Once you have visited Turtle Beach, it is difficult to leave.
Gaming audio is a somewhat hit or miss subject. Much like the fact that some developers spend many hours and much money in creating the perfect audio environment for their games, whereas for others it is an afterthought, some gamers will invest in the perfect gaming audio environment, while others content themselves with the TV speakers or, perhaps even worse, low quality headsets. It is a sad fact that so much time is spent complaining or raving about the visual aspects of a game, while the audio often goes unremarked.
But there are plenty of options out there for gamers who want to make improvements to the audio quality of their gaming sessions, with a few companies offering a level of excellence with their headsets. Perhaps the most famous of all are Turtle Beach, an American company who have managed to capture the imagination of may gamers with their high quality build and classic form factor across their range of Earforce headsets. And it is in fact the new Earforce PX22 Amplified Universal Gaming Headset that I will be having a look at here.
The PX22 may look like an entry level gaming headset, without many of the bells and whistles that can be found on other, more expensive headsets. However, the price, which currently seems to be around the £69.99 mark, suggests that there is something more going on here, and indeed there is. But we will move onto that in a moment.
As I said, the headset looks entry level, without anything beyond the gorgeous finish by Turtle Beach to make it stand out. The cups are round, the microphone is neither removable or hidden. The headset is not wireless or packed out with high level audio options. But this simplicity in design ensures the most universal appeal.
Because they are comfortable. The well-padded cups and the head strap are both covered in a mesh rather than the more common leather/faux leather. There is also plenty of breathing room, preventing any off-putting ear sweat. It is quite painless to use this headset for many hours without discomfort, which is especially important given the wide range of uses this headset has.
The PX22 is designed to work with both the PS3 and the Xbox360, but it also works with so much more besides. Phones, tablets, mobile gaming consoles and PCs are all covered by the PX22, making it an incredibly versatile headset. Within the smart-looking packaging, those who buy the PX22 will find everything they need and clear instructions to use this nice looking headset with pretty much any device.
And if the PX22 is to be used out and about with a phone or MP3 player, it really must look good. Fortunately, the PX22 manages this with a classic form factor in black with blue trim, and some understated branding for both Turtle Beach and MLG. Anyone who is comfortable wearing a large headset in public will be happy with the look of these.
But none of this really explains the £69.99 price tag. The headset has a short cable ending with a 3.5mm jack for plugging into most devices, and sounds really good when used like this. But there is a box of magic that comes with the headset that raises them to a whole new level of audio quality, and justifies the price.
So, every headset has to have a “gimmick” to make it stand out in the crowd, and for the PX22 this happens to be an inline amplifier. Not that the amplifier is a gimmick, this little box of tricks packs in loads of functionality. Firstly, plugging in the amplifier gives an instant improvement to the audio quality, which is pretty damn good to start with. But with the amp everything is crisper, louder and more “solid” (Audiophiles will probably have a word for what I am trying to describe). It also has an incredibly long cable, allowing the user options when it comes to the set up.
Through the amplifier, the user is able to make all manner of adjustments for the perfect set up, including to the treble and bass to personal preference. There are separate game and chat volume controls, and a mic monitor. Then there is the mic control switch which allows the user to change between high or low volume, phone or mute. By plugging a phone into the aux input on the unit, it is possible to take phone calls through the headset whilst gaming without any fuss.
When it comes to connectivity, the headset is compatible with almost everything, and comes with all of the cables needed, all packed in their own little boxes to make life as easy as possible. You get the RCA splitter cable, a cable for Xbox360 chat and a small auxiliary cable, which pretty much covers everything. There is even a quick start guide which runs the user through the initial set up of the unit, which is a godsend to anyone who has never had to deal with the confusion of setting up a headset with an Xbox360.
The amplifier may well be the price justifier for the PX22 headset, but it really cannot be understated what a difference the sound quality makes. A gamers audio experience is often overlooked, and investing in a quality headset really does make a big difference. The £69.99 price tag may well be a stumbling block for some, but it is fairly reasonable and it is true that you get what you pay for. The experience from the Turtle Beach PX22 and inferior headsets are worlds apart.
Excellent build quality and sublime audio reproduction are pretty much standard across the Turtle Beach range. Add to this the many ways to customise your audio experience and the wealth of connection options, and it becomes very easy to recommend the PX22 headset for anyone hunting for a reasonably priced wired headset.