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Cougar Phontum Universal Gaming Headset Review

Hardware Reviews By Matthew Keith on April 15, 2018

Cougar Phontum Universal Gaming Headset Review

In our search for the perfect headphones, today we take on the Cougar Gaming Phontum Universal Gaming Headset. Boasting maximum comfort and superior sound, I was interested to see just how superior these phones were to others on the market. So after a couple of weeks of intensive testing, we’re here to tell you just how well the Phontum’s stack up.

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Specifications

Headphone

  • Driver: 53mm
  • Sensitivity at 1Khz: 98dB/mW1kHz
  • Frequency response: 20Hz - 20kHz
  • Cable Length: 1.2m+1.8m (detachable cable)
  • Connector Type: Detachable cable - audio and mic 3.5mm plug

Microphone

  • Type: Unidirectional noise canceling
  • Frequency Response: 100Hz to 10KHz
  • Sensitivity at 1KHZ: -45dB +/- 3dB
  • Impedance: 2.2k Ohms

Comfort and Design

The Cougar Phontum Headphones are a sleek piece of hardware. Rocking the signature orange and black of Cougar Gaming, the Phontum has a solid feel to its build. All cords (attached and provided in box) are braided and thick. The orange pad on the headband is lush and exceptionally comfortable to hear. One of my favorite features are the side bars that attach the ear piece to the head band. These thin pieces of metal offer a solid point of contact making them more durable and lending the whole build a solid look and feel. A final signature touch is the metal logos on the outside of each earpiece letting you know exactly whose gear you’re wearing.

As a long time gamer, one of the most frequent complaints on headphones I hear is about comfort. Sure, most headphones are decent when you first put them on but after an hour or two of loot grinding many sets can begin to press in and cause irritation or pain to your ears and head. This is often referred to as “fatigue.”

To help address this issue, Cougar has provided two different sets of ear pads for the Phontum. The ear pads that come pre-attached are noticeably thicker. According to Cougar’s site these are the “home” pads and are great for isolation and bass.

The internal foam is made from a dense memory foam that quickly molds to fit comfortably around your ears. The added thickness of the pad also means that your ears never really press against the inside wall of the headphone. This coupled with the oval-shaped interior means that your ears are fully enclosed without feeling cramped or pinned. Even with hours of gaming both while wearing my glasses and without, there was never a point where I felt like I needed to take a break because of my ears.

The second set of ear pads that came with the Phontom are the “on-the-go” set and are noticeably lighter and thinner. As the name would suggest these ear pads are great for when you’re riding transit, travelling, or simply out and about. The slimmer design definitely reduces the overall profile of the headphones giving the whole thing a sleeker, cleaner look.

While testing this second set I noticed two things. The exterior surface cover, a premium soft protein, is exceptionally comfortable and is the same covering as its thicker counterpart. The second is that, although the foam and covering are similar, the thinner design means that my ears did push up against the inner wall of the headphones. As a result prolonged gaming sessions really are better suited for the former as opposed to the latter. That said, while out and about doing my daily errands, I found the on-the-go earpads to be plenty comfortable and more convenient for throwing in my bag on the go.

With all this said, the Cougar Phontum Headphones are possibly the most comfortable headphones I’ve ever worn. Both sets of earpads play to their respective strengths with the gamer set being the most comfortable for longer gaming sessions. When it comes to comfort, the Phontums get it right.

How Do They Sound?

Comfort is important but by itself the headphones would be lacking. That's why the Phontum comes equipped with massive 53mm drivers for superior full sound. To put that in perspective, most standard headphones come with a 40-45mm drivers and are probably what you’re used to. The Phontum kicks it up a notch in regards not only to power but internal design.

Most speakers simply pump the sound directly into your ear to give a sense of power and volume. The only issue here is that quality is often sacrificed for quantity. The Phontum, on the other hand, rocks a dual chamber design which helps to create distinctions between highs, mids and lows making up its sound signature. This, in turn, results in a clearer, crisper sound. 

As a sound tech by trade, I spent a lot of time testing this feature. I used everything from video games, to musical scores, and even literal sound tests to see just how well this dual chamber design would hold up. I have to say I walked away impressed. The overall quality of sound is amazing on these headphones. What was more impressive is that even at higher volumes the sound was clear practically without distortion.

This is accomplished through the use of Cougar’s graphene diaphragm drivers which allows the audio to be pushed harder without losing quality. Surround this tech in the aforementioned memory foam and oval-shaped internal design and you have a recipe for solid, noise isolating sound.

The last bit of testing that I performed on the headset was to test out the detachable microphone. Once attached it fits nicely with the aesthetic design and if you didn't know better would assume its a fixed piece on the headphones. I ran the mic through several tests across multiple platforms and systems.

Mic Check

The unidirectional noise canceling mic did seem to hold up pretty well with my testing. I did note that it didn’t capture the low end of my vocal range as well as some other mics but did still provide a clear sound capture.

When used with a VOIP client (in this case Discord), a few people did note that that the mic did seem to have a low pitched hum when I was speaking with them. I didn’t note this at all during my recordings or even when tested on the PS4 which leads me to believe that it may have something to do with Discord specifically. 

My takeaway is that it does make a solid communication device for practically every platform supporting a 3.5mm jack but may not hold up as well in a recording setting due to the lighter low-end capture. However, at the end of the day if your looking for a mic that allows you to communicate with your buddies on multiple platforms it will definitely deliver, even going so far as to also provide a mic/headphone splitter for those who don’t have a four-pole jack on their system.

Final Thoughts

The Cougar Phontum Universal Gaming Headset pulls no punches. It provides a high end build quality, excellent audio output and a solid mic all wrapped in a sleek, sexy finish. At a price point of just over $49.00 USD on Amazon at the time of writing these really cannot be beat. If you’re in the market for a new gaming headset that works across multiple platforms the Phontum is definitely a solid contender.

Pros

  • Excellent, quality Design 
  • Comfort, Comfort, Comfort
  • Quality audio output and noise isolation
  • Did I mention comfort?

Cons

  • The mic is functional but could be better

The product discussed in this review was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.