We've reviewed some QPAD headsets before but today is something special.
Rather than replicate the endless parade of identikit headsets that are designed for gamers, at a certain price point, and all fairly hard to distinguish from one another, QPAD have teamed up with beyerdynamics to produce the most high-end headset we've encountered.
beyerdynamic, for those unfamiliar with them, are a company that specialises in audio solutions for a range of professional applications. Their expertise is in fidelity and so the QPAD QH-1339 has the potential to redefine what we can expect in a headset. Indeed it's probably fairer to say that this is a pair of headphones with a microphone attached rather than a pure headset, but before we get down to the nitty gritty, let's give the two companies from this partnership a moment to share their views :
"We at QPAD feel privileged and excited that we have been given the opportunity of teaming up with one of the world’s absolute leading developers of professional headphones as beyerdynamic truly is,” says Thomas Gallus Jensen, Sales Director of QPAD. And he adds: "We are confident that the QH-1339 headset will be at the top of every gamers’ wish list, as it is nothing but first class in every aspect. This is also why we dare to give out a 5-year warranty on it”.
“We at beyerdynamic are looking forward to this long-term strategic partnership with QPAD” says Bastian Ziebart, Product Manager at beyerdynamic, adding: “QPAD possesses a vast knowledge in gaming just as we do in electro acoustics. This combination makes this an ideal partnership, which we are all very happy about, and there no doubt will be more exciting gaming products coming out of our partnership in the future.”
Regular readers will be familiar with the 20/20 system that nearly all headsets employ. From the first to the last, nearly every PC Gaming headset has a response of 20Hz to 20kHz. The influence of beyerdynamics is instantly felt in the 5Hz to 30kHz response of the QH-1339. A vastly superior offering that should give plenty of headroom for the audio to 'breathe'.
|Frequency response||5 - 30,000 Hz|
|Nominal impedance||32 Ω per system|
|Nominal SPL||96 dB|
|Power handling capacity||100 mW|
|Sound coupling to the ear||Circumaural|
|Ambient noise attenuation||approx. 18 dBA|
|Headband pressure||3.5 N|
|Cable length||2.5 m|
|Connection||Mini stereo jack plug (3.5 mm)|
|Operating principle||Pressure gradient|
|Power supply||AB powering|
|Supply voltage||1.5 - 9 V|
|Nominal impedance||approx. 1.5 kΩ|
|Open circuit voltage at f = 1 kHz||20 mV / Pa|
|Frequency response||30 - 18,000 Hz|
|Max. SPL||120 dB|
|T.H.D||0.2% at f = 1 kHz|
|Length mic boom||approx. 150 mm|
|Capsule diameter||13 mm|
|Connection||Mini stereo jack plug (3.5 mm)|
The QH-1339 come in a package that blends the minimalist approach of beyerdynamic and their audiophile range, with the 'look at all our features' elements that are more common to the gaming spectrum. Thankfully it isn't overwrought. Inside the packaging is a high quality carry case, with plenty of storage space and padding, both to protect the headset in travel and store any other items you may wish, such as USB sticks or the like.
To say that the headset is well built is almost understating things. The headband, including hinges, is a solid piece of aluminium combined with steel and surrounded by a padded leather cushion.
Each ear piece has its own separate cable providing the audio. The microphone rotates 180° so you can position it to the left of right depending upon preference, although obviously the latter will require flipping your stereo. The foam cover ensures that your plosives wont become irritating to team-mates.
The combination of a closed back design and large, softly padded ear pieces ensure little audio leakage to the outside world but, much more importantly, it ensures the outside world doesn't intrude into ours.
The ear cups are removable should you need to clean them, and give us an look at the level of detail in the design. The holes not only allow for easy drying but also allow some sound to come through, rather than risk blocking it and muffling it.
Connectivity is amply catered for. As well as the regular two 3.5mm connections for soundcards and portable devices, the QH-1339 come complete with a 1/4 adaptor for home stereo equipment, once again showing the beyerdynamic design input.
As well as the analogue jacks, the QH-1339 comes with a USB adaptor for those without a suitable sound card in their system. Despite being plastic it's extremely well built, with the mute and volume buttons giving a reassuring click when used.
As always we tested the QH-1339 on the excellent ASUS Phoebus with a variety of games, films and music to put it through its paces. The combination of QPAD and beyerdynamics have produced an absolute winner in terms of audio fidelity and reproduction quality.
It would, in truth, be easy to list of the array of things we used to test the QPAD QH-1339 and comment upon this and that but the reality is that by any measure, in comparison to anything you are likely to have ever heard before, the QH-1339 blows it away in every regard.
The build quality is amazing, with the combination of aluminium and steel providing a very sturdy spine, and yet it's been designed in such a way as to be very light too. Comfort is always at a premium with something you're likely to wear for a long period of time. Even in short battles at a LAN party the last thing you'd need is your headset distracting you, and the QH-1339 are very comfortable indeed. There is just enough pressure upon the ear-pieces to lock them firmly around your ears, yet not so much that you feel like your head is in a vice. Even those of us who are gifted in the head-size department found them a treat to wear.
Sound is where the beyerdynamics expertise really comes through and we can't begin to express how rich the QH-1339 are. The aural experience is one of the hardest to express in a written form. Not only do we all have different auditory responses, but we all like different things from our music. So we must revert to superlatives in an attempt to get across how beautiful the fidelity of every type media comes through via the magic of the QH-1339. Are you a fan of bass? Like that percussive thump that makes it seem like your heart is going to burst through your chest? The QPAD has you covered. No woolly, flabby response here. It's tight, focussed and pounding. But not dominating at all. The midrange, the area where so many of the things we hear resides, covers the full spectrum from driving rhythms to glorious harmonies with a definition that is simply staggering. Finally the top end, so often the preserve of harsh tinny sounds, is resplendent with a glassy quality that is still well-rounded.
If the measure of the quality of an audio device is to be able to listen to a film or album that you've heard a hundred times before and find yourself catching something that had hitherto gone unheard, then the QPAD QH-1339 is the yardstick by which all future headsets can be judged. Unfortunately this audio quality doesn't come cheap, and the pricing is unquestionably the Achilles Heel of the QPAD QH-1339 when it comes to choosing a gaming headset. If you're looking at this as a method of talking to your teammates in BF4 or Ghosts then you're missing the point and thus the QH-1339 will seem prohibitively expensive. However, this is actually set of HiFi headphones that happens to have a microphone attached and by that measure the pricing is actually competitive. It still has to be taken into account with our final score though, but the sheer quality of the QPAD QH-1339 Pro Gaming Headset means that it takes home our Performance Award.
If this is the beginning of the collaboration between QPAD and beyerdynamics then the future is bright indeed.
Thanks to QPAD for supplying the QH-1339 for review. Discuss your thoughts in the OC3D Forums.