Being a video game sound hound, I have always been fascinated by headphones that offered a surround gaming experience, because despite owning a 5.1 setup, due to space constraints I am unable to set it up ‘like the way it should be’. So I have always been on a look out for a pair of cans that could give me the same quality of sound, and the true surround sound experience, only wrapped around my head. Unfortunately, bold claims by manufacturers of super-duper surround immersion, and confusing specialized technology promising enthralling sessions of popping heads off usually falters into a pile of massive designs that costs at least thrice as much than its performance can offer.
So when I received the Creative Tactic3D Sigma on my desk, I rolled my eyes. For one thing, the product’s name has ‘3D’ in it, enough for my internal alarm to set off. Then I read the claims, Creative calls the Tactic3D Sigma (just Sigma from now on) the ‘last word when it comes to gaming headsets’. Annoyed yet equally piqued, I laid out my test bed: Call of Duty: Black Ops, Percy Jackson I (I was just curious how it compares to the book, it has nothing to do with the female lead, I swear!) and a mix bag of Hindi movie songs. Let’s get a tab on this 3D thing shall we? But first let’s look at the hardware side of things.
The Sigma is Creative’s current flagship product that sits above the Tactic3D Alpha headphones. It uses the same tech as the World of Warcraft edition, the only difference being it has been courted off of all the clan and franchise association. Oh and not to mention a hefty price cut.
Out of the box, the Sigma looks mean and purposeful. The headsets are massive by all means, and they don’t flex at all. The two ear cups fit right into my palm, wholly and raring to the go. They are padded with thick soft material that plug right into your ears, sucking in air around the cups – I could literally feel my ears block like during a plane take off. The headband is padded with the same material as well and rests quite easily on the head, however, if you have superb flowing hair like me (or, er a greasy bunch), it tends to slide off some times. Overall, though, the headphones were extremely comfortable during long sessions. Despite its size, they are light on the grip and feel light on the head as well. I never had twisted or sore ears during or after wearing them. However, I found the cable to be a bit short but I suspect it could be my setup that needs to get over an arch to get to the USB. But I never faced problems with other headphones, so…
There are two ways the headphones can be connected: USB or analogue. You can choose to use the headphone and mic jacks straight from your sound card, or connect it through the provided USB dongle that unlocks the THX TruStudio Pro control panel. It’s a neat looking software. You can choose to create and save profiles using different settings, hence the ‘Tactic’ name. You can even passcode protect it from prying ears. The THX TruStudio Pro gives you a number of options to tinker with, namely Crystalizer, Surround, Bass, Dialog Plus and Smart Volume, all self explanatory and all doing very minimal to help the sound. Crystalizer worked the best however, giving the sound a little ‘liveliness’ as promised. I choose to turn off Surround as it would bring the focus on the front speakers, absolutely killing immersion in movies and games. Bass had to be turned down from the default setting to let it not get overwhelming. Dialog Plus and Smart Volume had absolutely no effect but I kept that on anyway.
The control panel also features a fun little thing called VoiceFX that utilizes the mic. The software converts your voice, in real-time, to the available presets such as an Orc, or an Alien Brute or a scrappy kid. It’s fun to goof around with your friends and family with it…for about five minutes that is, before it gets boring. A rather cool inclusion, nonetheless.
The mic performed well, picking enough details with loud and clear voice. The only gripe I have with it is that you cannot hide it from your view. You cannot slide it over the headband when you are not using it; it stays fixed in its place. So if you are not using your mic, you will have to remove it and keep it aside. It’s minor but it does become an annoyance.
Okay, enough of talking now let’s get to the listening. Percy Jackson was a terrible movie, an abysmal adaption, but thankfully the action sequences were pretty fantastic and the DTS sound gave plenty of workout to the Sigma. I have no complaints on this front, the sound was brilliantly reproduced and I was wholly immersed staring at Alexan…err, watching the battles between the furies and the demigods. The music bit was a little botchy, though. Not that it was terrible, but the sound was a bit soft and I had to keep the bass in check to not let it get muddy.
However, the Sigma roars on its home ground: video games. Call of Duty: Black Ops just sounded simply fantastic. I could feel each and every corner of the headphones pumping, I could feel the bullets zipping by from the sides and behind, I could hear a shout or a scream from the top left corner, I could pinpoint were the rocket launcher was, I could feel the punch of my gun as I sprayed, crunching flesh and bones as I ploughed through the enemies. It was incredible. It was, to put it in a pun, music to my ears.
For approx. AED 600, the Creative Tactic3D Sigma maybe slightly too expensive but if you have the pocket, the Sigma is a serious contender among the competing lineup. It’s got great comfort, decent software support and excellent sound performance. However, if you are looking at these to do your music work, they may not be the best choice. For gaming and movies, you won’t be disappointed.