If you read our Arctic Sound P311 Bluetooth Headset review, you would know how surprised I was that a cooling company could make decent audio products too. Well, that's true again with Arctic Cooling/Sound's P531 headset.
Arctic's P531 headset is among the cheapest 5.1 headsets available. And it supports true 5.1 sound; there's no Dolby Headphone in here. What you get is a true set of four speakers per ear. Most "Surround Sound" headphones or headsets actually only have one speaker per ear with audio processing that creates the illusion of real surround sound.
The P531 are made of plastic but feel very well made. The speakers on each ear rotate in order to allow you to compact it. The headband is made of a leather-like material with the underside made out of a cloth material. The same is true of the ear cups. Everything touching your body is made of the cloth like material which is very soft and comfortable.
There is a long and thick USB cable coming from the headset. There is a controller on it with controls for Rear, Front, Sub, Center, Volume, and Microphone. There is also an LED bar that shows when the device is plugged in and working.
The USB system allows for drivers to be automatically installed when plugged into my Windows 7 64-bit computer. It asked to restart, but I told it no. It still worked fine though. The software for managing the system allows you to change the number of channels. You can also enable a mode that takes two channel audio and interpolates to surround sound. This feature is neat for music, but I preferred it off. There is also the ability to add Bass Enhancement, which I did not find necessary. You could also enable a virtual 7.1 mode, but I also felt that was unnecessary.
Now for the sound quality: The headphones sounded very good– especially for the price. Sound reproduction wasn't great for music, but it was certainly better than my Alienware M11x speakers (which are pretty good themselves). 5.1 mode was where it really shined. In games, it really did sound like my set of Logitech Z-5300 5.1 speakers. In FPS games I could hear people behind me shooting– and it sounded like they were behind me. Movies were also played back very well. I still can't believe these are so inexpensive yet can compete with the Tritton AX 5.1 headphones.
The microphone also does a good job. It doesn't pick up much noise from the headphones and is clear and loud. Honestly, I couldn't find any faults with the P531. If you are interested in dipping your toes in the water with surround sound but don't want to invest too much, you can't go wrong here. Get a P531 5.1 Headset.