Today I have something a little more fun in the office, the MadCatz F.R.E.Q.5 Red Edition. We’ve already taken a look at the F.R.E.Q.5 headset before, which you can check out here. Fundamentally this is still the same headset and not a lot has changed with the headset itself, but let’s see if we can improve on the first F.R.E.Q.5 review anyway.
One of the first things I noticed about this edition of the F.R.E.Q.5 is that it is MadCatz branded, sure the Cyborg range is still a MadCatz company but the re-brand brings this product in line with another product we recently reviewed, the R.A.T.3 gaming mouse, which again was also re-released in custom colours and the very one we reviewed was in stunning red, much like this headset.
A change of colour may not seem like much to make a fuss about but if I’ve learnt one thing about this industry it’s that (in general) gamers love two things about new products, cool lighting effects and slick paint jobs. Of course it also matters that the product is a solid performer too, but a healthy dose of style and customisation can really sway the decision, especially as some people strive to match all their gaming equipment and colour coordinate it much in the same was a fashion designer would match up an outfit.
MadCatz have been going for years now and have gained some of the richest user feedback on the market, their constant touring of gaming events, sponsorship deals with programming teams and the related events, product testing and more has lead them to create some of this generations finest gaming products and that is something we have seen here at eTeknix time and time again with peripherals such as the Xbox 360 Racing Wheel, FLY9 Flight Stick, Detonator headset and most recently the Kunai range.
There is one other fundamental reason why I would like to revisit the F.R.E.Q.5 headset, since I reviewed it at the end of August last year I have been using it as my main gaming, music and skype headset on a daily basis, so hopefully I can share with you some of my insights of the headset that I discovered over that time.
The packaging of the Red F.R.E.Q.5 is much the same as the black predecessor we reviewed, of course we still get a great product shot of the headset and a run down of the features and specification along the right hand side of the box. The only real difference here over the last F.R.E.Q.5 headset is that the Cyborg logo has been swapped out for a MadCatz logo and of course the headset is a different colour.
- Neodymium magnets –N38 Grade
- Diaphragm material – Mylar /PET 50mm
- Voice Coil – Copper Round edge wound
- Frequency Response -20Hz – 20KHz
- Cable length – Braided 2.0m (USB) / Braided 1.0m (3.5mm)
Around the back of the box we have a product shot of the headset, although funny enough the image is of the original headset and not the red edition which I found a little strange, I guess it’s not really important though as the clear plastic around the box gives us a great view of not only the headsets colour but also its detachable microphone.
In the box I also found the usual high quality instruction booklet that MadCatz provide with all their products, let’s not forget their superbly detailed graphics, in this case a bat, that they apply to the packaging on their products.
Let’s start off by looking at some of the finer details of the F.R.E.Q.5, as you can see here the headphones come with a really high quality braided cable set, about 1ft from the earpiece is a break off USB connection that can be used to swap out the USB cable for a 3.5mm jack plug, this allows use on any 3.5mm headphone jack as well as mobile phone compatibility.
Both the cables are of a decent length, although the USB cable is much longer to facilitate plugging it into the rear of your PC case. The braiding is really durable too and while it will go a long way to protecting your cable it also makes them look and feel like a premium product.
The detachable microphone plugs into the side of the headset and this time also comes fitted with a part red paint job to match the rest of the set.
It’s also highly positionable thanks to its flexible boom which should allow you to find the optimum speaking position when your gaming, using skype, etc.
The paint job itself is flawless and there is definitely a rich looking tone to the finish. It may be a little bright for some but I think it really stands out in a crowd of black and grey headsets. All the usual high quality construction remains, and the mixture of strange angles and futuristic styling adds more style that you will normally see on a gaming headset.
The headband still comes equipped with the F.R.E.Q.5 logo across the top and the right ear piece reads “pro gaming audio” down one side. Each ear cup comes fitted with soft leather material and mounted on both a horizontal and vertical swivel mount to ensure a perfect fit.
In editon to the swivel mounts each side of the headband comes with a high quality and durable metal adjuster, making it perfect for those with larger heads like myself.
Now I’ve already covered the performance of this headset in great detail the last time I reviewed the F.R.E.Q.5 so I won’t go into too much length here about their general performance. Last time I tested this headset I was stunned with the flat audio reproduction and an EQ switch (built into the headset) that actually works in terms of boosting bass, treble and overall depth of the audio. What I didn’t realise at the time was that this EQ button only functions when the headset is used in USB mode, this must draw the extra power required to drive the functions of the headsets built in controls, not a big issue but something to keep in mind should you only wish to use the 3.5mm jack connection.
Gaming and movie performance is excellent too and as I said at the start of this review I have now been using the headset day after day for the last six months so when I say I’ve given it a thorough testing, I really mean it. I tend to sit up on an evening to complete some work and having a good quality pair of headphones that make listing to music, playing games or watching movies over long periods of time a pleasant and comfortable experience is vital, this is exactly what I get with the F.R.E.Q.5.
The work I do also tends to take me out of the office from time to time and I needed a headset that could survive the rigors of traveling, not only to enjoy music while sat on a train or plane but also for using on Skype when I’m a long way from home, this headset hasn’t let me down yet and while my original black and grey F.R.E.Q.5 has a few scuffs and scrapes on it through extensive use, it hasn’t let me down yet either.
It’s not often I get to revisit a product that I have reviewed, in fact it’s only happened about 3 times in the last year but it gives me a great chance to reflect and see if my own opinion of that product has changed over time, especially as there is a chance that something new, better or simply cooler may come along and change my original opinion.
As I said I’ve been using this headset for quite some time now and I’ve enjoyed using it so much that we now have two of them in the house, one for me and one for my girlfriend. They make perfect gaming headsets for teamwork as they allow us to communicate well not only with each other but with the rest of our team, something that is vital in a frantic team game of Battlefield 3. Not only that but it means that we can both enjoy the audio of our own game without filling the house of the sounds of two people in the heat of battle. Having a pair of these headsets has also given me another perspective on their performance, especially when we were both wearing the headset to communicate on Skype when I’m away on business and on both sides of the conversation the audio has been crystal clear.
Since my original review of this headset the price has dropped a little too, seeing some £25 drop from the RRP at many popular online retailers that goes a long way to making this headset better value for money. While the headset still comes in at around £90, which is still quite a big investment for any purchase you make, they retain their value for money thanks to the very durable build quality and excellent all round performance.
The style of the headset may not be to everyone’s tastes and the strong angles, extreme looks and now the bright colours of the design can be a bit much for some, I personally think they look fantastic and it is obvious that MadCatz have put a lot of time into the design and ergonomics of the set, something that is apparent across their entire peripheral range. The style of the MadCatz headsets are very unique and when you see one there is no doubt that you’re looking at a MadCatz product, it’s this kind of brand awareness that has worked well to reinforce their growing popularity over the last couple of years and it’s easy to see from its performance, style and build quality why they are proving ever more popular with the gaming community and consumers in general.
While our Gamer’s Choice Award would be very appropriate for this headset, given that the gaming scene is clearly its target audience, the all round performance for voice communications, music and movies, mobile compatibility and more go a long was to justifying why this is truly an Editor’s Choice Award worthy product.