Creative WoW Headset Interview

BY Andrew Miesner / February 1, 2010

With the release of the Creative WoW Headset’s pending, we sat down with Ryan Schlieper from Creative. The interview breaks down the headset, from cost to specifications. Ryan also addresses the questions regarding the wireless headsets that everyone has been asking.

When are they going to be available?

Pre-Orders for a limited number are up on right now for both the wired and wireless. After that the headsets will hit the street at the beginning of March.

How much do they cost?

US$159.99 for the wireless / US$119 for the wired.

What’s the difference between the wireless and wired models?

There’s no difference between the two models other than the wireless uses wireless tech to send / receive info to your PC or MAC. The feature sets are otherwise identical. just said MAC in that last question. These headsets support the Apple platform as well?
Without a doubt. World of Warcraft is very successful on the Apple platform and we didn’t want to leave those playing WoW on a Mac out of the picture. The great thing is for the first time ever we will have feature parity between Mac OSX and Windows platforms. It’s really a big milestone for us as a company and our new THX TruStudio PC tech.

What exactly is THX TruStudio PC?

There’s a LOT to THX TruStudio PC. In short it’s an audio enhancement suite designed for entertainment. It’s a collaborative effort between Creative Labs and THX. The goal was simple. Deliver the fullest audio experience on home computers as possible. Whether it be games, music or movies. In the case of the Sound Blaster World of Warcraft headset the THX Surround is going to blow people away. Along with the usual “around” you placement of sound we have the ability to place sounds above and below you…something that might come in handy if you’re flying around on your Nether Drake in WoW…or in arenas for placing exactly WHERE that vanished Rogue is creeping around. There’s a lot more than just surround as well. Bass enhancement, dialogue enhancement, custom EQ’s…there’s a lot of tweaks you can make to personalize the audio to your tastes.

Is there lag on the wireless headset. Will it get me killed in raids because I didn’t hear my DBM warning until too late?

Absolutely not. Since we’re not using any compression for transmission there’s almost no latency at all. We’ve had pro-gamers using the tech for quite some time now and latency has never been an issue. I think in general…wireless gaming devices are starting to smash the pre-conceived notion that wireless is bad for gaming.

Some people are known to be skeptical of wireless audio devices, most notably because of interference or sound quality issues. How do the Sound Blaster World of Warcraft headsets stack up?

I think people are going to be blown away with the quality of the wireless audio. Being a former DJ and musician I’m pretty biased when it comes to “what sounds good” on my head. The technology we’re using has been refined through several products and really delivers a full audio experience. As the headset is wearing the Sound Blaster brand on it…we absolutely needed to live up to our name and heritage. We really feel like we’re changing the landscape of gaming audio here and making wireless a truly viable solution for casual and hardcore gamers alike. The tech also is very very smart even in a crowded wireless environment. The headset actively scans the environment it’s in and finds interference free areas of the spectrum and latches on to those areas. It then keeps scanning and if it ever picks up any interference or a sign of it changes over to a different portion of the band. All of this is acoustically invisible to the end user…so the result is clear interference free audio while you are gaming. Really advanced stuff that takes wireless audio to the next level.

What about having multiple headsets in the same room? Can you do this?

Absolutely. You can have many headsets in a room since we’re narrowband based. We took this into consideration especially for people that will be playing at tournaments and whatnot. And we also know there’s a lot of couples out there (myself included) that play the game. It just wouldn’t do to have me sporting my headset while the wife had to wear her old ones…although it probably would have been me wearing the old ones and her wearing the Sound Blaster World of Warcraft ones…haha.

And how long will the wireless version work without recharging?

You’re looking at about 8 hours of solid gameplay. But, you can always recharge WHILE the headset is in use as well. So you don’t have to pop it on a charger and wait for a charge. Just grab your charging cable and pop it in.

So what about the interchangeable lens system on the headset? What’s up with that?

Well, sitting at the core of the World of Warcraft fanbase is the Horde and Alliance Rivalry. When we were in the design phases of the headset it was always a goal to make something that would appeal to both sides. One of the coolest things about working with Blizzard is they really LOVE their brand and world they’ve created. And they want to take everything to the next level when it comes to delivering content and products to their fans. So we wanted to make sure we had a way to really allow the user to customize the headset and “declare” their allegiance. So naturally it came down to the root level of Horde vs. Alliance. We then went completely over the top and added RGB customizable lighting to the headset. Just red and blue weren’t going to be enough. The inside joke was we wanted all the pink pony-tailed gnomes to be able to sport glowing pink earcups. And they can with this headset. Again, it’s all about customization. And shortly after launch we’ll be making the class lenses available, and more after that. We’ve got some pretty cool ideas when it comes to this feature in the future.

The headset looks pretty big. Is it heavy? How comfortable is it?

This is actually one of the coolest things for me to watch whenever we show the headset to people. They are always amazed at how light the headset is when they pick it up. We’ve made this headset the ideal MMO gaming headset. Those of us that play WoW know you can play for long periods of time. The headset has to be wearable for that entire period. To make it comfy for extended periods you really have to take a lot into account. How much tension is in the headband? You want to make it tense enough to be fit but loose enough to not clamp someones noggin’. How big are the earpads? Are they comfortable with glasses (YES…I can vouch for that personally)? How heavy are they? Etc. etc. I think we’ve struck a great balance on all these things and created a headset that screams quality but won’t give you a neck cramp halfway through your Icecrown raid.

Anything else to add?

I just wanted to say thanks to all the patient World of Warcraft fans out there that have been waiting patiently for this product to hit the market. We know you’ve been waiting since August to get your hands on them. I think all the technology, design, and touches we’ve added since we displayed the prototypes at Blizzcon are going to prove it was worth the wait. I can’t wait for the community to be wearing these. As WoW players and fans ourselves, we’ve made this headset for all of YOU fellow players and fans. Thanks for the interview and opportunity to talk about the headsets!