I'll throw this up:
Razer Barracuda HP-1
- Multiple drivers in each ear-piece, making for a "true" 5.1 headphone setup
- Individual channel volume adjustment via the in-line volume/amp control
- Blue LED lit Razer logos on each earpiece, and volume/amp control
- Comfortable earpiece surrounds, and extremelly lightweight design
- Extremelly short microphone, tends to produce muddy or weak recording
- Lightweight desing is rather flimsy, can be easily damaged if handled roughly
- Frequency response is rather poor, especially with lower-end tones
Razer's HP-1 is a brilliant idea, incorporating true multiple channel output into a single headset device for better "surround" in games. Although a brilliant idea, this does not exactly mean it translates well to the real world . . . especially considering the number of games that don't yet support native 5.1 output, which will require that standard 2-channel game output to be upmixed to 5.1 . . .
The individual channels produce clear tones through the mid and high tonal range, but tend to have rather poor reproduction with lower tones and bass . . . although, considering these headsets are aimed at gamers (not the average PC user or audiophile), and game audio tends to be heavier on the mid and upper range sounds as well, this slight issue can be somewhat overlooked. The sub channel, though, can become overpowering if you have the volume set too high - it's not so much that the output is distracting, it has more to do with the output vibrations against one's head. The microphone tends to be more of a gimmick than being really functional - it doesn't extend far from the L earpiece, and will remain far out of the range of the average users mouth. In my testing, I've found the mic's input to be either weak, or sound muddy (I think the muddiness can probably be contributed to interference or vibrations from the sub drivers). The actual driver positioning works out quite well, and with games that support native 5.1, or good speaker virtualization software from your audio drivers, reacting to nearby sounds becomes nearly intuitive. You can easily distinguish sounds that originate from in front of you, from those coming from behind, as well as being either panned L or R. Same goes for positioning of sounds from above and below.
The headset includes connectivity for Razer's HD-DAI - really a DVI-styled D-Sub that only carries audio - and output would probably sound better via this connection . . . but, considering that Razer's AC-1 Barracuda hasn't exactly taken off in terms of sales, I'd fathom the number of users who could make use of this connection is rather small. Instead, you'll be left dealing with a typical 5.1 channel hook-up - 4 individual analogue mini-jacks for each channel, plus a USB connection to power the headsets amplifier. Unless you're running multiple sound cards, or a reciever with digital or RCA connections from your sound card, you can pretty much forget having the headset hooked up alongside a full-blown stereo system . . . and if your audio card doesn't support multiple mini-jack connections for individual channels, you'll need a seperate reciever to plug the headset into. Connectivity can become a major pain, not to mention the aditional cable mess.
The headset is extremelly lightweight, and comfortable - the ear pieces themselves don't start hurting one's ears after extended periods of time, and they breathe well too. But, although lightweight, this has left the headset rather flimsy. If you have a habit of being rough with your equipment, you can expect this unti to break within a short amount of time. The earpieces themselves are attached to the headband via simple pins, allowing the earpiece to swivel independantly 180 degrees. The headband is simply an elastic strap with a padded cover, and two arched rod-like supports that run from the L earpiece to the R.
Overall, it's a decent unit for it's price range - but it has a single audience . . . the gamer. If you're an audiophile, or are heavier into entertainment/media, there's not much here you'd be proud of or thrilled with. If you're a dedicated gamer, and looking for that slight edge over the competition, the positional reproduction will definitely give you that edge you're looking for.