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Cooler Master ‘MasterPulse’ In-ear Headphones Review

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Billed as a “premium” in-ear headset, it’s safe to say that Cooler Master’s latest product – dramatically titled as the ‘MasterPulse’ – certainly lives up to its promise of high-quality. From the minute that you receive the packaging in your hands, you are immediately greeted with a positive, and lasting impression as you open the magnetic clasp and are presented with the product itself. Displayed beautifully within the box, the microphone, earbuds, and the included carry case all sit neatly within a foam housing, and it rapidly becomes clear just how aesthetically pleasing this product is on the eyes.

I’ve often had a problem with gaming headsets that, in a bid to look cool and flashy, abandon a more conventional design and end up looking rather ridiculous. Its good news then that Cooler Master have opted for something a little more ‘normal’, and, as a result, have designed a product that looks classy thanks to its focus on subtlety. The earbuds themselves are built with high-grade aluminium that offers not only a robust and durable build, but also looks fantastic to boot. Dark grey in colour with a metallic sheen, the rest of the headset follows through with a similar design. The same dark grey colour persists across the entire device alongside flashes of black, and, marrying well with subtle hints of red and blue on the individual earbuds, the headset succeeds in looking stylish without trying too hard.

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The first thing you notice upon wearing the headset is just how comfortable it feels in the ears. Earbuds can be a mixed bag, but these ones fit nicely and feel secure in the ear. Whether you’re sat still or moving around, they refuse to budge, thus offering nothing but a pleasant user experience. If the default buds aren’t to your liking, the product also comes with a selection of different sizes, and they can be switched around quickly.

Of course, it is one thing having a product that looks and feels nice, but what really matters is just how well the thing actually performs. The answer: surprisingly well.

Packing 8mm drivers, the earbuds accomplish the task of producing quality audio with ease, bringing that “premium” claim further towards the truth. By standard, the MasterPulse is able to provide clear and crisp audio, regardless of what you’re using them for, and thanks to some impressive noise isolation, your listening experience is never interrupted by your surroundings. For gaming, they do well to not only make your game of choice sound fantastic, but also aid in immersing yourself into the moment. Testing on a variety of different games and systems, this headset was consistent in producing accurate and high-quality audio that did nothing but amplify the gaming experience as a whole. Hearing the wind whistle through the tree’s, footsteps hitting the hard ground below, and the clash of swords in the distance – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt sounded great in particular, and thanks to a wide stereo field, I felt totally immersed in the game world like never before.

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When listening to music, however, the results are a little disappointing. Though the clear, crisp qualities continue, and I was able to pull individual sounds and instruments out of the mix with ease, I found that songs unfortunately sound rather flat. Instruments don’t pop out as much as they should, and as a whole, music sounds a little dulled. Of course, with a little EQ tuning they can sound great, but as a straight out of the box experience, I struggled to find anything that immediately sounded excellent. The lacking reproduction of the low-end frequencies are part of this problem, but thankfully the MasterPulse has a nifty trick up its sleeve that somewhat remedies this issue.

Allowing sound to be experienced in an entirely different way, this headset supports Cooler Master’s patented ‘Bass FX’ technology, a feature that gives a substantial boost in bass frequency response. Easily toggled on & off thanks to a handy dial located on the back of each earbud, you can switch between two sound experiences on the fly. Providing a bass-heavy experience, it’s capable of making some audio sound fantastic thanks to such a rich low-end, but this comes at a cost. Unfortunately, in many instances, the boost in the bass frequencies swallows up the entire sound, making things sound muddy as a result.

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This enhanced frequency response certainly aids game audio more so than music, and, depending on the game, this additional feature is capable of delivering on a much improved experience. It’s certainly hit-and-miss, however, as some games ultimately sound drowned out by the boost. Music doesn’t fare much better either, and it’s very hard to enjoy most music due to the dominance of the lower frequencies. Both issues can be fixed with some heavy EQ tuning to balance things out – with the more wholesome bass tones offering a welcome addition against everything else – but unfortunately the headset once again fails at providing a totally satisfying sound straight out of the box. Still, Cooler Master promised a bassier experience with this feature, and I can undoubtedly say that they’ve succeeded in that goal, even if some audio manipulation is required to reap the benefits.

So the MasterPulse does an admirable job of sound production, but does the device also do a commendable job of recording and capturing the user’s voice? I’d certainly say so, and the quality of the mic is genuinely surprising.

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Located on the cable of the left earbud, the in-line microphone sits at a perfect positioning close to the mouth. Allowing the microphone to easily capture speech, it ensures that the user’s voice stands out above everything else and is picked up with plenty of volume. The actual quality of the recorded sound is rather remarkable too, and I had not anticipated for the microphone to capture audio so clearly. Any in-line microphones that I’ve used in the past have always left me wanting more from the capture quality, but here voices sound precise and come with a tonne of clarity. In addition to this, the product actively aims to reduce background noise as much as possible and, based off my various different tests, I can say that it at least does a decent job of this. While surrounding audio was noticeably still present in recordings, it was at least kept to a minimum and never once dominated my speech or become much of an annoyance. Overall, the microphone is definitely a highlight of this device, and thanks to a remote included on the mic itself, this headset is made even more convenient as users can play/pause audio, answer/hang up calls, and even skip music tracks with a press (or two) of a button.

I think it’s safe to say that Cooler Master have produced something of quality with this headset, especially given its in-ear design and the associated limitations with that platform. While it’s not perfect, the MasterPulse is incredibly stylish, easy to use, and, after some EQ tuning (particularly in the face of the Bass FX feature), the full potential of this device can be unlocked. With a terrific in-line microphone to boot that makes for crisp and clear audio recordings, this product is ideal for gaming sessions. As a whole, it perhaps isn’t as “premium” as the packaging claims, but it’s certainly a solid effort.

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Technical Specs:

Earphones

  • Driver                                   8mm driver
  • Frequency Response     20Hz-20KHz
  • Impedance                         20Ω
  • Sensitivities (@100Hz) 119dB ± 3dB (bass on)
  • 109dB ± 3dB (bass off)
  • Max output power          20mW
  • Cable Length                     1.3m
  • Connector                           3.5mm gold-plated headphone jack

Microphone

  • Pick-up Pattern                                Omni-Directional
  • Frequency Response     100 Hz – 10 KHz
  • Sensitivity                          -44 ± 4dB (at 1KHz, 1V/PA)
  • Signal to Noise Ratio      58dB or more

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Rating:
7/10
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Recently graduating from Staffordshire University with a First-Class Honours in Computer Game Design, I’m a 21 year-old with a passion for game design, writing, and eating cheesecake. I think of myself as being very critical of games and the industry, and I certainly have no issue with speaking my mind and saying things how they are. Essentially, I’m rather cynical – but I try to be funny about it at least. When not spending my time playing video games and writing about them, you’ll find me listening to music, singing loudly, knocking back shots of Sambuca, and dabbling in game development – but fortunately, not all at the same time! P.S. Grim Fandango is my favourite game of all time.

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