When it comes to audio devices there’s probably one type that is almost impossible to get wrong – wired Earbuds. This is because Earbuds are designed to fit snugly into the entrance of your ear canals. This close fit allows for even the most basic level of sound quality to sound at least passable to the average listener, especially in the base department. As such I had very high hopes for the Mad Catz E.S. PRO+ Earbuds before I even used them.
As per usual here are the manufacturer specs:
- Dual microphones for ultimate in flexibility
- Multi-function in-line microphone lets you control your music or answer calls with ease
- Detachable microphone is ideal for communicating with your team – never miss a second
- 13.5mm speaker offers fantastic clarity and bass response
- Flat 35mm audio cable reduces tangling
- Lightweight and ergonomic design
- Includes interchangeable earbuds for customizable comfort
The ones used for this review were a pair of white ones which we received from the manufacturer during Gamescom 2019. Aesthetically I found it to be simply marvelous. Mad Catz chose to avoid the stand earbud design of just a little bump connected to standard earbud speaker drivers and it works. The angular design adorned with their trademarked claw marks makes it look like something out of a science fiction movie, almost blade runner-esk. Then there’s that huge bump of a platform connected to the speaker which has the thing looking like it’s been designed to punch the base directly into your brain. Add to that the eye catching read tips which contrast so well with the white buds and you have what is easily my favorite buds to use from a visual perspective.
All that being said, a buds true value is not in its looks but rather its sound quality and comfort. I’ll begin with the sound since it’s the easier of the two to cover and then we’ll circle back to the comfort. As a pair of buds, the Mad Catz E.S. PRO+ sound magnificent no matter the application. Initially they were tested using music while being connected to both an android and iPhone and in both cases it impressed. There’s an impressive amount of base but not at the cost of clarity. My song of choice for this test was none other than Samsa’s – Rearview which has a consistent drum beat with a subtle thump accompanying the perfect amount of what sounds like a simple two key tone, flutes, bird chirps and that calm voice offering those smooth mind-blowing lyrics.
(Yes I made an excuse to include one samsa because as I keep telling people, this man’s music is my gospel.)
Music aside, this is still a gaming Headset. So does it manage game audio?
On the Nintendo Switch it offered a clear sound that should appease lovers of pew pew of shooters to appreciators of the majestic OSTs of JRPGs. However, where it truly impressed most was with the racing game isle of man. Listening to the sound of the bike engines while driving through the UK countryside triggered a sense of authenticity I wasn’t expecting. Even on the PC and PS4 it captured sounds one would expect from top headsets like the ASTRO A50s – a £200 – £300 product. This amazing sound quality can also be attributed to the brightly coloured included extra tips. They come in a range of sizes to allow for the perfect fit. Using a pair with a tight fit offers an almost perfect amount noise cancellation which enhances the audio quality. Most notably it improves the base and also prevent much unwanted background noise. I used mine on numerous flights to play on my Nintendo switch, listen to podcasts and watch movies to great success. The audio was great while allowing just enough environmental sound for awareness.
Sound from the mic is more or less what you’d expect from any gaming headset. It’s good enough for communication purposes thanks to clear well defined voice reproduction. This audio can be captured by either the built in mic on the control module or via the attachable mic. Sitting nicely on your cheeks it avoids direct range of your lips along with inevitable pop. That being said, don’t buy this for streaming or content creation. For those purposes the best option will always be to get a dedicated mic like the Blue Snowball if you’re on a budget or the Yeti X if you can afford it.
Another reason for not using this for the purpose of streaming is its comfort value. This is easily one of the biggest cons for this product and the only reason I’ve limited my uses of it over time. This is due to a portion of the buds which rubs on the internal part of the outer ear. Mad Catz have attempted to elevate this discomfort by including an optional attachment, but even that is uncomfortable over time due to some groves etched in them. They also don’t stay in place so you’ll likely lose one or both pairs before long. One of mine is probably in a random airport somewhere in Europe or NA. My advice is to either glue them into place or remove them all together. You can maybe even make your own much more comfortable ones if you’re up to the task.
Comfort aside, the Mad Catz E.S. PRO+ Earbuds can be controlled nicely using a volume slider and mic switch on the control module on the cable. These are quite durably constructed of hard gloss plastic and offer a solid feeling when adjusting them. Functionality doesn’t just end there though. The control module is perfectly situated near the bus and since the cables are flat they are of course tangle free and quite durable
All in all this is in fact a pretty solid product. It’s nice flat tangle free cables, robust construction with a premium look & feel to it are great selling points. Mine has survived months in many different conditions from cold the rainy UK weather to hot tropical sunshine of the Caribbean and its still tearing it up.
Mad Catz have made what is easily one of the best pairs of earbuds I’ve used to date. It looks good, sounds exceptional, and has insane durability & functionality. It’s balance of noise canceling is also one of my favorite aspects of this product. If you travel a lot you’ll know how important noise canceling can be. For me the perfect balance is one that can block out most of the background so you focus on what you’re listening to while still allowing enough for you to be aware of changes in your surroundings. It’s one and only flaw is it’s comfort value. If not for the uncomfortable groves on the buds I’d probably call this the best one I’ve used, EVER! It’s not a deal breaker just something to consider if you don’t plan on fixing that issue yourself or using it for short periods of time.
The Mad Catz E.S. PRO+ Earbuds used for this review was provided to us by its manufacturer, Mad Catz.