* Prices may differ from that shown
So here we have Turtle Beach's EarForce PX41headphones. I have them for use on my PS3 (which they were primarily made for and which the review will be based around) for watching films and gaming. From their website they say:
The Ear Force PX integrates premium stereo game sound with crystal-clear communication on the PlayStation Network (PSN), XBOX LIVE® and PC/Mac to create the definitive audio environment for playing popular game titles on all platforms. The PX is two headsets in one--a stereo USB headset for chat sound and an amplified stereo headset for game sound. That means you can independently control chat and game sound from a single control box whether you're playing PS3, XBOX® or PC games. Large, comfortable ear cups with a lightweight, rugged design provide the ultimate in comfort during extended game play.
These gives you a significant advantage because you can hear sound cues others can't, so you'll react faster and take them out before they take you out. Unique gaming features such as variable bass boost, chat boost, stereo expander and convenient volume controls for chat and game audio, provide a competitive edge that can make the difference between winning and losing.
If you're serious about your PS3, XBOX 360 or PC gaming, then get serious about the sound. Move up to the Ear Force and become a better player while experiencing your games as they were meant to be heard.
The above pretty much sums up what you get! Being able to turn up chat and down the music (and vice versa) is great in different environments. However, a few things to pick out against it. "Premium stereo game sound with crystal-clear communication" - these are only stereo headphone. There are plenty of headphones on the market which have 5 or even 7 separate speakers in each earphone. I would consider these as premium...but they do come at a cost (£120+). These though, for less than half the price (I paid £45), are worth the money. The sound is very clear and does bring out the best in voice chat and in-game/film sound. I know people who paid £60 around 6 months ago and would still pay the same now!
Whilst fairly easy to setup, the instructions aren't too clear. If you have the PS3 connected to the TV via a HDMI cable, you will need to plug these into your speaker ports on your TV (which may already be in use)! Whilst easy enough it does involve faffing around plugging 2 splitter wires into your TV with one going into the back of the PS3 and one into the front. There is another wire linking the split to the front of the PS3...and then the wire to the headphones. The reason for so many wires is down to its technicalities; it allows you to separate chat and sound functions using one headset and one control box, which is something you need on the PS3 via wires. It is quite a thick wire but you get around it. If you are looking at storing them near the PS3, you will need a chunk of space for them to go as the wire is 4 metres long.
===The Look and Feel===
Past the wiring you have the control box and the headphones. They look sturdy but feel light for and they have an overall neat finish. Some may not like the ridged finish on the microphone arm (I admit, I didn't at first) but you grow out of it! There is a near band of silver around the ear piece which adds a little touch of class to the 'phones.
The headphones are also very comfortable. They have good padding around the ears and around the head. The band is soft and doesn't weigh down at all and the ear muffs don't overheat your ears (yes, they do warm up but not to the point where it become uncomfortable). One slight thing is the adjustable band is quite big. I have it on the smallest setting and it fits my head fine. If you had a smaller head, they would be quite loose.
=== The Controls ===
At the control box, there are quite a few separate controls. There are switches for turning the mic on or off (also indicated by a red or green light on the body) and stereo expander switch (which creates a "wider" feeling on the sounds) with roller for bass boost, chat volume and game volume. All of the controls are along the side of the box (with an attachment clip for hooking to a piece of clothing) and are easy to use. Having the mic switch is very good as some times you may not want to use the mic...sometimes you may! The volume controls are sensitive so you only need to move it a bit to make quite a difference. The bass boost is very good if you like bass (not just in music but for atmospheric ambience in your films/games) and find having it towards the high end of its range the best. The expander is good in some games, not good in others. Dependant on the game/film and the environment, this can be turned on or off. Sometimes it adds a lot of important depth but, sometimes, you need those sounds closer to be able to judge them better. Any complaints here? Not really. Only slight niggle is that there is a light which also indicates chat boost which is a bright blue. I have found this comes up very brightly when you watch a film and there is a big explosion or something and it distracts your attention.
=== Microphone quality ===
Obviously, you can't hear yourself when you speak but from what I know, it seems to be ok. Nothing amazing but it does appear to be clear. You do get a lot of headsets where the mic crackles or muffles the voice but that may also be down to the person using it having it too close to their mouth.
=== Earphone quality ===
First, you do get a slight hum or whine on the headphones when all is silent. This is normal and will not distract you when watching/playing as this is drowned by the dominant sound to nothing. I thought I'd get that in there before someone says it! It doesn't affect anything in the long run.
I have used them for 4 things; games, DVD watching, Blu-Ray watching and streaming TV (streamed through the PS3).
Catch-up TV is great through the headphones. Everything is clear and the quality is very good for a streaming video. I did watch a film through LoveFilm and the quality was not great but I think this was due to the actual film itself. I have listened to a few streamed music videos (through PS3's high quality site; VidZone) and the sound is brilliant!
DVD's come though very nicely. You hear a lot more than if you used your TV's speakers and you can feel the depth a lot better. I did once find the volume range quite poor (as it wouldn't go loud enough on some films) which was disappointing until I realised one of the connections was slightly loose. Once corrected, there were no problems.
Blu-Ray's however is a new experience! The depth of sound is amazing through the ear pieces. Since more sound data can be put on the disc, more sounds data can go into your ears. The impact is truly brilliant! A lot more life is brought from a film. The first film I watched through the headphones was '2012' and I loved the quality...however, when I watched my first Blu-Ray (Terminator: Salvation) every little minute sound could be hear and felt.
Games are made onto Blu-Ray discs so you know the quality will be good. The volume range is a lot better and you usually don't need it on max to fully appreciate the games sound (as opposed to being on max for DVD). In some gaems, you can hear things that you never heard from you TV. When I loaded up a game using the headphone for the first time, I heard simple things (like when you select a certain menu, it confirms it) or very important in game things (which way a helicopter is coming from as opposed to there is one there, how much your tyres are squealing when racing around a track, the sounds of a player sliding along the grass to tackle the ball). As the makers say, these are designed for gaming and you can tell they work best in this environment. The comparison from using standard TV speakers to these is unbelievable. Once you get used to wearing them, you won't want to go back.
For £45, you can't go wrong. I bought them mainly to watch films and play games without it being too loud for Mrs. and Baby B upstairs and now I use them all the time for that purpose. The quality for the price is outstanding and even holds a strong place in the market years after they became widely available. I have heard reports of the wiring coming loose of the build quality not being great but I haven't experienced that yet (which may come over time as they age). For some people, the wires may be too much...but I don't mind getting up and putting them to one side in the evening.
I'm finding it hard to criticise them. You're paying low end of market for some good headphones. You can pick a pair up for £20 and you'd have thrown them away in a few weeks. For twice that, you're looking at a solid pair of headphones which improve the sound quality by 10 times! And that's not an exaggeration. I heard things which I didn't even know were there before! Everything sounds so much different and you experience a new aspect to thing you will watch or play through the PS3 for such a small price. Obviously, there are some out there which will be twice as good as these in terms of quality but you will pay 3 times as much...and they may have niggles. With these, I don't have any...and for the price if they do unfortunately go wrong in 2 years' time, it won't be a massive hardship to replace them. If anyone is thinking of getting a headset for listening (even if you never use the microphone) on a budget and want good quality, I would highly recommend these. For more info on the technicalities (as I actually wanted to review the product here properly), I would recommend looking at their website for the headset:
As an avid XBOX 360 gamer, and shoot em up player, I found I was needing a headset to allow me to hear the opposition, and allow me to communicate well with my team. This is what I think of the Turtle Beaches that I purchased...
The main feature of the headset is the wireless. However, it's not so wireless once you use the mic, as you have to plug in a wire from the mic to the 360 controller. It's annoying if you lose track of it, but serves its purpose.
The headset features surround sound, Dolby Pro Logic II if you're using them with a computer, or normal Dolby Digital Surround sound. There is also a bypass function, to listen in stereo (useful for listening to tunes on your computer) or you can plug another pair of headphones in the front. You can plug speakers, however they may give an annoying buzz in the background, as I have found.
There is also a digital output, and a stereo input on the back of the wireless transmitter, if you want to have a crazy complex surround sound system.
The sound is ace! Especially for games such as Call Of Duty. You can hear every footstep, every bomb plant. For relaxing and listening to music they are also very good, especially since they are wireless. Watching films with surround sound on is also amazing, and makes the experience seem much more real.
I have 2 cons with the sound however. Whenever I plug my mic into a wired controller, I get a loud high pitched sound constantly. This is very annoying and so I have not been able to use the headset! I may just have been unlucky but I recommend using a wireless controller with this headset. And, as your headsets batteries start to die, the sound will get louder, and you may hear a buzz.
On the headset itself, there are 3 controls. Main volume, effects (essentially a bass boost) and the power switch. These are all well placed on the left earphone, and are very easy to use.
The wireless router has a bypass button on the front, and a volume control for this. This allows you to use another pair of headphones, or switch the sound through the X41's to stereo.
On the back, there is a line-in volume. This does exactly what it says.
The whole package is very well made, however I have found that the headband has lost all of its padding, and I have alot of hair to cushion my head already. The ear pads are as good as new, and I have owned the headset for over half a year now, using it almost religiously every day.
The headset itself is very light, and can withstand hours of play time, however batteries do not last very long. About 2-3 days is all I get out of mine, so make sure you buy a set of rechargeable batteries and a charger!
Value for money;
These headphones are very good value for money. If you are watching films and casually gaming, I would absolutely recommend them, as you will not get wireless AND surround sound for this price anywhere else.
If you're looking to spend under £100, look into Turtle Beach X11's or similar, which are very good value. X31's are the same as X11's, but wireless. However, if you are someone who is serious about gaming, and is maybe even looking to LAN, I would save up more and get some Sennheisers and an Astro mixamp.