Introduction & First Looks
Although it wasn't long ago we had a look at a pair of Zalman headphones, we've already got a new pair for you to check out. Well, new isn't entirely the truth, as the ZM-RS6Fs arn't new, they've been around for a few years now; but what Zalman has done to refresh them is to integrate a USB sound card and add a USB connector on the end of the cable.
Again, this isn't Zalman's first USB audio device, as the ZM-RSSC USB sound card was the first, but instead of using a USB 1.1 Sonix chip, Zalman has moved to C-Media for the fully USB 2.0 compatible CM6206. Sadly this USB audio controller doesn't support DTS, although it does Dolby Digital streaming.
The CM6206 also supports 7.1-channel sound, but in the case with the ZM-RS6Fs you only got six speakers. This means that you can go 5.1 or virtual 7.1. The audio control panel is a bit lackluster to be honest, as Zalman is using the bog standard C-Media software. There's very little on the CD bar the drivers, although both Windows XP and Vista are supported.
A good thing with the USB version of the ZM-RS6F is that the CM6206 audio controller supports the USB HID audio protocol, which means that you can use the headphones and get sound without installing the drivers, albeit stereo only. A downside is that Zalman doesn't seem to have done enough driver tweaking, as when you run the surround sound test in the C-Media control panel, the subwoofer channel never makes any noise. Sure, there is no subwoofer, but the base seems to be missing altogether as this sound hasn't been routed to the headphones at all.
All the other channels are working just fine and this is hopefully just a driver issue and not something to do with Zalman's hardware implementation.