Fnatic Gear Duel TMA-2 Headset Review
I actually took a look at the Fnatic Gear Duel TMA-2 Headset back in November of last year and the review was even live for a few brief moments. 😮 The review wasn’t very positive either as the Duel TMA-2 Headset was plagued by issues. But, in the end, the headset was actually found to be faulty, in fact from what I can tell they all were. Especially, as the Duel TMA-2 Headset has been back in R&D and manufacturing until now. Therefore this is the second attempt at my review for the Duel TMA-2, let’s hope it fares better this time around…
We’ve seen a Keyboard from Fnatic Gear and we’ve seen a couple of mice, therefore it was only a matter of time before the final peripheral in a PC Gamer’s arsenal revealed itself. Enter the Fnatic Gear Duel TMA-2 their very first Headset and it’s no ordinary Headset either.
The Fnatic Gear Duel is a modular headset, in the fact that the Headset itself can be effectively disassembled, it also supports two basic configurations. An ‘On the Road’ configuration and, more importantly a ‘Gaming’ configuration. This stereo headset features two 40mm Drivers with a frequency response of 20Hz to 20,000Hz. There are two ear cups to choose from and the cables supplied support connection to both PC and Mobile devices.
The Fnatic Gear Duel TMA-2 arrived at pcG in a rather odd shaped black and white box. I say odd because the box didn’t seem deep enough to house a Headset and that’s because (theoretically speaking) it doesn’t!? 😮 On the front of the box we see the ‘Gaming’ configuration and on the back of the box we see the ‘On the Road’ configuration.
The sides of the box provide a little more detail on this rather unusual Headset. The left side of the box features a number of different symbols that highlight what’s actually inside the box; which is the following:
The other side of the box provides some blurb regarding the Headset and the fact that it’s been designed in conjunction with AIAIAI in Denmark by Kilo. In addition to this there’s a list of the following features: Modular, Esports Ready, Dual Purpose, Studio Quality Audio & Fnatic Design.
Opening the box was quite the event in the fact that two buttons either side release the inner box from the outer which is quite novel. Although there’s a shock waiting inside! The shock is (as predicted), there is no Headset. Inside we simply find six sealed foil bags!?
Within the box, other than the aforementioned bags, we find an oversize black wallet that houses a basic Quick Guide and a Fnatic Gear promotional leaflet. In addition to this there’s a black carry bag complete with draw-string and Fnatic Gear logo.
Above you can see the six foil bags that seem to be complete with package labels identifying the contents within while on the other side of the bag there’s an image of the content and a Fnatic Gear logo. It’s all a little odd if you ask me…
At the time of writing the Fnatic Gear Duel TMA-2 Headset is available on the Fnatic Gear website for approximately £169 and comes with a 3 year warranty.
courtesy of Fnatic Gear
|Rated Power||30 mW|
|Max Power||70 mW|
|Resonance Frequency||75 Hz|
|Sound Pressure Level||117 dB|
|Diaphragm Material||PET + Titanium|
2x Over-Ear Earpads
2x On-Ear Earpads
2x S02 Speaker Units
1x In-Line Microphone Cable
1x Boom Microphone Cable
1x Drawstring Pouch
1x Insert with Stickers & Manual / Instructions
First impressions are rather odd as I wasn’t expecting to have to build the Headset myself. The first task I guess is to open all of these bags…
After opening all the bags it’s plain to see just how modular the Fnatic Gear Dual TMA-2 is. We have a headband, two Driver units, two small ear cushions and two large ear cushions. On top of this we find a cable with integrated boom microphone for PC, a Y-splitter cable for PC and a cable with an integrated microphone for mobile devices.
The first task was to add the two Drivers to the headband, for that you’re likely to want to read the instructions carefully. You’ll need to identify the Driver unit with the red socket and plug the red plug of the headband into this. The headband’s arms feature a hole based positional system that simply slides into the ear cup and latches courtesy of a small round ball located within. It requires the angle to be correct and a fair bit of force. With that done each ear cup could be plugged in.
The plugs are a push and twist (lock) fit, although it all feels a little odd at first as some of the plugs required more force than I was comfortable with. Also once you have both plugs from the headband fitted removing them is quite the task as you are now unsure (as there’s no visual aide) as to where it unlocks. Therefore you end up twisting and pulling at the same time, not a good idea me thinks…
Above you can see the various stages of the build (I can’t believe I’m talking about a Headset). On the left we have just the Drivers fitted, centre we have the ‘On-the-Road’ configuration and on the far right we have the ‘Gaming’ configuration.
For PC connectivity two cables need to be used which is a little at odds (IMHO!) with an e-Sports Gaming Headset. You’ll need to plug in the combined audio cable and microphone cable to the Headset itself and attach the microphone splitter to the end so you can plug it into your PC. Again here there are some design questions as not only do we no need two cables to connect our Headset, but the PC microphone splitter cable has a 90 degree bend in it (why) and there’s no way of just connecting the headset without the microphone! And I thought this headset was modular!?
This means that, as the boom microphone features no swivel it will always be sticking out in front of you and also makes the Headset difficult to put down as you’re likely to be concerned about the position of the microphone boom. Approximately 400mm from the Headset we find a simple inline microphone mute, but surprisingly and disappointingly there’s no volume control.
In addition to the two cables (audio+mic & splitter for PC) described above there’s also an additional cable that allows for connectivity to a mobile device. This cable is approximately 1.25m long and also features a 90 degree bend at the mobile end of the cable. 15cm from the Headset end we also find an in-line microphone complete with a call control button.
Hardware Installation/Testing Methodology/Setup
The following Games were also used during testing:
- Metro Last Light (benchmark)
- Unigine Heaven (benchmark)
The performance of a Headset is predominately based upon what it sounds like, therefore what we have here is my opinion on what I think about the audio performance of the Fnatic Gear Duel Headset; of course this is somewhat subjective…
As I mentioned earlier the first Duel TMNA-2 Headset that we tested way back in 2016 was found to be defective, something that we discovered almost too late… But luckily this time around we had a much smother ride. The audio signature produced by the twin 40mm Drivers was very good, it’s not the best I’ve heard but it’s good nonetheless. The signature was also very honest, meaning that it lacked any over emphasized sound and that’s a good thing. But to be honest there was also a lack of sparkle, something was missing.
In Game it was hard to work out what this something was, as it wasn’t a lack of clarity or definition. Now, I have to confess I’m being a little critical, especially as we hooked up this £170 Headset to a £100 SoundBlaster ZX soundcard. It’s just that I never really got any of those moments when you think wow, or the hairs on you neck stand up or you heard that perfect stereo separation…
What we seem to have hear (haha) is a good all-rounder, there’s nothing to really dislike and there’s nothing to love. And, at £170 that’s not really good enough IMHO!
Luckily I had no issues with the microphone attached to the boom that is in turn attached to the main audio cable. Although it’s pick up was initially poor but orientating the microphone correctly (there’s a small orange line on the end of the boom) and setting microphone Boost to 20dB and turning the Sensitivity up to 75+ soon rectified this. The boom is especially good as it does stay where it’s put, unlike on some recent Headsets tested. Using our VOIP application of choice (Discord) I had no complaints from my online friends, with my voice appearing to be loud and clear at all times.
The Fnatic Gear Duel TMA-2 is a good Headset and it will undoubtedly serve the wearer well in Game. It also offers features, such as the different configurations, that other Headsets simply do not. But at £170 you really need to want those specific features as other Headsets out there are both cheaper and sound better…
Opening that smart box is quite the shock, obviously most of us (including me) would expect to see a Headset, but no not here! What we’re greeted with is an array of foils bags (6 in fact) that contain the various parts that make up the Duel Headset. Now while I understand that the Duel is a modular Headset, first impressions for this £170 Headset are simply not good. Once you get past this shock and lay out the parts within, there’s is a small degree of excitement that builds and there’s also a slight novelty factor that comes into play.
But before we even think about putting this thing together, let’s just consider another point. I’ll ask a question that I’ll not try and answer and that question is this: Does any of us (that’s Gamers, Pro Gamers, Hardcore Gamers and e-Sports athletes) really want/need a dual purpose (modular) Headset?
Assembly is easy enough but the connectors used are keyed, meaning they can only be inserted (and more worryingly unplugged) if aligned correctly, the connectors are also rather tight. This means that plugging in, twisting, locking, unlocking and unplugging the connectors is quite the task and this is something that Fnatic would have you do a lot of as the headset is modular, right!?
Once built a lot of those assembly woes begin to fade as you admire the very first Headset that you’ve ever built. You’d think that this Headset would now look like a premium product given that £170 price tag, but in all fairness it doesn’t. Yes there’s no doubting that what’s here is well made and the materials used are of a high grade, but everything revolves around the fact that it has to come apart again and I don’t think I want it to do that…
Performance wise the Fantic Gear Duel TMA-2 Headset performs its Gaming duties well with the stereo 40mm Drivers producing a good all round sound signature. In fact it is one of the more honest sounding Headsets that I’ve heard and that to some degree is a good thing. The only thing is there’s nothing in that sound signature to set it apart from the competition, despite us hooking it up to a dedicated SoundBlaster ZX soundcard. There’s no spine chilling highs and the bass level is simply good, there’s just nothing here that blows you away. And at this price it should…
Unfortunately the Fnatic Gear Duel TMA-2 hasn’t started life well as this is the second time we have looked at the Headset as our first sample was deemed to be faulty. Since then the Headset has revisited manufacturing. The Duel is now probably the Headset it should have been 6 months ago, but in my opinion it’s still not worth £170 despite its novel features.
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Many thanks to Fnatic Gear for providing this sample for review