Last week we donned the aural ambrosia that is Mad Catz F.R.E.Q. 7 Dolby ProLogic xII gaming headset for PC and mobile devices. It uses Dolby technology to expands the already melodious capabilities of 5.1 channel audio to even more dizzying heights at 7.1 channel audio. What we have today is the F.R.E.Q. 5 pro gaming headset. It’s the little brother in the F.R.E.Q. family. From the looks of each you can tell they are cut from similar cloth. But can the F.R.E.Q. 5 get out from under the weight of big brother’s impressive shadow and cut an audible name for itself? Let see!
The F.R.E.Q. 5 bundle is even more Spartan than the F.R.E.Q. 7. These are for use with PC and mobile devices just like the 7 and come with the 3.5m audio cable for connecting to mobile devices and smartphones. But it’s packed minus the headphone display stand that comes when you purchase big brother. The F.R.E.Q. 5 ships with the main headphones and a removable flexible microphone. You also get a plastic plug to fit in the hole left when the mic is removed.
Beyond those omission, the F.R.E.Q. 5 headset could pass for the 7’s twin brother, instead of its younger bro. They look identical, which is great for the younger sibling. The aesthetics are among the standout features of the F.R.E.Q. 7. I really like the original earpiece styling and shape. The use of lightweight metals relieve the unit of heft while also adding industrial sophistication.
Both sets also make use of large 50mm Neodynium drivers, braided cables and ample padding for the head and ears. Volume is controlled by the dial underneath the right earphone. Like the F.R.E.Q. 7 it is also very loose and requires an incredible amount of turning for noticeable sound changes. Button place, otherwise is identical to the F.R.E.Q. 7.
The unit connects to your PC via standard USB connection. No software installation is required, which is the exact opposite of the F.R.E.Q. 7. They require a trip to the company website to download a very limited utility suite. The use of which is to access the Prologic xII tech for mutli channel support. The Software for the F.R.E.Q. 7 is where you access the equalizer presets, of which there are 3. No such crutch is needed with the 5. You can toggle the presets right there on the headset with the EQ button. Each of the 3-presets is tuned for either music, games or voice. I found that games or music were the better more well-rounded options.
This also means audio performance is noticeably hampered. The F.R.E.Q. 5 is not bad a headset solution, by any means. The microphone is fantastic and illuminates red when muted. Those on the receiving end complimented the clarity of my voice and the lack of background noise. Movies and games sound good for a stereo offering, but of course, pale in comparison to the 7.1 channel functionality of the F.R.E.Q. 7. Audio packs a noticeable punch but is recognizably more hollow and lacks the full-body richness found in the 7 version. Playback performance is more on par with the Razer Carcharias or the SteelSeries 7H stereo headset we reviewed last year, with varying sounds more distinguishable on the 7H. At the MSRP I feel more inclined to compare the unit to its big brother than other stereo offerings. But that’s not really a fair match. Sennheiser’s PC 350SE is also a high-priced stereo headset solution. Yet it soars high above the Mad Catz F.R.E.Q. 5 in both price (lofty $250) and performance.
If you’re looking for an amazing stereo headset solution for your gaming glory, then there are cheaper options on the market that can outperform the 5 here. This one comes hard to recommend knowing there is a much better solution from the same family, with identical looks and comfort. The F.R.E.Q. 7 can be had for additional $50 and you get so much more.
Bottom Line: They look fantastic, and feel just as stellar. But I have a hard time recommending the F.R.E.Q. 5. For a bit more money canorous gaming bliss can be yours in the flag ship F.R.E.Q. 7. The F.R.E.Q. 5 are about $50 overpriced and lack the audio performance found in cheaper stereo solutions.
- Stylish and comfortable
- Excellent microphone
- Good stereo audio playback
- Included 3.5 cable for use w/ mobile devices
- Overly loose volume dial
- Audio sounds hollow compared to similar offerings