Introduction & Specifications
Back once again with a Cougar product, they are a swell bunch. Cougar maker of peripherals, components, and even furniture, well chairs, have been around for about a decade now, creating products that have held their own and an attractive brand.
Having enjoyed the incredible value offered by the Immersa headset I am now met with a completely different headset product in the Megara. As an in-ear headset this is more akin to the earbuds that you use with your smartphone, here Cougar has added a removable stalk microphone turning the headset into a gaming device. With the Megara Cougar appear to be tapping into a market segment that doesn’t seem to be well supported at this time, I am of course thinking of gamers on the go, who need to travel light. Be it with your laptop on a plane to a LAN party in a faraway land, or simply dashing around to a friends or a college campus event, you don’t want to be carting around a whole load of kit and proper gaming headsets can be bulky, I can see what Cougar are doing here and it is impressive.
Let us start our journey into in-ear headset gaming with a run down of the specifications
|Max. Input Power
|Sensitivity at 1KHz
|92dB ± 3dB
|Impedance at 1KHz
|16Ω +/- 15%
|20Hz – 20kHz
|Removable Mic Type
|Removable Mic Sensitivity at 1KHz
|-44dB ± 4dB
|Removable Mic Frequency Response
|100Hz to 5kHz
|Removable Mic Impedance
|In-Line Mic Type
|In-Line Mic Sensitivity at 1KHz
|-42dB ± 4dB
|In-Line Mic Frequency Response
|100Hz to 5kHz
|In-Line Mic Impedance
The Cougar Megara is indeed an interesting product and its time for it to pose for the camera.
Arriving in a clear plastic fronted box, the Cougar Megara Gaming Headset gives you an immediate view of what to expect, this is a departure from the normally rendered images Cougar usually present on the front of their packaging. Here we see the bright orange flat cables, the complex looking ear buds, and the gaming stalk microphone.
The back of the Cougar Megara box is in the usual Cougar style, information in several languages, which is limited by the lack of space, but still managed to show off the in-line mic and media controls, I can’t help thinking I would have liked a volume/mute control on here but its functional and the buttons look to be a fair size for usability. Our attention is also drawn to some silicon hooks for in-ear stability, I have not seen these before and am intrigued how they will feel while wearing the headset.
Whipping it out of the box and spreading the contents out, we have the Cougar Megara headset, an extension to turn the jack into separate mic and headphone jacks, some extra different sized earpiece rubber fittings to enable a better fit for different ears, a manual/guarantee sheet and a very handy pouch to carry everything around in.
Working our way up the wire towards the earpieces we find ourselves presented with an in-line control, no volume or mic mute buttons here just track select and a play/pause button in the middle, I personally don’t think this is really necessary on a gaming headset, it does however serve another purpose as an in-line mic for use when on the move, this microphone is active when the headset microphone is unplugged.
Looking closely at the left hand side earpiece we can see the rubber ear insert is slightly angled and the rubber in-ear hook in place, the back of the headphone piece on the Megara is emblazoned with the bright orange Cougar logo, carrying through the orange theme onto the removable microphone which connects via a jack that has a plastic tab to fix its location to point the pick up towards the face.
Around the right-hand side of the wire, we find the other earpiece, from this angle you can see how far the headset will protrude from the ears, which is a fair bit more than normal earbud style headphones. I do wonder if the depth of these earpieces will have an effect on the sound, especially bass reproduction.
Speaking of sound, its high time to move onto the testing.
Quality & Performance
I am going to start this part by describing the comfort experience with the Cougar Megara headset, I normally struggle with in-ear headphones, something about my ears makes buds drop out with hardly any movement and cramming them in further causes irritation, so I generally avoid them and go with on-ear headphones for commuting and over ear setups for gaming. I was also a little concerned how the hooks would feel, well what a surprise, Cougar have solved the problem I have with in-ear headphones with the simple addition of a hook on each unit, holding the buds in place just in my ears, I suffered no irritation over prolonged use and they stayed put, this is design award territory right there, a huge thumbs up to Cougar for that.
The headset is well built, the flat cables actually feel sturdier than similar types of headphones and the earpieces are a nice solid unit with no signs of casing issues that you get with cheap units splitting apart. So that’s another thumbs up for build quality.
Now we get to the sound quality which will be split into Music and Gaming.
I am quite impressed with the sound the Cougar Megara can reproduce, they don’t have a lot of driver space but manage to get some decent bass in there, going through some of my breakbeat and glitch hop tunes I found myself well immersed, by no means was the reproduction as good as big headphones but it was decent and would give other in-ear headphones a serious run for their money, there is an openness to the headset so outside noises are not blocked out, meaning you can hear that bus coming while walking through town. My main test tune Phibes’ Bust that Rhythm had excellent bass reproduction and crisp highs, just lacking a little on the mid-range.
Nipping online for one of my favourite pastimes, I fired up Discord to test out the chattiness of the Cougar Megara headset, I thought I would use the in-line microphone first even though it’s more for on the go phone use, true to expectations the quality was not fantastic but I could be heard. Moving on to the plug-in headset mic, I initially noted that its quite short and stiff, so the microphone itself rests on my cheek, being a bit bristly this cause some noise during use, the microphone also picked up noises around me, I would think another inch or so on the length would greatly improve communications on this headset. Otherwise the microphone did its job and my friends could hear all the callouts and information during games.
Now to the audio side of the Megara, Counter Strike Global Offensive relies on positional audio for some of the more strategic moments, Cougar did not disappoint here as I could tell with fairly good accuracy where footsteps and another telltale in game noises were coming from. The sound effects in CS:GO are not amazing, so I moved onto a more involved title to get the audio experience going, Project cars brings some fantastic engine noises to the table, and these were really well reproduced, they lacked depth in places but generally driving around in game sounded great. Onto Battlefield 4 to get some bangs and booms and we are in a situation where proper headphones are required to get the experience really going.
For a gamer heading off to competitions though this headset is a space saving miracle, imagine traveling half way around the world with the limited baggage allowances of today, the Cougar Megara saves both weight and bulk and doubles up as a discrete on the road headphone for zoning out on the flight.
So we have the Cougar Megara extremely portable gaming headset, which is a device I could love, they have addressed a gap in the market for a truly minimalisting gaming headset, the well priced headset build is solid, the hooks making the normally incompatible with Bo earbuds work perfectly, the sound quality is actually something to write home about, the styling is actually quite nice too, but you do know what you’re going to get with Cougar and their orange. This brings me to the microphone, not the handy in-line mic but the plug in one which is there for one of the headset’s main purposes communication, while this does work, being so short means the the microphone is also picking up any cheek movement, the solution Cougar please make the microphone longer, it will have no impact on the overall product aesthetic or portability and will 100% improve communication.
Even with the shortfall in the microphone I am still going to grant the Cougar Megara a design award simply because the company has actually put some thought into an original product, it has to be noted. The headset gets a silver which will be gold if the microphone issue is ever sorted.
At the time of writing you can grab the Cougar Megara for just under £30 from OCUK which is not bad at all.
– An in-ear headset compatible with almost any ears
– Extremely portable
– Good sound quality
– Sturdy build
– Well priced
– Midrange a little lacking but not too bad
– Plugin microphone is too short, Cougar should give it another inch and a half
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