Sound Advice: Five Gaming Headphones Tested

Rosewill 5.1 Channel Gaming Headset with Vibration

The least expensive entry in our roundup is Rosewill's 5.1 Channel Headset with Vibration. Rosewill sells this headset for $65 shipped, a remarkably low price tag for a set of cans with 8 speakers (front, center, rear, and subwoofer in each ear).

Rosewill 5.1 Channel Gaming Headset with Vibration (RHTS-8206)
Specifications & Features
Frequency Response
20Hz - 20kHz
Frequency Response (Subwoofer)
30Hz - 150kHz
Impedance 32 Ohms (center, rear); 64 Ohms (front); 8 Ohms (subwoofer)
Cable Length
36.6 feet
USB Type A
0.99 pounds
Type Unidirectional noise-cancelling condenser
2.2k Ohms
Frequency Response 30Hz - 16kHz
-56db (+/-2dB)
$60 MSRP
1 years

Design and Comfort

Don't be put off by the price tag, Rosewill's headset doesn't feel overly chintzy or otherwise poorly constructed, though you can tell where the company may have cut a corner or two. It's an extremely lightweight design to the point where you could fall asleep with Rosewill's headphones on, if you so desired, and the cord is long enough to plug into a PC a fair distance away from the bed.

The RHTS-8206 isn't meant to sleep in, however; it's for gaming. Towards that end, we wish the ear cups would clamp just a little tighter than what they do. While we like the lightweight design, you could shake these cans right off your head if you swing around violently enough.

Each ear cup swivels around so that the headset can lay flat, as seen above, and also rotates 180 degrees so that the drivers point outward instead of inward. They have a glossy black finish with a red circular accent and Rosewill's brand imprinted on the right cup. A flexible microphone snakes out of the left ear cup and is removable. When attached, it swings up and down, and you can also bend the metal arm into any position you want.

The plastic arms of the headband pull down far enough to fit heads of all shapes and sizes. Even Paul Bunyan could wear this headset, though he'd also crush it since it lacks anything sturdier than plastic.

A think piece of ruffled padding is attached to the entire underbelly of the headband, and if you're not careful, you'll end up tearing it. Over the long haul, it might rip anyway, just from the rigors of daily use. You'll want to be careful when lugging it around to LAN parties or, if you're a college student, back and forth between your dorm room and parent's house on the weekends. The lining on the pad just isn't very thick.

A rubbery material surrounds the outer portion of the headband too.

The same padding that's used on the underside of the headband also encircles each of the ear cups. That means our concerns are the same -- the padding's not all that sturdy and we could see it ripping over time. You also have to be careful when handling Rosewill's headset so as not to yank the protective film away, which we accidentally did during our unboxing. The actual padding is, however, fairly thick and covers the ears without any discomfort.

Each ear cup houses four drivers, including three 40mm Neodymium magnet drivers and a vibrating subwoofer.

Rosewill's inline control module has big, yellow buttons to turn the volume up or down, as well as separate buttons to mute the audio and/or the microphone. Blue LED indicator lights at the top let you known when the device is on, when the mic is muted, and when vibration mode is engaged.

There are two levels of vibration, which is best described as force feedback for your head. If you're not into a little shake, rattle, and roll with your rock & roll, you can disable the function altogether.

Sound Quality

Once again, you don't need to install Rosewill's software to use its USB headset, but it's highly recommended that you do. Doing so will give you access to a wealth of settings and, most importantly, unlock the vibration feature that Rosewill so prominently touts.


Since we've already teased it, let's get right to the million dollar question: Is Rosewill's vibration feature a gimmick? Absolutely, in so far as it doesn't add anything critical to your gaming experience or unlock any hidden notes in songs. But let's not be curmudgeons about this. While not necessary, the vibration feature is delightfully fun. It's hard not to grin like a fool the first time you experience force feedback on your head as you're jamming to a playlist or firing off rounds on the battlefield.

Let's start with music. The vibration feature adds a new dimension to songs, especially bass heavy tracks (isn't that always the case with these gaming headsets?). Rosewill's headset will massage your head as you listen to Jay-Z's Empire State of Mind, though it also works surprisingly well on other types of music. We loaded up an old bluegrass song and worried that the vibration effect might be overbearing (again, you can disable it anytime you wish), but the effect was much more subtle, as it should be.

Here's the rub. If you do decide to disable the vibration feature, Rosewill's headset reverts from Superman to Clark Kent, unable to deliver powerful lows. Bass performance is okay, but certainly not spectacular. That's problematic if you crave deep rumbles without the earthquake in your ears. On the opposite end, Rosewill's headset did well with high notes, allowing Christina Aguilera to pierce your eardrums when she wails on certain Burlesque tracks.


When playing games, the vibration feature adds a heightened level of immersion, similar in effect to rumble pads. It's engaging the sense of touch, giving you a small taste of being on the battlefield rather than just looking in.

As for the 5.1 surround, well, don't expect miracles. It's hard to tell the difference from the front and rear drivers, especially after experiencing the angled sound in Roccat's Kave headset.

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