Sod this - I’m going home!
So, now that we were clear about the intent of the Zalmans in question, it was time to test them. While normally we’d hook up a set of headphones to a PC and start a full-on gaming session to test them out, with the DS4Fs it was only fair to try something that they were more suited for.
Don’t worry though – we did all the usual tests on them too, but we’ll come back to that later.
Now, for those of you who aren’t yet stalking me obsessively, let it be known that I don’t drive and, unlike Bindi or the Evil Pinata
, I don’t live in the office. Even worse is the fact that I can’t even ride a bicycle, so I naturally have to do a fair amount of walking to get from point A to point B. The plus side of this inability/laziness, other than the semi-fresh Bracknell air, is that it makes an ideal chance to test headphones like these.
So, at the end of the day I grabbed my MP3 player, hooked up the headphones and set off on the walk home. It’s not very far, but it gives me time to listen to an album or two of The Weakerthans
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Inside the cushioned ear cups the headphones supposedly contain four speakers, with each ear having a 28mm tweeter and a 40mm woofer apparently, so I was expecting a fairly reasonable performance out of them.
Sure enough, as soon as the melodies started up, my ears were filled with the delightful tones of my favourite folk rock band (hey, it’s better than Tim’s taste in music
). The music was as clear as a waterfall of Evian, but the more I listened the more I realised that the music was almost too
Skipping forward to some more bass-filled music, my worries were confirmed and I fell to the conclusion that the bass on the headphones was strangely and woefully lacking. You should take a moment to appreciate how hard that is for me to say as well – I’m a man who usually doesn’t like an overpowering bass line and will often turn the bass on a subwoofer down below the suggested level, much to the annoyance of audiophile friends.
To test the headphones I went so far as to borrow some carefully selected heavy metal from a fellow journalist and tried it out. While I could only manage a brief burst of the music, I have to say that the performance of the headphones was still quite woefully lacking in the bass department.
I moved onto the next stage of my testing as soon as I got home and shut myself away with my DS lite and a few games. I’ve got a fairly extensive selection of homebrew and commercial titles ranging from the happy world of Super Mario 64 DS
to the grim medieval realm of Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin
. I tried a random of selection of games and listened closely to the tunes.
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Now, the bad news is that the headphones still let me down in the bass department and the music still sounded a little tinny, as if the sound were second-hand and had been borrowed from another set of better headphones.
The good news though is that for portable gaming, this slightly tinny sound isn’t much of an issue at all and the lack of large amounts of spoken dialog means that the headphones give a much better performance. Having no bass to speak of isn’t a problem when all you have to listen to is the looping tinkling of the Super Mario theme tune
Still – there’s more to a set of good headphones than just how good or bad they sound, there’s also the design and the comfort to bear in mind. Here at bit-tech
HQ for example, I don’t wear Sennheiser HD215s all day because they sound the best – I wear them because they are the most comfortable headphones to wear for long periods of time.
So, how do the DS4Fs hold up on the style and comfort front? Let’s find out...