Creative Fatal1ty Mkii

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Although professional gamer, Johnathan "Fatal1ty" Wendel, has taken a brief hiatus from competitive play in recent years, he remains one of the most successful players in the sport's history. In his downtime, Wendel has built an empire of Fatal1ty-branded products, including OCZ power supplies, NVIDIA graphics cards, and lastly Creative Labs sound cards and headphones. We had an opportunity to check out Fatal1ty's signature headset last year, the HS-1000, and now Creative and Wendel are back with the Fatal1ty Professional Series Mk II Gaming Headset. Fatal1ty's latest headset packs premium stereo plug connectors, a brand new design, and Creative's new Silencer technology. How does it shape up? Find out in our exclusive review.

One of our biggest gripes with Wendel's first headset was the delicate nature of its design and build materials, which utilized rather loose swiveling joints and a low quality plastic casing. Upon picking up the Fatal1ty Mk II's, however, we noticed that Creative and Wendel recognized these less-than-optimal aspects of the original design and improved upon them. With the Mk II's Creative went for a much more compact design, Both the ear cups and the Mk II's frame have been reduced compared to the first Fatal1ty headset, and the materials are of a much higher quality. Other improvements to the Mk II's design include a removable microphone, and pleather-like material for the headband and ear cup padding, as opposed to the original design's soft cloth. Additionally, the headset's padding is now memory foam, which adds a little extra comfort for prolonged gaming sessions.
In terms of build quality and design, we were pretty impressed with the Fatal1ty Mk II's. The company clearly took some extra consideration for comfort and compact transportability. The plastic casing, as we said, is definitely stronger and more resilient than its predecessor's and the reduced size of all of the product's components make the Mk II's easy to pack and transport with ease. The new padding material and pleather covering are comfortable, but not perfect. Memory foam is soft and form fitting, however, it does not breath as much as comparable materials, making this element of the Mk II's design a bit of a trade off. On the one hand, memory foam is snug and adds improved filtering of environmental noise, but your ears will be quick to heat up in the headset. To make matters worse, the enclosure around your ears is relatively small. While more than enough to accommodate average ear sizes, there is very little wriggle room.
On the sound performance side of things, we were very impressed by the Mk II's 40mm Neodymium drivers, which feature complete 20Hz to 20kHz response. The Fatal1ty Professional Series Mk II headset dominates just about any type of source audio, music, gaming, or otherwise. The native equalization of the headset gives users impressive, but not overbearing, bass response with smooth mids and crisp highs. The Mk II's are stereo not 5.1, but the sound is surprisingly roomy and localizes in-game effects accurately.
Creative's big marketing push for the Mk II's is it's Silencer feature, which intelligently filters ambient and environmental effects through voice communications...but only if you have Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium sound card. The Silencer works through the use of two microphones built into the removable boom mic -- one on the tip, another on the ear cup joint. The X-Fi Titanium sound card then takes the two signals, identifies the background noise, and filters it out of the outgoing audio signal, reducing the outside noise for those you are communicating with. Creative was kind enough to provide us with two headsets and two X-Fi Titanium cards, and we won't deny it, the difference was clear. Much of IGN's in-office shenanigans were filtered out as we communicated from two opposing areas of the building. Still, this experience will be exclusively limited to those with the Fatal1ty/X-Fi Titanium combo, everyone else using the headset will output standard voice communications.
For the price, $99.99, the Fatal1ty Professional Series Mk II Gaming Headset is a decent value. We were impressed by the headset's audio performance and the Silencer feature is a cool, albeit limited, feature. Although not the most comfortable or versatile headset we've used, it is definitely a quality product. If your gaming rig is packing an X-Fi Titanium sound card and you're in the market for a new gaming headset, we recommend checking the Mk II's out.