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    Review: Razer Megalodon

    posted @ 7/28/2009 07:24:00 PM by Alex J. Avriette
    Razer has a new-ish set of gaming cans, called, menacingly, the Megalodon. For those of you not knowing what a Megalodon is, it's a really, really, really big shark. Like, it could eat our entire budget deficit. It's that big. But, did I buy them for gaming? Naw. I bought them for some biiiiiig pimpin'.

    Pyramid head knows his cans. You know he does.

    I did not buy them to play Crysis and hear the 7.1ch sound. Rather, I'm using them on a MacBook Air, which has at best pretty pathetic sound. It has a single 1/8din preamp output, recessed at that, making it maddening to use with any cans of decent quality.

    No, I bought them ($160, mind) because my $25 DA40 Plantronics headset had sort of failed its reliability test. I spend as much as 20-30 hours a month on phone conferences, and I do it all – yes, all of it – on Skype and Google Voice. I occasionally use iChat, but with its "special" requirements for firewalls and direct connections, that's only ever at best hit or miss. The Plantronics unit, while having exceptional sound (but no amp) broke. The part that broke was essentially the earpiece, and this made it even harder to hear (audio through a USB DSP is hard to hear without an amplifier because the signal is rather low, so placement of the earpiece of the Plantronics DA40 units is crucial.

    So I bought the Megalodon because it had the USB DSP (I couldn't tell whether the Characarodon did), and I knew that I was unhappy with Plantronics products. There was a Logitec G-35 or something as well, for a little less money, but I'm glad I got the Megalodon in terms of product quality. It came in a hard carrying case, which I had to buy separately for my Sennheisers, which cost three times as much! (the price has since come down from near $600 to under $400). It also came with what seems to be an amp, but might just be a channel muxer (look it up; if you don't know it, you probably shouldn't be reading this anyways) and DSP.

    The sound is pretty good. Part of the problem is finding a multichannel stereo sound source on the Mac that isn't gaming. When you do, however, there's no question that the design of the semi-closed cans (they're not quite open, they're not quite closed, but I don't think the gamers really care; what they aren't is sealed, and that leaves me perplexed in the land of lan parties). I found that Blu-Ray rips of movies were fantastic, and had real nice, directional sound. There were also great results from two-channel music, as simple as Mechanical Animals or The Pink Floyd Floydhead (yeah, I roll like that. Don't be a douche). If you wanted to go quadraphonic and had the material, the cans kept up. There's a so-so primer on open/closed cans at Crutchfield, but you're not going to get much better without spending thousands and thousands of dollars on cans and amps. Sorry, it's just the way it is. This review is either going to be useful to you because you know who Poinz is, or you were going to buy them anyways because of the blue LEDs, or you're going to be lost like one of those creepy little Silent Hill burn victims. Damned to an eternity of cheap cans.

    The resolution of the sound (that is, the ability of the cans to produce the sound with high fidelity, accurately, with good simulation of location, and so on) is remarkable for a set of cans that didn't cost $300. I haven't tried the new Sennheiser 850, and I'll reckon that if I could afford the amp for that monster that the Übersenn would HULKSMASH the Megalodon, but a) it would cost me over $3,000 for the pleasure and b) it still ain't got a mike boom, which is the next part of this review.

    I spent three hours, almost four, on teleconferences today, using that boom mike, and it didn't let me down once. I also spent all day listening to the cans. Once, the DSP/Amp overheated, and that pissed me off. The sound went all SQEEEEEEK and wanted to be smashed, but, unplugged from USB, plug back in, and it was worky. The mike is great. Everyone thought I was on a land line. So let there be no confusion. These are terrific for you corporate whores, like me, who gotta maintain a job for the man.

    Now, a brotha did get let down when he installed these fine cans. I am not stupid, but then I am also not one to read instructions. Upon installation, I checked that all my "preferences" were set properly (with a USB DSP and Amp you don't need drivers; this is 100% win). I checked that all the channels – front, sides, rear, bass, satellite  – were set to medium volume so as to not clobber my ears. I switched from 2 to 7.1 ch and back, and no dice.

    It wasn't until after fucking about with the machine for a good half hour I realized that it has AN ADDITIONAL master volume switch. Folks this thing has so many fucking lights on it, it could lose a heat tile on re-entry and you just wouldn't fucking know. After dialing in the master volume, setting the mike sensitivity (another bonus: on-amp mike mute button. good show, razer), and so on, everything Just Worked.

    I tested it with Skype, iChat, iTunes, X-Plane, VLC, DVD Player, and so on. You may notice there aren't any games there. Hint: I don't play a lot of games. The good news is that Razer are a bunch of pussies and basically didn't even bother to test them on the Mac other than to say they "should work." Well, folks, they do. Just like every other Razer product. They make expensive shit that works real good, and it costs a bunch of money. This is common in the market, though. Witness Alienware PC's and Saitek controls.

    • Product: Razer Megalodon
    • Price: $150 (street)
    • Rating: Great, great boom mike. Very good sound for semi-open cans, especially at the price. Electronics that will occasionally overheat and make their manufacturer look stupider than a barrel of irradiated weasels. Mac Compatible. Too many damn LED's. Comfortable, even for all-day conference calls or gaming or video sex. You know Jenna Jameson and that pink Master Chief hate an echo on the line.

    update, 3 days later after a few days of 4-6 hours of listening to music and taking calls, there's considerable static in the cans. Note that the amp/DSP brick they come with has a linear slider that goes from "blue" to "red", and as a connoisseur of nice cans, I don't listen to them loud to begin with, this is very disappointing. I'll use them for calls because of the boom mike, but for listening to music, it'll be back to the senns. So, so, so disappointed. Razer, you really shit the bed on this one.

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