If you’re down with the gaming scene, then chances are you would have heard of Venom. As creators and suppliers of all manner of gaming accessories, including charging stations, controllers, battery packs and headsets, they’ve got a bit of a name for themselves for delivering products that are well created and well designed, whilst coming in with a more than reasonable price tag.
Now though Venom are back, and this time they have brought a multi-format headset to market – one that delivers not just 7.1 virtual surround sound, but vibration feedback and a delightfully cheap price. But should you be packing up your expensive cans for a look at the Venom Marauder?
Well, no, not really. Because even though I’ve got plenty of good things to say about the headset, there are some pretty annoying negatives.
Designed to work with Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3, PS4, PC and the huge range of mobile devices which come with a headphone jack as standard, the Venom Marauder headset certainly covers a lot of bases. Although a little plasticky to the touch, it’s very comfortable to wear too, with a well padded headband and cushioned cups ensuring that it is a joy to use for a good few hours at a time. The black design with red detailing is lovely to look at as well, and even though you wouldn’t want to be wandering down the street with them attached to your ears, for home use, they more than deliver the goods. With a small mic boom that folds up into the left ear cup when not in use, and an inline volume controller which, when used for gaming allows you to adjust the game volume and the depth of party chat with ease, the Marauder brings near on everything you would want in a headset.
It also brings you 7.1 virtual surround, and even though I’m not the most picky of audiophiles, with decent bass and a nice sound all that I really require from a headset, I’ve been mighty impressed with the ranges that the Marauder allows. At full volume, there is a bit of crackle, hiss and distortion, and this isn’t something you’d usually want to put up with, but for the £49.99 price point, it is more than bearable. If it bothers you that much, you could just turn the volume down slightly and many of those sound issues go away.
I’ve also been hugely wowed by the rather awesome vibration technology that has been incorporated into both the swivelling ear cups. Alongside the 40mm Neodymium drivers which deliver the bass and top end are a pair of second 30mm drivers which add a powerful – and I really do mean powerful if you want it to be – vibration that comes into play when the action is really going off on your screen. In fact, it’s so powerful that spectacle wearers may well wish to knock the vibration down a notch or two as it is heavy enough to make your glasses move. I’ve never used a headset that features this vibration technology, and even though I am fully down with the rumble coming direct from the controller, it’s a superb addition and a wonderful way of getting you fully immersed in the game at hand. The addition of added 3D bass should you wish to have it also works well.
So, as a headset which brings everything you could ever want at a great price, what exactly is wrong with the Marauder?
Well, first off, and the cable which runs from the headset to the small hub and then further on to your console is just too short. I normally game at around a distance of 11 foot from my TV, but whilst using the Marauder have found myself having to sit considerably closer. In fact, the cable length from console to headset comes in at just about 8ft in length, although in practice, by the time that cable then moves up towards your head you can, in theory, knock another foot or so off that. And that’s the biggest downside for me. Wired headsets aren’t ever going to win the day over a wireless option, and the short cable length is the one real reason why I couldn’t use the Marauder as my daily driver.
When you then also add in the weight of the inline controller and the hub that powers the magical audio powers, and you’ll notice that there is also a definite weight gain to the left side of the headset, with you feeling a slight pull on your neck. Granted, it’s not the most ridiculous of pulls, but it is noticeable and not particularly pleasant.
Secondly, and the fold out mic may well look great, and it’s much preferred over a huge boom stick, but when in party chat with friends, you’ll either find yourself needing to raise your voice for them to hear you, or, see them having to put up with plenty of echo as they begin to hear themselves feeding back through the cups and into the mic. You see, even though there is plenty of cushioning in both cups, sound leakage is most definitely a thing with the latest headset from Venom and you certainly couldn’t sit in the same room as someone else in the hope that they couldn’t hear your party chat, your music, or the in-game audio that you are taking in. As someone who regularly games alongside others, this is a major downside to any headset, whilst the last thing we want to do in the wonderful world of online gaming is have to repeat instructions to teammates time and time again.
So, for as good as the design is, for as great as the vibration feedback feels and as welcoming as the 7.1 virtual surround sound encompasses you, if you can’t sit comfortably, and can’t game with friends without them complaining of echo or poor mic audio, then a headset will struggle to really be of much use. But, should you not have friends that you game regularly with, sit fairly near to a screen by yourself for hours at a time, and don’t mind a whole multitude of cables sprawling across your desk, then the feature-rich Marauder will see you right. Especially as it comes with such a low price tag.
If you want to give it a go, then make sure you head over to Amazon and pick up the Venom Marauder 7.1 Virtual Surround Sound Multiformat Headset for £49.99.
Related: Unboxing the Venom Marauder Headset