Thursday, November 12, 2009
Posted by Matthew Shanks in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 08:30 AM
Product Category: Wireless Headsets / Headphones
Manufacturer: Turtle Beach
Where to Buy: Amazon [Affiliate]
Price: $149 USD
System Requirements: Compatible with the Xbox 360 and home theater systems.
Specifications: 50mm diameter speakers, 270g, >20 hours battery life with 2 AAA batteries.
- Very lightweight and comfortable for long periods of use;
- High build quality, good industrial design to match the Xbox 360;
- Microphone works seamlessly with the headphones;
- Excellent recreation of Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.
- Fairly expensive;
- Chat connector still wired to controller;
- Muddy bass during loud scenes with deep bass;
- Line of sight required for IR transmitter;
- No low battery indicator, microphone volume suffers with low battery before speaker sound loses definition.
Summary: The Turtle Beach Ear Force X4 Wireless Xbox 360 Gaming Headset is a well thought out product that caters to Xbox 360 gamers, while still allowing home theater enthusiasts an outlet to listen to music or movies wirelessly and without disturbing others in their homes. It provides excellent Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound and its integrated microphone and chat features allow for complete immersion during online chatting or competitive multiplayer games. While it could use some improvements, it remains a piece of hardware that I continue to enjoy using in my home theater.
X4 Wireless Xbox 360 Gaming Headset
The Turtle Beach Ear Force X4 Wireless Xbox 360 Gaming Headset is a pair of wireless headphones with an IR transmitter, made specifically for use with Microsoft's Xbox 360 gaming system. While the headphones are primarily designed for use with the Xbox 360, they can also be used with other components or integrated into a home theater setup. I purchased a pair of these headphones earlier this year to use while playing my Xbox 360 to avoid disturbing my wife during the day or late at night. Wireless headphones with stereo sound are relatively commonplace these days, but there are very few products made specifically for the Xbox 360, and even fewer that boast Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. I had investigated wired headphones for use with my home theater and Xbox 360, but gravitated towards these wireless Turtle Beach headphones as the Xbox 360 controllers are already wireless and it made little sense to tether myself with wired headphones.
The Turtle Beach X4 Headset's main feature is that it provides a Dolby Digital 5.1 gaming experience and allows use of the Xbox 360's in-game chat functionality in a single wireless headset. PC gamers have long been reaping the benefits of using gaming headsets while playing and chatting. Turtle Beach has been providing this headset experience to Xbox 360 gamers since the introduction of their wireless X2 headset in 2006.
Typical Xbox 360 setups utilize a separate set of television or freestanding speakers for the game audio, as well as a wired or wireless headset for in-game chatting. One of the main disadvantages of this setup is that you end up covering one of your ears with the headset to listen to the chat channel. This prevents you from being able to fully focus on the game audio, and forces you to balance your main game volume with your chat volume to ensure you can still hear what's being said while playing.
The X4 headset has an integrated boom microphone that connects to the Xbox 360's controller microphone port using a cable with an in-line chat volume control and mute button. The chat volume control is independent from the game audio volume control on the headphones, allowing for adjustment as necessary. The combined headphone and microphone allows the gamer complete immersion in the game's audio, while still allowing the ability to speak to friends, teammates or opponents. I initially felt that the wire between the controller and the headphones was a limiting factor for the ease of use of the headset, but I was able to get used to it quickly, given my previous experience with the Microsoft wired headset that also connects directly to the controller. An improvement for future headsets would be eliminating the wire between the controller and providing a truly wireless audio experience, but this feature would likely drive the cost of the headset up too much. Turtle Beach has introduced several other features for their microphone that really improve the functionality during gaming. The Chat Boost increases the volume of the chat channel as the volume of the game channel increases, ensuring that the conversation is not lost. It also incorporates Microphone Monitoring, mixing a portion of the microphone signal into the headphone signal to allow you to hear yourself, and not talk loudly as you will with a traditional gaming earpiece or headset. Both of these features work well, enhancing the gaming experience. The headset also features a Bass Boost, although I found that during loud gaming moments such as explosions, the bass can be muddy even without the bass boost turned on. I leave it off during normal use, but others may find it useful for music or quieter games.