No food or drink please!
Ahhh, the long Summer evenings. Impromptu garden parties with loud music, feral children screaming in the street until late, ice cream vans with their slightly creepy tunes announcing their arrival. How the hell am I supposed to concentrate on the very serious job of gaming?
The answer is actually quite simple – use a headset and drown out the noise pollution that seems to accompany the Summer. Surely there is no better situation for testing out the TRITTON Detonator Xbox360 Headset from Mad Catz, other than moving to a warzone (and I prefer to keep my warzones in videogame form).
I am a fairly simple creature when it comes to gaming audio. Usually the speakers that come with my TV are good enough for what I need. I am aware that any gaming experience can only be enhanced by using a quality headset, but most of the time I just can’t be bothered. Also, as far as I am concerned, headsets come in three flavours – cheap, mid range and “how much?” – and I would be most likely to purchase something in the cheap range and then spend the money I saved on a new game (or two).
The Detonator Headset fits comfortably within the mid range flavour with a price of around £59.99, which means that they provide a certain degree of quality without making your wallet bleed. The quality leaps out at you as soon as you start ripping open the packaging and left me feeling all warm inside, but more on that in a minute. Let’s talk about cables…
Life without wires is bliss, but comes at a cost. If you are looking at the sort of quality headset that comes without wires, then you are likely talking about the type of investment that will have your bank manager rubbing their hands with glee, possibly whilst laughing maniacally. For this mid range price point we have to make do with wires, and lots of them. The headset is designed for the Xbox360 and as such comes with all the cables needed to connect up to your console. It should be pointed out that a single wire comes out of the headset itself with one 3.5mm jack (many headsets will have two jacks – one for sound and one for microphone – which results in a spare jack flapping around) allowing the headset to be used with MP3 players and the like. The microphone won’t work with your phone, but can be removed so you won’t look like a wally whilst walking down the street, so everyone is a winner.
Back to the wires. The headset allows you to connect things up whichever way you connect your comsole to the TV, either HDMI or Component/Composite. To get everything set up, you will need to connect the cables to the audio output of the Xbox360, the USB socket and the controller. That’s a lot of wiring and can be a pain if you have your console set up so that all of the wires are hidden. But there you go. You will have a cable traipsed across the floor, so make sure that any through traffic in the living room, or the bedroom if you are set up there and are particularly popular, know the cable is there otherwise you may find your headset flying across the room, possibly along with your ears.
Central to the operation of the headset is a small in-line box. From here, you can adjust the volume of or mute the game or the chat. There is also a switch labeled as SVM which allows you to turn off the sound of your own voice, which is handy. The cables are all nice and long and will cater to the majority of gaming setups.
I am no expert when it comes to audio quality, but everything really does sound better when you use a headset, especially one of this quality. Everything comes through nice and clear, from the actual game audio which sounds so much more immersive, to the inane chat of my online buddies. Background noise is not completely banished, but it is dimmed enough that I can happily ignore people knocking on my door. The audio quality is without fault.
Now, back to that warm feeling and the looks of the headset. First up, the build quality is very good and it looks like the headset can take some punishment without crying like a baby. They are nice and solid. The headband is well padded and feels comfortable on the head, and the ear-cups are chunky. They made my ears happy. The cups themselves have an unusual “off-hexagonal” shape which make them stand out from the regular round ear cups, and they swivel around to lie flat, making them fit even the most irregularly shaped head and easier to travel with.
But herein lies the only real fault that I could find with the headset. Any serious gamer will know that taking a break to eat is totally out of the question, and so eating whilst gaming is necessary to prevent starvation. Unfortunately, due to the swiveling ear-cups, the movement of my jaw whilst enjoying my favorite gaming snack resulted in a rather loud clunk/squeak. It may be that a little bit of oil (I am not putting oil on my headset) would solve this problem, or perhaps it will fade over time and is just due to the headset being new. But in the time that I was using them, food and drink were avoided for the best possible audio experience.
Also, I am not entirely sold on the removable microphone. I cannot think of any benefits to this over a retractable microphone, and making it removeable raises the possibility of losing it all together. If you could see the state of my desk, you would know how high that risk is…
At a mid range price, the TRITTON Detonator Xbox360 Headset is a lovely piece of kit. The audio quality is as high as the average gamer would need, it is comfortable over long gaming sessions and it works really well. What’s more, the excellent design means that I would happily walk along the street wearing these whilst listening to music on my phone. They look more expensive than they are and are cool enough that people won’t laugh at me (any more). And they block out the sounds of life outside, which is all anyone needs…