Saitek Cyborg 5.1 Headset

Posted on January 4, 2008
Author: Sean Potter
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Linux Installation & Usage

None of the C-Media Drivers worked with the headset, so I ended up using snd-usb-audio. I edited my kernel config and set snd-usb-audio as a module. alsaconf then had no problem configuring the headset for regular use. Unfortunately, the device was not set up for 5.1 audio. The audio was crisp and crystal clear, but there were only two channels of audio. The other issue I ran in to was that the software audio controls on the headset's control pad did not affect the system's audio.

I spent a few days playing with it, but didn't have much success in enabling six channels. I'm not sure whether the headset is actually meant for six channels, or if something else just isn't working right. This review would have been up much earlier if I hadn't run into this snag.

I won't accept defeat on this issue; I plan to get the headset working properly in Linux so I'm able to enjoy 5.1 gaming and movies in Linux as well (with a headset, atleast). Expect a future article detailing my efforts on this. For those wish to beat me to the punchline, you'll want to edit /etc/asound.conf. Under the slave section of pcm.usb-audio-dmix, you find all the necessary settings that should define the audio channels, as well as bindings for the actual position. Don't forget to write us if you get it all working!

Sound Quality

To be honest, I was blown away when I first played a song in iTunes. These headphones are a giant improvement over my previous, similarly-priced headset. I imagine this is due to the use of three sonic drivers in each ear, so you get a fuller range of frequencies. The highs, mids, and lows are fantastic. While these won't be replacing my home theatre anytime soon, they sure do make a great alternative to it in the later hours of the day.

When I first started a game of Unreal Tournament 2004, I was greated by sounds I haven't heard since I had my desktop connected to a surround sound setup. I could hear what was behind and in front of me, but more importantly, I could hear the rumble! Weapons such as the shock rifle create some awesome bass, and these headphones made me think my receiver and subwoofer on. These headphones definitely make the cut for sound quality. You will not be let down.

Microphone Quality

To test the microphone, I used Teamspeak, a popular VoIP client used by gamers around the world. There are thee primary methods of enabling voice in teamspeak: hotkey, audio detection, and always-on. Always-on is generally frowned upon, as everything that the microphone picks up will be passed over the chat. This sucks up bandwidth for both yourself and others in the channel. Hotkey activation is somewhat the standard, and usually the best option when you have others around your house. I'm sure we've all seen the videos or heard the clips of 12 year olds fighting with their moms about going to bed. This usually results in either using always-on or voice activation.

The Cyborg 5.1 Headset's boom microphone is a blessing. Whispers or speech from those standing behind me went almost unheard while the microphone was engaged in chat. It clearly picked up my voice for the voice activation, and didn't disengage when I was sometimes quieter instead of yelling orders at my teammates in the game I was playing. Also surprising is that the microphone did not interrupt the 5.1 audio at all during play. I was slightly expecting a muffling of the sound when the microphone was engaged, but it seems Saitek has done well keeping the inputs and outputs separate in their device.

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