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Review: Mad Catz F.R.E.Q. M Wireless Headset – Headphones That Do Everything?

February 20, 2014 - Written By Tom Dawson

When it comes to headphones, I think all serious music listeners will agree that they haven’t found a pair of headphones that does everything. I personally, have a big pair of headphones for listening around the house, a 7.1 set for PC Gaming, a pair of Turtle Beach for my Xbox and then one more set of earbuds for when on the move. It’s annoying. Mad Catz might just have the answer for us with the F.R.E.Q. M wireless headset. Strange naming aside, these mobile headphones are part of the company’s GameSmart initiative, which aims to provide gaming accessories that pretty much work with anything, and do everything. The F.R.E.Q. Ms work over Bluetooth from tablets, smartphones and more. However, they can also be plugged in via the provided 3.5mm headphone cable, you can even listen to music from your laptop or desktop while charging them over USB. So, let’s recap they work with any modern smartphone or tablet over Bluetooth and they also work with PCs and anything that use a 3.5mm stereo jack. That’s great and all, but are they any good?

Design

These days, it seems that a set of headphones are doomed to fail if they don’t look the part. Which is a shame, but nobody wants to wear a pair of cans that are unattractive. While whether or not these are a good-looking pair of headphones is subjective, I’d like to say that they’re fairly good-looking and they come in a range of colors, including black, white and gloss black in case red wasn’t your thing. They’re incredibly compact, and they fold in unto themselves to be stored in the provided carrying pouch. I’d say that they were well-built and I haven’t had any cause for concern when using them for hours on end for days at a time. I will say that the glossy plastic is prone to fingerprints, but that’s more of a glossy plastic thing than anything else. Buttons are cleverly built-in to the headset, with forward, back and a mic toggle at the bottom and then volume up and down at the top. The giant Mad Catz button serves as play/pause as well as your phone pickup button, too.

Whether or not they’re comfortable is of course down to their design, too. I’m mostly a fan of big, bulky over-ear headphones so I was very cautious with these at first. They’re pretty comfy, despite their compact size. You can slightly adjust the tilt so that they rest on your ear comfortably and their seems to be a lot of adjustment on offer. Which is good, as I have a massive head. The headband is fairly tight, tight enough so they don’t constantly fall off and the padding is adequate enough to prevent any head pain. I’ve used these for easily 5 or 6 hours straight at a time when working, and while ears were hurting a little I think that was more to do with bass than it was any pressure from the cans themselves. I would love the ear pieces to be a little bigger, but there’s not too much to complain about here.

Sound Quality

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Something else I have often been wary of is Bluetooth audio, I have a Bluetooth speaker dock on my nightstand, but rarely use it. I don’t know what it is, but I’ve yet to have a decent experience with Bluetooth audio, until now. These certainly impressed me, not only in how easy they are to set up and how versatile they are, but how good they sounded, too. Out of the box, they have a balanced, if a little flat sound and they sound about as good as any other high-end pair of headphones. One thing’s for sure though, the 40mm drivers in these are capable of some decent bass response. Make some small adjustments to your liking in your favorite equalizer however, and you’ll love how they sound. I chose DSP Manager to make some tweaks and this really brought out the goods for me, they sounded good before hand but with some adjustments they sounded great. I enjoy a warmer tone to my music and as such I adjust the bass a little and applied an EQ setting and these have been as good as the JVCs I used to swear by.

One of the crowning features of this however, is the fact they work with practically everything, or at least that’s what Mad Catz say. So, I plugged these in to everything I could find, which is a whole lot of devices. First up was my Android devices, it worked flawlessly with my Nexus 5 both over Bluetooth and with the provided 3.5mm cable, and the same is said for my G Pad. In fact, you can pair to two devices over Bluetooth with this, which can be a little confusing. The idea is that you’re watching a film on your tablet and someone calls you on your phone and you can easily take that call and resume your film afterwards. I had no issues will call quality, everyone I spoke to said I sounded good, if not a tad distant, but I got no major complaints. Then I tried them in my 3DS XL (which gets less and less use these days) and they worked just fine. The computer side of things intrigued me even further. Without needing to install any drivers or anything, I was listening over USB and charging the headset at the same time. I tried this on a number of machines (all Windows) and they all worked as expected.

There’s no point in making a great wireless headset if it’s not very portable. The F.R.E.Q. M is easy to carry around with the included carrying pouch and the fact that fold to half the size is a touch as well. So yeah, these guys are easy enough to put in a bag and take with you. They’re not quite as portable as a pair of earbuds you can coil up, but they probably sound better and they’re also wireless, so there’s that to consider. There’s also the Mad Catz A.P.P…app, too. When connected, this will show you your battery percentage and allow you to change through some EQ settings, such as music, movies and gaming. The gaming EQ setting is perhaps the only one that makes that big a difference, I found that music worked equally as well for movie-viewing. It’s a neat idea and makes checking the battery, which apparently lasts around 24 hours (I’ve charged these once in the past few days) without pressing indicators and having more LEDs to deal with.

The Final Word

Make no mistake, these are a quality pair of headphones. From the moment you set eyes on the packaging (which is in the gallery below) to the first time you put them on, the F.R.E.Q. Ms are a surprisingly nice set of mobile cans. They’re not perfect though, the cables provided aren’t all that long if you’re connecting to something via a wire and while battery life on the whole is quite good, charging them can be a pain. They’re a good-looking set, but I would like to be a little bit bigger. At the end of the day though, the F.R.E.Q. Ms do so much that they could quickly become your de facto pair of headphones, and they sound pretty damn good doing it. If there’s one major problem holding these back though, it’s their price. We’re not cheap here at Android Headlines, but these are quite expensive. Still though, if you’re looking for a quality pair of headphones to use while on the go without having to compromise, then they might be worth the asking price to you.

You can take a close look at the F.R.E.Q. Ms in the gallery below and find out more info from Mad Catz as well as purchase your own pair from Amazon.