I must confess to not knowing a lot about the ins and outs of gaming headset technology, but I do know what I like and the Turtle Beach Earforce X42 falls directly into this category.
I’ve tried out many gaming headsets over the years and while most provide a decent enough experience, none of them had me raving about their quality, that is until now. From the moment I laid eyes on the box I knew that the X42 was a special headset. Plenty of care an attention has been put into the package design, with bright colours and a clear plastic window showing off Turtle Beach’s new toy to great affect.
Opening the box only sees things get better as you finally get hands-on with the X42. Looking around the black and green headset shows off some of the features you’ll come to expect, such as the game audio control, effects button and Xbox 360 talkback cable jack. A panel under the right ear cup also hosts the Two AAA batteries which provide power to the headphone’s receiver and built-in amplifier.
One of the main additions to this particular headset is the included wireless transmitter which allows for digital input and surround sound. It’s quite a small box which easy enough to set up. First you connect up the USB cable to the 360 and vice versa, then using the provided digital optical cable, you connect the transmitters’ digital-in port to the digital-out on the 360. Once this task is complete it’s just a case of connecting the headset to your controller via the included talkback cable and finally syncing the headset to the transmitter via a combination of the sync button and the headsets power button. It’s a fairly easy process which takes around 3-4 minutes maximum and then you are good to go.
Given that you are running the headset through a transmitter, there is a small chance of interference, however I have to say that I didn’t experience this once, despite having many wireless devices in the household which perhaps could have caused this problem.
One of the big features of the X42 is its ability to decode Dolby Digital surround from games and movies in order to provide realistic surround sound effects and from first experience it does a great job. I tested the headset out with a few games, including Assassin’s Creed Revelations and I have to say that it sounds wonderful. The effects of the crowded streets was clear, almost giving me a feeling of standing in the busy town myself, even the smallest and most intricate of detail could be clearly heard. Despite these realistic background effects, the action was still the main draw, with character conversation clear and crisp, making for a very immersive experience.
Before moving on I wanted to make sure the mic did it’s job, after all there is no point having all this fancy surround sound if you can’t chat to your friends in the middle of an op in Battlefield 3 or Call of Duty. Gathering a team I checked out the ability to chat and listen and as you’d expect both provide the same high quality experience. Friends reported being able to hear me clearly, while to me, listening to my friends almost convinced me that they where in the same room.
Obviously it’s not all about gaming on the Xbox 360 these days, with recent updates showing Microsoft is moving on to a more all round living room entertainment experience. It only seems fitting then that I also tested out the headset using a mixture of music and movies, in addition to games. The result though was just as impressive, with the headset providing a perfectly acceptable alternative to your standard surround sound experience for movies, while listening to music had me wanting to sit there all day, carefree, although I eventually had to move on, I have work to do after all.
Moving on consisted of walking downstairs to make a cup of tea while still listening to music via the headset. The range is impressive. I managed to walk out into the garden and was still well within range. Maybe I’ll work in the garden this summer whilst listening to my music courtesy of the X42s’.
If I had one gripe with the headset it’d be that it isn’t entirely wireless. Although there is no wired connection between the headset and the transmitter, you are still connected to the controller. On the plus side, what this does mean is that the cable connecting the two is able to house a mic mute button and volume control for chat, which is a lot easier than trying to guess where these dials are on the headphone whilst wearing it.
Like I said earlier, when it comes to gaming headsets I’m no expert. I don’t have a degree in the workings of Dolby 5.1 surround sounds. I do know when something works and when it sounds good though and to date, no headset I’ve ever tried sounds better than the Earforce X42 from Turtle Beach. If you are in the market for a high quality gaming headset then listen hard and look no further because Turtle beach has (your ears) covered.
You can order the Turtle Beach Earforce X42 gaming headset from ShopTo for £124.85. That’s a bargain in my opinion.