Patriot Viper V360 Review (Page 3 of 4)

Page 3 - Subjective Audio Analysis

As with all the audio products we review here at APH Networks, it takes quite a bit of experience and training of the ears before we can begin making a fair judgment. Even for the best of audiophiles, it can be hard to produce an exact and accurate evaluation of a product without a thoroughly familiar product to use as simultaneous reference. While I will not claim to be the reviewer of all reviewers for headphones, I can say quite a few other computer review sites have editors lacking in training for reviewing anything audio related. Give them anything and all you will get is some vague description of “awesome bass, amazing midrange, nice treble, no muffles, 10/10”. Do not get me wrong though; there are knowledgeable audio reviewers out there on respected online media outlets, but they are far and few. There are no true objective measurements for headphone sound quality.

As the reviewer, however, I will put the Patriot Viper V360 through a series of subjective tests to try to come up with the most objective rating as possible. The tests were conducted primarily with the Patriot Viper V360 connected to the test computer via USB. This provides the audio transmission. All equalization and surround settings have been turned off for these tests. A break-in period of over 50 hours of break-in time (Well above the typical required period) occurred before testing the Patriot Viper V360. All tracks are uncompressed CDs, FLAC, or LAME encoded MP3s at 192kbps or higher. For gaming, I played Crysis 2 Maximum Edition, Sid Meier’s Civilization V, and GRID 2. Crysis 2 is a first-person shooter, and I find it to provide an accurate representation of a day to day game environment. Civilization V is just one of my favorite games to play. GRID 2 is a well-known racing game, so I decided to throw it into the mix as well. Casual microphone testing was done through Audacity and a few Skype sessions.

At the very bottom of the range, we had the bass region. Normally, for most gaming headsets, this is a region that is quite average, with nothing poor about it, but also nothing to write home about either. This was a relatively similar story for the Patriot Viper V360. The bass possessed deep and rounded characteristics. It felt filled, and the amplitude of it was sufficient. However, things became totally different with Patriot's Ultra Bass Response active. According to Patriot, flipping this switch enables "two powerful subwoofers and achieves even the lowest sound frequencies". In practice, I could honestly say this was true. Not only did it enhance the depth of the bass, but I physically felt the vibrations when the subwoofer pushed out the lower frequencies. The result was not a booming mess, but instead shaped and defined. Some will find the low end too much for themselves, but this can easily be turned off through the dedicated switch. I should note leaving UBR on does not mess up the balance of the frequencies, but rather adds depth and character to the bass. In gaming, the low end is represented in the deep footsteps produced in first person shooters, or the low roar of an engine in racing games. Both were very audible and present during my tests.

Unfortunately, with most gaming headsets, the midrange is the "sacrificial" region, since it is usually reduced to emphasize the other two ranges. This was also the case with the Patriot Viper V360, but it was not too noticeable. The reduction in the midrange was ever so slight, and I was glad to hear a pretty good showing from the middle frequencies. However, one thing to fix in this area was the cleanliness of this region. There was a slight muffle, and clarity would have been appreciated here. Instruments with wooden resonance, such as pianos and acoustic guitars, were reproduced naturally, but could have been enhanced in richness. A similar story could have been said with other woodwind instruments like saxophones. I threw some bossa nova jazz into the Viper V360 to see how it would respond, and the result was a pleasant result, but again, it could be slightly cleaned up. Voices were neither moist nor dry, but very neutral.

At the very top was the treble range, and it was a decent experience. The Patriot Viper V360 was good in terms of warmth and natural reproduction of this region. The treble was also prominent enough. There was a slight dryness in these higher ranges however, and it was noticeable. The small amounts of muffle found in the middle was also in the treble, and some cleaning up can be done by Patriot. At the higher end of the treble region, there was a bit of a drop-off, and this was a similar story with most gaming headsets. Overall, the treble quality was good. In gaming, this would have been represented with glass crashing, and even some gunshot ricocheting around. Thankfully, these pierce through quite well, so I do not get pieced by any shots.

Overall, I think Patriot has done a decent job with balancing all three major regions. Together, they were detailed, and sounded cohesive. The transitions between the regions were smooth, with only slight reductions between the frequency ranges. This was not apparent during gaming sessions, but rather more noticeable during music listening. Layering wise, I think all regions produced a detailed sound, with good resolution. Cleanliness, as aforementioned, could have been worked on, especially with the muffle found in the middle and at the top. As for the overall balance between the three ranges, the Patriot Viper V360 was similar to its name, with the slight V shape. This is acceptable for a gaming headset, as most expected noises are in the top and bottom regions, but for music listening, I would have preferred a flatter sound.

When it comes to the soundstaging and imaging capabilities of the Patriot Viper V360, I think the V360 was average. Depth-wise, I think the V360 could have been improved upon, especially when it comes to gaming performance. Musically, everything seemed just a bit too close to everything else, but I was not too surprised at this either. Considering this is a gaming headset with a closed-back design, it is already physically limited in terms of soundscaping. However this attribute is also important in gaming, as an open landscape gives the user a sense of direction and distance from other people, whether they are allies or enemies. In terms of direction, I think the Viper V360 could be improved to produce a wider sound image. Thankfully, the musical characteristics of the headset did not hamper the soundstaging capabilities in any way, but again I would have wanted a bit more openness here.

As for the virtual 7.1 surround sound, this is something that is becoming quite popular with gaming headphones. Turning on the surround sound made some difference in the Viper V360. While I am used to a complete distortion and change in equalizer settings in music sessions, this was not the case for the Patriot Viper V360. Rather, turning on "Viper Surround" allowed you to adjust the placement of the different speakers in a virtual sense. In addition, with actual dedicated 30mm subwoofer drivers, this means there is a bit more bass in the equation, resulting in a more thumping virtual 7.1. Sure, it may not be as realistic as a real setup with seven speakers and one subwoofer, but this is pretty good nonetheless. In gaming sessions, it did help to increase the soundstaging capabilities. With more tweaking, you can get your Viper V360 to emphasize different frequency regions.

Finally, I should note microphone recording was clear and sounds average in terms of quality. The omnidirectional microphone was capable in picking up mostly me and some of my peripherals, but it did not pick up too much unwanted noise either, which was a good thing to see. Of course, I hope you do not expect studio recording quality from this headset, as it is more for applications like Skype, Teamspeak, or Raidcall.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware
3. Subjective Audio Analysis
4. Conclusion