Sound Produced: 5.1 Dolby Surround
Primary System: Xbox 360
Also Compatible With: PC (RCA to 3.5.mm required and sold separately)
Connection Method: RCA/Digital Optical
The Chimaera 5.1 is a major upgrade from the standard Chimaera. In addition to offering 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, it comes with circumaural ear cups and an equalizer. It’s also one of the fiercer beasts in the headset world. With many features come many, many cables and headache-inducing set ups. It’s primarily an Xbox 360 headset but it will work on PC, provided you’re willing to shell out the extra cash for an RCA to 3.5mm cable. The stand itself is a wired monster, but experiencing the freedom of a wireless headset paired with the audio excellence of 5.1 Dolby is a all the reward you’ll need, if you can handle the price.
What’s in the box?
Holy cable monster, Batman. The Chimaera 5.1 is full of them. You get the headset itself, the charging dock/base station, an optical cable (not pictured), RCA cable, AC adapter, 2.5mm to 2.5mm stereo cable for your controller, a 3.5mm to 3.5mm stereo cable for local team communication (if you plan on using multiple Chimaeras at the same time), an international outlet adapter (not pictured), and two rechargeable AAA batteries.
Aesthetics and Durability
The Mass Effect 3 Chimaera 5.1 has a carbon fiber-esque finish and a subtle N7 logo printed on the side. It feels sturdy, sleek, but very, very bulky. Generous padding inside the ear cups and along the headband prevent it from completely weighing you down, but it definitely seems a bit awkward when you look at yourself wearing it. The Chimaera completely covers the ear and then extends out past it over three inches. The buttons along the ear cups are lite by red LEDs, which look quite sharp and leave you feeling like you’re about to embark on a spacewalk. Almost all of the Chimaera’s controls are located on the cups, so it’s easy to feel like a space faring hero after a few minutes of tweaking your volume.
The cushioning is a mix of fuzzy fabric and foam padding. It’s not the most chic of looks, but it’s very comfortable. The band is only padded on the underside and there’s a gap where the headset charges on the dock, but the foam is arranged so that the prongs never touch the top of your head. The Chimaera always looks good, it’s just not the most flattering to wear. When it’s charging on its dock, glowing green in the night, it’s pretty impressive.
Ease of Setup and Use
Setting up the Chimaera 5.1 isn’t so much difficult as it is tedious. There’s a lot you need to take into account before you begin set up. If you intended to use this headset on your PC, then you’re going to need an RCA to 3.5mm adapter cable in order to get this to work at all. Even then, it feels like a sort of Frankenstein feat, like the Chimaera doesn’t want anything to do with your computer. You need to have the RCA to 3.5.mm and a 3.5mm to 3.5mm connected simultaneously to your computer in order to get the mic operational. You may have to unplug your speakers to get this to work. Even then, something about it just isn’t quite right. If your sound card can’t handle 5.1 Dolby, then there’s really no point. Also, note that the mic will not function properly if you’re connected to your PC via a digital optical cable.
Getting this to work on your 360 is a multi-step process. First off, note that you’re going to need to buy another adapter if you’re using an HDMI cable. Razer only provides the means to connect via analog or digital optical. I don’t even remember the optical cable, I was too overwhelmed with everything that popped out of this box. First, you’ll need to plug the AC adapter into the charge dock. Then, you’ll need to plug the analog adapters into your television and connect this to your dock. You’ll also want to put the batteries in the earcup, a process that is rather awkward and ill-planned as you’re going to have to essentially rip the cover off. If you’re using the analog cables, you won’t actually need to connect the dock to your 360. Digital optical and HDMI adapter cables will need to connect to your 360 though, which can cause some logistical problems if your gaming setup is already a little cord clogged. Next up, sync the headset with the dock. This may take a few tries as you time the button presses, but once you’ve synched with the dock, you won’t ever need to re-sync. Next, connect the 2.5mm cable to your controller.
Then you’re going to want to study the master guide very carefully to understand what the different color lights and symbols mean, as you’re going to be adjusting the blindly with the controls on your ear cups. There are so many things to play with, from adjusting the treble and bass to switching from chat channels at the push of a button. It’s just very easy to mute yourself on accident when you meant to simply switch to party chat. There’s an acclimation period that goes along with the Chimaera 5.1, especially if you’re coming from something much simpler like the PX21.
Sound Quality and Performance Notes
The sound quality is fantastic, as is to be expected from 5.1 Dolby. It’s latency-free and you’ve got 33 feet of wandering space. Get up, grab a sandwich, and you can still chat with your friends while in another room. The three-dimensional sound is a great boon when you’re trying to pinpoint an enemy’s location and the Chimaera 5.1 will allow you to really zero in on where those footfalls are coming from. If the headset doesn’t detect any sound after a minute or so, it automatically powers down in order to conserve battery. This headset can go for about 8 hours before it’ll need a charge, a process that takes 3 hours and ends with a trickle charge to ensure longer battery life. Whether you’re listening to game audio or a bass-heavy song, you’re going to get killer sound.
There are some issues that may irk some potential buyers. The mic can only be moved up and down, as the band it’s mounted on is pretty inflexible. Plus, the mic quality is pretty abysmal considering just how much the Chimaera 5.1 costs. Albeit, you’re buying a headset, not dedicated recording equipment. There’s also no independent game and chat volume controls, though the manual states that there are some button tricks you can use to adjust both. The best way to fix your volume issue is in the Xbox preferences menu. This will be frustrating for players looking to change audio levels on the fly, especially without an in-hand control panel. All of your dials and buttons are located either on the ear cups or the dock.
At a glance, they seem like they’d be heavy and uncomfortable, but the combination of the soft fabric padding and the distribution of weight make this headset very comfortable, even during marathon sessions. Since the cups completely surround the ear, there’s no pressure behind the lobe. They don’t feel heavy at all, you just feel comfortably encased in cushy fabric.
Its auto-off feature and RCA, digital optical, and HDMI connection options allow owners to get the audio experience best suited to their hardware arrangement, given that they have the necessary cables. The Mass Effect 3 branding is also a classy touch.
RCA to 3.5mm cable if intended for PC use. Also, an adapter if your Xbox 360 uses an HDMI cable.
This is not a headset for beginners. the Chimaera 5.1 Mass Effect 3 edition delivers a powerful sound in a wireless package, but the set up and missing features make it a bit of an odd duck for users trying to get the best possible stereo setup without much fuss. You need to know what you’re doing to get your $210 worth, which means knowing the differences between an analog and a digital optical connection. As with any Dolby Surround device, you need to make sure your hardware is capable of an output of that caliber. If you’ve got the right set up and aren’t afraid to tackle this quirky-yet-powerful headset, then this may be a good match for you. More so if you’re a Mass Effect 3 fan.
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