On the plus side, you might have the worst excuse of a sound card that will make the top of the line super expensive headphone sound exactly like an Apple earbud and the built-in USB sound card is a definite step up from most onboard sound cards.
One feature that sets this headphone apart from most others is that it comes with Vibration control. Not sure how many people like vibrators (and that too on your ears!) But it can be turned off if not required.
- 5.1 surround sound with vibration, 8 precise speakers
- Driver CD enhances to Virtual 7.1 Digital surround sound headset delivers explosive bass, impressive precise rich & clear treble sound for realistic audio environments.
- Large 40mm Nd-Fe-B magnetic driver delivers deep bass, smooth undistorted highs, and crystal clear vocals
- Soft ear-pad cushions for extreme comfort
- Ergonomic design with 90 degrees fold flat ear cup for easy storage
- Flexible bloom: allows microphone position adjustment
- Excellent uni-directional microphone: reduces background noise for clear conversation Light-weighted design for wear comfort
- Detachable, noise-cancelling microphone
- 6.6 Feet cable with inline volume/microphone controller
- Digital enhance USB audio for premium sound quality
- Supports window XP / Vista / 7
|Headphone Frequency Response||
20Hz-20KHz (Front Driver)
20Hz-20KHz (Center Driver)
20Hz-20KHz (Rear Driver)
|Headphone Input Impedance||
64O ±15%(Front Driver)
|Cord Length||6.6 ft.|
|Microphone Impedance||2.2 KO|
|Microphone Frequency Response||30Hz-16KHz|
Design and Build Quality
The headphones are quite sturdy and made of some nice plastic. The headphones can be folded in case you wish to drag your PC for BYOC events and gaming tournament. The ear-cups can also be rotated 180 degrees DJ style! However the folding mechanism can be quite confusing and at times, you are left wondering why one of the cups isn’t turning into place.
However, a foldable design is generally preferred to a non-foldable design. The darn wire is very long (over 6 ft). Maybe good for gamers who use 50″ LCD TVs to play a game and sit around 5 ft away from the screen. For most people who sit barely a foot away from their computer screen can be prepared to step on, sit on or generally get entangled with the long wire.
There is a nifty control attached on the wire that has some useful controls for volume, muting, microphone on/off, and vibration settings. These are all useful controls but the control has a strong blue LED light that stays on even when your PC is switched off. This light can be disturbing when trying to sleep! One feature that the Rosewill missed in the individual channel volume control that other manufacturers like Coolermaster include. That said I used to leave all channels at maximum volume and fiddle with the main volume only.
The headphones are quite heavy if you are used to cheap headphones but are rather light if you use more expensive headphones. The clamping force is quite tight which provides for excellent isolation (very difficult to hear my mom nagging me!) but the tight clamp does cause some discomfort after extended use. The clamping force does reduce after a few weeks of usage but it still remains rather tight.
Also, these headphones don’t completely cover the ear and rest on your ears which can hurt after a while. (At least for me!)
The microphone can be adjusted easily and can be swung out of the way easily if desired. One of the best implementations of a mic I have seen. To test the mic I switched it on, maxed out the volume, started the sound recorder and tried to sing a song. I then realized two things. One is that it was painfully clear that the voice in my head when I am singing and the actual sound of my voice that the mic recorded just didn’t match and it was painful to hear me trying to sing, and two is that the mic was very clear and passed the test with full marks while I failed the singing test.
Coming to the actual performance, there were three broad categories to test – music, games and movies.
Music – Now this headphone costs just $47 on Amazon and its targeting primarily for gamers. In fact, I haven’t heard too many regular headphones costing around $50 that sounded very nice. However one of my favourite budget headphones – The Koss Portapro also retails for a similar price point.
So frankly as someone who likes to listen to music primarily on headphones, I wasn’t expecting much of the Rosewill at all!
That said I was VERY surprised when I first heard them. They sounded darn good for the price. To make doubly sure that I wasn’t imagining all this I decided to test it with the Koss Porta Pros that I still love.
Now the Portapros are very nice for the price. Lots of bass and an overall very fun sound. However, the Rosewill simply sounds better! The bass is not as heavy as the Portapros but the Portapros sound rather boomy. The Rosewill has more than enough bass to satisfy a lot of people and the bass is of good quality to boot. In addition, the Rosewill sounds far more spacious than the Portapros which have an in your face kinda sound. Mids and treble are also slightly better on the Rosewill which means it was a Total KO for the Portapros. It’s a pity though that the Rosewill can’t be connected to a portable player like an iPod as it necessarily needs a PC or a MAC. (No XBOX 360 support either).
Movies – While the Rosewill IS a true 5.1 gaming headphone it’s still a headphone and frankly, it simply cannot compete with even a budget 5.1 speaker system for movies. It gives a decent performance but a 5.1 speaker system will always sound better in movies.
Games – Now while a Speaker system can give you a sense of space, it’s not really required in most games and frankly I quite enjoyed using these headphones for whatever games I played. The headline vibration feature works and can be quite satisfying in many games. Plus there are two levels to choose from or you can switch it off altogether.
The bundled software has the basic EQ settings along with DSP effects. It has a lot of configuration options which was quite a nice touch.
At the end of the day, these aren’t perfect headphones. They can be a tad uncomfortable for prolonged periods of use, they cannot be used with your sound card and since it is a USB only headphone it can’t be used with either a portable device or an Xbox.
However, it delivers where it matters and that’s great sound. For its price its one of the best VFM options for music which is really where it’s targeted at. The headline vibration feature is not seen in too many headphones and even fewer at this price point. For those not wanting it, the vibration can be turned completely off. The headphone also excels at games which are where its target audience lies and its performance with movies is nothing to sneeze at either.
So with the headphone having its strengths in areas where it counts I am awarding it a cool 4.5/5 stars and a highly recommended commendation from me.
It’s, a bit of a pity though that Rosewill isn’t available in India and the only option currently is to import it from abroad.