CM Storm Ceres 400 Headset

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Product: CM Storm Ceres 400 Headset
Provided By: Cooler Master
Price: ~$50 Online

Introduction:

Today we'll be reviewing a relatively new headset to the market - the Cooler Master CM Storm Ceres 400. It’s sleek and stylish and could be a great alternative to some of the overpriced headsets that are on the market today. Some of the features that it boasts are high quality sound, a noise canceling mic, and a nice lightweight frame with some comfortable noise canceling ear pads. It also has an in-line volume control and mic mute switch which are very much must haves on headsets in this day in age.  All in all this could be a good alternative to those overpriced headsets that you may not be able to afford.

First let’s take a look at the unboxing.

Box Profile
Box Profile

Box Profile
Box Profile

Here we have some views of the headset in a very well designed box.

In The Box
In The Box

Here is a view of it fully unboxed.

Profile - Unboxed
Profile - Unboxed

 

Now that we've taken a quick look at the headset, we'll head on over to the next page and look at the features and specifications of this headset.


Product Description:

We've taken the information below from the Cooler Master site and posted it here for your convenience.  As always, please make sure to head on over to the manufacturers site for all the latest information.  In the meantime, you can check out a bunch of the relevant stuff below.

Description

Technical Specifications:

Specs

On the next page, we'll cover the features in detail as we get more familiar with the CM Storm Ceres 400 Headset.

 


Features In-Depth:

As we delve in a little bit more into this headset and its features I would like to start with the looks, the frame and the ear pads.  The style and color of this headset is actually very clean and sleek with the different tones of black and the touch of red. The frame is also pretty light for a headset and seems pretty sturdy as well. The mic is easy to rotate but also stiff enough that with a light glancing touch or accidental touches, it won’t be excessively easy to move. As I move on to the band and ear pads they seem to have a good padding style and feel to them not to mention they have a comfortable fit and feel. Though some headsets don’t always focus on padding the band, it is my opinion that I truly think padding the band properly is very essential to a good quality headset and I believe they have achieved this part of it. The ear pads are quite comfortable for being on ear pads and from my later tests have found them to be pretty good for noise canceling.

Earpads

Though they are very nice and cushiony, they do have a down side to them. Though my experiences with headsets over the years and also in talking to many of my gaming friends on ear headsets tend to only allow you to game for certain periods of time before they start to hurt your ears because of the pressure applied. This is also magnified if the gamer is one that wears glasses. As I conducted my tests, this did turn out to be the case for me as it was with other on ear headsets I have used in the past. I have found that ear cups that surround the whole ear allow for the greatest comfort and even longer gaming time.

I believe that if Cooler Master turned these into ear cups and kept the material they same, it would make for an even better headset. As I continue on with its design I must comment on the in line volume and mic control unit. This in my opinion is a must have on all computer headsets and with Cooler Master including this has made this headset into a choice that would easily be pick over one that did not have one. I can’t tell you how important it is that adjusting inline volume is much easier and better than adjusting system volume, especially when gaming, watching movies, or listening to music. 

This is also the case with the inline mic mute switch, particularly when you receive a phone call while using voice chat and gaming at the same time. We all know those times when you are talking on the phone about dinner and when you get back to voice chat you hear, “so you are having spaghettios tonight? Last time I had those was when I was a young kid.” As it is plain to see, having a mic mute switch is really handy in situations like those.  While on the topic of in line control unit, I will slightly shift gears to the cord itself. It seems a like a standard headset cord but at the same time it also feels a little bit sturdier and thicker than a normal one. Installation was a breeze as the two 3.5mm audio jacks fit perfectly into the mic and headphone jacks on my computer. The noise canceling mic and the audio playback from the earphones will be reviewed more in depth in the testing section.

 


Testing:

Here we will be going over the various tests that were done to find out just how good the quality of the playback audio was. There were three main tests that done in order to judge the playback audio. The first was listening to different kinds of music such as rock, pop, alternative, rap and some house, trance, and electronic dance music.  The second test was the playback of a movies and recorded HD TV shows, while the third and most important test was gaming and voice chatting. As reference before going further, I would like to point out that all my systems audio levels are set to the basic defaults and everything starts out level. Any adjustments done during a test were returned to normal defaults before continuing on to the next test.  

 

Music & TV:

During the first test, the following songs were used, Born This Way by Lady Gaga, Nothin on You by b.o.b, Hey Soul Sister by Train, Koko (R3hab Remix) by Sander Van Doorn, Lights (Bassnectar Remix) by Ellie Goulding, Over by Drake, and Need You Now by Lady Antebellum. For the rock and pop songs, there was a theme that started to develop, which was that treble tones were a little bit muffled, while the bass was a little bit over powering. As I tested the rap and trance, house and electronic dance music where more bass is welcome, it was not as much of an issue though you could still tell that the treble still sounded a little bit muffled. As I moved onto my next test, I kept a mental note of the reoccurring theme to see if it would play a factor again. In this test, the movie I tested was Underworld Awakening and the recorded TV show that I tested was the popular TV series Fringe.  

As I began my tests, I began to notice the same theme that occurred with the music test was happening during this test. The treble tone levels were sounding a bit muffled again though the bass in this instance did not sound like it was too overpowering, though it could be interpreted as if it might be because of the muffled treble levels. The muffled treble levels do seem to cause an issue that at certain points you may not be able to hear a character talking while certain background music is playing thus needing to replay that short segment of the movie or TV show. This in turn shows the importance of being able to clearly hear the treble levels. I did try to adjust the treble levels of my system for both this test and the previous test, and while for some songs you could notice a difference; overall, the adjustment did not have a major effect with the issue. Now as I moved on to the final and most important test, gaming and voice chat, I wondered how this issue of the muffled treble levels and the possibility that the bass could be slightly overpowering would play into this test. 

 

Gaming:

For this test because it was one of the most important ones, I made sure to not have any prior listening to audio before starting this test and so I took a couple of moments to read an online article before beginning. During this test, the voice chat program that was used for communication was Teamspeak 3 and the game that was used for this test was Medal of Honor: Warfighter. As I started, the first thing I tested was the playback voice chat quality of my friends on Teamspeak 3. While hearing them talk, it was clear that the same issue of the muffled treble tones was again apparent. Though while using just voice chat, the treble issue it did not turn out to be too much of an issue, however once you started to use any other kind of audio, such are music in the background or trying to play a game while chatting, it did become a bit of an issue to sometimes hear what the person was saying as the bass turned out to be a little bit overpowering. Again as I did with the previous two tests, I adjusted the treble levels of my system so that the level was maxed out. I did have a little bit of an effect as the bass did not seem as overpowering as before and people were a bit clearer, though it still sounded as if it were muffled.

As I transitioned into the gaming portion of this test, I couldn’t help but think about what kind of effects this would have on the gaming experience. As I began my tests I couldn’t help but noticed this increased bass with the muffled treble was a huge factor in the game I tested. What I normally was able to hear, such as clear footsteps and other such sounds that depended on the treble were drowned out by the muffled treble levels and the increased bass levels. Explosions just became too over powering because of the bass issue and footsteps became much harder to hear, along with sounds like a bouncing grenade. Because of these issues I found that I was dying much more that what I would have been regularly.

After the initial testing I did change the treble level of my system so that it was maxed out (+12dB) and that did seem to help a little bit but you could still tell that it sounded like the level itself was muffled. On top of it still sounding a little bit muffled, the increased treble also had the effect that some of audio would begin to clip and gain some static.  After testing with the only the treble increased I then decided to try again but this time not only was the treble increased but the bass was reduced by half (-6dB). After testing with the reduced bass it did seem to help the bass issue and the drowning out of other sounds in the game; however it just seems that having to adjust the levels that much in the system settings is too excessive for a headset.  It is also disappointing to hear the voices of someone speaking so muffled, as there are certain times and places’ when having clear audio of someone speaking is quite necessary.  As I conclude the tests I would like to say that the audio quality itself is rich and fantastic however, there needs to be some adjustments made to the treble and bass levels, along with somehow trying to fix the issue of voices sounding muffled.

Mic Test:

After the playback testing, I thought it was time to move on to testing the microphone, which some people may over look while testing a headset. Here we did a test to see how the microphone fared against my current headset, the Corsair HS1A. I made a sample recording with each microphone and then compared the two. For benchmark purposes the program Audacity was used to record these samples.

Take a listen to both of these headset microphones right here.

As you can hear both mics have great sound cancelation and really make the voice really clear though the mic from the Ceres 400 sounds like I am further away and so making it sound softer. The other major difference is that the tone/pitch of the voice changes between the two. The mic from the Ceres 400 is that of a little higher pitch, while the Corsair had a much fuller and more representative tone/pitch as to what my voice really sounds like.

On the last page we'll wrap up the review with our final thoughts.

 


Final Thoughts:

While we look back at this sleek and stylish headset, a few talking points come to mind. First this headset is well designed and has a very clean and nice look to it while still being very light in weight as compared to most headsets. It also has a nice sturdier than normal cord with the inline control unit that in my opinion should be on every headset. The cushioning of the ear pads and the headband are very nice and comfy though the one downside I see is that the ear pads should really be made larger and turned into ear cups that surround the whole ear.

On the performance of the headset, it really did have some fantastic sounding audio quality but there were some downsides. The treble levels and voices sounded muffled and although adjusting the systems levels did help a little, but it was still noticeable that the treble was muffled.

The other issue was, that depending on what was being listened to, be it certain types of music or sounds from gaming, the bass would sometimes be overpowering. All in all this headset was pretty good for the price but I think if these few issues were fixed it could have been one fantastic headset for the price and really have given higher priced headsets a run for their money.

Pros:

  • Light weight
  • Sleek and Stylish
  • Inline volume and mic control unit
  • Soft and comfy headband and ear pad cushioning
  • Noise canceling ear pads
  • Clear microphone quality
  • Price

 

Cons:

  • Ear pads should have been made into ear cups
  • Treble and voice levels seem a little bit muffled
  • Bass, depending on situations, can be over powering
  • Soft/distant sounding mic volume with slightly elevated tone/pitch

 

BCCRating
 
Silver

I'd like to thank Cooler Master for working with us and smoothing up some quality issues with the CM Storm Ceres 400 headset.  If you have any questions, comments or general feedback, please post it in the forum at the link below.