There will be two phases in our testing, the bench tests and the subjective tests. The bench tests will give an overall picture of the frequency of the headset’s drivers. Subject testing will give an overall picture of how the drivers and microphone sound. I will compare Kave XTD against three other headsets that are comparatively priced, the $100 Kingston HyperX Cloud, the $100 Astro A30, and the $80 Plantronics GameCom 780. I will be using my PC with an ASUS DGX internal sound card to conduct the tests.
We will be using a set of benchmarking tests you can find at audiocheck.net. Note that doing the audio testing at high volume ranges can cause nausea, induce vertigo, and even permanently damage your hearing; so please be cautious.
These test aims to determine frequency response of the Kave XTD’s drivers. Typical human hearing ranges from 20 Hz to 20 kHz. Ideally, any headset should be able to reproduce this entire frequency range. The Kave XTD was able to reproduce sound as low as 17 Hz and as high as 22 kHz.
I recorded input from the microphone using a pre-recorded vocal track. This recording was then played back and compared to the original track. The microphone sound quality was reasonably natural and with acceptable output.
I have chosen five albums that I have found to be problematic for common sound systems to reproduce correctly. Each album also creates its own unique set of difficulties. All music is from uncompressed media. No mp3 files were used.
- Pink Floyd – The Division Bell
- Metallica – …And Justice for All
- R.E.M. – Automatic for the People
- Steely Dan – Aja
- Keane – Hopes and Fears
The Kave XTD outperformed the Kingston HyperX Cloud and GameCom 780, but fell a bit short of Astro A30 in sound quality. I found the low end response somewhat lacking. Male vocals and acoustic instruments had a fairly natural sound to them. The bass drum beats in …And Justice for All were solid and well defined. Adding 9db to the 31.5hz and 3db to the 62hz bands on the graphic equalizer made the Kave XTD an absolute joy to listen to. The spatial separation was quite good.
I chose two movies based on their overall variety of sound and their dynamic content. Both are action films and there are plenty of explosions to test the driver’s transient response. The music tracks for both movies are also very dynamic as well.
- Star Trek: Into Darkness
I found both movies extremely enjoyable while wearing the Kave XTD. The sound quality here was better than the HyperX Cloud and GameCom 780, closely matching A30. However, the lack of lower end reproduction was again apparent. Using the equalizer settings that I mentioned in the previous section, made both movies feel very alive. It was a bit like watching the movies in the theater once the Dolby Headphone setting on my Asus DGX was selected.
The six games I chose feature a wide range of environments, from intimate settings to open world vastness. Impact and correct sound placement is critical to gain an advantage in any game.
- Bioshock: Infinite
- Dirt 3
- Metro: Last Light
- Team Fortress 2
- Tomb Raider
All the games sounded rather good with the Kave XTD. The environments sounded lively and spatially natural. During large fire fight scenes, all the weapon sounds were distinct. Every nuance was noticeable and every sound was positioned correctly. The lack of low end reproduction did not seem to be as much of an issue in games as it did with movies and music. Adding the aforementioned equalization settings did have a noticeable effect in some titles and created some extra weight during explosions.