Product Type: Turtle Beach headphones
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Bass Pumping Turtles
Turtle Beach Ear Force X1
Member Name: Xbox_Tipster
Turtle Beach Ear Force X1
Date: 01/02/09, updated on 27/05/09 (1307 review reads)
Advantages: High quality sound - Separate game / chat volume - Lightweight - Great microphone quality - Comfort
Disadvantages: Buzzing sound when connected to Play & Charge kit
The average Xbox 360 user settles for the standard Microsoft Xbox 360 headset for voice communication and TV speakers for game sound output, which is fine - however most gamers will agree that having the sound up loud on the TV is not an option a lot of the time due to other members of the family yelling at us to "turn that noise down" (usually with a bit of profanity thrown into that quote!).
This means that most of the time we will play our games at relatively low volumes, but lets face it - explosions and gun fire were never meant to sound quiet were they - so why should we settle for anything else than loud volume ?! I thought I had found the perfect solution to the problem... I wore my Xbox 360 voice communication headset but then also wore my Zalman Headset on-top of it, so I had both voice chat & game sound all in one and I was the only person in the house that could hear the loud noise ... aha ! Genius !
... After the initial novelty of thinking I was a genius I soon realised that I looked like an idiot wearing two headsets on top of each other and the fact it was absolutely killing my ears due to being uncomfortable didn't help either.
Right, so if wearing two headsets at the same time and looking like a complete idiot isn't the perfect solution - what is ? Well, that's simple - grab yourself a turtle. No, not the animal, what you're looking looking for is a pair of Turtle Beach Ear Force X1's.
WHAT ARE EAR FORCE X1's
Ear Force X1's are a headset designed to let you hear both Xbox Live Chat and stereo game sound at the same time through two ears, not just one like the Microsoft Xbox live chat headset. X1's have the ability to let you control both the volume of the game sound and also the volume of Xbox live chat separately, so you can tweak the settings yourself until you find the perfect balance. These X1's are not only designed for Xbox 360, turtle beach have even included two 1/8" jacks for use with PC's (audio + microphone).
Although the Ear Force X1's come with a fair amount of cables, it is still very easy to get them up and running. Firstly you need to connect the splitter to your television. To do this connect the male/female RCA inputs (red/white) to the ones currently already inserted into the back of your TV, and then connect the 1/8" port to the 1/8" green connector on the headset cable. Next, attach the USB cable to your Xbox 360 & the chat volume controller from your 360 controller to the amplifier on the main cable. Done !
For PC use, just connect the 1/8" jacks (green/red) to the audio/microphone ports on your sound card and then insert the USB connector into a free USB port. Simple.
I should also mention that a very welcome feature to the X1 headset is that the main cable is 16 ft long (4.8 meters), so you can sit a very long distance away from your television. A velcro tie is also included on the cable so you can bunch up the excess cabling if you do not use it.
DESIGN / LOOKS
The Ear Force X1 headset doesn't disappoint in terms of beauty. The X1's have a gray and white design - where the ear cups are white, and the headband is gray. The microphone is located on the left side of the headset and is fully flexible - the mic is on the end of a bendy wire so you can bend it into a position where the mic is right up against your mouth if you wish for it to be that close.
The plastic around the headset is fairly thick and feels solid so I think it could stand up to some abuse, but I wouldn't recommend stamping on them because somebody killed you on a computer game. The ear cups are surrounded by a rubbery material that's obviously been made to look like leather, and it does look rather smart so they've captured that look rather well. The same rubbery material is also located at the top of the headband.
As a finishing touch they have written TURTLE BEACH in white writing across the top of the headband which actually looks nice, and they've also put their logo on the outside of one of the plastic ear cups which also looks rather neat. It's safe to say this turtle has a solid shell and good looks to boot !
Personally a headset would be no good to me if it was uncomfortable, but thankfully that is not the case with the Ear Force X1's. The X1's are surprisingly light for their size, you can barely notice they are on your head after a while. The rubbery material on the top of the headband and the ear cups makes for a very comfortable fit whilst leaving enough room for my ears to "breathe". With a lot of other headsets I've used in the past (for PC) I've found that my ears get a little cramped and get rather hot and clammy, but the X1's do not have this effect at all - I can game for hours and my ears will feel nice and dry at the end of the session.
The X1's are adjustable so they are one-size-fits-all, simply adjust each side of the headband to the size that fits your head and you'll be set. Another adjustable part of the X1's is actually the insides of the ear cups themselves - you can twist them 360 degrees till you find the best position for your ears, so people with wonky elf ears can be comfortable too ! It seems turtle beach have made a great effort to ensure us gamers are comfortable for hours whilst using the X1's, and their efforts have paid off as I am yet to have an uncomfortable gaming session with them, I'm very impressed.
~~ Game Audio Performance ~~
OK, we've established that the X1's look and feel great but that's all useless unless they perform well...
When I first used my X1's I was blown away by the sound they produced - I could hear things that my TV speakers had never shown me before. The amplifier on the X1's (located on the cable) allows you to turn up your game volume extremely loud - at the top volume it's bloody frightening when a grenade blows up at your feet, I don't think anybody in the world would need to go that loud - it would damage your ear drums.
The X1's sound quality is slightly 'bassy' (even more so when you increase the volume on the amplifier) , so it really captures loud noises like explosions and gun fire perfectly.
The ear cups on the X1's do a great job of blocking out unwanted sound, although that might be a problem if somebody downstairs is screaming for your help ... but hey - we're gaming here, who cares what they want !
Although the X1's are not surround sound, it really doesn't matter in my opinion. The X1's are brilliant at picking up sounds in the distance and you are instantly able to pin point the location of where the noise came from, just turn your character around and the noise will get louder and clearer as the location is in front of you - just like you'd expect it to.
Since using the Ear Force X1 headset I feel I have become a much better gamer, especially on FPS games as I'm able to determine which direction enemies are approaching from due to their footsteps and gunfire noise. I feel so much more confident using the X1's than when I was simply using low volume TV speakers, I now feel I have an advantage over other players in the game and expect to do well each time I play.
Wearing my X1's also makes games more exciting for me, for example just last night I was playing Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 with a friend of mine and I decided to turn up my X1's very loud to really get a feel of the games atmosphere. Every movement I made sounded fantastic and realistic, just hearing my character crawl along the floor sounded great and every shot I took with my silenced rifle sounded so satisfying - especially when I could hear the enemy in the distance that I had just shot groan as he fell to the floor.
Hearing the insanely loud gunfire noises come our way when we were spotted by enemies was mind blowing, I could hear the bullets hitting the ground next to us crystal clear, so I then rolled safely to cover behind a rock and listened to the enemies bullets bounce off it whilst removing the silencer from my gun - I then stood up and let rip on the enemies much to my ears delight - it was so much more exciting than usual. The X1's really do add a whole new level of fun to my gaming experience having the gameplay sound so real.
~~ Live Chat / Microphone Performance ~~
Voice chat with the X1's is good, however at first you will notice that peoples voices have a lot more bass to them compared to the microsoft headset. Initially you might find this slightly annoying like I did as a large amount of my friends that I talk to are Scottish gamers, and they all have robot sounding deep voices anyway - so understanding them was slightly difficult sometimes. After a little while you get used to the slightly more bassy voices though and soon it feels perfectly normal, especially when you find the right balance between audio/game chat volumes - It certainly doesn't bother me anymore.
The microphone output quality is brilliant, just like the official Microsoft headset. I have recorded a voice message to myself using the X1 microphone and then played it back on the Microsoft headset and I can safely say it sounds exactly the same as the quality of the Microsoft microphone output.
Adjusting the game and chat volumes to compliment each other is very easy and you will soon find the right balance. It might have been nicer if you could have the chat volume go slightly higher than it currently can though as if you have the game volume VERY loud then you will sometimes struggle to hear what people are saying... but to be honest if you have the game volume extremely loud then you probably don't want/need to talk to people, right ? Personally I've found the perfect balance between game/chat volume and I am very pleased with the results - I can hear the game volume loud and clear and also hear and talk to my friends at the same time, brilliant !
~~ PC Performance ~~
PC performance is much the same, so far I have only tried counter strike source - but the experience was very good, I could hear both close and far away noises crystal clear just like I can on the Xbox 360. Listening to music on the PC with the X1's is also very good, the performance seems just as good as my Zalman 5.1 PC Headset which is impressive. Turning the volume up loud on my PC as well as having the X1's amplifier up full causes the headset to shake like an earthquake, it's extremely loud.
Using the microphone on PC (ventrillo / teamspeak) is also excellent, my friends told me that I sounded perfectly clear and loud. Recording my own voice with sound recorder and playing it back confirmed this, I sounded very clear and in no way "tinny" like some cheap microphones can make you sound.
Sadly in life nothing is perfect, and unfortunately the Ear Force X1 headset doesn't come without a few small disadvantages.
If you're planning on recharging your 360 controller with a play & charge kit whilst using your X1's - don't bother. When an xbox 360 controller is connected to a play and charge kit and the X1 headset at the same time, a horrible electronic buzzing noise can be heared constantly through the headset until you disconnect the play and charge kit from the controller - however somebody informed me that if you connect the X1's USB cable into the back port of the 360 rather than the front then the noise will go away - however I haven't tested this theory because the USB port at the back of my 360 is being used by my wireless network adapter, so it's not an option for me.
The only other thing that bothers me about the X1's is the microphone sensitivity. I find that it's sometimes not sensitive enough - if I am playing a game and talking to my friends late at night I want to be able to talk very softly but the X1's microphone doesn't seem to pick up my voice when I speak like this unless I physically push the microphone right up against my mouth. Don't get me wrong, I don't have to shout for it to pick up my voice, but I can't exactly whisper which can be a slight annoyance sometimes when it doesn't pick up my voice - the official Microsoft Xbox headset microphone is slightly more sensitive by comparison.
I think they've made the mic less sensitive so that the microphone doesn't pick up unwanted noise such as heavy breathing that a lot of gamers seem to have a habit of doing, so really the lower sensitivity can be seen as an advantage as well as a disadvantage.
WHERE CAN I GET EAR FORCE X1'S ?
The Turtle Beach Ear Force X1's are currently not that easy to find in the UK (in stock), but below are a couple of stores that currently sell them but are awaiting stock:
www.Game.co.uk sell the X1's for £49.99
www.Gameplay.co.uk sell the X1's for £44.99
www.Amazon.co.uk sell the X1's for £53.12
Turtle Beach Ear Force X1 headphones are an essential piece of kit for regular gamers - they make your games come to life & increase your gaming skills in the process due to making you more aware of things going on around you. The price for the X1's is fair at £49.99 as you really get your moneys worth. The ability to use these on PC's as well as Xbox make the X1's even more appealing to gamers, especially when they are also so comfortable.
Other models are available - including the Earforce X2, X3 and X4's. X2's are the wireless version of the X1's. X3's are wired but with surround sound and X4's are wireless with surround sound. However obviously the price between the X1's and the X4's is extremely high with the X4's costing a whopping £130 - so I would recommend sticking with the X1's !
If you don't own a pair of Turtle Beach Ear Force X1's - treat yourself and buy a pair, you wont regret it.
Summary: Essential piece of kit for regular Xbox 360 gamers - Get a pair !
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