Testing & Results
I kept things simple for testing. I used my PC for tests and evaluations. The software used for testing included audiocheck.net and Passmark’s SoundCheck.
For everyday use, I listened to a variety of music, movies, and shows on Netflix. No sound testing would be complete without some video games thrown into the mix as well. I played Dragon Age: Inquisition, Skyrim: Special Edition, and Osiris: New Dawn, just to name a few.
I also compared the MasterPulse Pro to my Corsair Void Surround headset. When it came to the audio analysis usingand SoundCheck, I ran both through the same tests.
Testing on the MasterPulse Pro was also done with the Bass FX caps on and off for comparison.
Motherboard: MSI 870 G45
System Memory: GSkill Ares 8GB @ 1600MHz CL8
Processor: AMD Phenom II X4 965 @ 3.8GHz
Audio: VIA VT1828S
Video: XFX Radeon R9 390
Disk Drive 1: Samsung Evo 850 500GB SSD SATA 3
Disk Drive 2: WD Black 750GB SATA 2
Optical Drive: HL-DT-ST DVDRRW GSA-H30L SATA
Enclosure: Silverstone PS11-W
PSU: EVGA Supernova G2 850 Watt
Monitor: Acer X223w 1680×1050
Operating System: Windows 10 Pro
I must say the high sensitivity of the MasterPulse Pro took me back. I literally had to listen to the headset on a volume setting of 1 or 2. The Corsair in comparison I had to have set to 75. The difference, I’m guessing, has to do with the USB adapter for the Corsair and it’s 90mm drivers, compared to the MasterPulse Pro 44mm drivers, and it’s built-in sound card probably helps amplify the signal coming in from the USB port.
I would also suggest using a DAC USB port if you have one. I can notice some background noise when source material volume is low. When volume is higher with the source material I can’t hear the background noise anymore. DAC USB ports filter noise out, and should potentially help with that.
Moving on, I’ll talk about the general listening performance while testing the MasterPulse Pro. While listening to music, the MasterPulse Pro had a nice balance to them. The bass was not overwhelming with the bass fx open, while the mids and highs maintained a clear and precise sound. With the bass fx closed, the bass became less present in the mix, but more controlled and tight sounding. The Corsair with it’s larger drivers had no problem with deep bass and clean mids and highs.
The overall balance and sound field was tight with both headsets. Both the MasterPulse Pro and Corsair headset gave a sense of a wider sound field with virtual surround turned on. Sound could still be localized to the left or right, as well as dead center on both headsets.
The MasterPulse Pro’s mic seemed to not be as sensitive as the Corsair’s. Lacking a boom arm to position the mic better caused problems with low volume in my voice recording samples and some loss of clarity. Using the MasterPulse Pro to talk on Skype with friends confirmed my findings. The Corsair headset with it’s boom mic had the best clarity, although, it sounds a bit tinny.
Moving on to some games and movies on my PC. I watched shows on Netflix and replayed the same sections of shows and movies to get a consistent comparison.
The MasterPulse Pro sound quality was a step above any of the headsets I have used or reviewed. The dynamic range and sensitivity allowed me to hear very quiet sounds clearly, immersing me deeper into shows that I was watching. The Corsair Surrounds were good, but lacked the dynamic range and subtle clarity, when compared to the MasterPulse Pro Headset.
The MasterPulse Pro has brought a new level of immersion while gaming. Hearing some of the quiet sounds that I really never caught before while playing Skyrim. Dialogue was crisp and clear. Music and sound effects were the same. Skyrim’s epic music is some of my all-time favorite. I played several sections over by loading saved games, then switching headsets. The Cosair Void Surround wasn’t quite as immersive. That lack of dynamic range really hurts the Corsair headset in my opinion.
I tested each headset withand Passmark’s SoundCheck. The tests on audiocheck start off with an audio sweep from 10Hz to 200Hz, with a voice overlay conveying what frequency the sweep is at. The results were nearly identical from both headsets. I could start hearing the bass right around 20Hz on both headsets. The sound stayed even and consistent all the way up to 200Hz.
The next audio sweep goes from 22KHz down to 8KHz. Both headsets are capable of going as high as 20KHz, but I could not hear anything until 15 to 16KHz, and all the way down to 8KHz. I’m sure this is just a limitation of my hearing since I’m over 40 years old. In any event, both headsets sounded roughly the same in volume without any noticeable peaks or dives during the frequency sweep.
With the spectral flatness test, we want to see just how even the sound is from low to high frequency without any noticeable shift in volume. The MasterPulse Pro sounded even from low to high frequency without any noticeable spikes in volume. On the other hand, the Corsair headset was not as even in volume. As the sound neared 1k I noticed a slight uptake in volume, where the MasterPulse Pro seemed to have no noticeable gain.
Next is the dynamic range test. This test determines the ratio between the loudest signal you can hear and the quietest. With the MasterPulse Pro, I was able to make sounds out clearly down to -60dBFS. After that, I could hear sound down to -72dBFS, but it wasn’t clear enough for me to understand. The Corsair headset was even worse. I could clearly hear down to -30dBFS and barely hear -36dBFS, but without understanding. This test clearly shows the dynamic range of the MasterPulse Pro is much superior to the Corsair Void Surround.
The bass shaker test is fun. It does a sweep of low frequencies to see if the headset/earphones rattle or buzz from the enclosure vibrating. The results were the same for both headsets, neither exhibited buzzing or rattling.
Driver matching ensures that each driver will respond the same with any given frequency. Matched drivers sound will stay central during the frequency sweep without any deviation to the right or left. Again, the results for both headsets were the same. Consistent focus of sound in the center without any noticeable deviation.
The wiring test simply makes sure that your headset/earphones are wired with the correct polarity. Both headsets are wired correctly.
Finally we have the binaural test. Binaural recordings are done with two microphones to imitate our own hearing. The test sample consists of someone knocking on a wooden door on the right side, then the left side. Oddly enough, this quick audio sample sounds more ‘surround’ than actual Dolby 7.1 audio to me.
The MasterPulse Pro sounded precise and accurate. The knocking on the left side sounded a bit more distant and to the rear. The Corsair headset just didn’t have the same impact as the MasterPulse Pro. I’m not sure if the higher sensitivity and dynamic range play into these results or not.
Testing with SoundCheck was not quite as scientific, but more of a feel. It was mainly useful for recording voice samples with the various mics to compare how good they sounded. I went over the mic sound quality early, so I won’t bore you with it again.
There was some other interesting tests, including a 3D audio clip. The test had sliders to widen the sound field while the sound circled around a center point. This effect had similar results on both headsets. The sound never really seemed to circle around, so much as ping-pong back and forth between the right and left channels. I never got a sense of the sound being in front of me or behind me.
Another audio test had various sound effects, including chorus, echo, reverb, etc. etc. The audio fx test played the same loop of music, so each effect could be applied and the results were consistent. Each of the headsets were clearly able to make out the effects when they were activated. I was able to hear the subtle effects better with the MasterPulse Pro when compared to the Corsair Surround headset.
I also ran the tests with the bass fx caps on with the same results. The only difference was lower volume in bass frequencies. This did affect the dynamic range slightly by -6db.
You might notice at this point I haven’t mentioned the 7.1 virtual surround sound that much. 7.1 virtual surround on both headsets doesn’t really do much other than broaden the sound stage. The MasterPulse Pro boosts the volume when turning the surround feature on for some reason as well.
I listened to a lot of content recorded in Dolby 5.1 and 7.1 surround, then just in stereo, and it sounds roughly the same. This is two headsets now that I’ve reviewed that failed to deliver anything like a surround sound performance that I’m used to hearing in theaters or even my own Dolby 5.1 system in my living room.