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Creative knows a thing or two about sound cards, but does its audio expertise extend to headphones? Creative has done it tough over the last few years, as on-board audio took over from discrete sound solutions, crushing the company's main form of income. It has staged a comeback in the last year, with a range of new products. Chief among them is high-end gaming headphones.
The Tactic3D Omega headphones are the most versatile of the bunch, ready for your PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 gaming needs. Setting up for PC is the easiest; simply plug in the USB base, which contains the digital sound processor (DSP), and you're good to go. Once again, the inclusion of a DSP makes any existing sound cards in your PC redundant.
Console users will find the set-up process a bit more complex than PC, using a range of pass-through cables. Unlike PC users, they'll also have to make do with basic stereo audio, as the DSP doesn't support virtual surround when set to console mode. A great feature for owners of multiple gaming platforms is the ability to have both console and PC connected at the same time, with a slider on the USB unit selecting either PC or console mode.
The wireless headset sits atop a recharging cradle, but you'll need to plug in a mini USB cable to get the juices flowing. An eight-hour charge should deliver around 10 hours of gaming. The headphones use a circumaural design, but the cups are much smaller than other headphones. This results in a firm fit that is reassuringly snug, rather than uncomfortably tight. The steel core in the headband ensures that they'll handle a battering, and it's adjustable for the perfect fit. The ears' vinyl covering can get a little sticky after lengthy frag-fests, while the microphone's bendable boom sits perfectly in front of your lips. Like most of the headsets, the mic uses noise cancelling to improve voice quality. Creative also includes voice-changing software, which is the best we've heard; there's nothing like gloating over your victims using the voice of an elderly man.
Given the issues that we had with the other wireless headsets recently, we were very happy to see the Tactic3D Omega work perfectly without a single crackle. Upon entering the virtual battlefield, we were immediately impressed by the booming bass on offer here, unquestionably the best of the lot. Overall, the headphones emitted a nice, warm tone, although the mid-range got a little crunchy when overwhelmed with too many sound effects. The high end is also a tad piercing, but this is easy to tweak out using the Creative software.
Speaking of which, it's nice to see that Creative has learned its lessons; unlike the bloatware of past Creative products, the software install here is slim and to the point. Enabling surround options from the control panel delivered excellent positional audio, with a precise yet wide soundstage. Unfortunately, music performance wasn't quite as impressive, losing a lot of the detail when compared to the Audio Technica A700s.