Fatal1ty by Monster’s FXM 200 gaming headset reviewed

The name Fatal1ty may evoke a sense of nostalgia in older gamers, dredging up memories of the arena FPS days, LAN parties, and QuakeCons. While the arena FPS craze and Fatal1ty’s tournament days may be over, his legacy lives on in a wide range of gaming gear and other hardware bearing his name. Prominent audio brand Monster recently teamed up with Fatal1ty to create the Fatal1ty by Monster FXM 100 and 200 headsets. Today, we’ll be taking an extensive look at the FXM 200 to see whether it lives up to that storied name.

The most immediately noticeable aspect of the FXM 200 is its classy silver, dark gray, and maroon aesthetic, devoid of the swaths of black, neon accents, and RGB LEDs that are so common on gaming headsets these days. The headband is made of light-yet-sturdy plastic and can be extended to fit the wearer’s head. Attached to this band are the plastic and brushed-aluminum enclosures housing the drivers. These cups can swivel side-to-side and in-and-out. Overall, the FXM 200 is both flexible and durable, two important aspects of a quality pair of cans.

The entire headset weighs in at only half a pound (227 g), which is extremely lightweight for a gaming headset. Even so, after wearing the FXM 200 for extended gaming sessions I experienced a slight amount of pressure on my head. It isn’t enough pressure to be annoying, though, just a slight reminder that it’s resting on your head. A little more padding on the headband would probably eliminate this issue.

The headset connects to PCs and other audio sources with an unusual, four-foot-long flat cable. This length works just fine with a phone, but it falls a bit short for use with a PC. That short length can be overcome somewhat through the use of a y-adapter, something you’ll need to use this headset with a PC anyway. Somewhat bemusingly, however, Monster doesn’t include a y-adapter in the box. Only a single, four-pole, 3.5-mm connector resides at the end of the cable. So if you intend to buy the FXM 200, know that you’ll need to buy a y-adapter on your own for full PC compatibility right now. Monster says it’ll introduce a version of this headset more suited to PC gaming later on, and that version will include the splitter.

A dongle halfway down the cable holds a mic, a volume wheel, a shirt clip, and a mute switch and button. The volume wheel is a nice touch, as it’s much easier to use than the volume buttons on some gaming headsets. The mute switch is a standard on-off mic switch, whereas the mute button temporarily mutes the microphone while held down. Having a separate mute button is great for easily muting sneezes and coughs without having to fumble with a switch. While the inline mic doesn’t replace the boom mic on the headset itself, it’s a thoughtful touch for those who might want to use this headset with their phones without looking weird.

Enveloped by the Monster

According to press information, the FXM 200 offers “exclusive fHex720 Sound Chamber Technology” and “Game-tuned Pure Monster Sound.” I’m not sure what the “exclusive technology” actually does, but I can confirm that the audio profile of this headset is tuned towards gaming. In my time with the FXM 200, I played a variety of games, including Planetside 2, Star Wars Battlefront, Overwatch, Titanfall 2, and—in the spirit of Fatal1ty—Toxikk.

As soon as I first put this headset on and jumped in game, I was immediately impressed by its output. Every explosion and volley of gunfire sounded incredibly real and packed a deep punch. Not only did the FXM 200 heighten my sense of immersion, it made me acutely aware of the position of every little footstep and gunshot in relation to my character, giving me what felt like an advantage over my opponents. For in-game audio, the FXM 200 certainly provides the best  gaming experience I’ve ever had.

Unfortunately, the FXM 200’s aptitude for gaming doesn’t translate to music reproduction. My favorite tracks sounded hollow and muted, while percussion instruments and electronic pops and squeaks have too much emphasis. I even noticed the relatively poor music quality in the Overwatch main menu. I got used to the FXM 200’s audio profile after extended listening sessions, but as soon as I switched back to my main speakers, I was reminded of what I was missing.

If the FXM 200 isn’t great for music listening, its designers make up for it somewhat with the solid boom mic. The headset’s inline mic doesn’t have much to offer, but the detachable microphone is fantastic. Many gaming headsets are equipped with microphones just good enough to effectively communicate in Teamspeak or in-game chat. This isn’t the case with the FXM 200. While its detachable unit certainly isn’t a studio mic, it’s definitely one of the better headset microphones I’ve heard. Other than an almost unnoticeable bit of background static, it sounds quite crisp and clear. It definitely sounds good enough to be used by Twitch streamers and especially YouTubers who could edit the tiny bit of static out with a noise removal tool. I’ve included audio samples from both the detachable mic and the inline mic, as well as a sample from a cheap, off-brand headset mic for comparison below.

Conclusion

The Fatal1ty brand is targeted at gamers first and foremost, and the FXM 200 absolutely stays true to that mission. Unfortunately, that emphasis on crisp positional audio in-game leads to a middling experience for music lovers.

It’s unfortunate that the “Game-tuned Sound” is actually detrimental to music listening, as it sounds phenomenal for gaming. While these are passive cans, Monster might consider making a version with a dongle or headset switch that switches between a “game mode” and a “music mode.” While I’m making wishes, it’d be nice if a y-adapter was included with the headset, too, something that should come along later on when Monster releases a PC-specific version of this headset.

The takeaway here is that the FXM 200 is a headset designed for the best possible reproduction of in-game sound, which isn’t a terrible philosophy if you don’t mind having have two different pairs of headphones. For discerning listeners, that may already be a regular practice, but most people will want to make do with one does-it-all pair. Also, as classy as the FXM 200 looks, wearing it out and about won’t do much good if you’re listening to music with a phone.

Even with its shortcomings, the audio profile of the FXM 200 makes for an exceptionally immersive gaming experience. Explosions, gunfire, and footsteps sound forceful and positional, leading to heightened awareness at critical moments. The headset is also quite sturdy, lightweight, and tasteful, and Monster’s boom mic is among the very best I’ve used. All of this goodness currently goes for $100. If you’re looking for a solid headset for gaming and gaming only, I absolutely recommend the FXM 200, but folks who want a headset that does it all will want to look elsewhere.

Comments closed
    • Cyco-Dude
    • 3 years ago

    is this (fatal1ty branded stuff) still a thing? i doubt most people even know who he is anymore lol.

    • thedosbox
    • 3 years ago

    Am I the only one who wants PC case manufacturers to switch to a four-pole headphone jack? It’d be nice to be able to use one headset for both mobile and desktop.

    [quote<] The most immediately noticeable aspect of the FXM 200 is its classy silver, dark gray, and maroon aesthetic, devoid of the swaths of black, neon accents, and RGB LEDs that are so common on gaming headsets these days. [/quote<] Kudos to them for that.

      • Norphy
      • 3 years ago

      [quote<]Am I the only one who wants PC case manufacturers to switch to a four-pole headphone jack? It'd be nice to be able to use one headset for both mobile and desktop. [/quote<] No. No you are not. This is one thing Apple gets right on their products at least, even if almost everything else is wrong.

        • Voldenuit
        • 3 years ago

        Eh, I prefer having dedicated ports, as I sometimes use my mic in port to record or amplify my electric bass. And I wear my headphones when I do that. People who stream with a positional mic and headphones might also appreciate having separate inputs for separate devices.

        Having said that, I’d be okay with 4-pole ports on desktops as long as they keep two of them on the front panel.

          • thedosbox
          • 3 years ago

          Well, the ports on the motherboard back plate can still be separate, but it would be nice if we could get a four-prong on the case.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 3 years ago

          You could use an IK Multimedia iRig to amplify your bass if it was all one jack. It’s a handy practicing tool for me with music delivered to my phone.

    • JosiahBradley
    • 3 years ago

    Serious question: the manaquin head shows that the ear cups are slanted away from the headband with the band going over the center of the head. My headphones cups are slanted a lot more but I just put them on so the cup is parallel to my torso. Am I wearing headphones wrong? I just upgraded/replaced for gaming with a mic, my pair from 1972 so I’m very much out of the game…

      • GrimDanfango
      • 3 years ago

      Seeing as most headphones typically contain a single circular driver in each cup, I suspect the answer is no – the “correct” way to wear headphones is whatever feels most comfortable to you.

      I don’t know if it makes a difference with “surround” headphones…

      • Gyromancer
      • 3 years ago

      I lined up the headband with the bust, rather than the earcups, because I think it looks a bit better in the picture. When I wear them, however, I line up the earcups with my head, like you said you do. So if how I wear them is any indication of what’s “correct”, you’re not wearing headphones wrong. Ultimately it comes down to what’s comfortable for the wearer.

        • JosiahBradley
        • 3 years ago

        Thanks for the info. Now I’m curious why the headband was designed to sit almost on my forehead now. There must be a reason for this odd skewed design.

        • nexxcat
        • 3 years ago

        How did the mannequin say the comfort was? 🙂

      • Chrispy_
      • 3 years ago

      The sole purpose of the ear cups and headband are to position the drivers correctly and comfortably on your ear.

      The chances of two people having ears the same size, position and orientation are pretty slim, so the chances of the one-size-fits-all, fixed-angle earcups fitting everyone as in the picture are exactly nil.

    • CScottG
    • 3 years ago

    Ironic, while reading this I purchased these:

    [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16826138190[/url<]

      • Phishy714
      • 3 years ago

      This is what I use as a headset – paired with a boom mic from V-moda, its excellent for everything from gaming to music!

      Probably doesn’t have all the punch from the ones in this article, but works exceptionally well.

        • CScottG
        • 3 years ago

        Got the mic. as well, thanks!

    • RickyTick
    • 3 years ago

    Didn’t know Fatal1ty was still a thing.
    I had a Fatality headset a few years ago and it was crap. Seems like they were made by Creative. Maybe these are better.

      • Concupiscence
      • 3 years ago

      Honest question: is Creative really still around? I don’t hear anyone talk about them and I’m not in the market for a discrete sound card. It’s not clear to me what else they do these days.

        • just brew it!
        • 3 years ago

        They’re still around, and are still selling soundcards, headsets, and speakers just like always. Looks like they’ve branched out into keyboards and mice too (no idea why).

        • Cyco-Dude
        • 3 years ago

        they have a website; it’s really simple to type it into your browser and spend all of 60 seconds looking at everything they have.

        • DoomGuy64
        • 3 years ago

        They are the only discrete soundcard company left who updates drivers, not to mention has the most well rounded hardware and software features, so yeah. Buying an expensive headset is completely pointless when you’re using onboard, same with any decent speaker setup. Of course, as long as all you’re listening to is mp3’s with a $10 walmart special, what difference does onboard make? Sound quality is determined by the weakest link, and sometimes that’s personal preference.

      • bfar
      • 3 years ago

      Probably the most irritating brand ever.

      • Chrispy_
      • 3 years ago

      It’s not, he retired a decade ago and has a company selling his brand, that’s all.

      I’ve had experience with Fatal1ty motherboards and headsets and they’re cheap, average products with a lot of plastic bling and an elevated pricetag.

      Whilst these headphones don’t look too bad, Monster’s headphone website seems to be full of “style-over-function” colourful plastic crap that is relatively cheap and light on technical specs or quality blurb. It also looks like they sell similar stuff in their own range without the Fatal1ty logo for $30 less.

        • kvndoom
        • 3 years ago

        They’re still trying to recover from losing the Beats money press to Apple.

    • southrncomfortjm
    • 3 years ago

    Never really saw the appeal of a gaming only headset. I’ve always gone for a good set of headphones (like a set of Sennheisers, or my current Audio Technica ANC-9s) and then a clip on microphone, like one made by Zalman for $8. Then again, I don’t do much multiplayer since I quit Smite back in April.

      • Voldenuit
      • 3 years ago

      In addition to my Swan M10 speakers, I also used to use a pair of Senn HD555s (with the 558 mod) for gaming.

      Let me just say that the positional audio (even with virtual 5.1 turned off) on the Steelseries 350 blows the Senn 555 out of the water.

      I literally did not know that Blizzard put so much information into the audio output of the game for the gamer; the Senns could not resolve/reproduce it.

        • southrncomfortjm
        • 3 years ago

        Fair enough. That all said, I tend to play games now on my couch using my 5.1 system, so there are many reason a dedicated headset doesn’t make sense to me. Much less ones branded with the name of a gamer who was “relevant” 20 years ago.

      • Cyco-Dude
      • 3 years ago

      that’s what i do, and it’s better than nothing but…that mic is crap.

        • southrncomfortjm
        • 3 years ago

        The Zalman mic? I’ve never had an issue with it and people listening always say I sound clear. Only real issue I ever had with it is that its not really a clip on mic. It needs a pretty thick cable to close around.

      • Firestarter
      • 3 years ago

      convenience is worth something, and good headsets have good enough sound quality that the vast majority of gamers wouldn’t need anything else to be able to enjoy music

    • Voldenuit
    • 3 years ago

    Nice. Positional cues in gaming headsets can be a literal lifesaver. My survivability in Overwatch noticeably improved when I moved from 2.1 speakers to a Siberia 350 headset – I could hear where enemy ults were coming from, even when they were out of sight.

    A shame the FXM 200’s music chops seem to be sub-par, especially since the 3.5mm connector makes it a candidate for all-around compatibility. The four-pole jack is probably there for gaming laptops, but it does seem a small oversight not to include a y-adapter.

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