About a year ago, we got our first taste of Psyko Audio's unique 5.1-channel PC gaming headset. Rather than using signal processing to simulate a surround-sound environment, Psyko employs seven individual speakers and a series of waveguides to create the illusion of a 5.1-channel speaker setup. This so-called PsykoWave technology works pretty well, at least when it comes to positional audio in games. However, we weren't impressed with the headset's performance with music, which sounded awful. That glaring shortcoming made the $300 asking price particularly hard to swallow.
Today, Psyko is back with an improved version of its surround-sound headset that costs much less than the original. The new Psyko Carbon uses the same waveguide technology as its forebear, but the speakers have been upgraded with an eye toward improving sound quality and positional accuracy. Psyko is also positioning the Carbon carefully, noting that "subtle compromises" had to be made with music playback to optimize the headset for game audio.
In addition to receiving upgraded speakers, the Carbon has been restyled in black. Otherwise, there are no changes to report other than a dramatic reduction in the suggested retail price. Psyko will be selling the Carbon for only $200, and there's a cheaper Krypton model priced at $150. The Krypton looks very much like the original Psyko headset, and it appears to use the same speakers.
Although I have a Carbon headset in the Benchmarking Sweatshop, a nasty cold has my head too plugged with various forms of mucus up to conduct proper listening tests. Look for our impressions of the new headset soon.