I think this product is interesting because of a few reasons. First of they are one of a kind as of yet. There’s no other headphones on the market with 6 discreet channels on the market that I’m aware of. Secondly they represent a cheap option to get 5.1 sound. And last but not least I’ve been hearing that this is probably the first of many similar products to come, so we at NordicHardware feel it’s important to give you a taste of what the future might hold.


We’ve been trying
to give you some insight in a wider range of areas of consumer electronics
here at NordicHardware lately. We’ve started reviewing speakers and DVD-players
etc. and we’ll expand by covering more areas this fall. But today we have
a pretty unique product to show you.


The product
we have here today is the Zalman Theatre 6 Real Surround Sound Headphones
or ZM-RS6F for short. With home cinemas becoming ever more popular with
each day that goes by Zalman is targeting a rapidly growing market with
their 5.1 Headphones.


I think this
product is interesting because of a few reasons. First of they are one
of a kind as of yet. There’s no other headphones on the market with 6 discreet
channels on the market that I’m aware of. Secondly they represent a
cheap option to get 5.1 sound. And last but not least I’ve been hearing
that this is probably the first of many similar products to come, so we
at NordicHardware feel it’s important to give you a taste of what the future
might hold.


Without further
ado let’s take a look at the specifications of the product.



This product came packaged in a plastic bulb. Though I couldn’t
take any picture of it because my ugly reflection was seen in all the shots.
😉














































Zalman Theatre 6



Unit Type:

Electro Dynamic Round Type Micro Speaker


Frequency Response:

50Hz
– 20KHz


Sensitivity:

89db


Impedance::

16 Ohm


Nominal / Maximum Power:

0,002W / 0,015W



Weight:

317
grams


Cord:

3
meters


Connection:

3
x 3.5 mm

Accessories:


Estimated price:

~55-60 USD

The specifications
(Frequency response, sensitivity and impedance) of the headphones does
not look very powerful at first glance, on the other
hand theoretical and perceived audio quality can often differ
by quite a lot. The price is fairly reasonable. It’s roughly on par
with a mid end set of headphones. There are however virtual surround headphones
with much greater specifications that go for only 25 USD nowadays so I
would in no way call Theatre 6 cheap either.

In order to
use these headphones you’ll need a 5.1 (or greater) soundcard or an amplifier
supporting 5.1 (or greater) surround sound. If you have a suitable amplifier
you can hook it up to any of the modern consoles which is in my opinion
a great field of usage for this product.

The headphones
weigh over 300 grams but since they are meant for stationary use it’s not
a problem at all. The 3 meter cord shouldn’t be a problem either unless
you have a really big room.
















Front









Side

Personally I
think the headphones look quite alright. Though a bit large they don’t
look foolish (like I thought they’d do when I first heard about them).
It’s
not a fantastic look but it’s not el-cheapo or el-clumbsy either.

Zalman bundles
the the phones with a fold out manual in English, French and German. The manual
is very basic, but then again, it’s a plug and play product. It also ships
with a one year warranty.















Manual


First of all the
headphones are very comfortable, they fit softly on your ear since their cushioned.
The weight is ok, but I guess they could have been made a little bit lighter.
Personally I don’t see the weight or size as a problem since they are meant
to be used as "stationary" headphones.

For my audio
quality tests I used a wide variety of media. I used the new Audigy 2
ZS Platinum Pro for audio output.

Some of the
titles/media I used for testing:

DVD’s:

  • Saving Private
    Ryan DTS Edition (DTS 5.1)
  • Woodstock Directors Cut (DD 5.1)
  • The Corrs –
    In Blue (DVD Audio 5.1 24/96)

Games:

  • Jedi Academy
    (EAX 4.0 5.1)
  • Enter The Matrix
    (EAX 3.0 5.1)

Audio Files:

  • Various MP3’s/WMA’s
    in various bitrates tested both with and without CMSS (Creative’s surround
    enhancements for stereo tracks)

First up is Saving
Private Ryan, here I checked out the first Omaha Beach scene since it has
pretty good separation between the channels. The general audio quality was
above what I had expected but the separation of the channels left me kind
of confused. Rather than hearing sounds from different points around you,
it feels like hearing sound from different points inside of your brain. For
the more subtle ambient effects such as sand falling down after explosions
it felt much more natural. All in all it’s much more immersive than watching
the movie with stereo headphones.

Woodstock Directors
cut worked much better. Here the separation didn’t sound strange at all,
then again this title has much less separation than Saving Private Ryan.
In short it worked splendidly.

The Corrs DVD
Audio was quite a disappointment. You really loose out on a lot of the audio
quality when compared to a normal set of speakers. The audio sounded more
like CD Quality rather than DVD Audio quality.

Next up is Jedi
Academy, the new game from Raven. This title worked exceptionally well with
Zalman’s headphones. The game is much more immersive when playing with the
Theatre 6 than my Inspire 6700 6.1 speaker system for an example. The characteristic
sound of the lightsaber swooshing by just gives me goosebumps when using
this product. Very nice indeed.

Enter The Matrix
(the game that is) also worked flawlessly with the Theatre 6. This is one
of the flagship EAX titles though personally I don’t really see why since
it’s a very poor game in my opinion and the sound isn’t even that great.
Still it worked very good, though not as good as in Jedi Knight. While on
the topic of games I also tried Counter Strike 1.6 with EAX activated as
well as the new Tomb Raider game and it all worked very good, beyond my expectations
to be exact. To sum up gaming I really must say that if you’re an avid gamer
with a surround sounds soundcard Zalman Theatre 6 is THE headphone to get.

Back to old school
stereo mode for some MP3/WMA action. This was quite a disappointment. In
normal stereo mode these headphones are really kind of weak. Especially the
lower bitrate files sounds very muffled. When using Creative’s CMSS or simple
stereo "projection" into the back speakers the headphones performed
much better. Still this is far from what I would recommend for the audiophile
who wants to enjoy his records in full quality.

In closing it’s
like to see it like this: DVD Audio is a no go, as is normal stereo audio
tracks. DVD movies with DTS/DD tracks sounds pretty good but movies with
extensive separation between the channels sound.. well let’s just say strange.
Gaming is where the action is at. Great for late night gaming without waking
up your neighbors in other words.

So if you’re
into gaming and have an EAX capable soundcard (preferably and Audigy boards
I’d say) and if you have a collection of 5.1 DVD movies this is a great
product. If you don’t have games/hardware to utilize surround sound gaming
or 5.1 DVD movies then I’d steer clear.


This is not
an "all around" headphone. It works exceptionally well with games
and fairly good with with DVD 5.1 movies. Other areas such as "normal" music listening
etc. will not grant as good results though. So it’s quite a mixed bag.
Personally I find the gaming capabilities so good that I intend to keep
this sample for my late night gaming sessions.


Zalman Theatre 6

Pros:
+ Great for surround sound gaming
+ Good for DVD movies with 5.1 sound tracks

Cons:
– Not very good for music listening
– Outright poor for DVD Audio

When it comes
to the surround sound effect in general these headphones work much better
than Virtual Surround Sound, no matter if we’re talking hardware or software
virtualization the Zalman Theatre 6 is still better.

A very interesting
product. Personally I’m very keen to see some high end 5.1 headphones
that handle high quality music a bit better than these.

Thanks
to Zalman for
sending us the sample.

Annons

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