The Creative Labs World of Warcraft (WoW) Wireless headset delivers some of the best audio and comfort you can experience in a PC gaming headset, topped off with wireless freedom and a little WoW-themed ‘bling’ in a nearly perfect package.
What’s in the package
Creative’s World of Warcraft wireless headset comes with a 2.4GHz Wireless USB sound processor, a detachable, noise-canceling microphone, and a micro USB charging cable.
The WoW wireless headset also comes with 2 sets of lenses that fit into the ear cups (over the glowing LEDs) of the headset. Each set bears the symbol of a World of Warcraft faction. Two of the lenses bear the symbol of the Horde, and two bear the symbol of the Alliance.
A small flathead screwdriver (to help pry out the lenses when you want to change them) and a soft leather travel bag for the headset round out the package.
Installation is straightforward, although Creative recommends charging the headset for 8 hours with the included micro-USB cable before installing it on your system.
While the headset is charging you can download the drivers from the Creative Labs Web site and install them on your computer. Future charging sessions, however, shouldn’t take longer than 4 hours for a maximum charge.
Once the headset is charged and the drivers are installed, you just need to insert the included 2.4 GHz wireless USB sound device into a USB 1.1 or 2.0 port on your PC. The USB sound device is pretty large and juts out about 2.5 inches.
After the USB device is connected, it must be connected with the headset by turning the headset on and pressing and holding the ‘connect’ button for about 3 seconds.
After installing the headset, to get the most out of the THX surround sound you’ll want to run the Creative Audio Control Panel. For some reason, all of the special audio effects that help the headset deliver its outstanding audio default to OFF when the headset is first installed.
You may also need to run your Sound applet from the Windows Control Panel, and set the headset as your default audio device. Unfortunately, Creative’s software doesn’t offer a more elegant method for doing this, so you’ll need to do it regularly when switching between speakers and your headset.
The WoW headset features glowing, pulsating, customizable LED ear cups that can be adjusted from the WoW-themed audio control panel.
The headset includes 2 sets of lenses: Horde and Alliance. Although pictures show the lenses primarily in ‘Alliance Blue’ or ‘Horde Red’, the audio control panel allows you to set the LED color to virtually any color, or even make the LEDs pulsate and/or cycle through a range of colors.
The software for the World of Warcraft headset also features voice- altering technology and includes a variety of WoW-inspired voice options, including male and female variants for human, orc, gnome, blood elf, etc. Tauren are strangely absent, but Creative has indicated that they may offer more voice options in the future. (We may see Cataclysm‘s Worgen and Goblins represented at some point.)
The headset also includes a few software goodies, including an audio file converter, and Creative’s ALchemy, a program that enables EAX effects in DirectSound games when run under Windows Vista or Windows 7.
The overall ergonomics and design of the WoW headset are good but could be improved. The headset’s soft, thick leather-lined ear cups and headband provide excellent comfort, although they can still get a little warm after extended use. The ear cups extend to accommodate different head sizes, in addition to swiveling to allow the headset to lay flat (for travel).
The WoW headset, however, is still fairly bulky, and we’d recommend care traveling with it—it’s not the sturdiest headset we’ve seen in terms of overall construction. Altough ours never broke and has held up well, we’d still recommend keeping the WoW headset away from small children and angry Rottweilers—or angry weiner dogs, for that matter.
The WoW headset’s controls are its weakest feature. The volume control buttons on the left ear cup are stiff and aren’t easily distinguished by touch, which can result in a little fumbling if you want to use them to adjust the volume.
In addition, the microphone mute button glows red when the microphone is muted—but you can’t see it without removing the headset, so you may find yourself removing the headset every once in a while to double-check it.
Although initially a little skeptical that a wireless system could deliver perfect audio, that skepticism quickly disappeared. The WoW Wireless headset uses THX TruStudio technology and its USB processor doesn’t need to compress and transmit audio to the headset. The result is that the quality of the audio sent from the USB sound processor doesn’t suffer when it is transmitted to the headset (and your ears).
And true to Creative’s promise, the WoW headset offers truly outstanding, thundering, crystal clear surround sound. It performed flawlessly in virtually every application: playing games, listening to a variety of rock, opera, and classical music, and watching DVD movies.
Even though the headset is targeted at World of Warcraft players, we prefer to test surround sound headsets in games that use (and benefit from) directional surround sound, such as Left 4 Dead 2.
We’re happy to report that we could clearly discern the direction of hiding boomers, crying witches, and pouncing Hunters. (You have to almost feel sorry for PC gamers still playing with a standard stereo headset.)
The noise-canceling microphone also did its job well, although we’d prefer an ultra-flexible or even retractible microphone such as those found on some SteelSeries.
All in all, the WoW headset excels at virtually every application. It can actually make the little hairs on the back of your neck stand up. The ear cups also do an excellent job of suppressing external noise from ruining the experience, and you can tweak the audio to your heart’s content with Creative’s 11-channel equalizer.
Although Creative’s World of Warcraft Wireless headset could use a few minor improvements in its design, it offers some of the best sound available in a PC gaming headset. Add to that excellent comfort and wireless freedom (not to mention a little WoW ‘bling’), and you’ve got an easy recommendation.
At a street price of around $130, the World of Warcraft Wireless headset doesn’t come cheaply, but it’s money well spent. (And if you need to save a little money, consider the wired, USB version of the World of Warcraft headset for around $75.)