Can Creative create a mind-blowing 3D audio experience to keep the demanding fraggerati happy? It can indeed but with a couple of caveats.
How hard can it be to set up headphones – plug in socket and place over ears right? Well, these bad boys tended to be a little bit more complicated. Not quite Mensa IQ, more Crystal Maze.
Out of the box Creative gives you the cans and a mic for VOIP and in-game chat. You also get a separate USB plug with the THX TruStudio Pro box attached, which you need to enable 3D audio. What you don’t get is any software to make them run and we went though hell in a handcart just to find the right driver on Creative’s Kafkasque websites.
We are giving Creative top marks for making the SoundBlaster Tactic 3D Sigma headphones very flexible for demanding next generation gamers, thanks to some simple but effective settings. Every tweak you make with the software can be saved as a profile, so you can load it up so it’s optimised for your favourite game.
Creative has even added some preset profiles but we found ourselves spending more time using the “unstable” setting on the voice morphing software, which made is sound like a woman, shall we say, cracking up. Very weird and we’re not sure why.
Creative SoundBlaster Tactic3D Sigma: Comfort
For your mulah you get some beefy 50mm Neodymium drivers pumping out the audio and the Sigma model also has a steel core headband running through the middle, adding a layer of protection. Despite the steel, we found them very comfortable thanks to chunky foamy muffs that feel very durable. You can take off the noise-cancelling microphone when you’re too busy fragging away and don’t want to chat.
The only issues we had regarding comfort, isn’t Creative’s fault. We wanted the full 3D gaming experience with the headphones and NVIDIA’S 3D Vision glasses, but it was impossible to set up comfortably. If you want a comfortable 3D audio and visual spectacular, you might have to wait until someone invents a 3D helmet.
Creative SoundBlaster Tactic3D Sigma: Sound as a pound
Creative reckons the headphones surpass 5.1 or 7.1 channel sound because they distinguish between up and down. In terms of 360-degree performance Creative is bang on the money. We loaded up Left 4 Dead 2 and were suitably impressed with the feeling of 3D audio – you could pin point the exact location of zombie horde running towards you, which is a huge advantage if you’re gaming online. We also loved the sense of added depth to any gaming audio scenario.
What we weren’t too keen on is that the sound is clinical. There are some serious audio algorithms at work and you can almost hear the processing taking place. It lacks organic warmth that you’ll find in other similarly priced headphones and we won’t be replacing our 5.1 channel speakers just yet.
If you're not 3D gaming, opt for 2D if you unplug the THX box of tricks and plug in to an analogue jack.
The SoundBlaster Tactic 3D Sigma gaming headphones offer brilliant 3D audio for games and we’d love to see games audio engineers optimise technology for these cans to make them even better. However, audiophiles should look elsewhere if they’re not interested in 3D.
Creative SoundBlaster Tactic3D Sigma release date: Nov 19th
Creative SoundBlaster Tactic3D Sigma price: £79.99, find out more from Creative