1More Spearhead VRX Gam­ing Head­set

All-around sound

Maximum PC - - IN THE LAB -

WE ARE NOT ONES to sneer at silly gim­micks, but—no, ac­tu­ally, we are. And we had a real se­ri­ous sneer ready for the Spearhead VRX, which adds po­si­tional head track­ing (la­beled “Waves Nx”) to the ex­ist­ing Spearhead VR for­mula. Had it come from a com­pany with less grav­i­tas than the sur­pris­ingly awe­some 1More, per­haps that sneer would have stayed on our faces; maybe, had the gim­mick not turned out to be a pretty neat fea­ture that ac­tu­ally adds a de­cent new di­men­sion to your gam­ing ex­ploits, the gri­mace might not have turned into a smile. But we’re grin­ning. Even out­side of the VR realm, where you’ll po­ten­tially strug­gle to wear th­ese cans, given the wide-yet-nar­row de­sign of their up­per band, the turn-your-head ef­fect works per­fectly, though it’s only re­ally ap­par­ent in front of your mon­i­tor if you’re run­ning a huge su­per-widescreen setup or you wob­ble your skull around ha­bit­u­ally.

Waves Nx ex­tends be­yond po­si­tional track­ing into this head­set’s in­te­grated 7.1 sim­u­la­tion. That, too, is sweet, nim­bly di­rect­ing sound around your head on the hor­i­zon­tal axis, with only a slight de­vi­a­tion into weird echo, and a mi­nor drop in qual­ity from stereo. The soft­ware-E-Qable sound­stage that backs it up is just joy­ous. It’s not quite the ex­quis­ite and in­tri­cate mix of 1More’s triple-driver cans, but this is far cheaper, and the 50mm graphene loud­speak­ers (which, we’re told, use some kind of mag­netic lev­i­ta­tion) man­age a rich ex­pe­ri­ence. It’s spritely on the high end, adequate in the mid­dle, and as bru­tal as you like on the low—click the on-board vol­ume con­trol, and you can dial up the bass with­out pok­ing around in the driver, and tak­ing it all the way gives rise to se­ri­ously ex­plo­sive vi­bra­tion. Ex­treme bass does squash the rest of the fre­quen­cies, though.

Its sound might be on point, but 1More’s de­sign is about as mixed a bag as you’ll find. The head band, topped with rea­son­ably stiff metal and bot­tomed with an auto-ad­just­ing wrapped band, which stretches in the cen­ter, is com­fort­able, but tends to­ward tight. The foam in­side the earcups, given that ten­sion, is far too soft, caus­ing the speaker cap to press on the car­ti­lage of more prom­i­nent ears. We found the slide-out light, a stiff ten­ta­cle that ex­tends as far as your jaw, pretty cute, and ini­tially pre­sumed it was a mic. It’s not. It’s a tube that does noth­ing. The mic is hid­den in a tiny dot on the other ear­piece, and sounds pre­dictably hol­low and dis­tant. RGB light­ing around the rear of each ear­piece and on the base of the head band is a qual­ity touch, but who­ever de­cided to also add sound-ac­ti­vated light­ing to the not-ac­tu­ally-a-mic stalk ei­ther de­serves a re­ward or a stiff kick­ing; it’s ut­terly point­less, dis­tract­ing in your pe­riph­eral vi­sion, and seems cheap—but from a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive, it’s damn cool.

We have other is­sues. Most of the more spe­cial fea­tures of the Spearhead VRX are (un­der­stand­ably) un­avail­able if it’s plugged in via 3.5mm jack, but the mi­cro-USB cable feels flimsy, and we wouldn’t bet our lives on the re­silience of its port. En­vi­ron­men­tal noise can­cel­ing is a nice fea­ture, pulling out­side sound from mics on ei­ther side of the head­set, but we didn’t find it made a huge dif­fer­ence, and when you’re trapped in a head­set as tight as this, there’s lit­tle space for ex­ter­nal noise any­way.

Let’s put that aside. Is po­si­tional track­ing a big enough sell­ing point on its own? Prob­a­bly not. As part of a pre­dom­i­nantly well-built pack­age, with great sound qual­ity back­ing it up? That’s a dif­fer­ent mat­ter. While there are some nig­gles to over­look, and while this isn’t, as a head­set, on the same lofty level as some hard­ware of a sim­i­lar price, it’s re­ally a great head­set on its own mer­its. And if the thing that your stream needs is a lu­di­crously lit mi­cro­phone flash­ing as you speak? You’re all sorted. –ALEX COX

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