Icemat Siberia USB Combo Headset

Icemat Siberia USB Combo Headset



  1. Silverstrand
    Lately, there has been an avalanche-like growth in the headset industry. This is in many ways a direct consequence of the increasing number of multiplayer games. In games like Counter-strike, for example, real-time communication is a vital detail, if you want to prevail. And what's more, the audio quality has improved dramatically lately and you can practically get equal quality from a pair of $40 headphones like the quality you would get from a $400 HIFI system. Of course, the LAN culture has contributed in some ways as well; speakers are not very practical to haul around to LANs, so headphones are the obvious choice for a LAN addict.​

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    Specifications:

    Headphones
    Frequency Response: 18-28,000 Hz
    Impedance: 40 Ohm
    SPL@1kHz, 1V rms: 99-104 dB
    Cable Length: 1m (Headphones) + 1.8m (Volume)
    Jack: 1/8" Stereo + 1/4" Adapter


    Microphone
    Frequency Response: 80-15,000 Hz
    Pick-Up Pattern
    Uni-Directional
    Sensitivity (1V/Pa@1 kHz): -38dB


    Contents and Packaging:

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    The Icemat Siberia came in an attractive but thin cardboard box with a plastic transparent front section. On the back of the packaging is technical information about the Siberia in several languages and a small diagram labeling the different parts of the headset. Through the transparent plastic on the front of the box, you can see the headset itself, the volume control device and the microphone, all of which are enclosed in a white plastic base. I always love being able to actually see what I’m buying.

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    Inside the Siberia box, Icemat includes:

    1 x Siberia headset
    1 x 3.5mm to 6.3mm jack converter
    1 x Microphone
    1 x 1.8m volume control and extender cable
    1 x Set of Velcro pads
    1 x Microphone holder

    Taking a Closer Look:

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    Design-wise, the Icemat Siberia is a pair of circumaural (covering the ears), open-air (design that allows air in, non-isolation) pair of headphones. On the inside the round earpieces have velvet over the padding, much better then your usual fake leather. The earpieces themselves are fixed to two springy wires for horizontal pressure. Vertical fixation is achieved by having a stretch of a bungee let go of four wires, two for each side, connect to each earphone respectively. That part of headphones is also covered with velvet underneath, where it touches your head. Notably the headphones have been designed to be completely sound-transparent which can be obvious due to a set of holes around the grill on each earpiece. This is either good or bad. If you want to hear things, like your teammates at a LAN or a phone ringing, it’s great.

    The cord is an interesting creation all together. First of all, its thick, which is good, and has many thin ridges, which is odd, but cute. Besides that, it has plastic extensions every 40-50cm for griping the microphone cord. Overall, the headphones are very comfortable; feel expensive, elegant, and almost lavish. The connectors are also of good quality and are much better than the standard ones. They use the 3.5mm jack form on both the microphone and headphones and also include a 3.5 to 6.3 adapter for use in stereos etc.

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    The microphone is quite an important part of the sound peripherals. That is, if you use it. The Siberia microphone is your standard microphone that doesn’t show anything special in the quality department and produces a fairly standard sound. It does have an on/off switch and a long cable. As mentioned, it can be attached to your Siberia headphones cord and will stays out of the way for most of the part. My only gripe is that there is no other means of having it in usable proximity besides the crocodile clip and stickers by which you are directed to attach to your monitor. For VoIP and Teamspeak, a headphone extension would be much more useful.

    The sound quality on these headphones did not disappoint at all. From watching DVD’s, listening to CD’s, to some intense gaming. I must admit I was a little bias during testing. Having never owned a set of high performance headphones before I was blown away when I heard bass coming out of them during a rock track! Both bass and vocal sounds were crisp and clear and the bass sounded punchy from both the PC and the MP3 player. It was only after listening to rock tracks for a few hours I realized the bass wasn’t as deep as it should have been, this is most likely due to the open air design of the headphones. One thing I did notice was that if the extended cable with the volume control is being used it is possible to generate more bass. Simply set the source (mp3 player, PC) to a high volume and reduce the cable volume to about half way, this gives much deeper bass.

    USB Soundcard

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    The Icemat USB soundcard comes in an attractive glossy pale blue box with a description of its capabilities on the front and back. Upon opening the box you pull out a white card box insert that houses the USB soundcard and its accessories. Although not really a factor in the grading process, I do like how Icemat has kept the same theme/tone in their packaging for all of their products.

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    Inside the box, Icemat includes:
    1 x USB soundcard
    1 x driver CD
    1 x USB cable.

    Specifications:

    USB 2.0
    Virtual 7.1 Surround Sound
    12 Channel Equalizer
    USB Cable Included


    Taking a Closer Look:

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    The USB Soundcard is really small and I almost thought they didn’t put it in the box when I emptied the contents out! On the front of the unit are four buttons, Mute, Volume up, Volume down and Microphone mute. On the back is a small screw for taking apart the unit, and Icemat’s logo.

    On each end of the soundcard are connectors. On the top end is a mini-USB plug for attaching to the supplied USB cable, which then goes into the PC. On the bottom end there are two female 3.5mm jacks, one for a stereo output (such as headphones) and one for a microphone input. This differs from the volume control box that comes with the Siberia headset as it only has one port for the headphones, the microphone has to be connected directly to the PC.

    The included USB soundcard adds a virtual 7.1 surround driver that, through intelligent sound panning and manipulation of frequencies, enables the sound to "circle" around one's ears, albeit via software means. Note that this is not a real substitute for a true 7.1, or even a 5.1 surround system - a bit of testing proved that only the left and right earpieces actually responded accordingly when tested on a 5.1 sound testing panel. It makes for an interesting listen though; music, audio files, and even in-game sounds can be shifted round and round as one pleases. There was little instruction on the matter of switching the sound output though back and forth between speaker and headphones though, which had to be done manually via the host machine's control panel.

    The bottom line on the USB sound card is that it works. It provide great positional audio, which more than makes up for any imperceptible loss in quality they have. Most of all, at only a $20 price premium, it is still $30 cheaper than the least expensive Audigy2 on the market, the Audigy2 Value, and you can transport it with you to any system, as long as you have the conveniently small mini-CD.

    Conclusion:

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    Icemat has created a fantastic headset with the Siberia, especially for being a company that had only been previously known for making mouse pads. Its sound reproduction is top-rate, it fits well on virtually anyone, it's comfortable to wear and it looks and has the feel of a top-quality set of headphones. The USB soundcard, while not of much use when a true 5.1 surround sound is placed upon it, was an interesting addition to the package, especially if one wants to listen to sound in a different manner via headphones. The Icemat Siberia can also be used as a pair of headphones on their own when the microphone is taken away, not to mention as a set of regular headphones with a Walkman or any sound system.

    Pros (+)
    -Light weight
    -Long leads on the Headset
    -Very comfortable, unique design

    Cons (-)
    -No microphone attachment on the headphones
    -A LOT of different cables and parts that could get lost
    -USB Soundcard’s lead is a little short

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    Images

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