Otto OT-4 Surround Sound Stereo Headset Review

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Company: Otto
Platform: Any

Rating:
Kyle Ackerman


Otto has long been creating audio hardware for commercial uses and government applications, but only decided to enter the consumer audio market in March. The company is focusing its products on mobile audio applications, so headphones were a natural product to test first. One of these is the OT-4 Surround Sound Stereo Headset, priced at just under $40 and available from Otto's store and certain electronics retailers.

As a set of ordinary stereo headphones, the OT-4 is great. It sports 40 mm Neodymium speakers that do a good job with low frequencies and bulky ear pads that successfully filter out most external noise. The 'phones initially sit a little tight, but loosen to a comfortable grip over time. When not taking advantage of the SRS features, the OT-4 passes high and low frequencies nicely, providing great stereo sound through the 3.5 mm mini-stereo plug.

Where the OT-4 falls short is as a surround sound headset. The idea behind the SRS function is that the "Sound Retrieval System" (SRS) is designed by SRS Labs to take an ordinary stereo signal and attempt to reconstruct the original 3D positional audio from the stereo signal. Like any SRS headset, the OT-4 is attempting to restore information that was missing from the signal long before the headphones even got the signal through the stereo jack.

The OT-4 becomes an SRS surround headset thanks to internal electronics. It's convenient that (unlike many other SRS headsets) the OT-4 doesn't require any software processing to install on a PC, so it can be used with handheld gaming devices. If you insert a single AAA battery into the headset, you can flip a switch on the right ear cup to activate the SRS processing, and adjust volume with a dial on the left.

It's easy for an audiophile to be disappointed in SRS surround. True surround sound requires more data than a stereo jack conveys, so the processing necessary to try and reconstruct such a signal often muddies the sound. The OT-4 is very middle of the road when it comes to the SRS sound. It's okay, but in my opinion degrades the signal more than is worthwhile. Also, if you are using it with the standard stereo output of a DS or PSP game, the SRS software is often reconstructing information that wasn't really there to begin with.

So fundamentally, the OT-4 is a great, basic stereo headset that will also provide adequate SRS processing and sound. If you don't use the SRS, the OT-4 is a little overpriced for a plain stereo headset, but it does the job.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on July 7, 2007 3:44 PM.

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