Review: Creative Sound Blaster Tactic3D RAGE

Creative's Sound Blaster Tactic3D RAGE Wireless headset has almost as many appealing features as it does words in its name.

NameWireless gaming headset: Creative Sound Blaster Tactic3D Rage
At a glance:Great in-game digital surround sound,Microphone doesn't cancel noise well,Headset emitted a high-pitched buzz at times,Very customisable
Summary:Not bad for the price, but has a couple of problems that might be hard to look past.

Creative’s Sound Blaster Tactic3D RAGE Wireless headset has almost as many appealing features as it does words in its name. Just about everything a gamer could want is there – wireless functionality, digital surround sound, high build quality, and customisability.

When you’re in-game, the RAGE headset sounds great. Each of the closed, over-ear earcups has multiple speakers inside that create the effect of 7.1-channel surround sound, digitally. The frequency response isn’t anything special – a very ordinary 20Hz to 20kHz – but despite that, bass sounds are booming, and high-pitched orchestral music plays without a hitch. We played a couple of hours of BioShock 2, which has a great deal of variation in music, sound effects, and voice work, and all of it sounded fantastic.

One reason many people still prefer the old wired headsets is that sound can lag behind gameplay for some wireless gaming headsets. We didn’t experience any lag with the RAGE. The wireless band is 2.4GHz, which many other wireless devices use, but we didn’t notice any interference.

It’s a shame, then, that the headset slips up when there’s no sound running through it at all. After a few minutes of wearing the RAGE set with no music or games playing, I began to hear a high-pitched buzzing. A little research reveals that other people have had similar problems with this headset. As soon as I opened a game, the buzzing disappeared.

The headset is also finicky to set up.

In theory, you should be able to plug the wireless transmitter into your PC, turn the headset on, and the two should automatically pair. In practice, the headset paired, but wouldn’t play any sound until I’d downloaded and installed a firmware update. Then, because there’d been an error during the first attempt at setup, I had to pair the devices manually, which took an extra minute or so. The whole process took about 15 minutes.

To fully customise the headset – to set up profiles for different kinds of games, as well as change the colours that cycle on the device’s earcups – I had to download still more software. All in all, it took at least half an hour to get everything running as it should, and that’s not including the eight hours I had to charge the headset before using it.

Once you’ve downloaded the software, however, it does give you loads of options for customisation. Sure, you can change the pretty colours, but you can also get specific. Want to adjust levels of the crystalliser, bass, and surround sound? No problem. You can even add effects to your mic to disguise your voice, if you want, although we’re unsure of how useful that is. Then you can save the profiles you’ve created and switch between them – so you could have one profile for FPS games and a different one for RPGs.

The RAGE headset takes a bit of setting up, and we’d suggest that you remove it from your head when you’re not listening to anything – unless you want to be very annoyed. You may or may not be able to forgive its imperfections, but at $180, the RAGE is reasonably priced and makes for great in-game sound.

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Siobhan Keogh

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