- Category: Audio
- Published: Tuesday, 17 March 2009 06:08
- Written by garfi3ld
Some time ago we reviewed Tritton's quality headset, the AX51 5.1 Headset. At that point I was thoroughly impressed with the set, so much so in fact, I took them to our last local party LanOC V.3. I decided that even with the power brick as an anchor, the superior quality warranted the hassle. It seems that Tritton was dissatisfied with their previous attempt at chaining me to my desk with just one adapter because they just released a new top of the line model: the Tritton AXPro. As you may have guessed, this device's number of earthly tethers are greater than the last, possessing a staggering two power adapters for one single headset. Tritton sent us one of these beastly headsets to see if they live up to their status as well as their power consumption. This means that, once again, as we review this headset, I can no longer move from my workstation. My name is Thomas Gilligan, and if you are reading this, I am being held against my will by the Tritton AXPro.
Product Name: Tritton AXPro 5.1 Headset
Review Sample Provided by: Tritton Technologies, Inc.
Review by: Tomikaze
Review Pictures by: Wes Specifications: (according to the website)
|Center Speaker||2 x 30mm Driver 120dB +- 3dB at 1mW, 1KHz; 130-2.5KHz(from 1KHz down 10dB)|
|Front Speaker||2 x 30mm Driver 120dB +- 3dB at 1mW, 1KHz; 20-20KHz(from 1KHz down 10dB)|
|Rear Speaker||2 x 30mm Driver 120dB +- 3dB at 1mW, 1KHz; 20-20KHz(from 1KHz down 10dB)|
|Subwoofer||2 x 40mm Driver 118dB +- 3dB at 1mW, 1KHz; 20-30KHz(from 1KHz down 10dB)|
|Cable Length||12.5 feet|
|XBOX/XBOX360||Fiber Optic Input / Microphone and Voice connects to Xbox360 controller|
|PS2/PS3||Fiber Optic Input / USB Microphone and Voice connection|
|PC/MAC||Fiber Optic Input and USB Microphone and Voice or Analog Inputs for 5.1 sound card|
Tritton made a slightly more elaborate package for their new model. A shiny white and orange box hides Tritton's gift to me - easy to open plastic. I didn't have to make a run to the ER this time! The decorative exterior actually serves a purpose as well, as it bears all the familiar spec lists and compatibility charts on has come to expect from device. A slick Velcro flap allows potential consumers to gaze lovingly at Tritton's beautiful new headset design. The headset itself can be seen nestled within its plastic home, waiting to be worn. Tritton ought to pat themselves on the back, as this package makes the consumer want to purchase this product.
You'll find the kitchen sink in this box. Because of this headset's high compatibility list, it needs a lot of accessories to work. Tritton includes an optical cable, an analog 5.1 dongle, a USB A to USB B adapter, a 3.5 mm jack for the 360 controller, 2 power adapters, and the external audio controller that makes hooking up all these things possible. Tritton kindly includes a fold out set of instructions providing detailed steps to hook up the headset to your home consoles as well as your PC. As an added bonus, this fold out has a pretty nifty poster printed on the back, if you're into that sort of thing.
Form and Function
PC The first thing you notice about this headset is its obvious disparity from typical headsets. The color is unusual, an almost white, silvery gray and the shape of the cans is actually square as opposed to the oval or circle industry norms. When powered on, the Tritton logo glows a deep, rich orange that would seem most at home in a fire.
All these things come together to create a visually striking headset that boasts a unique style no other manufacturer can lay claim to. The best thing about this headset is that its performance easily matches its elegance. The first thing I have to address is the power adapter issue. In all reality, for the performance you get out of this set, a power adapter is wholly necessary just as it was with the AX51 headset. What might not be readily apparent, however, is that unless you intend to use the external audio controller with the PC, you don't have to use both power adapters. This means you can get away with one power adapter as long as you're willing to settle for the analog 5.1 dongle. The headset can make use of the digital optical cable with a PC as long as your computer has an optical input and you're willing to pony up the space needed for the second adapter needed to power the audio controller.
In this circumstance you would use the included USB A to B adapter to connect your computer to the controller for mic functionality. Tritton's signature inline audio controller makes an appearance on this headset, but with a drastic overhaul. The inline controller now uses a very efficient five color coding system to denote not only overall volume, but also the volume for each separate set of speakers. There is a convenient mute for the volume located on the volume switch and used by pressing the entire switch in.
This is even handier than it sounds because this set does a pretty good job at isolating you from the outside world. The sound quality of this headset is unmatched by any other gaming headset I have used. Eight individual speakers provide for an unparalleled listening experience. Having this many speakers also proves superior when it comes to utilizing directional audio present in games and movies. Far more subtle directions can be made clear to the listener when using this headset. The AXPro takes everything I liked about the AX51's, kicks it up a notch, while also improving bass clarity. I'll admit I miss the shaking, ear-rattling bass of the AX51's but with the Pros I can tell I'm getting a more accurate sound reproduction. I find the mic to be a bit disappointing, however. In keeping with the material and color set of the headset, Tritton opted to use a stiff plastic mic instead of a flexible microphone like the AX51's had. This mic can't even rotate 360 degrees and uses a poorly designed mechanism to do so, leaving eventual breakage a distinct probability. The upside, however, is that the mic is undoubtedly the most sensitive mic I have heard. Conversation comes through ridiculously crisp with this thing, in fact you'll likely have issues from picking up any and all background noise.
Xbox360 Using this headset with your home consoles proves to be a very different beast than with your PC. The first thing you have to accept is that there is no escaping the external audio controller. Despite what you think, this isn't a bad thing. The controller possesses its own volume control, as well as a useful time delay function which comes in handy if your audio appears out of sync. This doesn't appear to be a typical issue, but it's nice to have the feature in case. A convenient switch is also present for Dolby Pro Logic II to Dolby Digital. When using the AXPro with any console, optical is the name of the game. Even though you are provided with one, if you really take your audio seriously it wouldn't be a bad idea to pick up a higher end cable. The stock cable's quality is mediocre at best. Regardless of this fact, playing the 360 with a 5.1 headset is still like playing a completely new system. You will hear things in your games that you weren't even aware existed. Since all current generation games on both the Xbox360 and the PS3 support 5.1 surround sound, there is no better use for a headset like this. As an added bonus, the external controller features analog 5.1 outputs as well, so if you want to use your headset while having surround sound remain in the room, this is perfectly possible. For the Xbox360, mic functionality is achieved by using an included 3.5 mm mic jack that plugs into the bottom of the Xbox controller. The other end of this cable plugs into the inline audio controller. This cable is conveniently spiraled and stretchy, leaving you plenty of controller freedom without having an extra cable flowing around and getting caught on things. Mic quality is years beyond the cheap included Xbox mic, and ever the insightful company it is, Tritton included the exact same controls found on the cheap Microsoft headset on the right side of the inline audio controller. This means that you lose no function by using the AXPro, and have everything to gain. One issue I have to raise is with the use of the optical cable as the sole audio solution with his headset. This is because when using an HDMI cable, an Xbox360 has no available optical port. Only when using composite or component cables do you have an optical port at hand. The trouble here is that composite cables can't display high definition at all, and not all HDTVs accept a 1080p high def signal. These tvs are a bit rare anymore but they are still out there, so this could present a problem for an owner of one of these televisions. Furthermore, pretty much any standard definition TV won't have optical ports. If you are using a surround sound system to output your audio, chances are it might have an optical out on it so that is one method you might use to circumvent this problem. An easier solution, if you are using an HDTV, would be to plug into its optical port and take advantage of the audio pass through. Not all TVs are particularly good at this though, so your mileage may vary.
PS2/PS3 Optical is still the method of choice to connect the external controller to your console. Thankfully, both the PS2 and the PS3 have integrated optical ports so there are no worries there. However, the PS2 and PS3 controllers aren't used for mic connections like Xboxs. This means that you have to use the USB cable to connect to your system for mic support. This is all you have to do though, so its a rather simple process. The wonder mic performs just as well on Sony's consoles and offers a definite boon when in-game chatting. The most aggravating thing when it comes to these consoles is that the supplied USB cable is rather short, so unless you sit within two or three feet of your console, you won't have easy access to the master volume or any of the aforementioned switches. You should note that the optical cable isn't very long either so even the 360 suffers from this somewhat, but it's not quite as bad. I find it easiest to let the external audio controller rest on or near your console and letting the headset's 12.5 feet of cable do all the reaching for you. Then when you absolutely have to change something on the controller you'll just have to get up for a few seconds. DVD Likely a lesser used feature of this headset is that since the external controller has an optical input, you can plug into any movie player with an optical output and recieve a delightfully isolated movie-watching experience. 5.1 directional audio proves to be of much use here as the AXPro accurately reflects the position of every bullet, explosion, and flying helicopter for a truly magnificent cinema event. Even more useful than the quality of the audio that's imparted on the wearer is the ability to watch a movie at any level without bothering anyone else. So if you like to watch your movies at an ear bleeding level at all hours of the night, this may prove to be a significant investment. A word of warning, however. This headset isolates you, but doesn't necessarily prevent sound from leaking out. So if you do indeed listen to things ridiculously loud, you will submit anyone close to you to a rather annoying din.
Tritton's AX51 headset proved to be a wonderfully comfortable headset and it left me to question exactly how it could be improved. The ol' saying "If it ain't broke don't fix it." came to mind. Well that's exactly what Tritton adhered to. They left the padding system virtually identical. The one immediate difference you will notice is the material the pads are made out of. The stock material is a very comfortable cloth padding with a lot of give. In my experience, it breathes rather well which helped to delay sweaty ears that, for me, are a significant portion of ear fatigue. If you liked the material found on the AX51's however, don't be dismayed. Tritton was kind enough to include a set of pads using the "pleather" that we are all used to, along with a tool to help install them. Replacement is rather easy and takes only minutes. The ear pads simply stretch around a groove like most headsets and the headband uses a simple sliding lock mechanism. For what it's worth, I found the cloth material an improvement over the old, but comfort is a highly subjective matter. That doesn't mean the AXPro is without fault, however. The cups, unlike the ones on the AX51's, do not rotate side to side for ultimate adjustabiltiy. I never really utilized this feature but it was nice to have. Another discomfort I experienced was how tight the AXPro's gripped my head. It seemed to be a lot tighter than other headsets I have used in the past. I have a rather large head, however, so this likely isn't an issue for everyone. This headset is also a tad heavier than most, but it didn't seem to significantly affect my usage. The clip I was so fond of on the AX51 headset is still here, and its presence makes the weighty inline audio controller much more manageable.
At this point, I think it would be futile to continue to berate Tritton for the two power adapters. When you throw down $180 for a headset, you know what you're getting into. Obviously you don't need a headset that's all about portability if you are willing to put your money down on this product. That said, if you need a stay-at-home PC/Console headset, why haven't you bought this product yet? The sheer compatibility of this set is staggering, and it boasts impressive audio and mic quality. The only set that could dethrone this one is the Turtle Beach Ear Force X4's. Although they are wireless, the use infrared which pretty much requires line of sight and the audio quality seems to suffer for the lack of wires. To top it off they cost an extra $20 from the already expensive Tritton AXPro. If you ask me, this headset right here is where the bang for your buck lies, and you will not regret the purchase.