Mionix KEID 20 Review
Testing and Conclusion
In a similar way to yesterdays NAOS 5000 Gaming Mouse review, testing a headset is easy, but getting those results across to you without the benefit of the graphs and charts we're all so used to takes a little more work. Thankfully we take pride in our impartiality and our willingness to give you the straight deal on Hardware, so you know to trust us.
For our review today we wanted to use a system you're all likely to have, and for that reason we're using the onboard sound on our X58 motherboard. In this case it's the almost universal Realtek ALC889 HD using the latest drivers on a Windows 7 64 system.
The first thing that struck us was the passive noise reduction on the microphone and so it was to this that we headed first. I'm sure we've all had experiences of people talking as if they are in a wind tunnel or an echo chamber, and with fewer and fewer microphones thankfully needing a press-to-talk feature it does mean that a team experience can quickly degenerate into the sound of background televisions and sundry noises.
Utilising both Skype and Windows Live for a conversation we're pleased to report that not only does the microphone render speech crisply and clearly, but the passive noise reductions works brilliantly. It works so well that we felt like it had voice-activated technology such was its ability to remain silent when you weren't speaking.
Before we head to the gaming tests, a pair of headphones have to be capable of reproducing pretty much anything you throw at them. Whilst we understand we're not trying to obtain the fidelity of some beyerdynamic's nonetheless we also don't want to have to do the old switcheroo every time we want music or gaming respectively.
Two things sprang to mind throughout the music testing. Firstly the 20Hz capabilities of the headphones haven't diminished the ability to produce good mids and highs and even bass heavy songs didn't cause many issues. Secondly the bass itself is quite tight with a good feel to it but does require some volume to really get it driving. The KEID 20s definitely seemed to excel when the music was of a broader sonic spectrum rather than confined to a certain register. Pink Floyd's Pulse double CD was a particular treat.
The preference for the KEID 20s towards broad music became clear once we moved on to testing films. The dialogue definitely was the clearest part, which is good for a movie, but it did tend to leave action sequences a little lacking. The main issue appeared to be the combination between big explosions and pumping music. Otherwise in more gentle films or the sequences that weren't big car chases they performed admirably.
Our music and movie tests made us feel that actually they could be very good in games. After all it's rare you find a game that has got bombastic music and a relentless action sequence. Even first-person shooters have breaks in the action, and driving games don't have such a demand upon the headset. Also thanks to the couple of weaknesses we found we can then tailor our game choices to see if these are replicated in the main use the KEIDs will undergo.
So how did they fair? Modern Warfare 2 was first up because it's combination of quiet passages followed by enormous firefights should test the action sequence issue we found with films. Sure enough the quiet sequences were just a little too quiet and the noisy sections, although designed to replicate the hell of a guerilla war, were just a little too muddy. They aren't bad by any means, just quite average.
Driving games faired much better with both GRiD and Need For Speed Shift giving excellent aural performance. The whines and pops of an upgraded car in Shift were particularly excellent through the KEID 20s.
Away from specific testing the KEID 20s have also been used throughout the testing period as our main headset with such a diverse selection as Dragon Age, Silent Hunter 5 and MAME all being played at various points and they performed well.
Starting with the two things we were very impressed with, the comfort and the microphone.
In keeping with the wonderful comfort we experienced with the NAOS 5000 yesterday, the Mionix KEID 20 Headset is fabulously comfortable. It's light on your head, easy on your ears, and even after a full days aural pleasure we hardly noticed they were there. High praise indeed.
Secondly the thing that differentiates a pair of headphones from a headset is, obviously, the addition of a microphone. Sometimes this is an excuse by a manufacturer to stick something cheap on and charge extra, but in the case of Mionix they've manage to give us one of the finest microphones we've used. Initially we feared the inability to adjust it would be costly, but actually it is perfectly placed. If you want a headset mainly for the ability to converse then the KEID 20s should be high on the list.
If ever the headphone part of a headset deserved the moniker of Jack of All Trades, Master of None, it's the KEID 20s. They do nothing particularly well, and nor do they do anything particularly badly. They handled everything we threw at them fine enough. It's difficult to find a lot to say about them really. They are very comfortable. Nicely designed and priced at exactly what we'd pay for them. In all respects they are perfectly alright. Good bass, good mids, good highs.
They are the definition of an all rounder. There are no nasty surprises. But equally nothing that will put a grin on your face. Apart from the comfort and that superb microphone.
With a bit more responsiveness at low volumes they could be good. At around £40 they're fine. For £30 they'd be a very wise purchase. You could easily do much worse than to take a good look at the Mionix KEID 20.