Have you ever wanted to play a game really late at night, but don’t want to disturb anyone else in your home? Have you ever had problems hearing the characters dialogue or want to hear the score more than the gameplay? A stereo headset may be the best option for you. I am going to compare five different headsets, and inform you on the pros and cons of them all. I play exclusively on the Xbox 360, but all of the stereo headsets can be used on different consoles and the PC unless otherwise noted.
Being a hardcore gamer, I am very concerned about hearing exactly what is going on around me, in the game. I have played in several tournaments and without a stereo headset, it is almost impossible to hear your game over your teammates. The crowd is always loud, and if you are in a big facility the sounds can echo and make hearing anything besides the noise impossible. The first tournament I went to was, the WCG (World Championship of Gaming) in Dallas, Texas. This was a large tournament and covered several games including Gears of War, which, I competed in. The first match was a huge shock to me. I had played at home in online tournaments and could turn up the TV to hear all of the surroundings. During this first match I learned quickly why exactly I needed a stereo headset. Not only would it drown out the crowds cheering, for or against us, but it also helps you hear the environment of the game.
I hope that the comparisons below will help you in selecting the appropriate headset for your style of gaming. I will assign a rating system of stars (*) from 1-5.
The first headset I ever used was the standard Xbox 360 headset,which comes with the system.It is a one eared, monophonic, wired headset. A replacement one costs around $20. You can wear this headset on either ear, and simply swivel the microphone to the desired position. This comes in handy for when you want to eat and not remove your headset. The microphone stem is flexible and can be manipulated closer or further away from your mouth. The first generation of this headset was white and now they are black. As well as being a low-priced headset, it is also light and can sometimes even be forgotten.
This headset is great for children and casual gamers because it does the job it was designed for, to hear friends or opponents speak. You can communicate with teammates and hear their responses, most of the time. The gameplay and narration is not heard through this headset, but for its price, it is nice to have around as an emergency device or for the casual or introductory gamer. This headset has been put through the child abuse test, and sadly, it fails miserably. The “child abuse test” is the daily use by my 8 and a half year-old-son. He is very hard on all of his stuff, especially electronics. He has been through five of these headsets in the past 8 months. I give this headset two stars (**), because it is usable, cheap, and does its intended purpose. However, it is not durable, nor does it have the best sound quality.
The next headset I tried was the Xbox 360 wireless/ Bluetooth headset. It has the same capabilities as the standard wired headset, but is wireless, sits on your ear, and can be synced to your mobile device as well as your Xbox. This headset is available for $49.99, at most major retailers. Like the standard headset you can wear it on either ear, and the microphone is integrated into the design, therefore it does not need to be moved closer or further away from your mouth to eat or be heard. It is convenient to have around as an emergency back-up for your stereo headset, and it is considerably lighter than most of them.
The cons to this headset are that it does not play any game sounds through your ear, it needs charged after eight hours of usage, and as it is more frequently used it will need charged more often. Another con is that it can only be synched to one system at a time and can cut out if there is any other devices around it. It has also been known to cut in and out when it is low on charge. I know that my cellphone makes mine cut out frequently, I have even tried leaving my phone in the other room, but every time it rings or receives a message it will cut out. This headset also receives two stars because of the basic capabilities and sound quality. The Bluetooth capabilities added a star to my initial rating, but because of the sound quality, it still gets a low rating, two stars, but three stars total (after Bluetooth is added). (***)
My first stereo headset that I tried is made by Turtle Beach. This headset, the Ear Force XL1, is a wired, Xbox 360 specific, two-eared ball and chain.
By this, I mean I was stuck in one spot and could not roam the house as I had done with the Xbox 360 wireless headset. The ability to shut out the world and hear only the game was awesome. I could also hear my friends in the headset, but adjusting the game sounds and chat audio is not as easy as it should be. Finding the right mix of game and audio sound with only one toggle switch was nearly impossible, and often times I became frustrated enough to only use this headset when playing by myself.
Now, don’t get me wrong, hearing the game in both ears was phenomenal. I could finally play at night without waking my son or husband (I am a night owl and find that I get much more done at night, and I am much happier when the sun is down). I could also hear if someone was walking up behind me or coming from a particular direction, in the game.
(Enter back story: The first night I had my Turtle Beaches, I was alone playing at my brother’s apartment. He was supposed to be at work, and I was playing Gears of War 2 with my team. I was involved in the game so much that I did not even hear Christopher enter his apartment. I get chainsawed, and then tapped on the shoulder. I scream, like a little girl, and he laughs, so hard, that tears stream down his face.)
But, unfortunately, the short cord and lack of audio adjustment, plus the poor construction caused me to toss this headset aside when it fell apart after a month’s use. The microphone became full of static and caused feedback that was unavoidable. The ear pads also fell off, and were unable to be fixed.
The customer service line I called was very rude, and I was unable to get a free replacement. I was to pay for the repairs and shipping. This was not going to happen, so I threw the headset away and returned to using my wireless headset. Apparently, this headset did not need the child abuse test because I broke it, and I am a 30 year old woman. I give these headsets 3 stars (***) because of the sound quality and for beginners or casual gamers this would be the perfect starter headset.
The next headset that I tried was the Tritton Trigger headset. This headset is an upgrade from the Turtle Beaches and retails for $39.99 at Best Buy. This headset is also made exclusively for the Xbox 360. There are other models of Trittons, that you can purchase, that are not Xbox specific, for example they can be used with the Xbox 360, PS3, PC, and even your MP3 players. We purchased this headset for my son because he had already used the standard and wireless Xbox 360 headsets. He always stated that he could never hear his friends, or the game dialogue, without turning his headset and TV all the way up.
The main complaint that I have with this headset is once again the volume adjustment dials. I believe that you should be able to adjust the amount of game sound and speech sounds separately. This seems to also be the same problem my son is having. As we all know, kids tend to talk louder and longer than normal. The volume level needed for the kids to communicate with one another, and not blow each other’s ear drums out, was hard to obtain and still be able to hear the game sound.
Overall, this headset cancels out more sounds than the Turtle Beaches, and the ear pieces can rotate to accommodate the spaces between the ear and the earpieces. The headband is also adjustable, but sometimes does not lay flat on the top of smaller or larger heads. The Trittons have also been put through the child abuse test and so far have survived two months of daily use. This headset in my opinion receives 3 stars (***) because the volume controls are not separate, otherwise this headset would receive 4 stars.
The last headset I have tried, which is still my current headset, are the Astro A40s. I ordered the Astro A40 Audio System after an especially frustrating night of clan matches. I was tired of being snuck up on, and unable to hear if a clay-more was being planted, or a grenade was being thrown. The most frustrating thing, was when I would play Call of Duty and the opposing team would walk inside of buildings. I could not tell if they were inside, outside, above, or below me. I had heard rave reviews from my clan mates and decided it was time to take the leap.
There is something you must understand when looking into the pricing of Astros. The price reflects the durability, quality, and longevity of the headset. The headsets ($199.99) are of great quality, but when combined with the mix-amp the sound quality and adjust-ability is unparalleled. The mix-amp is what allows you the capabilities to adjust not only the game sound and voice chat sounds, but it also clarifies and amplifies both sound qualities.
The A40 wired Audio System is $249.99 and the wireless Audio System is $279.99. This price includes the headset with one set of speaker tags, a boom microphone, a mix-amp (wired or wireless), and the connectors to use with the PC, Xbox, PS3 or MP3 players. When using the headset with your MP3 player, you will not need to use the mix-amp. The microphone is removable and can be used on either side of the head, depending on your own personal preference. The ear pads are also removable and can be replaced as well. The headband is adjustable and sits snugly on your head; even with long hair, it does not slide off during play.
I took my A40s out on campus one day, and even though I got strange stares (this was before the Dr.Dre Beats headsets came out) I could not hear anything besides the lovely sounds of the Vitamin String Quartet. The noise cancellation is remarkable and once again I have been scared by people who love me, because they can, when the Astros are on.
The headsets also come with a hard case, so when traveling you don’t have to tangle your cords up and wrap them around the headset. Another cool thing is that you can customize the speaker tags, and order different editions of headbands. The different colors available are white,black, red, blue, military green, and the Saints Row editions are purple and baby blue. Speaker Tags are the little plates that are attached to the side of your headphones by four tiny magnets. The tags help with the noise cancellation, and also add to the personalization of the headsets. I ordered my husband tags that reflect his rank and vehicle he uses in the military, I will soon be ordering my own that will have a moose on one side and my name on the other.
The most amazing thing about this brand of headsets is that they have other sizes. If you would rather have an on the ear headset or an inner ear headset, you just need to choose the A30s or the A*Star In-Ear Headset. Everything besides the Speaker Tags is interchangeable between the A40s and the A30s. The wires, microphones and mix-amps can be used easily between the two and the mix-amp can also be used with the A*Stars if so desired.
These headsets have NOT been through the child abuse test, and I will not be allowing him to touch them. These wonderful pillows of sound fit perfectly on my head and I do not want the sweaty boy germs all over them. I give all of the Astros, but especially the A40s, 5 out of 5 stars (*****).
If I have not answered all of the possible questions in the above comparison, leave a comment and I will get back to you as soon as I find out the answer. Thank you for reading my comparisons and game on!