The CM Storm offshoot of the Cooler Master brand has given us some excellent products, from the Sentinel mouse to the Sniper case.
Now they've put their talents into the headset market with the Sirus, a beast of a headset which, on paper at least, has everything you could possibly desire, being a true 5.1 headset with multiple connection methods.
The part that really differentiates the CM Storm Sirus from nearly every other headset out there is the 'Tactical Mixing Console' which is an on-desk adjustment for everything from the volume of each individual channel, to the standard muting functions.
So does the Sirus complete your ability to run nothing but CM Storm branded gaming peripherals or have they extended themselves too far?
Certainly looking at the specifications we find all the boxes are ticked. Good sized speakers with decent response and impedance should hopefully ensure we have an enjoyable listening experience whilst the microphone sensitivity ought to mean we can get away with whispering if necessary.
Let's get a look at it shall we.
Our Sirus turned up in OEM style blank packaging, so whilst we can't comment from personal experience on the design we know it to be a bold red and black affair. Certainly it's sturdy and should keep your Sirus in prime condition until it arrives.
Starting with the various extras, the Sirus comes with the sponge and cloth covers attached, but there are some leather ones supplied should you prefer that option.
There are two ways of running the Sirus, either via the USB Tactical Console or just running cables into your sound card. Either way you choose the headset itself is connected via a 10 pin din.
Here is the main part of the Sirus, the 'Tactical Mixing Console'. The headphone button is for muting, the microphone one for muting the microphone and the central button for switching between the various channels that you can control the volume of using the central dial. This does require two USB ports though so if you're short on space you might prefer to just run the cable and then control the volume with software. Although the red glow that the TMC gives is very pleasant.
Again we have a 10 pin din to attach the Sirus headset to the mixing console should you choose. It comes with a whopping two inches of cable, so you definitely can't have it tucked away somewhere.
And here is the headset itself, which we'll take a closer look at on the next page.
Up Close - The Sirus Headset
The Sirus headset itself is wholly plastic, although the sheer weight of it would make you think it was made of lead. Across the top of the headband is an embossed CM Storm logo in case the glowing logo on the sides isn't easily spotted.
The padding beneath the headband is actually a lot firmer than you'd expect and serves more to keep the plastic off your head than add much comfort.
The microphone is the non-retractable type. It's also completely inflexible. There is an LED at the tip which theoretically shows at a glance if the microphone is muted or not, although it's hardly the brightest we've ever seen and you're far better to glance at the TMC.
There is a fair bit of height adjustment built it to the Sirus, although you'd have to be have ears on your neck to require the full length available. This is sturdy though, which is both good and bad as we'll explain in the conclusion.
Removing an ear-piece and you can see the many speaker holes in for that 5.1 surround goodness.
The cable is of outstanding quality with good, tightly woven, soft cloth braiding covering the whole length.
Testing and Conclusion
The CM Storm Sirus is a real Jeckyll and Hyde of a headset. The CM Storm team have done some things outstandingly well and others with almost no thought whatsoever.
Surprisingly for a CM Storm product, and especially for their first foray into the world of audio, it's the design that is the weakest link.
The whole package is a seriously weighty thing. There is plenty of heft in both the headset and the mixer. Of course with so many extra speakers in the headset to deal with the genuine 5.1 surround there will always be some extra weight, but with sensible design choices this isn't really an issue. Unfortunately sensible design choices are almost wholly absent from the Sirus.
Starting with the headset, the earpieces supplied are the cloth type, but some leather ones are included in the box should you prefer that style. Removing them from the headset itself is a simple case of pulling them off. But putting the new ones on isn't that simple. Instead of giving us two sets with the clips built in we have two covers but only one set of clips. So you have to remove the plastic frame from the inside of the cloth ones and wedge it into the leather ones before you can use them. As the plastic frame uses little spikes to 'grab' the cover it's an extraordinarily fiddly job and we're not at all convinced the cloth ones will survive many changes before the stitching starts to go. Not giving two 'pre-built' leather ones saves CM Storm about 10p in plastic, but gives the user no end of grief and hassle.
The comfort is compromised hugely by the rigid nature of the headset. The earpieces neither swivel nor have any play in them at all, so if your head isn't the exact same shape as the designers you'll find it presses on your head in all the wrong places and you quickly become aware of the weight of the Sirus. This most definitely isn't a fit and forget headset, you're constantly aware of it.
The Tactical Mixing Console that shipped with our pre-release sample had a couple of quirks, but thankfully CM Storm have assured us that the final version will see these issues fixed. So when you purchase one you can look forward to a headphone mute button that actually indicates which mode you're in and a volume control that isn't mounted backwards.
The comfort failings are made even more frustrating by the audio quality that the Sirus puts out. Let there be no doubt about it the sound quality is fabulous. The 5.1 is genuinely spacious making aural direction finding a cinch. The bass is tight without being overwhelming, highs are glassy and the wealth of new things you'll hear is quite surprising. My home PC is in the front room and so I live with headphones on, yet the CM Storm Sirus still allowed me to hear new things regardless of the medium. They can certainly pump out some good volume too so careful with that volume control Eugene.
All in all the CM Storm Sirus is a great sounding headset in desperate need of some ergonomic refinement. That 'hewn from a solid lump' look might be epic for sitting on the piano black shelf in your minimalist audio showroom, but there is a reason that every other manufacturer allows their ear-pieces to swivel and/or rotate a little. No matter how awesome the sound quality is, and it is, within an hour you're tired of them and within two you'll definitely want to take them off and give your head a rest. However the build quality is outstanding, the sound is too and the Tactical Mixing Console allows for swift, on the fly, adjustments to your soundscape. If it was more comfortable we'd give it a gold, but for now the CM Storm Sirus gets awarded our OC3D Silver Award.
Thanks to CM Storm for providing the Sirus for review. Discuss in our forums. *Pricing unavailable at time of press.