Shogun Bros Ensense Headset Review
Here we have a rather exciting first for pcG, a new product from Shogun Bros! Now some of you out there may be asking ‘who?’ and to give you a brief rundown, Shogun Bros are (in my eyes at least) still relatively new to the PC Gaming peripheral world. Their grand debut being in 2011 with the slightly odd, but very innovative Chameleon X1 (Is it a mouse? Is it a Gamepad? Is it a wireless presenter? It’s a Chameleon X1!), which whilst not being a bad product at all, was very much a ‘jack of all trades, yet master of none’. This was followed up by the launch of their Gaming range, the ‘Commander’ series in 2013 with the critically acclaimed Ballista MK1 (keep an eye out for our review very soon ). Of course a Gaming series wouldn’t be a series with just a mouse alone, so Shogun Bros have also got a Tenkeyless (no numpad) mechanical Gaming keyboard on the way in the shape of the Cross Blade and to round it off we have the Shogun Bros Ensense pro Gaming headset right here!
So what do we know about this headset so far? The Ensense is a first for Shogun Bros (headset that is), it features a closed circumaural (over ear) ear-cups, virtual 7.1 surround, a convertible microphone, ergonomic design, extra thick PU leather cushions, 50mm extra large pro audio drivers, professional tuned crystal clear voice and its technology of namesake, the Ensense system. This is essentially rumble packs in the ear cups that should help immerse you in atmosphere whilst in game and give you a realistic sensation from explosions and gun shot shock (hopefully without the messy bit!).
‘Who is Shogun Bros?
Shogun Bros is A Serious Team of cutting edge technologists and market developers for New Generation customer. All Round Innovation, Practical Technology, Art of Design, Ergonomics and Quality are five essential components of our products. Shogun Bros, We Command. Customers’ needs are the positive force to “command” the product development in Shogun Bros.’
To top all that the Ensense happens to be a bit of a stunner in the looks department. We best take a closer look!
The Shogun Bros Ensense arrived in a box that pulls no punches and immediately shows its target audience, that’s right! Us Gamers! The front is dominated by a depiction of the headset itself and being black and bright orange (we like orange here at pcG ) the boxing follows suit. The front also has the Shogun Bros name and logo, model name and lists the headsets two key features. These being virtual 7.1 channels and the Ensense system. Looking to the right also shows a cut out window giving us a sneak peak at the goodies inside!
Over on the back and in the same striking black and orange design, we have a depiction of the Ensense from the left, an isometric view of the headset and a top down image of the in-line remote. It also goes on to list all the Ensense features:
Powerful Remote Control
Tough Military Spec
Extreme Cool Outlook
Ok, so the left of the box shows us very little, but it is orange and I’m sure any Dutch footie fans will appreciate it.
On the right though, we see the system requirements and a window giving us an even bigger teaser of the contents inside!
Opening up the box reveals a bright orange cardboard sled, to which when pulled out shows off the Ensense in its entirety.
- Shogun Bros Ensense Pro Gaming Headset
- Drivers and Utilities disk
- Quick install and User guide
At the time of review the Shogun Bros Ensense Headset is only available for pre-order from Silicon Gaming for £59.99, but will be available from most major retailers including Amazon soon. The Ensense offers a 24 month warranty.
courtesy of Shogun Bros
。 Realistc Sensation (Real Explosion Vibration and Gun Shot Shock)
。 Immersive Atmosphere
Virtual 7.1 Channels
Most Advanced Sound Reproduction Hardware
Powerful Remote Control
Tough Military Spec
。 Anti-interference – Best stable and fast Signal (USB Magnet)
。 Tough – Military Fabric Cable
。 Cable management Band
Extreme Cool Outlook
One word….. Wow! As mentioned before, Shogun Bros know there target audience, us Gamers! The Ensense is something very different to look at, but that is not a bad thing at all. With its ergonomic design and quality soft feel plastic construct in satin black, bright orange padding and accents, it looks stunning!
The right ear-cup has very little in the way of features, but still looks great. The ergonomic shape of the outer ear-cup is almost shield like in design and rather aptly very solid (unlike some very hollow sounding headsets covered recently). The cup itself is predominately satin black with a soft plastic coating that could easily give BitFenix and their SofTouch a run for their money. In the centre of the cup is a Shogun Bros logo which when plugged in will illuminate orange. The inner ‘shield’ is framed with a dark metallic frame which has two chevrons in the same style beneath. Liberally scattered around the headset shows us some Logitech G/Tron styled graphics, but instead of blue we have orange.
Over on the left the only visual differences are the little orange L above the ear-cup to show us it’s the left side and the USB cable. Oh and there’s a concealed mic boom too.
The outer headband is a slightly textured satin black plastic, like the ear-cups this is again very solid, but unlike the cups can easily be marked by finger nail alone.
The inner band features what Shogun Bros call an ‘ultra thick PU leather head cushion’, if I’m honest the cushioning doesn’t seem much thicker than that of the competition. Unlike many headsets that have one or several cushions, the Ensense has two. This is something I’ve not seen before, but common sense tells me, this should help the headset sit more comfortably on your head and potentially help put a stop to that terrible hot sweaty crown you get after a very long Gaming session. Of course I could be wrong, so more importantly the cushioning is bright orange!
Because of the curvature and ergonomic design of the ear-cups, it was pretty difficult to get a full photo showing off the design, so here it is.
The inner ear-cup and cushioning follows a similar shape to the outer cup. Again we have the same ‘ultra’ thick PU leather cushions, these feel a little softer than on the headband, but still the same great looking bright orange. Inside cups we have an orange microfibre lining hiding the 50mm drivers, which have a black mesh like fabric over the top. This second lining doesn’t seem to hold any benefit at all, but does make a great looking contrast.
Hidden inside the right ear-cup is a foldable mic boom which is 85mm in length. It only travels in the one direction (or two if you want to conceal it again), so positioning it could be a problem in Game. Sadly, especially looking at the high quality design and materials of the rest of the Ensense, doesn’t feel quite up to scratch. The plastic feels solid enough and it offers no flex, but feels hollow and quite cheap by comparison.
Beneath the left cup is a fixed audio lead. The lead is 2.26m in length (including audio control) which Shogun Bros say is a ‘tough – military fabric cable’. I’m not entirely sure what that is, but it’s totally smooth to the touch and probably the best braiding I’ve ever seen. Oh and look! To fit in with the rest of the Ensense, the cable is black and orange.
Fully extending the cup arms shows the Ensense uses a tough plastic spring to clamp it on your head, this also has a thin steel retention plate running over the top of it to help give it strength and keep it lightweight. When fully extended the wearer will gain an extra 33mm from either side, so will fit all but the very largest of heads.
Approximately 66cm down the quality braided cable, lives the in-line audio remote. This shares a similar shape to the left ear-cup, is fairly lightweight, but also a little on the bulky side. Unfortunately this seems to be made of a similar plastic to the mic boom. Luckily this is offset by the control panel with its matte silver buttons and brushed aluminium surround. The panel itself features volume up and down, audio and mic mute, illumination on/off and Ensense on/off.
The Ensense is a headset that has already surprised me with its stunning design and quality materials used in its build (bar one or two areas), plus the black and bright orange colour scheme may have earned it extra brownie points.
Of course as we know, all style and no substance is going to make for a pretty poor headset, so we best take it for a spin!
Because the Shogun Bros Ensense is driven via USB, it is simply plugged into a free slot in our test motherboard, the MSI Z87-G45 GAMING.
The Shogun Bros Ensense was tested using our Intel Test Rig, running Windows 7 64bit (service pack 1) with all necessary Drivers installed. The SB Ensense Pro Audio software was then installed via the included disk.
The following Games were used during testing:
- Survarium (beta)
- Battlefield 4
- The Crew(beta)
- Metro Last Light (benchmark)
- Unigine Heaven (benchmark)
Whenever you get a new piece of kit from a manufacturer that has made its mark with another peripheral, but never produced the item you have in your hands, you approach it with a little apprehension and excitement. Being the first headset from Shogun Bros, I was honestly not expecting big things from the Ensense. So how did it go?
Once powered on the Essence Shogun Bros logos and in-line audio remote light up a rather nice bright orange. So on with the audio performance, its very crisp and clear with surprising accuracy, but the bass is a bit dull, there seems to be little in the way of volume and little vibrancy to the sound and where’s this Essence feature? As it turns out, because of the size of the buttons of the in-line remote it is very easy to knock them and accidentally turn the volume down or features off… Take two!
The Ensense within the Ensense is very difficult to explain. There is plenty of volume (when you aren’t knocking those buttons), the noise is crisp and clear, but the bass does lack that punch which Gamers love especially in fire fights. However turn the Ensense System on and it’s a totally different ball game. You don’t just hear the sound, you feel it! Maybe it’s a placebo effect of the ear-cup rumble packs, but the bass suddenly gains the vibrancy and depth you want and it does this without sacrificing the rest of the sound quality. I was expecting the Ensence System to be something that relied solely on the bass levels, but it picks up the shrill sound of gunfire just as well. In the Metro Last Light Benchmark (which we here at pcG have sat through hundreds of times…), the Ensense heightens your tension levels as the build up to the tunnel wall explosion occurs, then you feel a need to actually duck the gunfire from all directions and it’s exactly the same in Battlefield 4 and Survarium! It doesn’t just sound good, it somehow makes things more exciting! Shogun Bros claim the Ensense will help to immerse you in game and they are spot on!
Something worthy of note is the in-line remote size. It’s bigger than pretty much every other in-line I’ve used before and if I’m honest, I wasn’t exactly sure where it should be? The cables not long enough to leave it on your desktop and it’s too bulky to be hanging from your ear, but as we all tend to lose our posture whilst intensely Gaming (or trying), it lives quite happily in your lap.
The Ensense are relatively lightweight and on more than one occasion I’d forgotten I was wearing them (in quieter Gaming moments at least ). The large circumaural ear-cups despite their unconventional shape, fit nice and snug around your ears, but because of the sprung headband design, don’t fit tight enough on the jaw line (for me at least). It also means despite being incredibly comfortable, they don’t feel as secure as they could be. This could be an side effect of them shaking around my head of course.
Once the machete shaped microphone boom is unfolded from the left ear-cup and in use via Steam Chat and Razer Comms, it worked perfectly. Which again surprised me, I guess it just goes to show if the mic is good enough you don’t need to position it too closely.
The SB Ensense Pro Audio software is surprisingly quite in depth, by that I mean as a first for Shogun Bros, they could’ve been forgiven for having something far more basic, although it does have a very basic blue and white design when they could’ve thrown in some orange and black flair. Along the top of the screen we have system playback, capture, sample rate and effects for both audio out and in, flicking over the page offers hi-fi, movie, music presets and of course custom (to which you can make as many as you want). Then with a right click over the headphone icon reveals volume control, headphone settings (sound test), sample rate (44.1 or 48KHz), equalizer, environment effects (if you really want everything to sound like your in a bathroom….), Xear SingFX (vocal pitch and fade control), 7.1 Virtual Speaker Shifter (move those virtual speakers around) and Xear Surround Max. Do the same over the mic and out pops volume control, sample rate, Xear SingFX and microphone boost. Then with a a right click on the toolbar, the SB Ensense Pro Audio Software gives you shortcuts to the software itself, system volume mixer, Windows Media Player, sound recorder, playback devices, SB Ensense Pro Audio application settings and a simple exit. There are your usual gimmicky bits that in all honesty you’ll never use and some genuinely good ideas here. Are they sure this is their first time???
I admit I approached the Shogun Bros Ensense pro Gaming headset with mixed feelings of apprehension and excitement. It was both a first showing from Shogun Bros at pcG and their first attempt at a Gaming headset, so both the Ensense and the review could’ve gone either way, luckily for me it went the right way!
The Ensense arrived at pcG a little unexpectedly via our visit to the recent Insomnia 52 event at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry. From the offset and by looking at the predominately black and bright orange packaging, the Ensense screams Gamer at you. Rather than playing safe with their first headset (have I mentioned that before?!?), Shogun Bros chose a rather unconventional style and design. The headset itself is mainly a soft feel satin black plastic, with bright orange ( ) cushioning, detailing and LED lighting. It’s very well constructed and solid enough to take a few knocks whilst being light enough to wear without any aches and pains. It really stands out from the crowd and looks great! The only questions raised in the build quality are the plastics used for the outer headband, mic and in-line audio remote, all of which are a little too easily marked, feel out of place given the quality of the rest of the Ensense and to be frank, the mic boom and its chunky machete design is certainly not to my taste.
The large shield shaped and ultra thick PU leather cushioned, circumaural ear-cups are comfortable even after hours of Gaming, whilst the twin cushioned inner band seemed to help prevent those (my) dreaded head sweats and with 33mm additional extension on either cup, should fit most heads.
So we have a well built, comfortable and eye catching headset, but how does it sound? Again full marks to Shogun Bros! The noise produced by the Ensense is crisp and accurate, then with the Ensense rumble packs activated, offers a deep and vibrant bass without sacrificing the finer audio, you’ll most likely not find a livelier set of cans anywhere. You don’t just hear the sound, you feel it!
Then we have the SB Ensense Pro Audio software. Whilst not looking particularly exciting, it has all the typical bells and whistles of any other headset software out there (including the gimmicky bits….), then adds a few nice little touches with its toolbar shortcuts.
The Shogun Bros Ensense pro gaming headset is currently only available for pre-order and carries an SRRP of £59.99. Gaming audio should excite the senses and help immerse you in whichever game you are playing. What the Ensense offers with its Ensense System, and actually delivers is the unique ability to feel every explosion and bullet as they fly around you. Hell it even makes a benchmark that’s been run to death feel fresh, different and an exciting experience! Perhaps it should be renamed Exsense?
Of course after all that would I recommend the Shogun Bros Ensense? What do you think?
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Many thanks to Shogun Bros for providing this sample for review