Noisy late night gaming is a problem no more!
Some nights I have trouble sleeping and it is on nights like these that I thank the gaming gods that I enjoy both gaming and movie watching during the more nocturnal hours. The main problem with late night gaming, especially if you live in a house with others or have neighbours, is that some people can be averse to the likes of heated gun fights or roaring engines at three o’clock in the morning and quite rightly so. If the shoe were on the other foot, I could imagine being quite angry myself. To address this issue the obvious answer was of course a headset. But as someone who has become accustomed to a full surround sound set up when it comes to both movie watching and gaming, I was after not just a headset, but a surround sound headset.
In the past I had thought about picking up one of these but had always been wary about whether or not true surround sound could be recreated using a headset. After doing a little research however, and realising that some of the headsets on the market were impressing many gamers out there, I decided to start looking at what was available. Boy is there a lot to choose from. Buying primarily with my PS3 in mind, I was aware that Sony had announced earlier in the year that they would be releasing a surround sound headset specifically for the console and I was hesitant about buying something now rather than waiting on these. However, I had read that headsets such as the Logitech G35 Headset, Turtle Beach PX5 and Tritton AX720 all were impressive.
I eventually decided to go with a Tritton headset but not the aforementioned AX720. Although being a great headset in itself, I found upon reading that a lot of these surround sound headsets only recreated the surround sound effect. For true headset surround sound you had to spend a little more money. However, I was assured that the extra money spent was more than worth it. The headset that I decided upon was the Tritton AX Pro headset. The main difference between these and the AX720 was that the Pro headset had eight speakers packed away inside the ear pieces, four speakers in each ear, which when combined went a long way to giving a true surround sound effect. One thing to keep in mind when shopping for one of these headsets is that they generally do not come cheap. The Tritton AX Pros that I picked up retail from anywhere between £100 and £150, depending on availability and where you decide to purchase from. The others I mentioned also have a hefty price tag, but not quite as costly, and I am sure they all do an admirable job. I do believe when it comes to these that you get what you pay for in the end.
The first thing you notice on unboxing the Tritton AX Pros is the size of the headset itself. Compared to the majority of normal headsets out there, the Tritton quite literally dwarf them, so much so that at first glance you could be forgiven for thinking that comfort may be a problem. But those worries are quickly put to rest. Despite the size, the headset is extremely comfortable to wear even over extended periods of time. Some headsets and pairs of headphones over longer sessions have the ability to cause ear ache, but the larger size of the Trittons actually work in their favour here as the ear cups, as large and as padded as they are, fit snugly and comfortably over even the largest of ears. I personally have been able to comfortably sit with them atop my head for periods of between four to five hours in complete comfort.
The second thing you will notice upon unboxing the headset is the number of cables included. The AX Pros are compatible with the PS3, Xbox and PC and Mac computers and there are different ways to hook the headset up to certain machines. However, because they are true surround sound headphones there is a little more to setting them up than plugging a cable into your console. In the case of the PS3 you have a separate power supply for the headset which plugs into the decoder/control box and also from that box you have two cables going into the console itself, and lastly the headset. It is a lot of work setting them up, but the ultimate question is, was it all worth it ?
The simple answer to this question is most definitely a yes. Although I was of course expecting an increase in sound quality over other non-surround sound headsets, I was genuinely surprised at how good a job they did. At the time of purchasing the headset I was playing Crysis 2, Call Of Duty Black Ops and Gran Turismo 5, so those were the games which I initially played using the headset. While playing a racing game, such as Gran Turismo, the AX Pros do an amazing job. You can actually hear where cars are behind you without having to use your rear view, or look in your mirrors. With a control unit placed along the cable of the headset, you can adjust numerous volume settings, more so than just turning the volume up and down. The front, rear, centre and sub speakers all can be adjusted, along with an always handy separate volume control for in game voice chat. The headset comes with a very high quality mic which is detachable. All of this combined means that now, even with the sound roaring out through my home cinema set up, GT5 sounded as great as ever with the added bonus that I was not causing other people to jam their fingers into their ears.
However, the headset really comes into its own when playing first person shooters, as I found out playing both Black Ops and Crysis 2. Not only do the games sound amazing through the headset, it actually helps with your playing of the game. The surround sound really does work brilliantly while playing games such as these, and even some other non-FPS action games such as Uncharted multiplayer as I discovered while trying out the Beta for UC3 multiplayer. The surround sound effect really does help you locate enemy gunfire, explosions, or even footsteps and this is something that I had heard about when researching the headsets but always thought that surely they could not add that much to the game. How wrong I was, and I found out that they actually helped a lot in this respect. I think a big part of that was also the fact that they do an amazing job of drowning out any sound the outside world may be throwing at you, so much so that someone could be sitting next to you trying to hold a conversation, yet you would be totally oblivious.
The fact that the AX Pros are also compatible with more than just your gaming console of choice makes them an even more essential piece of kit. Being able to hook them up to your PC, Laptop or Apple Mac is a great addition but then add to that the fact that you can also connect them to your dvd or similar media playing devices and you have a great way to enjoy not only your games but music and movies as well.
So, if like myself you enjoy playing games at silly o’clock in the morning, or if you have house mates or thin walls with neighbours whom you do not wish to annoy with noise, but you wish to have top notch sound while gaming, then this top of the range surround sound gaming headset is an amazing piece of kit to have. Granted, they are on the expensive side, but you truly are paying for a high quality headset here and it is hard to find any fault with them. Despite the size, they are extremely comfortable to wear even over long periods of time, the sound quality of both in game noise and voice are perfect with no static, even at high volumes. The microphone sound quality equals that of the headphones themselves and they look pretty good also. You are getting a well built quality product for the money you pay, which more than does the job that you expect of it.