Thermaltake Dracco: Putting the Bling On Your Head
You know we spend a lot of time talking about headsets on the show but actually very little time discussing headphones. A headset is usually a headphone and microphone combination and is used for listening but also for voice communication. These are more commonly used with computers since they are useful for games as well as some business apps and family usage for programs like Skype. Headphones on the other hand are purely for listening, this makes them useful in games when you are solo or listening to music and movies.
Thermaltake has decided to enter the headphone world with the Chao Dracco series. These come in two models, the standard model and then up scaling a bit we have the Signature model. Our friends at Thermaltake sent us one of each to examine you our listeners. If the basic Dracco model we received looks familiar, it should, this is the same headset we saw at CES and I was photographed wearing.
This model is the bare minimum coming literally with just the headset. There is no need for drivers or fancy manuals these just plug in and work like any other headsets. The Dracco line comes in three color options with this one, we call it Playschool styling, for the first option. It also comes in White with Green and Silver trim as well as Pink with Black.
Over the years we have comment that one of the things we like about Thermaltake is their styling in cases is very aggressive and loud. You either like them or you don’t, there is no in between. They have taken this same approach with the Dracco headphones. The style is in your face and loud with a lot of bright colors. From a distance the Dracco might look like a toy and cheaply made but once you wear them you realize that a lot of work went into this design.
The headband has a stitch padding on the top and is actually very comfortable. While these use a clamp style system for holding on your head. The clamp pressure is really nice and there not is feeling of your head being in a vice. The ear cuffs do swivel for that popular DJ style listening and the headset will fold up in itself for easy portability. Additionally the headphones come with a felt bag to carry the headset in.
When it comes to sound these headphones take their toyish appearance and throw it in the trash. I can tell you these are the BEST headphones I have listened to in a long time. The Dracco comes with a nice 50mm driver that has been tuned toward a slightly bass rich sound envelope. The music I played came through clear and strong as did gaming and movie watching. They may look wild on your head but they sound awesome in your ears.
The Dracco Signature line takes the main line and steps things up a notch. The construction is very similar and in fact uses the same base design. For the styling they have changed the color palette to something a bit more classic. Each of the three color choices of the Signature series is trimmed in Gold with the choices being the Red and Black, Black and Gold and finally White and Yellow. All of them have this classic design that looks a lot more serious than the base model.
It is not just the looks that Thermaltake changed, they also added more to the package. The Signature comes with a removable cord. The package gives you two cords as an option. The first is a professional grade coiled cord that also comes with a 1/8” to 1/4” jack adapter. The second cord is a straight and they also provide an adapter for us in private planes.
The detachable cord is nice for portability and these like the base line fold and come with a nice felt bag for carrying them around. The method of detachment however is very nice, this not a simple plug it in system, that can work loose easily. Instead the plug is put in and then twisted slightly to lock it into place. This means when the plug is in it is not coming out unless you purposely take it out. This feature is further enhanced with the 1/4” adapter which is not the normal plug model, this one actually screws onto the cord, meaning it will not get lost easily by falling off when traveling.
The comfort and sound of the Signature series matches the base Dracco line. This is because, as I stated earlier, the base design is the same. The extra cost of the Signature line is from the cable options and nicer styling.
Now when Doug and started looking at these we both had the same thought, how do these compare to Dr. Dre’s. I mean these have a styling that stands out like the Dre headphone do so we decided to find out. We compared the Dr. Dre and chose three models to look at, the Studio On Ear, Solo HD and the Pro on Ear. Now for our test we decided to go with the base model, the sound dynamic of both headphones is identical so the results should be the same. This means we are comparing the Dracco, at $80 to Beats headphones ranging from $150 to $400.
The first thing we noticed was the Dracco was softer than the Beats. It seems this is the nature of this kind of headphone. The Beats are able to produce higher volumes of sound than the Dracco. However in turn the Dracco was able to produce better volume that other headsets and headphones we listened to. When it came to the actual sound quality however the Dracco was equal to the task of taking on the Dr Dre’s. The sound quality was so close it was really hard to tell the difference, not bad for about half the price. In fact we can go a littler further by mention the Studio On Ear actually had some sound issues when compared to the Dracco, the base on the Beats headphones would distort at high volume while the Dracco was clean.
When we asked Thermaltake about this lineup we were told this is a life style headphone. Now I will be fair and admit to not truly getting what that means. What I do know is that the Dracco really impresses me with the sound quality and when you realize the two models sell for $80 and $100 respectfully and they equal or beat out much more expensive headsets, to me this is a no brainer.
The base Dracco has amazing sound and is well made. The style is not going to be for everyone but personally I think they are kind of fun. At 80$ considering the level you have to reach to get comparable sound these seem a solid value. The Signature series takes that great sound and comfort and then adds a more traditional styling along with a lot of connection options. If the colors of the Dracco are too much for you the Signature is a great choice.
Want to know how much we like these headphones? Watch our live stream video of the show this week and from now on. We will be sporting these fine headphones.
Show segment as aired live 1 September 2012