Zalman ZM-RS6F USB Headphones


Product: ZM-RS6F USB surround sound headphones
Provided By: ZalmanUSA
Price: $49.95 @ MemoryExpress



What we have here is a set of headphones from Zalman, featuring surround sound 6 speaker headphones.  This review will give you the low-down on what you can expect from them.

What’s in the package:


  • In-Line 5.1 Channel USB Soundcard
  • SB Based 6-Speaker Surround Sound Headphones
  • Ideal for Surround Sound with Notebooks for DVD Movies and Games
  • Real Surround Field Comparable to a Complete Multi-Channel Speaker System
  • Programmable Spatial Processing, Graphic EQ and More

Basically in simple words what it has is 3 things, the pair of headphones (obviously), a cd with some cool software for the headphones, and a paper manual. It doesn’t have an actual soundcard that you can put inside your computer. The “soundcard” that it refers to is the control box on the cord with a USB port at the end of the cord.

 Headphone Package - Bottom
Headphone Package - Bottom
 Headphone Package - Bottom
Headphone - Top of Package


First Impression:

The design of this headset made it look very sturdy, but a bit larger than standard ones. This made the headphones feel heavier on the head than most, putting a slightly larger load on the neck muscles. Also the folding design made them less likely to break while folded. However, when they were unfolded I found it somewhat awkward to carry around.

 Package Bundle
Package Bundle


What It Takes For What It Gives:




  • Unit Type : Electro Dynamic Round Type Micro Speaker
  • Frequency Response : 50Hz ~ 20kHz
  • Sound Pressure Level : 89dB ± 3dB at 1kHz
  • Impedance : 16 Ohm at 1kHz / 32 Ohm at 1kHz (center speaker unit)
  • Weight : 13.64oz (386.6g) *Headphones only(excluding the cable)
  • Cord: 7.9ft (240cm)


  • Input: 1 USB Connection Port(USB 1.1 / 2.0 Compatible)
  • Chipset: C-Media CM6206 5.1 Sound
  • Sampling Rate: 16bit 44.1kHz, 48kHz Compatible
  • Size(W*H*D): 34*18*91mm
  • Power Consumption: Minimum 3.3V, 150mA(Standard 5V, 500mA)
  • Output: 0.3W per channel


What It Needs For Life:

System Requirements


  • OS: Microsoft Windows XP, Vista



  • Notebook: Pentium III 700MHz or greater (1GHz or greater recommended)
  • Desktop: Pentium III 800MHz or greater (1GHz or greater recommended), Celeron 1.3GHz or greater
  • Memory: 256MB or greater
  • USB Port: USB 1.1 / 2.0 compatible



Test system:


  • Desktop: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.25 Ghz
  • Memory: 2 Gb OCZ Gamer Edition, Gold Edition
  • USB Port: USB 2.0
  • Microsoft Windows XP Pro


 Software CD
Software CD


Closer Look:

The Headphones fit my head perfectly the way they came but there are expandable arms on the sides that allow for larger heads.

 Headphone - Not Extended
Headphone - Not Extended
 One Side Extended
One Side Extended


When I put on the headset for the first time, the first thing I noticed was that I could hear only about 50% of what was going on around me, even though there is no option for sound cancellation. Also, while testing, I was dead to the world; all I could hear was what was coming out of the speakers.

Most of the time my ears get sore with the headsets I’ve used after even only an hour of continuous use; however, these were very comfortable, and I spent many hours with them and they didn’t cause my ears any trouble at all. The fabric just on top of the speakers was very soft and comfortable to the touch, and also had a small area of empty space underneath the fabric that allows for a little stretching.

 Inside of Headphone
Inside of Headphone


For some reason the speakers seemed to “pop” every time I plugged them in. I even tried it on a different system and the same thing happened, so I think it’s the headphones, but it’s not an ongoing problem. It’s just every time you unplug and plug them back in again.
The buttons were a good idea for volume control because it allowed me to control where the volume was at precisely. I was getting very annoyed with the scroller for sound control on most headsets.

However there was a small light in the middle of the two volume buttons that kept blinking on and off, all the time, catching the edge of my peripheral vision and getting very annoying.

Headphone - Volume Control
Headphone - Volume Control


One thing I’ve gotten used to doing was having one ear listening to the headset and one ear listening to what was going on around me. I accomplished this by just pulling one side of the headset to down below my ear, but with these headphones, I found it very hard to do that, as the backside of the speakers were very hard and banged against my ear making it sore.


Video testing: Naruto Anime and LOTR: The Return of the King

I’ve been watching Naruto for quite a while now on old crappy home made speakers, so when I put these headphones on and started watching; it was like Heaven surrounding my ears. The sound quality was amazing, it was definitely surround sound. And it was loud too, I had to keep it on the lowest setting possible with the sound control on the cord just to keep it low enough not to blast my ears out. Unfortunately Anime shows are somewhat lacking when it comes to bass and other deep sounds so I stuck in Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and watched some sweet battles like the battle at Minas Tirith, and the battle at the Black Gate. I could hear every tiny little sound in crispy clear quality, every clinking of swords together, and every footstep on the ground. The explosions from the fire and catapults, the huge battering ram Grond, and the crumbling of Sauron’s tower provided the bass I was looking for. With an excellent balance between bass and treble this headset is an excellent option for some home entertainment.


Gaming: UT2004, DoW, Dark Star One

When thinking about playing some games with this headset I tried to think of some new games that I could try it out on. Obviously Halo 3 is a very pretty one so I tried plugging it into the back of my awesome new Xbox 360 elite, but I couldn’t hear anything so unfortunately that didn’t work out so well. So I went back to good old UT2004 and Fragged a couple rounds in Onslaught and team death match. With Dark Star One, however, I thought the treble was a little too high cause I couldn’t hear any bass, but I’m thinking it was just the game since UT2004 and Dawn of War: Dark Crusade had sufficient bass to fill my needs.



For the music part, I listened to some Linkin Park, and it was 10 times better than any other headphones I have ever had. Well, maybe that was a bit of an exaggeration, but still they were better. For this part, I totally cranked the volume up. People told me they could hear the music from across the room clearly. With very little “fuzzing” of the speakers the music was nice and clear even on the hard core rock songs.



When I stuck the cd into my drive, the title of the cd was in “boxes” like the kind that pop up whenever the computer can’t find the right font for something. When I started to install the software, the auto run install wizard took a while to load; seriously, it took like 3 minutes just to start up. Other than that, the install went smoothly. When it installed I found the software in this package very interesting to behold, as there were a lot of cool functions with it.

 Software - Main Settings
Software - Main Settings
 Software - Mixer
Software - Mixer
 Software - Effect Voice
Software - Effect Voice
 Software - Karaoke Magic Voice
Software - Karaoke Magic Voice
   Software - Information
Software - Information


The “main settings” tab provided a place where I could choose headphones or how many speakers you have in the room and customize where they are to provide the best equality of sound. It also has an option to switch the headphone speakers around, so if sound coming from the left came from my right, I would be able to change that to its proper position without having to physically move the headset.

The “mixer” tab allowed me to control the overall volume and the volume of various other things such as the microphone and the “line in.” It also allowed for control of a recording microphone even though the headset did not come with one.

The “effects” tab offered a customizable location for any environment from the shower to a backyard sound system, an environment size and 16 different predefined equalizer settings, along with a manual alignment for the equalizer.

The “karaoke/magic voice” tab provided an option for microphone effects, a key shifter and voice cancellation. The key shifter allowed me to change a songs pitch, four keys either way; and the voice cancellation made it possible to listen to only the music and no words on a song.

The “information” tab is kind of like a credits page only it also lists the 3d audio version, audio codec, driver version, controller, and DirectX version, in addition to the program’s config. version and copyright. The web page url is also provided on this tab.


There were a couple games included in the software package, both of which I found to have very bad graphics and were simplistic in nature.

Game - Rockwar
Game - Rockwar


The first one is called rock wars. Basically I control my ship with my mouse and shoot at asteroids with the left mouse click. You can also adjust your speed with numbers 0-9. The point of the game is to kill 10 rocks which emit a very annoying song over and over again.

 Game - Helicopter
Game - Helicopter


The second game included in the software package was called helicopter, this game I found very useful to test directional sound. There were also options to make the helicopter sound like a helicopter or something similar to a lawnmower. I could also make the helicopter fly in a straight circle or make it fly erratically across the screen.

[Editors Note:] The included games are more for testing the positional audio than for pure entertainment value.  While they have been labeled as games, they are in fact more like utilities for testing and tweaking your surround sound headphones.


Overall impression:

My overall impression of this headset was very good. It had only some minor problems and flaws, such as that little annoying light! Whether for gaming, movie watching, or music listening, I would highly recommend these headphones for consideration. However I would not recommend the games as a nice entertaining experience.


  • Good quality of sound.
  • Comfortable.
  • Low sound “distortion.”
  • Folding design.
  • Software utilities.



  • Heavy.
  • Slightly awkward.
  • No mic.



We'd like to thank ZalmanUSA for sending us these headphones for a review.  Please post your comments in the forum at the link below.