Initially we were concerned about the GNU/Linux compatibility with the LTB USB Magnum, but fortunately, these headphones are based upon the C-Media CM106 audio controller. With ALSA v1.0.12 these headphones had worked almost immediately with Fedora Core 6. After plugging them into an USB port they were immediately detected and system-config-soundcard was able to properly handle the USB audio device using the snd-usb-audio ALSA driver. However, the onboard audio controls had not worked under GNU/Linux. The volume adjustments and mute buttons were rendered inoperable, and the ALSA mixer was unable to adjust the volume level so we were forced to listen to these headphones at maximum volume. The tests we had carried out were listening to several FLAC audio files, watching several DVDs, and playing several games such as Enemy Territory and Quake 4. The audio quality was fine, however, the lack of volume adjustments with GNU/Linux were certainly a problem. Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X users should not experience any of these problems when using the included audio drivers. For any audio devices, the stereo audio jack converter will work to use these headphones as a traditional audio device in 2.1 channel sound.
After seeing the LTB USB Magnum headphones being detected and working under GNU/Linux we were very excited, however, we quickly realized the integrated audio controls had not worked nor had adjusting the audio level from the ALSA audio mixer worked. This is certainly a problem unless you enjoy listening to your audio at its maximum level. As an alternative, the stereo converter will work but you will lose the surround sound. The control issues are not specific to the LTB Magnum Headphones, but likely all USB headphones based upon the C-Media CM106 Chipset. When it comes to the physical construction of the headphones, they were not the best we had seen but certainly were better than some cheaper alternatives. We would have also liked to see the microphone in a boom-type design rather than being integrated into the left ear cup. The intentions of the USB Magnum 5.1 Headphones are great, but GNU/Linux users should look elsewhere if they are interested in USB headphones due to the compatibility problems we had faced. Mac OS X and Windows users, however, should have no problems using these headphones with the official drivers. The LTB C-Media drivers also support HRTF 3D and EAX 2.0. At this time the LTB Magnum can be purchased for approximately $69 USD, which is cheaper than many professional gaming headphones that easily exceed $100 USD.
Discuss this article in our forums, IRC channel, or email the author. You can also follow our content via RSS and on social networks like Facebook, Identi.ca, and Twitter (@Phoronix and @MichaelLarabel). Subscribe to Phoronix Premium to view our content without advertisements, view entire articles on a single page, and experience other benefits.