Wednesday, 8 January 2014

X2 Mars Review

A few years ago many predicted that PC gaming in general was dying and simply could not compete with the various gaming options that one now has, from consoles to smartphones you now can use your gaming library almost anywhere at any time. Fortunately for us these predictions did not come true and the fact is that PC gaming is now probably stronger than ever, thanks to a very prolific community of independent developers and a little piece of software called Steam more and more companies are designing products exclusively for gaming on the PC, such is the case with the product we will be reviewing today, the Mars 7.1 gaming headset from X2.
X2 as you might remember from our review of their XPAD are a team of gaming enthusiasts based out of Holland, they were kind enough to once again let me review one of their products.

The Mars comes nicely packed in a simple but decently designed cardboard box with a black, red and white color scheme that matches both the X2 logo and the headset color scheme as well.
Opening the box we noticed that the headset stood only between a few pieces of cardboard with nothing really to hold it in place, it's something that the team from X2 should keep in mind and try to fix in future revisions of their products in order to avoid any damage from shipping. With that said the headset is also very lightweight (367g) so in this particular case it shouldn't really be a big issue.
Besides the Mars headset itself the only other item you will find bundled with this USB powered device is a small installation manual that does a competent job in showing you how to set everything up correctly in the software provided by X2.

With a very contrasting red and black color scheme the Mars headset certainly looks like a gaming product, while I personally prefer a more subtle approach to visual design the Mars will appeal to those consumers that enjoy having flashy lights and bright colors on their peripherals.
The only real issues that I've encountered were two small differences when comparing the headset I've received and the one on the cover of the box, the headband does not have the rubber finish and the ear-cups have a piano black look and feel to them instead of the "rough" plastic that you can see in the pictures. I'm guessing it might be because this is a review sample but it's something that the folks from X2 should try and fix in future revisions of their products. 

While the headset is mostly made out of plastic it doesn't feel flimsy at all, the plastic and rubber give the Mars a lot of flexibility preventing any sort of cracks that might appear from moving the headset around a lot. The 3m red cable is also rubberized and has a bulky in-line volume controller with two buttons on each side that function as volume up/down, microphone mute and just regular mute. A more compact controller would be preferable in my opinion, still when you take the price (34€/$45) into consideration this is something that you can't really complain about.
The ear cushions are made out of leatherette and are also very comfortable, the only real problem with them comes from the fact that the ear-cups don't move, in my particular case this meant that when using the headset there was always a small gap below my ears which leaked sound and prevented the outside noise isolation that this sort of ear cushion usually provides to actually work.

In terms of sound quality the Mars gaming headset surprised me, particularly for such an affordable product. The virtual 7.1 works very well in my opinion particularly when testing it out in games like Killing Floor and Battlefield.
The microphone also works great, because it's USB it avoids a lot of the electrical noise and interference that your sound card suffers providing a better experience overall. Around this price point it's by far the best microphone that I've tested in a headset.

Final Thoughts
The Mars headset is not without its faults, a few inconsistencies in the build quality in particular could have made this review a lot more negative if not for the amazing sound quality at such a low price. The fact that it has virtual 7.1 and uses a USB connection just makes it even better, especially if you're planning on using the microphone on this headset a lot.

The Good
+Sound quality
+Virtual 7.1

The Bad
-Bulky volume controller
-Some inconsistencies in visual design

Thanks to X2 for providing the review sample