As a person obsessed with games, films and music I often find it hard to stress to people just how important sound can be. The smallest sound effects in games can draw you and immerse you into the experience: the soaring music accompanying a wonderful scene in a blockbuster film will heighten your enjoyment of it massively. Games such as Bioshock show us what can be done with ambient effects, and films such as Lord of the Rings demonstrate what a beautiful orchestral score can do. And so I always stress that having the means to deliver this audio experience is absurdly important: but not everyone has the space or the cash for a full surround sound system, and sadly I am one of those people. But salvation is at hand with headsets: these beauties can allow us great audio experiences for less cash, and let us have the volume up to ludicrous levels late at night without the wife/girlfriend/husband or boyfriend threatening violence to us.
- 50mm diameter speakers with neodymium magnets
- Digital Wireless RF carrier reception (2.404-2.476GHz)
- Bluetooth radio with dual-pairing mode and A2DP compatibility
- Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz, >120dB SPL @ 1kHz
- Condenser Microphone Frequency Response: 50Hz – 15kHz
- Headphone Amplifier: Stereo 27mW/ch, THD <1%
- Digital Signal Processor for independently controlled chat, game and mic signals
- USB port for programming the DSP via a Windows XP/Vista/7 computer
- Operates on two (2) AA batteries or two (2) AA rechargeable NiMH batteries
- Automatic shut down after approx 5 minutes of carrier loss or silence to conserve battery power
- Battery booster circuit extends battery life for up to 15 hours
- Weight: 7.9 Oz (233g)
Digital RF Wireless Transmitter
- Digital Wireless RF wireless carrier reception (2.404-2.476GHz)
- Digital RF wireless transmission range up to 30 feet
- Stereo headphone output with volume control for external wired headphones
- Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz
- Optical TOSLINK digital audio input compatible with 48kHz digital audio stream
- Optical TOSLINK digital audio output pass-through of digital input stream.
- 150MIPS Digital Signal Processor for Dolby processing
- Maximum analog input level with volume control on maximum setting: 2Vpp (700mV rms). Input sensitivity may be adjusted to accept higher level signals by lowering the volume control.
- Dimensions: Height 8.875 in (22.5 cm), width 4.375 in (11.1 cm), depth 4.375 in (11.1cm)
- Weight: 8.4 Oz (240g)
- Power requirements: 5VDC @180mA max
(This headset was supplied to my free of charge by Turtle Beach for review.)
I confess that, at first, I was apprehensive about Turtle Beach’s PX5 headset. Before I got my hands on these I used a Steelseries Spectrum 5XB , which delivers very good sound at an affordable price. The PX5’s have an RRP of (Sit down and take a deep breath) of £200. Considering the vast price increase I was sceptical as to whether they could actually deliver enough of an audio quality increase to make me or any other game consider spending that amount of cash. But they did deliver, and I now refuse to game, watch a film or play music without my PX5’s on my head.
Take the wireless headset out of the box and you’ll notice that they are a fine-looking piece of kit: the whole thing is done in matte black with a few shinier plastic pieces and striking red highlights. I usually don’t mind what the headset looks like, but in this case I’m perfectly willing to say that these look amazing. They weigh in at around 233 Grams, giving them a solid, reassuring weight, without feeling too heavy. The cans themselves feature a thick wad of padding to ensure you don’t get sore wearing them, and sure enough I never did, despite some very long sessions and the fact that I wear glasses when gaming. The headband also features thick padding, and again this proved to be extremely comfortable. Along the ear-pieces themselves you’ll find an array of buttons to play with, almost enough to make you think that they took a look at the NASA launch centre and decided that they didn’t have enough things to press. On the left hands side is your preset control and volume control, along with a USB connection and the Xbox 360 chat cable connection. The right hand side features Bluetooth controls, a “main” button and the mic mute. Finally, the boom mic is attached to the left hand can and is a flexible, but sturdy, piece of kit.
The next thing out of the box is the RF Transmitter which is responsible for sending all that lovely sound to your headset. It comes with its own little stand so you can position it around your house for the best signal, and features a nice metal piece on top of itself so that you can hang your headset on it. It’s the little details that count. On the Transmitter you’ll find all the connections you’ll require to get going, plus an extra connection for use with a second headset, should you wish to do so.
Finally, out come the wires you’ll need to get everything working. There’s nothing remarkable here: a USB cable, Xbox 360 Talkback cable, transmitter power cable and optical cable. However, for those still using an original Xbox 360 and HDMI cable, you won’t be able to plug-in the required optical cable. You’ll need a component cable for that. This could be a potentially tricky problem for anyone with an older Xbox 360, but it can be solved by purchasing the component cable,or by purchasing a Audio Video Adapter HDMI AV Cable. Still, having to shell out even more cash is never a good thing.
The actual setup of the unit is straightforward and takes no longer than a few minutes.
Now it’s time to get onto the important things: the sound quality. While the PX5 does advertise Dolby 7.1 on the box, the Xbox 360 only actually supports Dolby 5.1. Furthermore, the headset itself actually outputs in Dolby 5.1, but uses Dolby Digital Pro Logic IIX to simulate the 7.1 experience. If you didn’t really get any of that don’t worry, because all you really need to know is that the PX5 produces an utterly staggering level of sound quality. The headset replicates the feeling of 360 degree sound perfectly, allowing you to pinpoint the sound of a sniper firing with ease, or the sound of another racing coming up your inside. Gunshots, explosions, engines and tires squealing are all delivered in crystal clear, crisp signals to your ears. I’m going to come out right now and state that the Turtle Beach PX5 delivers one of, if not the best sound quality available for gamers.
The audio quality that the headset produces didn’t let me down when watching films or listening to music, either. While testing the headset I watched a range of films and in each and everyone one of them the PX5 excelled. When it came to music they satisfying brought a range of music to my ears. The spine chilling Black Sabbath, the classical wonders of Bach, and the brilliant Geoff Sharp (who has just released his first album, No Regrets. Check him out) all became music to my ears. Yes, I did just make that utterly crap joke, but I had to. Something I did truly appreciate was that while watching films or listening to music the headset automatically cut out the notification sounds of friends coming online, as well as the menu sounds. It’s a fantastic little touch and one that I loved.
The headset also comes loaded with a range of preset sound options to cycle through at the press of a button. These allow you to quickly flick through a range of different styles such as ramping the bass up high for those explosions, or putting the treble up so you can hear those bullet casings hit the ground. I generally kept it at preset 4 which ramps up the bass and treble, perfect for some shooter fun. Other presets allow you to tune out sound to better hear footsteps or gunfire. It’s a brilliant touch, and for the serious gamer it can really help you in multiplayer battles on Bad Company 2 or Black Ops.
If you’re not happy with the presets that come with the headset or if you think you can do better you can download a piece of software from the Turtle Beach website that allows you to create your own custom presets and then upload them to the headset. However, the software is not that user-friendly making it awkward for those who do not already have experience in such fields to craft their own presets.
The transmitter doesn’t let the package down, either. I was able to wander around my house at will and keep signal most of the time, though it did splutter and breakup quite often unless I was standing still. Some have estimated the range of the headset at around 30 feet, but, from my personal use, I would place it at around 15-20ft. I did find that it occasionally picked up interference from other wireless devices around the house, but it was minimal.
There are a nice array of little touches to the headset that also help set it apart from the competition. Should your batteries be dying the headset will inform you of this via a voice in our ear. Now that’s classy. A chat boost system automatically raises and lowers the volume of other players in correspondence with the games volume. Mic monitoring ensures that you don’t start shouting the house down at 2AM, and the mic also cuts out ambient noise so your friends can hear your voice clearly. Not that they really want to.
In terms of battery life the headset is decent. The two batteries that come packaged with the PX5 lasted around 15 hours, but I would highly recommend swapping them out for rechargeable batteries. With these rechargeable batteries I’ve gotten around 18-20 hours of game time, though the battery is drained a good bit quicker if you’re using the mic as well. Don’t forget that the quality of your batteries will also have an effect.
The obvious flaw with the PX5 is its price. At £200 this is out of the range of the average gamer, but they’re clearly not aimed at the average game, instead they’re aimed at the audiophiles and the hardcore gamers. Could I recommend these to a casual gamer? No. Partly because of the price, but mostly because a casual gamer would most likely never appreciate these to their fullest. It would be like buying a Ferrari, and then only ever driving it down to the corner shop to get eggs and milk. Sure, you’d have fun with it, but it would still be a waste.
+ Stunning audio quality.
+ Little details.
+ Presets are very useful.
- Can pick up interference.
- The audio editing software needs work.
Summary: If you love games, if you love movies and if you love music then you will find no better headset on the market. A masterpiece of design, albeit a bloody expensive masterpiece of design.