Mad Catz are a legendary name, known primarily for fighting sticks and peripherals for Rockband and Guitar Hero The manufacturer filed for bankruptcy in 2017, sadly, as interest in its core genres waned. It was subsequently acquired by another brand based out of Hong Kong, and announced new products which have been appearing ever since.
Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like Mad Catz has evolved too much with the times with its F.R.E.Q. 4 headset, which will be too childish-looking for the vast majority of adult gamers, and too expensive to be worth picking up for kids. There are simply far better PC gaming headsets out there, regardless of your needs.
$60Bottom line: While the audio is actually pretty great, every other aspect of this headset is a miss.
- Decent microphone
- Great sound profile
- Electrical interference buzz is irritating
- Speakers echo back sound into the microphone
- Child-like "gamer" design with silly lights
- Overpriced for its quality
- Tight headband
- No sidetone
Mad Catz F.R.E.Q. 4 What I liked
The Mad Catz F.R.E.Q. 4 headset is surprisingly robust, using more metal parts than I'm used to seeing in this price range. If you want a headset that will take a ton of punishment, this might be a decent option, if you were able to ignore the multitudinous downsides. We'll get to that part in a moment, though.
|50mm with virtual 7.1 surround
|20Hz - 20kHz
|50Hz - 12kHz, omni-directional, retractable
|USB-A to PC
The headset earcups are comfortable on the sides of your head, with leatherette-style cushions. The best thing about it though, by far, is the audio quality. The Mad Catz F.R.E.Q. 4 is a surprisingly-great sounding headset with quality drivers, offering a balanced stereo experience with a broad soundscape. The bass is crisp and punchy, with each frequency range enjoying some good channel separation. Whether you're using it for music, media, or gaming, the sound is one aspect that won't disappoint.
The Mad Catz F.R.E.Q. 4 comes with some decent software for tuning EQ and the on-board lighting, and the retractable microphone has some decent quality about it. The headphone has an in-line control module too, letting you easily tweak volumes and inject 7.1 surround sound. Unfortunately, this is where the good stuff largely stops.
Mad Catz F.R.E.Q. 4 What I disliked
As I sit here writing this I've been wearing the headset continuously for about 4 hours, using it on and off for a few days. I find the floating headband at the top of the headset to simply be too tight across my cranium, and I don't exactly have the biggest head out there. It hurts, and I'm not sure that's ideal for a headset you want to wear for any period of time. That said, some headsets just need a bit of wearing in, and if you have a smaller head or plan to pick this up for a younger relative, it would probably be fine.
What I did find to be a deal-breaker, though, is the electrical interference you can hear constantly buzzing in the background. I tried it across two different PCs and several USB ports, and all the time, that great sound scape is sort of hindered by a low buzzing sound – which when noticed is hard to ignore. On top of that, people in my comms calls complained they could hear sound from the headset's speakers while using the mic, at just 75 percent volume. This is an issue I see time and time again with lower quality headsets, and it's frustrating to say the least.
Should you buy the Mad Catz F.R.E.Q. 4?
The discomfort makes me not want to wear the Mad Catz F.R.E.Q. 4 for much longer after writing this, and maybe that makes it better suited for a younger skull. Perhaps that maybe who this headset is really aimed at. It has pretty, pointless pretty lights, a hefty metal, potentially child-proof design, and a headband that doesn't seem to have been tested much on adult craniums. Should you really pick this up for a kid though?
If this headset was $40 or so, I'd say it was potentially an ideal headset for a youngster, but at $60 it feels a bit overpriced, especially given the range of issues I had with it. Adults should definitely avoid, either way, there are simply better headsets out there for $60.
Great sound, but that's it.
While the F.R.E.Q.4 sounds pretty good, a bunch of small problems make this $60 headset simply not worth the asking price.
Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!