One thing we're constantly aware of here at OC3D is that times are hard. Even if the current financial situation is fairly good, not everyone has a lot of money floating around and so value for money is vital. It's all very well lusting after a pair of SteelSeries Flux, but the reality is they are out of the reach of anyone in school, or with families, or just generally living to the limits of their funds.
Enter the Rage ST from Ozone, priced at a truly bargaintastic £26. It wasn't very long ago that if you were looking to spend £26 on a pair of headphones you'd be limited to something beige and extremely shoddy, made from the kind of plastic normally reserved for boxes of chocolates.
However, Ozone have brought something that, initially at least, appears to be well built and certainly aesthetically up there with the £50 headsets around. So is it any good?
Considering the low price it's good to see that the Rage ST comes with a 40mm driver, which should be enough to give us some decent sound quality. For those of you who love colour-coordination the Rage ST is available in five colours. We've got the standard black model for review, so let's see what it looks like.
Red, White, Blue, Yellow, Black.
Given the price you'd almost expect the Rage to come in an OEM plastic bag, but we get a full box, with the headset itself clearly on view.
The design is probably best summed up as functional with little adjustment available other than length.
However, the Rage ST isn't without some design flourishes and the backs of the ear cups have the Ozone logo, as well as some little cutouts that certainly look more attractive than a plain back. The microphone is, as we'd expect at this price, simply a plug in type rather than retractable.
With the Ozone logo on embossed on the top, combined with the extra little touches on the ear pieces it certainly looks much more expensive than it is.
There is a lot of padding on the ear pieces. They are a little smaller than we often see as as full-enclosure headsets, so Prince Charles needn't apply. But if you have regular ears you'll be fine. Rather than a USB connector the Rage ST has the standard jacks, so it will work on anything.
Finally we have an in-line remote. Not the most attractive piece of design and it's a little too high up the cable for our tastes, but it does the job perfectly and it's nice to have a mic mute button so readily to hand.
Clearly this isn't the kind of headset that will have audiophiles weeping at the incredible quality, but it actually is a lot better than you'd assume it to be for that low price.
The sound quality is perfectly fine. It's a little woolly in bass, and seems to have the range tuned slightly more for the lower frequencies than crystal highs, but the 40mm drivers make a good fist of things and we've certainly heard worse. The microphone is very clear, if a little quiet. The Rage ST is also comfortable to wear, although we wouldn't want to have to use it all the time.
Downsides are only the things you'd expect to see from such a bargain basement pricetag. The microphone only pushes in, so if you're the kind of person who is prone to throwing their head back in moments of joy or anger you lose it. The ergonomics are limited due to the lack of hinges of any sort. You can adjust it for height, but there is no other adjustment at all, so if you have a strangely-shaped head they wont be hugely comfortable. Also without hinges on the ear pieces the pressure isn't uniform, but thankfully the excellent padding smooths a lot of that out. Finally the in-line remote is a little too near the headset itself for our liking, and regularly clatters against the edge of the desk.
But let's be honest, these are all minor faults. It's £26 for goodness sake. For that you get a headset that is built well, doesn't look like it came out of a Christmas cracker, and sounds much better than it has any right too. If you want a headset that covers the basics but wont break the bank it should be high up on your list. Sure you wont be left stunned at the sound quality, but on the flip side you'll never find it wanting as long as you have realistic expectations.
It's cheap and cheerful, and for that reason we have to award it our OC3D Value For Money Award.
Thanks to Ozone for supplying the Rage ST for review. Discuss your thoughts in the OC3D Forums.