Simply put, PC gaming is incomplete without a few key components. The way Bloody sees it, every gamer should have access to decent gear for a moderate price. In thoroughly testing the G501 headset along with the G480 tone controller, I found their mission statement to be — for the most part — accurate in their claim to provide innovative, stylish technology. I also found, however, that no matter how many bells and whistles are attached, an ordinary headset is still — for the most part — ordinary.
Bloody are purveyors of Gamer Gear catered directly to PC gamers. Dealing mostly in computer mouses and keyboards, they have proven themselves sufficiently innovative with several multi-core component designs and software built specifically for accessory customization. While gamers with deep pockets may argue that the 7.1 surround sound set is virtually unusable in comparison to other high-end headsets, Bloody seems to hold its own in the crowd of gear suppliers.
Upon opening the Bloody G501 Radar 360 Headset, one will immediately notice it nestled comfortably in a tough plastic shell. Appropriately decorated in red and black, at first glance, the headset looks comfortable, edgy, and easy to use. Packaged along with the G501 Radar 360 headset I received was the G480 Tone Controller, which was equally as aesthetically pleasing. In use, the headset is not only rugged and cool, but cozy as well. The side pads are incredibly comfortable and easy on the ears, making long-time use a definite possibility. The microphone is adjustable, keeping use of it simple, and ignoring it when it’s unnecessary even simpler. The cords on both the headset and the controller are sufficient in length to comfortably reach the back of the computer, and back up to the user.
The first (and only) truly disconcerting issue encountered was immediately after unboxing. There is no instruction or quick access guide included in the G501 or G480 packages, making setup perhaps more complicated than necessary. Most headsets should function as “Plug-‘n-Play” accessories, but unfortunately, these particular pieces do not. The G501 box has illustrations on the back displaying everything included, which are really the only hint for immediate setup. The G480 package boasts about the “completely customizable controls” that can be used with the available device software, but says nothing as to simple setup instructions. The one helpful hint was found with the G480 in the form of a business card-type advertisement for the “Tonemaker” software available for use with the product. This lack of instruction leads one to believe that unless further accessories are purchased (for console or other gaming), the only way to use the headset is to plug it into the computer and download the requested software.
After much Googling and a quick 30 MB-ish download, the headset is ready to use, and the software is ready for customization. Admittedly, Tonemaker is perhaps the biggest selling point on the otherwise ordinary headset. Shooters rejoice, as the software caters directly to those in need of noise boosts to reloading, shooting, and breathing effects. Up to four different settings can be assigned using the software to “boost” whichever sound effects are desired. However, in action, the difference this audio lift makes is somewhat minimal. It is noticeable, but because the software cannot entirely rewrite the audio scripts of any game, all other effects are still in use, even with the customization in place. The consequence is marginal in gameplay, if there is any consequence at all. This being stated, the software is still totally unique and innovative, and definitely worth playing around with.
Sound quality in the headset alone is a bit less impressive than when it is coupled with the G480. Bloody states that the 4 pin stereo plug attached to it is for tablet or smart phone gaming, and it is true – the plug can be used with any tablet, monitor, or phone that has the accompanying jack. They do not, however, promise a gratifying result for this use, and there’s probably a reason for that. The G501 seems to be automatically tuned to only shooter effects, making other game effects oddly disjointed. Dialogue-heavy or cut scene filled games seem to be pragmatic for the niche headset, as everything that isn’t an attack of some kind is almost too quiet or hushed to even bother with. This was true of every non-FPS game I attempted to play using the regular audio plug, making the prospect of using the headset for travel or casual gaming a disappointing unlikelihood.
The attached microphone has some excellent aesthetic features. It is both extendable and retractable, and almost fully disappears when pushed back into the headset. The extendable portion of the mic is also adjustable, so moving the microphone up or down is no problem, making breathing or other avoidable noises easy to circumvent. Along with maneuverability, the quality of the microphone is rather impressive, especially when used in loud environments. The noise-cancelling feature, while not perfect, still does an excellent job cutting out voices, white noise, and other sounds that would better be avoided.
The headset, when paired with the proper accessories and software, is definitely an impressive piece of equipment. On its own, however, it holds up only as a decent component in a sea of other “decent” components. Overall, it is best used by those who love shooter-based PC games, and those with the patience to properly program the many features provided. Casual gamers beware; for those who just want a quiet sit-down experience, other headsets may be a better choice over the specialties provided by Bloody.