In the test we'll expose the headset to three sound tests followed by a microphone test. As always we'll start out with testing how well the headset handles when listening to music followed by movies, games and lastly the microphone test.
When it comes to types of music I have a broad taste, which I put ARENA through. I played everything from techno, dance, pop to rock and a couple of classics. After having listened to the different types of music for quite some time, you will have a good feeling inside of you. ARENA really could play music well. It is hard to describe how sound is perceived, but I will give it a try. When listening to rock, ARENA sounded magnificent. The midrange tone from the drums sounded really nice, and the bass and treble precise, sweet and crystal clear. As mentioned, I played some more "hard" music - techno/trance. ARENA did an awesome job once again, and the bass sounded eminently. The treble was once again clear and the midrange also did well. The volume got turned op, to the max actually. This proved to be too much for the ears and it was no longer possible to keep ARENA on. ARENA still played clearly though, and the sound did not get distorted in any way. When playing on maximum you could feel the two 40mm units pump, and the whole headset would vibrate a little, giving a nice effect.
Movies: To test ARENA's potential in movies, the blockbuster movie 2012 was used. Two separate scenes were chosen to judge from. The first was a dialog from the President. Once again ARENA sounded terrific and the voices were very realistic. You could sense all the detail in the voices, and it was so good, that you almost felt as being present. The second scene chosen, was the one where the whole city starts to crumble. This truly contains explosions and cool sounds, as when the big house of glass collapses. Once again ARENA impressed by depicting an incredibly profound bass whenever it was needed, and the shattering glass sounded nice and clear. You could feel the headset vibrate against your head whenever the big explosions encountered. When watching movies ARENA also came to its rights.
Games: We have now reached the final stage of the sound test, namely games. To test how ARENA holds its own in games we choose the game Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2. This is a rather new FPS game, it which you run around in vast landscapes while defeating your enemies. It is important to be able to hear where the enemy is hiding. ARENA also did really well and you were at no point in doubt about where the enemy was hiding. We tried to enable ARENA's build-in surround and set it to the 5.1 configuration. This gave a completely different experience, but not in a bad way. You felt as being surrounded by speakers, which is the whole idea of surround. Unfortunately, it was not as convincing as one might have hoped, but worked quite well.
Microphone: The last test was the microphone test. In this test I allied myself with a friend and had a nice long talk over Skype. As always we did everything from laughing, singing to yelling. So the microphone was tested in every way. Even when yelling into the microphone it still sounded okay. This is possible due to the noise-canceling condenser the microphone is equipped with. Thanks to the very flexible microphone we were able to adjust it to our liking. Even when turning it around it stayed attached to the headset, thanks to the build-in locking mechanism. All in all a very good microphone.
In the test period, ARENA was used many hours each day. In some instances up to 4-5 hours in one setting. With that said one can only say: "WAUW!" Creative must have worked a lot with ARENA's headband and flexibility. Even after long-time use you will not suffer from pain in ears or where the headband rests. This is definitely one of the most comfortable headsets I have ever used. Almost all sounds are shut out, so that you will not get distracted by unwelcome sounds. The soft earpads are very comfortable and closely fitted around your ears. I for one have fairly big ears, but they still managed to fit inside the earpads, which is quite well done. In short about comfort - Thumbs up Creative
Testing ARENA was a true pleasure. This is really a well done product with lots of delights. The design speaks for itself. The white stylish coior and the soft lines. The black cushion pads on the earpads and the headband look great in contrast to the white colors. Finally, we must not forget the earpads with the silver lining and the Sound Blaster logo. It looks great, doesn't it?
Regarding the sound quality we have to let us impress. ARENA's build-in 40mm Neodym units manage to produce a magnificent sound without distortion, even at high volume. The treble of ARENA is something special. Crystal clear and distinct without getting too high pitched or dominating. The midrange is incredible as well. Especially when listening to rock music. Drums and rythms in the music is held in an iron grip and sound really nice. Lastly, ARENA's bass - can you say anything but WAUW? The Standard settings have plenty of bass whether you play games or music, but if this is not enough, you can stoke up via the bundled software.
The software bundled with ARENA is thought through and well done as it usually is with Creative's products. The main menu is identical to the one in Creative's Sound Blaster sound cards, with fewer settings. This is a given, as a headset does not have as many functionalities, and they are unnecessary. The bundled media player is okay and can play various formats. The last program, ALchemy, is also a really good program. It is easy to use and works perfectly, though the surround effects could have been better. This could be due to the games used, and is hard to tell. Perhaps future games might have better soundtracks and support in this area.
Finally, I'd like to comment on the comfort of ARENA. It is really something of its own. The light and flexible headband plus large earpads make ARENA resting nicely on your head, even after long-term usage. As mentioned earlier we tried out ARENA in up to 5 hours in a row. Even after such long use there were no signs of pain whatsoever.
How is ARENA priced, you ask? At this moment you can get one for about 611DKK shipping included, according to www.edbpriser.dk. This might sound a little steep, but compared to Logitech's G35 headset, that goes for about 740DKK, one must say that the price is quite fair. You get lots of features and possibilities with ARENA, and if you can live without the extra features of the G35, ARENA is a really nice offer. Especially when looking for a headset with numerous features compared to the standard soundcard-connected headsets.
Outstanding sound quality
Is able to play very loud
Detachable and flexible microphone
Smoth design with great detail
Nice and big earpads
Very flexible and well build
Rests nicely on your head regardless of size
Long cord with USB-connectivity
The build-in surround does not impress much