Pros - Bass and volume adjuster, dual drivers, bassy
Cons - Lack of detail in mid and high freqs. Dual Drivers, but no special function.
Introduction: Oblanc is a new headphone subsidiary of SYBA. SYBA is a big player in computer accessories and parts be it for computer DIY’ers or the average customer. Their new subsidiary/department is ambitious in getting the word out about their product. They have a design, and taste in how and what headphones should be like and they aren’t afraid to show it. Their general product line up is one base model shell that looks the same but has different variants. Generally we will first have the regular stereo model, then the stereo and microphone model and lastly a multi driver model with microphone. I would like to thank SYBA USA for their review samples.
Read the full review here: http://www.pandatechreview.com/oblanc-nc3-2-gaming-headset-review/
Unit Quality: -sleek smooth plastic- The NC3-2 uses a smoothened plastic for the body of the unit. It is ‘soft’ and comfortable feeling and not rough like many plastics. The headband has a thin strip of metal going through it as support, aesthetics and for function. I would not want to twist this headband or driver unit. For general on head purpose, this headphone is well built. There are no glaring flaws. But it doesn’t feel like a tank. Some of its joints feel like it will snap if I twist them any further. But apart from that, these are sturdy gaming headphones. Chuck them in your bag and go style.
The ear pads and head pad use mediocre materials. They are mediocre but they do the job well. Soft but present without a sinking sensation. It is a good median of cost and performance. The driver housing facing the ear has two driver faceplates. There is a for the top driver as it is smaller. The foam coating of the ear pads however do a wonderful job and fooling your ears into not feeling the dip though.
I would say that while nothing is absolutely perfect or sticks out. The NC3-2’s unit quality is a good cost effective match that does what it needs to do without trying to be overly luxurious.
Cable: -plain and fit for your choice-
Many gaming headphones at this range try to go for the cool looking cables. Oblanc doesn’t do that. Their headphone jacks, cables , and adapters are plain Jane. However I have no problems with that. They are highly usable and do their purpose. Cables should neither be too soft, nor too hard. They must not be too kinky but also not too fluid. The Oblanc’s cable is above mediocre in this department though in terms of its usability. It is soft, but not flexible and has a problem with kinks that stay in the cable.
The cable is just a tad bit long for portable usage. The headphone works great on the go though. I’m 5 foot 9 or 175cm and the cable without adapter on the go was just a little bit too long for me to actually be fine and dandy. It didn’t get in the way, but I would prefer if it was a tad bit shorter. Overall, nothing to be crying over as it still worked well and was relativity un obstructive when walking my dog.
Some cables also develop qualities when exposed to the cold. The Ultrasone HFI 580 wires will get extremely hard when in the cold. The NC3-2's did not exhibit these symptoms in 20 degree Fahrenheit weather.
Plug and Adapter: There are different TRRS plug standards. OMTP(going into WAC) and CITA. These basically deal with where the left channel, right channel, ground, and microphone connectors/prongs or spaces will be situated. Without the adapter, the NC3-2 works natively with the iPhone and Apple devices. OMTP is what older Nokia, Sony, and Ericson. But this technology has been being phased out for the CITA standard that Apple and others supports. The NC3-2 from the looks of it is the CITA standard as it works with as a microphone for the iPhone 4S of mine. Well, what does this have to do with anything? Well there is an adapter for a reason. Some jacks on the PC don’t support Mic and audio. This lets them go worry free as to what headphones you use with them. They will thus make it so that we have a stand alone microphone port on the PC. The adapters job is thus to take the separate entitites and split them. If your PC supports a combined mic and volume port, then you can try the NC3-2 with it. Otherwise, the adapter should work with nearly all computers. I keep my adapter cable wrapped up from the day it arrived.
-thanks to CLIEOS for explaining it-
Sibilance: Ahh yisssss. Sibilance is a dreaded dragon. It is the sound of s’s and other sounds that you make a slithering face with. The NC3-2’s do not have a problem with sibilance unless your track just has a lot of it by standard.
Isolation: The NC3-2’s pass isolation but fail leaking. These things have enough sealing, plastic and volume to block out a lot of noise. Nothing that a good IEM or CIEM will do, but average for a gaming headphone. The leaking is another demon all together. Using four drivers with a built in amp produces a lot of decibles of sound that escapes in many directions. Listening at a moderate- 87-90dB still produced enough noise so that it can be heard by other people. Do not consider these if you have guilty artists you like.
Driveability: These have an built in amp. With an iPod or iPhone, they can loud enough for anyone really. There is no need for an external apparatus. But I did use one exclusively when reviewing this and for other purposes.
Sound Quality Section: These OBlanc NC3-2 go for $150 and the question is always how they sound and how do they work as gaming headsets. Well these are extremely dark but fun sounding headphones. I don’t always review things to compare them to neutral and clear things. Every headphone and idea of sound is different from the other.
Please do not just read the following sections. Please read sonic conclusion as well. This section is me analyzing the sound like an 'audiophile' and for pure listening purposes. This is not the headphones purpose so please read the conclusion as the sonic qualities section is me being a bit harsh.
Highs: -nonexistent for a good reason-
‘Most earphones at this price range make the mistake of giving a consumer highs and doing it wrong. Most don’t even bother giving you a high frequency range anymore. This means very sharp highs that want to make your ears bleed or none at all. I attribute this to the problem of teens today.’ This is what I have said in the past and it holds true for the Oblanc’s. Companies like Vmoda have dulled some ranges to prevent damage to people’s ears. I do not know if this was intentional by Oblanc or not but it is a valid strategy. I personally like my entire range to be clear and present. But a review must be fair and not just what one person likes. The NC3-2 has highs that are very low. They can often be mistaken for upper mid range sounds. That is how low the floor for highs are. They don’t reach very high but do hold smooth for the most part. I find that even if this isn’t what many audiophiles want sonically, it is something that makes a lot of songs more tolerable. The highs sound like they end somewhere at 5,000 MHz. There is a small spike at 10K that regains some high presence but that is basically it. I was deeply unsatisfied with the highs when listening to Adele, The Eagles, Angela Aki and playing BF3.
Mids: So we start with the vocals. The vocals are just slightly behind the instruments. Slightly recessed. The lower vocal range also is a bit dulled and isn’t very clear. It is below average in clarity for vocals at this price range. But it redeems itself in being quite full. The vocals aren’t empty; they fill up the feeling of the song and can get some jam sessions started. I wouldn’t call them sweet exactly. Maybe mellow sweet works to describe it better.
Mid instruments perform better than the vocals did in audio reproduction. I do not know if it is due to the dual drivers as I do not have the stereo model of the NC3. But soundstage, separation and pure weight of the instruments playing is quite good on the NC3. The mid instruments are not very sharp though. Don’t be expecting sharp guitar riffs but more dull and mellow ones. This is not a bad thing. It is just yet another quality that we can expect from headphones.
Lows: The bass is what Oblanc likes to focus on. It has a nice sub bass and mid bass and upper bass. Just nice bass all around for the regular joe. The quality to an audiophile is below spec though. It is boomy and sloppy but many will prefer this sound. There is a bass slider on the headphone for bass amount. I have it a scroll up(so that the bottom ledge would go touch the top ledge from the least bass position). It has nice impact, but actual quality and extension is its main problems. Oblanc tries to exemplify explosions a little too much. This causes really fake sounding explosions and the likes in BF3 and elsewhere. You more or less get a dull vibration rather than a violent pop that brings you to all your senses. The maiming of the high frequency range also plays a part in this. The quantity is there if you want that. However the problem arises when you start playing EDM, or just songs with fast bass. The bass on the Oblanc's just do not keep up. I have the dial up one inch from the bottom position. The bass is very slow and will get very muddy and it will leak into the vocals.
Sonic Conclusion: The thing is that these headphones were not made for that purpose of being a studio monitor headphone. These were made to be a fun active gaming headphone that PC gamers would love. And they WILL love these. I am both a PC FPS/RPG gamer and an audio lover as well. There are times when 'good' audio headphones just can't suit my guilty pleasures. This means a less engaging sound and more sloppy bass to suit my mainstream music pleasures. A few audiophile products do do this, not that I am saying none do. The sound isn't sonically superior for the price. At $150, Shure's, Beyers and Ultrasone's run circles around it. But few will be as comfortable, fun to listen to, and suitable for gamers as this is. I have grabbed the NC3-2 for use in listening to my mainstream music many times throughout the month that I have had them over Heir Audio and AKG's. Let it be heard that just because a headphone doesn't compare up to par sonically, doesn't mean that it can't get a good enjoyable score from me. The most suprising part was that the songs it mainly pairs best with are not the bass heavy ones. It is with the songs that have a nice bass backing but not with it as the main tool. Excessive bass muddies up the headphone a lot, so cleaner songs actually are what I have been preferring.
Audiophile word use: I try to use this word 2-3 times every review. Not more, but because I have used it more than that as a necessity, it needs its own section. The term audiophile has been dirtied in the last few years as many elitists and what not have used it for their own purpose. My use of audiophile sound and what not is going back to the pure usage of the word where the sound is something that an audio lover looking for neutral perfection, and near life like presentation would want. And not an elitist comment on me sipping Champagne with a monocle in my eye while listening to these. It is mealy used to differentiate what an audiophile sound lover would like as opposed to a mainstream one.
Battery life and built in amp: The NC3-2 features a built in amplifier to power its 4 drivers. This also allows it to control volume and bass. The amplifier does a good job providing the needed juice for the unit as an iPod can drive this thing well. The bass EQ is very bassy and can get muddy very quickly. I found that a very low bass turn is more beneficial for accurate sound and good gaming quality. Not even turning it up to turning it up one inch is where I draw the line.
The battery life is long on paper, but under actual use it is a bit shorter. I get about 5-7 hours with it. I keep the volume at 100% on the NC3-2 to allow my units to do the actual lifting. You can use while charging but its very awkward. Desktop users probably can't do this as a long USB cable connected to the headphone while gaming wouldn't work out well.
Gaming: Gaming is an important aspect of this headphone. I am an avid gamer. In testing the Oblanc for academic purposes(of course). I set aside time and went to work in testing them with games such as Crysis 3 MP Beta, The Witcher 2, Nitronic Rush, Crysis 1, Payday and BF3. These headphones had a few slight volume issues for me where it was either too loud or too quiet due to the position of the microphone. My computer’s ADC is not very good so that may be a cause. For gaming, the NC3-2 works fine but your head does get hot and sweaty after a while. These headphones can be worn for a while, but they do get hot. That would be something that we may need to look at. The dual drivers were quite nice to play with. I do not have a stereo version to compare, but I would sadly say that they didn’t exactly offer the imaging that a Heir 4ai or Q701 would have produced. Its soundstage and imaging for gaming just wasn’t up to par with headphones that have a beautiful stage set up already. The heavy bass did exemplify enemy footsteps and bombs though which was a plus.
Conclusion: The Oblanc NC3-2 is a gamers headphone all right. Slightly dulled in audio reproduction for a good cause. For a gaming cause that is. The NC3-2’s are still very satisfying to listen to from a consumer standpoint though. They work well with a vast majority of music and the bass switch is a nice add on. The Oblanc is a nice headphone for the range for music, on the go, and the overall gritty nature of PC gaming.