Speedlink Tube Stereo PC Headset Review

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Introduction

Speakers and headsets are very important things to consider when gaming as they can transport you to a whole new dimension if they perform well. Unfortunately, for a real top notch headset you are normally talking around the £80 mark which is a lot in today’s somewhat troubled economic climate. Speedlink has always been regarded as producing great products for very fair prices and today we have one of their headsets to take for a spin. With a vast amount of headsets produced by Speedlink, will the Tube be able to stand out from the crowd? Let’s find out…

Speedlink’s Take on the Tube

‘The high-end headphones-microphone combo. The padded ear cups and the soft headband noticeably increase comfort. The adjustability of the microphone allows optimum quality speech transmission and the high-quality stainless steel headband is extremely robust.’

Features

  • Stylish stereo headset with microphone
  • Padded ear cups with ultra-soft covering
  • Height-adjustable metal headband
  • In-line remote featuring volume and mute controls
  • Jack plug connection
  • Maximum freedom
  • Cable length 2.3m

Specifications

Impedance Phones: 32Ohms @ 1kHz; Micro: 2.2kOhms @ 1kHz
Sensitivity Phones: 108dB+/-3dB; Micro: -38dB+/-3dB
Frequency Response Phones: 20Hz – 20kHz; Micro: 100Hz – 16 kHz
System Requirements PC or Mac with soundcard
Package Contains Quick Installation Guide
Cable Length 2.3m
Weight 150g

Contents & Packaging

Speedlink employ their favourite blister packaging for the Tube headset that needless-to-say isn’t my first. choice due to the inevitability of having to mutilate the packaging in order to get to the enclosed product. That said it does keep everything well protected inside.

The transparent packaging allows a full view of the Tube headset; in the centre is some brief information on the product coupled with a close up of the remote control at the bottom. The colour scheme follows Speedlink’s customary red and white theme.

 

The back is much more informative giving the juicy features in red bubbles at the top and the full list in countless different languages. A table of specifications is found half way down.

 

There aren’t any accessories bundled with the Tube except for a quick installation guide which just outlines how to adjust the size of the headphones, plug in the jacks and a few more pretty basic details.

Speedlink Tube Headset

Out of the box, the headset appears to be quite simple in its architecture with just a soft rubber strip comprising the headband with two plastic tubes atop for the adjustability. At first glance the ear cups look to be just shiny silver metal but upon closer inspection they are ever-so-slightly ridged which gives a little extra finesse.

 

The inner part of the ear cups are padded with a spongy outer circle and then a very thin piece of material covering the speaker so as not to muffle the sound produced.

 

Adjusting the size of the headband is a very simple affair whereby you just slide the metal piece, which joins to the ear cups, up and down. The plastic joiner has an imprinted L or R denoting which side is which.

 

The microphone is located on the left hand side and consists of a bendy rod with the mic enclosed beneath a black foam end. Of course the microphone position can be adjusted by using the rod but there is also a moveable dial on the ear cup to move it up and down.

 

The only Speedlink logo emblazoned on the Tube is on the rubber headband which is constructed from soft plastic – I’m not too sure how comfortable this will be though compared to headsets which have padded headbands.

 

A little way down the wire is a remote control device which can not only adjust the volume of the speakers but also turn the microphone on and off – this can be quite useful at times.

A small clip is located on the back so the user can attach it to their shirt or something if they wish.

 

Finally we come to the two jacks – one for the speaker; one for the mic. Both are 3.5mm and are in the usual green (speakers) and pink (mic) colours. The total cable length is 2.3m which should be plenty but it would have been nice to see some adapters or adjustability so you don’t have too much spare cable flopping around.

Testing

The Test Setup:

Processor Intel C2Q Q9450 Quad Core @ 2.66GHz
Motherboard Gigabyte S-Series GA-73PVM-S2H
Graphics Card XFX 8600GT
Memory Corsair XMS2 PC6400 (2x 1GB)
Hard Drive Hitachi HDT7250 (250GB)
Power Supply NOX Apex 700W
OS Windows XP Pro 32bit

Methodology

When testing speakers and headsets alike, without expensive equipment, it is difficult to test the frequency response and other such technical details. Instead, as reviewers, we aim to convey a good representation of the sound quality taking into account the bass and treble.

However, this does mean that the review will be quite subjective as the results will be swayed by the reviewer’s personal preferences.

Testing the headset will involve using it for sustained periods of time whilst gaming, watching movies and listening to music in order to see what it can do. For the microphone, feedback from fellow comrades on VOIP on online gaming will be used to assess the quality of sound transmitted.

Results

Games

Call of Duty: World at War

Call of Duty World at War or Call of Duty 5 is Treyarch’s World War II first person shooter that uses an improved version of the Call of Duty 4 engine developed by Infinity Ward and features a myriad of bangs, booms and explosions perfect for putting the Tube through its paces.

Loading the second level ‘Little Resistance’ – a beach landing in the Pacific – seemed the ideal choice as it contains intense action from the off with lots of sound. Initially, the headset coped well and conveyed some great realism of the situation faced in the game.

Overhead gunshots and crashing planes felt like they were right in front of you and the sound quality was very clear.

However, cranking the volume up was not a great idea as at quite high volumes, the sound clarity deteriorates and it’s certainly not the best I’ve listened too. This is a shame as at mid-to-low ranges, the Tube does very well.

 

Race Driver: GRID

Race Driver: GRID is one of the best PC driving titles for a long time combining intense arcade racing with lots of car tuning and pimping to be had.The wheel-spinning, rubber-burning, power-sliding pandemonium of a 3 lap race around the San Francisco Short Circuit should be more than enough to give a taste to what the Tube can deliver for more automotive crazy amongst us.

The insane revving of the engines right from the off was well conveyed through the speakers transporting you right into the driving seat and even at high volumes here the sound didn’t deteriorate much – very good indeed.

Music

I quickly created a playlist incorporating lots of different music styles from heavy drum and bass of the Dizzee rascal’s new song Bonkers to the gentle tones of Paolo Nutini’s song Candy. For Mr Nutini, the headset performed well and for other various songs of similar stature the headset is fine.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said for drum and bass songs, the introduction of this just ends up with distortion and it’s just not very pleasant at all.

Microphone

On all accounts, the microphone is very clear and my team mates were able to hear me very crisply in game and the same can be said for IM services such as MSN or Skype.

Comfort

The Tube is actually pretty comfortable considering there’s no really much padding which is good but it doesn’t really compare in terms of comfort to the more expensive headsets from Speedlink such as the Medusa.

Cost

Now here’s the neat part – the headset will only set you back about £15.99 – undoubtedly a very reasonable price for not a bad headset by any means.

Conclusion

The Tube headset is really a mixed bag. In some respects it’s very good such as coping with explosions and wheel screeching at low to medium volumes. The headset is also reasonably comfortable and at just £15.99 you can’t really go wrong.

In truth, the headset is not really aimed at gaming but more for gnereal use on Skype or listening to music. For the most part it does all this brilliantly but i woud recommend it for drum and bass due to an increased level of distortion and a lack of clarity.

That said, the headset is really pretty incredibly for just £15.99 a brilliant buy for any user to looking for a standard stereo headset, gamers will need to go more upmarket but on whole it’s a great product for the attached price tag.

Pros

  • Good clarity at low-mid ranges
  • Pretty comfortable
  • Great price point
  • Good mic clarity

Cons

  • Clarity falls away at high volumes
  • Does not convey bass well

 

Thanks go to Meroncourt for providing the headset for review.

[RH_ELEMENTOR id=”3090″]

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