CM Storm Pulse-R Headset Review
This week, I’ll be testing and reviewing the CM Storm Pulse-R (SGH-4330-KATA1). Something I’ve been looking forward to after seeing press releases a short while back, now I’ve got my hands on it… 😉
The CM Storm Pulse-R is a stereo gaming headset manufactured by Coolermaster under their CM Storm gaming brand (many of you may already be familiar with the gorgeous CM Storm Stryker, if not you should check out our CM Storm Stryker review). The CM Storm Pulse-R is part of the new and rather sexy looking aluminium range. It features custom 42mm Drivers, a detachable microphone, passive noise reduction, a removable 3m cable with in-line audio remote, durable (and modifiable!) aluminium plating and white LED illuminated microphone and ear-cups.
In the words of CM Storm – ‘The Pulse-R headset uses 42mm drivers for mind melting sounds. The microphone glows white in the dark and is removable. Even the aluminum plating on the ear bud exterior can be taken off and customized with your unique styling. Reinforced padded cushions and headband provide you with maximum comfort and great noise cancellation during gaming sessions. A convenient in-line remote lets you quickly adjust volume or mute your mic via a sliding switch’.
The headset arrived boxed in a plain black box, hidden inside a rather stylish sleeve adorned with white, shades of grey and embossed silver. To me this instantly screamed ‘Premium!’ (not unlike un-boxing a high-end mobile phone handset for the first time), already something to salivate over! The front of the box features a picture of the headset itself with the headset model, Cooler Master and CM Storm logos embossed in silver. It describes the CM Storm Pulse-R as an Aluminium Gaming Headset and goes on to highlight the following features:
- Premium sound with custom 42mm drivers
- Laser-etched aluminium plating
- Detachable microphone
The back of the sleeve features a picture of the headset and lists the headset’s main features (see below) in various languages along with the Cooler Master and CM Storm logos again embossed in silver.
CM STORM PULSE-R
– Durable aluminium plates – can be removed and customized.
– Optimized for gaming – clear highs and powerful bass.
– Cushioned ear cups and headband for noise cancellation and maximum comfort during long gaming sessions.
– Convenient in-line remote with volume slider and mic mute switch.
– Detachable microphone arm with noise-cancelling mic system for clear in-game team chats.
– Stylish white illuminated earcups and mic (USB powered).
The right side of the sleeve, in various languages, lists the headset model and a website address for CM Storm.
The left side of the sleeve features the specifications for the headset, microphone and in-line audio remote. Also listed are the typical system requirements and Cooler Master support details.
Upon removing the sleeve we get to see a simple plain black box. Once opened this revealed the Cooler Master and CM Storm logos under the lid, then in a plastic tray (I was a little disappointed, this could have had a nice felt covering just for a little extra ‘WOW!’ factor, but then again I suppose it is just a box!) we have the exceptionally good looking CM Storm Pulse-R headset and microphone.
Hidden beneath the tray we also find the detachable in-line remote and a pamphlet giving a brief list of features, specifications, warranty information and, health and safety warnings.
The box contents include the CM Storm Pulse-R headset, microphone, 3 metre braided in-line audio cable and a user guide.
At the time of review the CM Storm Pulse-R aluminium gaming headset is retailing for approximately £70 and comes with a 2 year warranty.
courtesy of CM Storm
Wow… This looks great! A nice and uncomplicated design, consisting of black and silver. In my opinion it looks luxurious, elegant or perhaps even sophisticated (Editor: ok calm down!). Reminds me of that age old saying ‘Sometimes the simple things in life are best’ (or did I just make that up!?).
Upon picking the headset up, I found not only did it look solidly built, but it also felt it too (it would definitely take a few knocks!). The Pulse-R headset has an above average weight (360g) although to me this just adds to the ‘premium’ feel of the headset. The detachable cable is 3m long, black in colour and braided (I’m a huge fan of braiding). The audio jacks have a small coloured spot to help match them up to the correct audio jack, but also have CM Storm and the brand logo moulded on them (a nice little touch) as does the USB connector. At the opposite end of the cable is a micro USB style connector that locks into place, whilst somewhere in the middle (about 60cm from the headset) we have the in-line audio remote. This is predominately black plastic with aluminium sliders for the volume control and microphone mute and an illuminated (white) LED bar, co-ordinating with the CM Storm Pulse-R headset perfectly.
The left ear cup features a microphone jack, a micro USB style socket and a removable aluminium plate with CM STORM engraved into it.
The right cup features the same removable aluminium plate, this time with the CM Storm logo engraved in it. Both of the plates are painted silver and have a matt finish, but are removable so you can modify them to whatever colour you want, without painting the rest of the headset (always colour between the lines!). Both plates also have white LEDs hidden beneath them.
Both cups are a slightly odd rectangular shape, have solid feeling cushion padding with a soft leather covering. The cups themselves are attached to the headband by some sort of ball socket, this means that even if you have an odd shaped head, you’re covered! 😉
The headband is of the steelband variety which makes it feel very sturdy. You can see the steel-band itself within the black plastic housing. The housing has CM STORM moulded into it at the very top. Underneath the headband we have that same solid feeling cushion padding with a soft leather covering.
The headset uses the traditional slide to fit adjusters, providing an additional 25mm of expansion per side, so should fit most head sizes.
The inner cups house the custom 42mm Drivers, protected by fabric with CM STORM repeated diagonally across it in white.
The detachable microphone arm, despite looking solid, is flexible. One end has the audio jack which locks firmly into the left ear cup audio jack. This end also has a silver colour matched plastic housing with CM STORM and logo printed on it. Unsurprisingly, at the other end we have the microphone itself. This features noise-cancellation technology and another white LED.
The CM Storm Pulse-R is a mid-range headset, so I’ll be testing it with on-board audio on an MSI MPower Z77 with the latest Realtek high definition audio drivers installed.
The Pulse-R headset simply connects to the motherboard I/O panel via the 2×3.5mm audio jack plugs and USB (for LED lighting).
The CM Storm Pulse-R headset is being tested on my home rig. Running Windows 7 64bit (service pack 1) with all appropriate Drivers installed and updated. Being an audio jack style headset, no further software is required or supplied. So no fresh install of Windows was needed (thankfully!).
The following games and utilities were used during testing:
- Battlefield 3
- Battlefield 4 (Beta)
- Arma 2-DayZ mod
- Warhammer 40k – Dawn of War 2 (Chaos Rising)
- Metro 2033 (benchmark)
- Unigine Heaven (benchmark)
- Unigine Valley (benchmark)
- Razer Comms (VOIP)
- Steam Chat (VOIP)
My two week test period started with a slight hitch. Because the bass is so heavy on the CM Storm Pulse-R, I would get a slight popping sound and bass distortion from the left ear cup (not good for loud bangs or chatting to friends with very deep voices). Thankfully this seemed to clear after a couple of days (strange but true!)…
The CM Storm Pulse-R worked very well with the VOIP software tested and as expected. The Unigine benchmarks may seem a little odd, but we use them for exact repeat playback during headset tests (given how much time benchmarking GPUs, the audio is kinda like ‘THAT’ advert with the jingle you caught on telly and can’t get out of your head!). This means that we are well accustomed to the finer sounds within both the Unigine Heaven and Valley benchmarks. Both were clear and I actually found myself dropping off whilst listening to the Valley audio!
The CM Storm Pulse-R for both Battlefield (3 & 4 (Beta)) games were very impressive. The incredibly loud and well pronounced bass almost had me looking over my shoulder on occasions! One of the first things I noticed upon joining a round of BF4 Beta, was a very deep rumbling sound, then what seemed to be car alarms going off (odd given I’d spawned in a building!?). The rumbling got deeper….. then louder…. that’s right you guessed it, I’d spawned inside the infamous skyscraper just as it was coming down. Ground-Zero may not be fun to be in, but it sure sound’s good, especially on the CM Storm Pulse-R!
Dawn of War 2 is a slightly older game I’m sure many of you are familiar with. I’d chosen this for the Pulse-R test because as an RTS it gets very busy (nothing to do with picking it up in the Steam sale a year or two ago and hardly having played it!). The squad responses are very clear to your commands, even when stacked and as soon as things kick off in a fire fight, I’m certain I could hear every single shot, groan, scream and explosion. I was very impressed at how the headset helped immerse me deeper into the game.
With Day-Z, once in 3rd person vehicle view (as many players will know already), the audio becomes loud. Unfortunately for me I discovered exactly how loud and uncomfortable it sounds when being ploughed down by a bright pink Nissan 350z with ‘Hello Kitty’ adorning the sides. I could tell clearly which direction shots were coming from and in which direction not to run.
The odd shaped ear cups on the CMStorm Pulse-R are particularly good for drowning out foreign sounds from interrupting your gaming. Admittedly I like to have the audio pretty loud, but I wasn’t expecting not to hear a friend shouting at the back of my head from 3ft away and not to hear them.
Overall the Pulse-R sound quality is generally very good. The mid-range has nice clarity, although the high-end can get slightly drowned out by the powerhouse bass during heavy gaming action. However this is something I’m more than happy with given the epic bass quality (have I mentioned the bass before???). 😮
Initially I didn’t find the CMStorm Pulse-R very comfortable. This is down to the clasp effect of the steel head-band and ear cups (perhaps my head’s recently put on weight!?). However after a few hours use I quickly became accustomed to them, finding them to be comfortable even during long gaming sessions. One thing you’d notice, is that when in hand they are actually heavier than you’d expect, but certainly aren’t whilst wearing them.
The microphone behaved as expected and was clear, although I did have to turn the mic boost right up. I like the way the microphone locks into the left ear cup and is sturdy despite being flexible. Because of this you are slightly more limited as to microphone placement, but the flexibility you have is perfectly adequate.
Overall I have to say I liked the CM Storm Pulse-R. I like heavy bass whilst gaming and this is the first headset I’ve used that has truly delivered (even without a loss in sound quality). I loved the simple styling with the little details, complemented by the white LEDs (not too dull and not bright enough to blind, just right in fact). Add to that the sturdiness, tank-like build quality, ability to suppress the distractions of the outside world and option to customise the aluminium plates, I believe you’ll be seeing plenty of these at LAN parties.
If anything my one and only gripe would be the in-line audio control. It’s adequate and does the job, but personally I don’t believe it quite matches the very high quality of the CM Storm Pulse-R headset itself. This is by no means a deal breaker though.
If you like a lot of bass (the Greg Wallace YouTube video comes to mind), then I can and definitely recommend checking out the CM Storm Pulse-R.
Sadly for me this review is over and so is my time with the CM Storm Pulse-R and I now have to send them back (sorry James, I believe they may have been lost in the post ;)).
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Many thanks to Cooler Master (CM Storm) for providing this sample for review