Review: Affordable gaming headset
Following up on the Sonuz headset, the gaming face of Cooler Master, CM Storm, launched a new headset dubbed the Ceres 400. Ceres is the Roman goddess of agriculture (those lengthy Caesar sessions have finally started paying off), while 400 stands for 40mm drivers sitting inside the headset.
The company once again aimed for a lightweight and multi-purpose gaming headset for use at home and on the go. CM Storm did not strap the Ceres 400 with a removable mic like they did with the Sonuz but the Ceres 400 is some 15 to 20 euro cheaper, so it somewhat evens out. So, let’s see whether the Ceres yields quality results.
- Driver diameter: ?40mm x 7.5 mm(H)
- Frequency range: 20 - 20,000 Hz
- Impedance: 32 ?
- Sensitivities (@1kHz): 108 dB ± 4 dB
- Input: 100mW
- Connector: 3.5 mm headphone jack
- Inner Ear Cup Diameter: 90.0 mm
- Cable Length: 250cm
- Directivity: Omni-Directional
- Frequency range: 100-10,000 Hz
- Sensitivities (@1kHz): -30 dB ± 3 dB (0dB=1V/pa.1KHz)
- Signal-to-Noise Ratio: 50dB
Naturally, there's no need for installation - as long as a device has a 3.5mm audio out, you're good to go.
- Audio Usage: Devices with 3.5mm audio jack
- Audio + Microphone Usage: Devices with 3.5mm audio + microphone jack(smartphones)
The headset is shipped in a package proudly bearing CM Storm’s colors - black and red. As you can see, it lets users see the headset and provides basic info.
The box contains only the headset, no additional accessories here.
The in-line controller is visible through the plastic window on the package. It comes with volume control and microphone On/Off key.
The headband is slightly curved and padded on the spot that rests on the head. The Ceres 400 is quite a comfortable fit, and a stable one as well. The Ceres 400 weighs in at 241g which is about 140g lighter than the CM Storm Sonuz headset.
CM Storm seems to have dumped the glowing logo thing, but we find that sort of thing to be more of a distraction than a useful feature to begin with.
The earpads are 90mm in diameter. They are filled with soft foam and are very comfortable, which is very important during longer gaming sessions. The Sonuz’s earpads feel a tad softer or cozier, but the Ceres 400’s earpads are well designed too. Although it’s winter time, we didn’t get the impression that sweating will be an issue.
The cushions are removable, in case you want to wash them. CM Storm says that the cushions are sound absorbing, but we wouldn’t count on it that much as they provided little to none outside noise isolation.
Yet another thing that CM Storm addressed from the Sonuz is the elevated central part (picture below) that tended to get uncomfortable at times.
The Ceres 400 had no such problems but the company still used double foam pads, although the ones that directly cover the driver are glued permanently.
The Ceres 400’s driver does not allow for minor motions such as the Sonuz, but the headband design is elastic enough to provide a comfortable yet stable fit. Once we took of the pads though, we noticed a few stains that looked like burnt plastic. Closer inspection revealed that there were no burns, so perhaps it was just stray paintwork.
Users can extend the headband about 3cm on each side, which should be enough for anyone. [Except our news editor. Ed]
The locking mechanism itself offers enough resistance, so it won’t loosen halfway through your gaming session.
The in-line controller is positioned in such a way that the length is neither enough to let the controller rest on your leg, nor short enough to be level with the keyboard. Finding it by feeling your way around may be a bit difficult at times, especially in the dark. The Ceres 400 controller’s shape is a bit boxy, but we’ve overdone the nitpicking, since these are not major issues. The volume knob is small but easy to rotate. The microphone can be easily switched on or off by the remote on/off switch.
The in-line remote lets you control levels but don't forget about the volume controls on your PC. Additionally, remember to turn the sound down before you take the headphones out, because music going off at full volume in the middle of the night is not something your neighbors will appreciate.
Once again, we’d really like to see clearer distinction between the connectors, and although it’s definitely not a make-or-break feature, we’ll ask you how you like it when you’re behind the computer, fumbling with jacks in a rainforest of cables, dongles and antennas. True, the CM Storm features colored rings on the actual jacks, but the colors are pale and you won’t tell them apart in dark. A single marker on the headphone jack, rubber bump or as symbol would've done the trick, even if it’s on only one jack.
The cable is some 250cm long, which is a welcome change, especially since the Sonuz’s cable measures 193cm. The cable looks well made and it splits in two at the end - one connector for the headphones and the other for the mic. Note that the cable is not the shielded type we’ve seen CM Storm use and is a bit thinner, but we doubt there’s any actual difference in action.
The headphone boasts a frequency range of 20 – 20,000 Hz, an impedance of 32 ohms, and sensitivity of 108 +/- 4dB @ 1kHz. The speaker houses a large 40mm driver and of course, we're talking about a stereo headset. Of course, analog headsets require quality soundcards to reproduce the entire spectrum but we found the sound quite good, regardless of the device we used it on. Note that the Ceres 400 was somewhat quieter than the Sirius headset, but not by too much.
Ceres 400 doesn't have surround sound support like the Sirus, which is evident during gaming. Of course, we doubt you'll lose a battle over it, but we didn't mind. The simulated surround is good, but it's difficult to tell whether the sound is coming from behind or front.
Anyone who had the chance to try out Ceres 400 was quite pleased with the sound quality, including some audio geeks. Mid and high frequencies are clear but the highs are a bit muffled when the sound is maxed out, which is pretty much what you would get on the Sonuz.
The mic is omnidirectional and it's nice that it has a dedicated connector, which means you can use it independently in other programs as well.
Unlike the Sonuz, Ceres 400 has no removable mic, which is a shame since we thought they would’ve looked more presentable than the former when without the mic.
Specs-wise, the microphone boasts a frequency response of 100 Hz – 10.000 Hz with sensitivity of -30 +/- 3dB @ 1kHz and 1V/Pa, and a signal to noise ratio of 50dB. The mic can be turned on/off via the in-line remote.
The mic is omni-directional and sound quality is good. For the best results, you will have to fiddle with it and bend it just right. By default the mic is a few centimeters to the left of your jaw.
The mic is very robust but can bend a bit in the middle, which works quite well in pictures, but in reality it has a habit of bending back, so placing it right in front of your mouth is not that easy.
In case weight is an important consideration, the Ceres 400 looks like a good choice. Although CM Storm markets the Ceres 400 as an ultra-portable gaming headset, but it is rather bulky and cannot be folded. Still, it is a lot more compact that Sonuz or Sirius handsets and it is lighter. Besides, we see much clumsier headphones being used on a daily basis. We used the Sonuz 400 on and off for about a month and we can report that we did not experience any issues with materials or build quality. It is also rather comfortable and can be used for hours on end.
The Ceres 400 is a stereo unit, audit quality is good, with ample bass and loudness for gaming and music. Unlike the Sonuz, Ceres 400 has no removable mic, which is a shame since we thought they would’ve looked more presentable than the former when without the mic. On the upside, wearing a headset with a non-removable mic doesn’t make you look like you are at the UN or on a war crimes trial. The bendy microphone housing can be adjusted, but it’s not perfect as it tends to flex back to its original position, so it needs readjustment on a regular basis. It’s a minor issue and most users shouldn’t have trouble with it.
CM Storm Ceres 400 is most affordable gaming headset in CM Storm portfolio. It’s listed at 32 euro, but it’s only available for about 40 euro. If we compare it to the more advanced and more expensive Sonuz and Sirus headsets, we will that it lacks some features. However, but the build quality, design and sound quality are still good at the Ceres 400 is a good choice if you prefer low weight over bells and whistles.