Cougar Phontum S Headset Review
Published: 6th April 2020 | Source: Cougar | Price: |
Whenever you're investigating, or in our case reviewing, peripherals then a lot has to be taken into account. Some people like their mice to have dozens of buttons, others want a minimalist approach. Some are happy with chiclet style keyboards, others want fully mechanical with dedicated macro keys. In the world of the headset though there are really only three elements that come into the equation; connectivity, comfort, sound quality.
The Cougar Gaming Phontum S comes out of the blue to tick an awful lot of these boxes in an impressive manner for its price tag.
Let's start with connectivity. The 3.5mm format might be, for reasons best left to the manufacturers, disappearing from the world of high end smartphones, but the amount of devices which will accept this format is still enormous. XBOX One and Dualshock 4 pads, PCs, the Nintendo Switch and 3DS, the list goes on. Having the ability to own a single headset which can connect to all these not only saves you money, but time as well. If your attention is as.. ooh shiny.. as ours is then you'll be regularly moving between devices and it's nice to keep a headset on your head and move between items quickly. No it won't plug into your new Samsung or iPhone, but nearly everything else is available to you.
Speaking of keeping it on your head for long periods, you'll be able to do so without encountering the fatigue that can plague headsets which are either heavier or less welll designed. The simplicity of the Phontum S is it's key strength. It's incredibly light. Far lighter than it looks in the pictures because those monster ear cups are deceptive to the eye. The band is both thin and yet robust, with no unexpected wobble or flimsiness that can be a curse upon things designed for lightness. Equally it is flexible enough to fit on any head and with a choice of two ear cup styles you'll be sure of finding a place that fits you perfectly without becoming injurious. On the subject of the extra ear cups it's a clever balance that Cougar have managed to obtain. The larger ones move the headband a little further which has the net result of increasing the pressure on your head, but because they are so deep and soft the pressure is spread so well that it feels exactly the same as when you've installed the thinner, optional cups. Swapping between them is easy too as they have a plastic ring with locator pins and obvious cut-outs for the cable that connects the two sides, so you don't even need to do the "where is the damn hole" tango, but instead it takes less than ten seconds to swap both.
The Phontum S scores highly in connectivity and comfort then, but the important thing is how it sounds. After all, a baseball cap fits everything and is comfortable. Thankfully the Phontum S does well here too. One key element is that Cougar have resisted the temptation to tune the headset too heavily towards the gamer with a bass heavy default profile, and instead the 53mm drivers have a lovely neutral sound by default, which frees you up to tune it to your own preferences without being locked in to a setting that reduces the woes of its default setting. Naturally it doesn't challenge some of the high end headsets we've reviewed with their broad frequency response, but the deep cups and larger drivers work very well to maximise the abilities of a 20Hz-20kHz frequency response and end up being one of the better ones we've heard, and certainly in the sub-£100 bracket. It's a great demonstration of the need to listen to things, rather than just look at a dry list of specifications. Lastly the microphone is very good, largely in part to its included defence against plosives and wind noise and ease of accurate placement.
The Cougar Gaming Phontum S headset is extremely comfortable, sounds great for its price tag, and should definitely be on your sub-£100 headset shortlist.