Today I will be looking at the CM Storm Sonuz which at the time of review is retailing for approximately £57. This mid range stereo headset is one of three currently available from Cooler Master with the other two being the more expensive true 5.1 surround sound Sirus and Sirus S headsets.
Cooler Master themselves have been around for quite some time now and CM Storm is their Gaming sub-brand which has branched out to include Gaming products such as Cases, Keyboards, Mice and Headsets. With our recent award winning CM Storm Sentinel Advance II and CM Storm Quick Fire Pro reviews, that only leaves headsets and cases to match the trend, so it will be interesting to see if their headsets can follow suit!
The CM Storm Sonuz comes packed in a stylish black cardboard box with a carry handle on top. A clear plastic window extends all the way from the front of the box to the right hand side allowing the contents to be viewed inside. Also on the front of the box is a picture of one side of the headset and some stripes which add some additional flair to the packaging.
On the back of the box is an ‘Introduction’ section which gives a brief outline of some of the features and their uses and also contains a statement from CM Storm as to why they created the CM Storm Sonuz. Also listed on the back are a few of the headsets specifications written across various different languages, together with some contact and email addresses covering four separate geographical regions should you need to get in contact with them.
The left hand side of the box has a picture of the headset itself with the various different features labelled with a letter, together with a guide to those lettered features underneath. There is also a more detailed list of the specifications relating to both the headset and microphone.
Opening the box reveals a large clear plastic tray inside, which can easily be removed from within the main outer packaging. The CM Storm Sonuz is securely held in place within the tray via four separate twisting plastic ties with the right hand cup wrapped in a plastic bag to keep it dust free (I assume the left hand cup was left unbagged as it was viewable through the clear plastic window!?). The in-line remote sits in the middle of the tray with the cable wrapped around the back of the packaging and hidden away behind the cardboard tray beneath. Overall the packaging was well designed and presented and kept the headset well protected from any damage.
Inside is the headset itself together with a small Quick Start Guide which lists the main features together with some detailed warranty information.
At the time of writing the CM Storm Sonuz is retailing for approximately £57 and comes with free online technical support and a two year limited warranty.
With the CM Storm Sonuz out of its packaging the first thing that you notice is definitely its size. It seems to be a rather large headset, especially compared to what I am used to, and weighs in at approximately 400g, a whopping 100g more than my existing Medusa NX 5.1 headset! Most of its additional size seems to be made up from the outer plastic casing, however it will be interesting to see how comfortable they actually are with all that additional weight. Overall, the headset does look well designed with its own unique look and it certainly feels quite sturdy, so hopefully durability should not become an issue over time.
The plastic headband seems well constructed and comes in a sort of dark titanium colour. It is also slightly flexible which allows it to bend and adjust to various different head sizes thus hopefully making it more comfortable to wear. It is also quite thick and large, so hopefully this should help distribute the weight of the headset evenly across the top of the head preventing any discomfort. The headset is fully adjustable at both sides, with each side having a notched metal adjuster allowing each ear-cup to be pulled down to its maximum distance (approximately 45mm extra adjustment on each side) as shown in the picture above (the maximum adjustment settings should certainly fit even the largest of heads!).
Underneath the headband there is a section of black soft cushioned padding, just where it would rest on the middle of the head, as shown in the picture above. This should help to provide even more additional comfort, especially if you like to play game sessions over long periods of time. Also on the underside of the headband are four screws on either side, which I assume can be removed to allow the headband to be replaced if required.
Each ear-cup comes with a single 53mm driver, covers a frequency range of 10 – 20,000 Hz and has a maximum output of 200mW. Each of the ear-cups are covered by a large black cushioned ear-pad with a diameter of approximately 97mm. The ear-pads look like they can be removed relatively easily for cleaning purposes, but there are no additional ones supplied if they need replacing. The ear-cup also rotates slightly in all directions (due to the way it is attached to the casing) which will help the ear-cups sit more comfortably, however there is no ability to either fold or rotate them fully so they can be protected while packed away (no additional carry bag is provided should you like the added protection they offer when travelling to LAN parties).
On the right hand side ear-cup is a plastic cap, this can be removed to allow the fitting of the removable microphone on the other side of the headset should you wish to do so. This is the first time I have ever seen anything like this and seems like something that could prove quite a useful feature.
The CM Storm Sonuz comes with a plastic microphone initially attached to the left hand side of the headset. The microphone rotates around approximately an 180 degree arc range and can be bent inwards to be made closer to the mouth via the flexible section in the middle. The microphone has sensitivities @1kHz of -47 dB ± 3 dB, a signal-to-noise ratio of 58dB and comes with an Omni-directional pick up pattern.
The microphone is also fully detachable and can be placed on either the left or right hand side of the headset. The microphone can be removed quite easily with just a slight outward pull and can then be plugged into the appropriate socket on either side. The socket not being used can then be covered up using the plastic cap, mentioned earlier.
Attached to the CM Storm Sonuz via the 2m braided cable is the in-line remote. This comes with both a Volume control and a Microphone on/off switch. The volume can be adjusted easily by rotating the wheel in the appropriate direction as indicated by the + and – indicators on the remote. Should you wish to mute the microphone, you can do so by moving the switch to the off position and back to on should you wish to un-mute. There is no lighting or any other additional indicators as the headset is not attached to any USB power source, but this shouldn’t be an issue. However, an indicator for the state of the mute switch would have been a nice touch, especially if you play a lot of multi-player games in the dark.
The CM Storm Sonuz headset connected directly to my rig which is situated beside me, via the two gold plated 3.5mm jack plugs. The connectors themselves are attached to a 2 meter long braided cable, which should hopefully be of sufficient length to reach a good distance to your gaming PC.
Each gold connector has two lightly coloured bands round them to indicate which socket the connector should be plugged into. Pink indicates that the 3.5mm jack should be connected to the Microphone socket while light green indicates that the 3.5mm jack should be connected to the Line-Out socket. As mentioned in the specifications, this headset is also compatible with Apple iPhone®, HTC® and BlackBerry® products and requires no additional drivers or software to be downloaded or installed prior to use.
The CM Storm Sonuz was tested using my rig with a fresh installation of Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (service pack 1) installed together with all the latest relevant drivers and software.
A variety of games were used to evaluate the headsets stereo sound capability including:
Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Left 4 Dead 2
Warhammer 40K: Dawn Of War
Having never used a stereo only headset before it was always going to be hard to evaluate the quality of sound compared to what I am used to hearing, so my evaluation is going to be somewhat subjective…
Performance wise the CM Storm Sonuz seemed to perform quite admirably. Initially the sound seemed to be very low in volume even when on its maximum volume setting while playing MW3, but after changing games the volume seemed to increase significantly and I eventually had to turn the volume down. Even when at maximum volume the sound was never distorted in any way and still remained very clear.
The sound from the 53mm drivers seemed to be very clear and crisp and when playing various games the voices and dialogue could be heard quite clearly. Both the mid range and high range frequencies seemed to perform well and were never overpowering and the low range bass was also never too overpowering but did still make a difference when it came to explosions, although they didn’t quite have the same rumble feeling as my existing Medusa NX headset. The positional audio also seemed to work very well in stereo and I could tell which general direction enemies where approaching from, although I could still notice the difference that 5.1 surround sound brings to the table having now been used to hearing it for so long while gaming. However, the performance cannot be faulted due to this fact and overall the sound quality was excellent.
The microphone can be rotated through an 180 degree arc and sits about an inch away from the mouth when in its fully rotated position which is fine. Although the microphone can be bent closer to the mouth, I found there was no need to do so as there were no issues with it picking up my voice when using the VOIP microphone check. The in-line mute switch also worked well and prevented any sound from being recorded or picked up when in the off position.
The microphone was also tested using the Windows 7 sound recorder, just so I could clarify the quality of the sound for myself. The output of my voice seemed very clear and crisp although it did seem slightly low in volume, although this may be more to do with the settings in Windows 7.
I did have concerns about the comfort of the CM Storm Sonuz initially when I first saw its size and weight. However, these concerns were put to rest when I started using them and found they were actually very comfortable.
The soft padding underneath the headband did its job well and prevented any discomfort occurring from the weight of the headset itself pressing down on my head. The large padding around the ear-cups also helped prevent any discomfort around the ears. Even after wearing them for several hours I did not experience any discomfort or sweating although they did get slightly warm, but this is probably more due the the extremely hot and humid weather the UK has experienced recently. The addition of the adjustable headband also added to the comfort factor and the ability for the ear-cups to rotate slightly made them sit against my ears perfectly.
The ear-cups were also large enough to encompass the whole of my ears and although external sound from the noisy fans in my rig could still get through, I did not notice them while playing a game where the noise of the fans were drowned out.
The CM Storm Sonuz headset has put in yet another excellent performance for CM Storm which makes it now three gold awards in a row for CM Storm products. The packaging was well designed and quite stylish and the headset was well protected from any damage or dust.
The CM Storm Sonuz comes with its own unique design look and feel and seems to be very durable and well made which is always a good thing. It is rather large however and weighs in at approximately 400g but once you start wearing the headset you don’t really notice. If you plan on using this outdoors while listening to music on an Iphone etc you may have to take its size into account however.
The soft padding on the headband together with the fact that it was fully adjustable made it very comfortable to wear for long periods of time without experiencing any sort of discomfort from either the weight of the headset itself or its fit. The cushioned ear-pads fitted well around my ears and no discomfort or sweating occurred during any of my gaming sessions, although they did get a little bit warm which was probably more to do with the recent hot/humid weather here in the UK. Although external sounds could still be heard while wearing the headset, this was not an issue while playing games as the sounds were drowned out anyway.
The headsets stereo sound quality was excellent and all frequencies seemed well rounded with none of them being particularly overpowering. Voices and dialogue could be heard clearly while Gaming and the sounds of gunshots and explosions were crisp and well balanced. The stereo audio positioning also worked well and I could tell which general direction my adversaries were coming from and although it did not have the same effect as full 5.1 surround sound, it certainly worked exceptionally well! The microphone also seemed to work well when tested and the in-line remote controls were within easy reach and quick to adjust when needed. It would have been nice to have had some sort of lighting, even if it was for just the mute switch, however the headset has been designed not to use any sort of USB power source.
The CM Storm Sonuz at around £57 does seem slightly expensive for a stereo headset compared to some of the other headsets currently available. However, the excellent design, comfort and performance do go some way to alleviate this, so its a matter of choice.
Overall, if your looking for a well built stereo headset with excellent rounded sound quality and can justify paying that little bit extra, then the CM Storm Sonuz certainly fits the bill.