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Creative Arena Surround USB review

Virtual surround sound and X-Fi in one tidy gaming headset

Creative Arena Surround USB gaming headset
Great gaming headphones, but not good for anything else


  • Comfortable
  • Great for gaming
  • USB makes for easy set-up


  • They're ugly
  • Not great for music

Arena Surround sounds like it should be the name of a Swedish chubby-culture porn star, but actually it's the name of Creative's new £90 gaming headset.

It's Creative's first headset to carry the Sound Blaster brand, and features built-in X-Fi audio crystalisation and CMSS 3D soundstage expansion.

The headset is designed to deliver positional surround sound so that you can more closely monitor the gaming world around you.

The Arena Surround also comes packing Creative's 'Silencer' tech which helps the built-in microphone isolate your voice from other sounds in the room, making it easier for your team mates to understand what it is you're blathering about.

And to top-off the feature list, you can also use 'VoiceFX' to change your voice into that of an Alien, an Orc or 16 other ridiculous fictional creatures.


So, does it all work? Well the answer is yes – as a gaming headset the Arena Surround is very good.

The positional surround sound does a half-decent job of discerning between noises in front and behind you, although it's certainly no match for a decent 5.1-speaker system in this regard.

The microphone, too, works well and the 'Silencer' software does a good job of filtering out background noise.

However, there are, of course, some inherent problems with a headset like this.

As it's a USB headset, it relies entirely on the built-in soundcard which is about the size of a flash dongle.

This eliminates the possibility of using it with your existing (read: better) soundcard. And if you were thinking about using it for listening to music, don't even bother. Music sounds murky, with all the audio pushed into the mushy midrange.

This kind of audio processing obviously works well with gaming, but for anything else it makes a bit of a hash of things.

Value for money

However, let's not dwell too much on that, as it is after all, a gaming headset.

As such, it's a pretty handy product. However, for £90, we struggle to see the benefits of plumping for this comfortable-yet-conspicuously ugly headset when you can get other Creative models for less.

If you've got the cash, and surround sound simulation is your bag, this is a decent option. However, for everyone else, we'd recommend last year's Creative HS-1000 headset as a better-value alternative.