First we'll talk about comfort, since even the best-sounding headset in the world is nearly-worthless if it can't be worn comfortably for more than a half hour. The soft cusions are comfortable, and allow a bit of play to conform to the intricacies of your unique dome, and the pads are just wide enough that they fit cleanly over my ears for a nice "seal." The sound isolation is pretty good, despite having cloth earpads. The flexible headband doesn't put too much pressure on my relatively large head, and the sliders should allow them to fit well on most peoples' heads. My bone to pick on the comfort side is that the shape of the headband and eacups puts most of the pressure on the bottom third of the eacup. What I mean is most of the pressure is felt just below the ear, and not even around the circumference of the earpad. The earcups are held fixed to the headband, so there isn't any swivel for the eacups to even out the pressure. My remedy to this was that since the headband is so flexible, it can be "worked" into a shape which fits you better. I gave it a slight bend which allowed the earcups to rest evenly on my head. A swivel mechanism would be nice, but are also often the bane to durability when being transported.
Now, the most comfortable headset in the world is also worthless if the sound that comes out of it aren't worth a penny, and this is where we find a tale of two endings. We first tried these out with a variety of music offerings, and were quite honestly a bit disappointed. Out-of-the-box the bass was ripply and distorted and the highs were rather harsh. The mids were actually quite full and well-produced, but we made haste to the nearest equalizer. Messing with the EQ for a bit, it was seen that the bass can actually be decent, but it falls off very quickly and becomes distorted at higher volumes. Dialing the lows and highs down a bit allowed for acceptable performance at higher volumes, and the mids were actually quite good, but the overall experience was a bit sub-par.
Despite the shortfalls for music listening, I was pleasantly surprised that the Ceres 400s came alive in games and movies, and being a gaming headset, they were almost certainly tuned to perform better in-game. Battlefield 3 gave plenty of body to the variety of explosions, despite the bass performing poorly with music. The mids again were quite good, and the highs felt in place in the chaos of an FPS. The directional accuracy was also decent, but certainly not as good as many of the other higher-end headsets we've tested.
Razer's headsets often receive criticisms as being too purpose-built, and that they suffer for other uses, like music, but shine in games. We see the same thing here, although we were at least glad that the gaming performance picked up for its musical shortfalls. The bass was a bit hollow and quickly became distorted at higher volumes and the highs were a bit harsh when listening to music. However, when we fired up Dirt 3 and Battlefield 3, we were pleasantly surprised to find the Ceres 400 in their element. The flexible headband should allow for a clean fit for most people and will allow for reslience when crammed in your bag for travel. I found the pressure to be mostly on the bottom of the earcup out of the box, but working the rubbery headband allowed me to get it to fit comfortably. The overall look is clean and simple, and the splash of red and subtle edges give the Ceres 400 a rugged and gamer-esque look without going overboard.
The Ceres 400 is priced at $49.99, which is certainly par for the course for what they offer against the competition. The other offerings in the range are the relatively new and unproven Sharkoon headsets and some of Turtle Beaches console-centric headsets which, frankly, don't put up a great performance for PC usage. The Ceres 400 doesn't blow the others out of the water at $50, but it's certainly fairly-priced and attainable for those looking for an entry-level headset.
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