Installation and Testing
The quick-start guide basically details that if you plug the headphones directly into your PC or Mac without the included USB adapter then you won’t experience Dolby Headphone IIx technology. Plugging the headphones into the included square USB adapter and turning it on (indicated by a blue LED) should start the Dolby Headphone IIx 7.1 surround sound. It also includes a reminder that Dolby Headphone technology is not “true” 7.1 surround, but converts any 2-channel audio source to a virtual 7.1 surround sound experience. The source audio does not need to provide the individual audio channels to the adapter, and everything is done by the adapter.
The Gamecom 777 is detected by Windows Vista and Windows 7 as a “standard USB Audio Device” and appears to be in stereo only. The unit is completely plug and play and no configuration is necessary, or even offered. You cannot adjust the treble and bass, nor can you adjust the virtual sound field.
The included USB sound card converts stereo to a virtual surround field, so any games that you wish to play should be set to “headphone” rather than 5.1 or 7.1 surround speakers.
We tested these headphones in a variety of games, including Left 4 Dead 2, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Call of Duty 4, and several other games. We also tested several Blu-ray movies in DTS, Dolby Digital, and Dolby Headphone modes.
Some games are better than others when it comes to surround sound testing. Batman: Arkham Asylum offers some of the best positional sound testing, as the sounds are highly directional and distiguishable. When testing the Logitech G930 headphones (review here) I was actually impressed how well the positional audio was, because I’ve never had a good experience with surround headphones before. I spun the camera around during one of Joker’s monologues, and really could tell no difference in where the voice was coming from. In pure stereo mode, at least I could tell the left from the right. Again, I tested in 5.1 mode, 7.1 mode and stereo mode with the Dolby Headphone switch on and off.
Left 4 Dead 2′s positional audio, on the other hand, sounds to me like someone took all of the audio into a meat grinder and squeezed it into a mono track. I am constantly hearing special undead as if they’re right next to me, and later discover that they were half a mile away, on the other side of the street. I tried the Gamecom 777 7.1 in 7.1 mode and headphone mode, both with Dolby Headphone enabled and disabled, and honestly it all sounded like a big sphere of sound with no direction. In Stereo mode I could at least tell if something was coming from the left or the right.
We tried a few pre-processed Dolby Headphone surround tests, and in each of the demos the positional sound was actually quite convincing. The bass response has improved slightly over the 5.1, as the bass frequencies dropped off at around 15 to 20 Hz.
Surround fields coming from DVDs and Blu-Ray movies were rather convincing, but not as obvious as the pre-processed Dolby Headphone surround demos. We tested the headset’s microphone in games such as Left 4 Dead 2 and audio applications like Skype, and in all instances others could hear me loud and clear, even when there was background noise.