Arctic Sound P321 Review

Abdullah Saad
Posted Sep 19, 2010
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Few days back we reviewed Arctic Sound P301 headphone. P301 was impressive hence, we were very eager to review this P321.

Arctic Sound P321 are USB headphones meaning they have a built-in audio driver. This allows it to work with all devices that have a USB port. This warrants for a need of comparison between USB and 3.5mm headphones.

USB vs. 3.5mm Headphones

This is tricky business. USB headphones were amazing when onboard sound cards were not so good. Today almost all motherboards have decent onboard sound. Hence it can be a step down using USB headphones especially if you have higher end system. They make some sense for laptops as they usually have sound that is not very good. Hence, high quality USB headphones like this one would actually give the luxury of having high quality sound without upgrading any hardware. The 5.1 headphones are more useful than stereo ones as they allow the luxury of a portable surround sound. Hence for high end gaming USB headphones can be tricky unless very high quality headphones are sought.
Package

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The headset comes in a see through box at the front. This allows you to a sneak peek at the headset without taking it out of the box. The box contains only one thing, the headphone. There are no drivers, manual or any other goodies.

Specifications

  • Wearing style Headband
  • Ear cup style Closed acoustics
  • Frequency response 18Hz-22KHz
  • Sensitivity 97dB
  • Impedance 32Ω, 50mm
  • Output Power 40mW
  • Signal to noise ratio 95dB
  • Plug USB
  • Remote keys Vol+, Vol-, FWD, REV, launch music player, mute, bass-boost, play/pause, mic on/off
  • Weight 310g

Headset design

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It is headband in design. Made completely out of good quality plastic it seems that it can withstand the rigors of life. The earmuffs are around the ear hence they can be difficult to use during summers. They however provide very good noise cancelling, not as good as P311. They are made of a leatherette sort of material and are very soft and comfortable to wear.

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It has a beautifully concealed microphone that can slide out to use and then can slide back after use. The microphone slides into the left earmuff. we like this over the microphones that are visible all the time and are irreducible. The irreducible ones not only look bad but also sooner or later become loose and slide forward all the time.

The right ear piece has the connecting cable with remote control keys. It has 9 keys. They allow you to play/pause, increase and decrease volume, to change tracks back and forth, mute, bass-boast, microphone on/off and a button to launch the default music palyer. They allow the ease of functionality without fiddling with your computer.

The cable is 3.2m long that is 10.5 feet. Meaning, it is very long. You will never complain of running out of cable.

Testing

There were 3 sorts of tests used

    1. Sound quality
    2. Compatibility
    3. Multifunction keys

Sound Quality

As already discussed during the review of P311, sound quality is a qualitative/subjective thing rather than quantitative/objective thing it can be hard to comment on. Overall quality was very good. we liked how even at full volume the quality remained undeterred. We must however admit the sound wa not loud enough. It kept us wanting for more. Hence we decided to rate it according to different categories.

Music
It was very good. Although like all headphone at full volume the sound started cracking and lost quality but was excellent till 100% volume. The highs were good and impressive, mid range and low tones were superbly relayed. Hence it is very good when you are listening to pop and rock.

Movies
The experience with movies was also very good. We watched batman under the red hood and Casino Royale with these on. The explosions and sound effects were very good and can startle.

Games
We played Modern Warfare 2, Borderlands and Singularity. The sound effects were very good. The explosions were nicely relayed. The sound of bullets was quite realistic.

High: 8.5/10
Tone: 8.5/10
Bass: 8.5/10
Overall: 8.5/10

Compatibility

The device was checked with desktops and laptops. It worked with out a problem.
It was tested on windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 and we are happy to report it works soberly with all these OS.

It however, is not universally compatible like 3.5mm jack headphone which a major drawback.

Multifunction keys

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They keys work perfectly with all computers and OS. These provide the ease of increasing or decreasing the volume, changing tracks and pause/play remotely. They are very useful. There are no dials to adjust bass or volume. The volume button needs to be pressed again and again to continue to increase or decrease the volume. It would have been nice if this was achieved though just keeping the key pressed. The center knob when pressed will launch the default music player. The microphone can be turned on and off easily instead of fiddling with muting it thought the windows volume controls. As can the headphone be muted. The interesting thing is the bass-boast on and off. It can make the difference between an explosion far away and one nearby. Personally we would like it to have a dial to progressively increase or decease according to taste. But I guess this is the curse of USB headphones.

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Conclusion

P321 is a high end USB gaming headphone. We reckon you will enjoy it should you choose to buy it. It delivers good quality sound till the very end. Priced at 31.95 € / US$ 43.45, it may appear steep but it is a formidable competitor for those Logitech $100 headphones.

Pros

    • Good sound quality
    • Multifunctional buttons for remote control
    • Reducible microphone
    • Very comfortable

Cons

    • Maximum volume is not loud enough
    • USB not universally compatible like 3.5mm jack.

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