Product: Warhead 7.1 Wireless Surround Headset
Manufacturer: Tritton/Mad Catz
Technically, there’s not a headset on the market that can match the Warhead, at least as far as features are concerned. However, the question is, how does it feel, and in reality, what does it sound like?
The short answer: absolutely brilliant. The long answer:
Being a co-branded and officially licensed Xbox 360/Tritton product, the Mad Catz Warhead is able to offer an unparalleled feature-set.
Mad Catz have taken everything you already know and love from the Tritton brand, and added a touch of class to it. The Warhead 7.1 Wireless Surround Headset is still most definitely designed for gamers, but it doesn’t feel the need to remind everyone else in the room. There’s no bright flashy orange logos on the sides of the ear cups; the whole headset has a slick black finish. The base unit would sit happily amongst your other living-room technology, and blend seamlessly with your entertainment system/gadgets.
The most important aesthetic difference on the Warhead, that you’ll not see on any other Xbox 360 wireless headset, is the fact that it is indeed actually wireless. There’s no tether cable extending from the headset to the controller, which is a result of the official licensing and co-branding agreement with Microsoft. This means there’s also no dongle attached, so all the buttons and nobs you’ll need are conveniently placed around the headset.
To mute the mic, you tap the top end of the microphone, which will light a small red LED at the mouth-end of the mic, alleviating the usual need to check a cable/switch to see if your mic is on mute, by glowing in your peripheral vision. The game volume dial is behind your right ear, and voice-chat volume dial behind the left. These dials are also push-buttons, the right one muting all sound, and the left one enabling/disabling SVM (Selectable Voice Monitoring) which is a rather handy feature allowing you to hear a loopback of your own voice, not only so you know how you sound to your Xbox LIVE friends, but I imagine this feature also prevents a lot of people shouting loudly. When you have the noise-cancelling cups over your ears, it’s hard to hear anything from the real world, including your own voice, which can be a little disorientating. The SVM technology does a great job at combating that and, unlike similar technologies we’ve experienced before, there doesn’t seem to be a delay, which makes a dramatic difference. The remaining buttons for power, wireless sync, EQ and controller-pairing button are placed inside the cup, and on the front of the headphones. The big silver buttons on the front can be pressed accidentally, but once you get used to the fact that they’re there, this is pretty minor problem. All in all, Tritton have done a great job of providing so many configurable functions on hardware without an external dongle.
The batteries are incredibly easy to change. The front panel of the right headphone cup is held on magnetically, so it pops off with ease, to reveal a hot-swappable battery. The batteries do last a surprisingly long time, but the headset also comes with two sets so you can have one battery charging on the station, while the other is in use.
The charging station doesn’t have, or need, any buttons or controls of any kind, other than a small synchronise-headphones button at the back. As well as charging the spare battery, the station is also a display-unit for the headset, so you can see which EQ mode you’re currently using by the LED symbols on the front. The headset docks onto the charging station when not in use. There’s also line-in and optical-audio-in ports, to plug in other auxiliary sounds, which can be played simultaneously along with your game audio and voice chat.
I mentioned that this headset is technically the best headset on the market right now, and that’s down to the Dolby 7.1 technology, being streamed over 5.8Ghz wireless. Every other headset uses the common 2.4Ghz wavelength, which is why you’ll sometimes experience interference if you’re close to any other wireless device (such as wireless routers), or turn on the microwave.
Of course, the audio quality is second to none. The base-station display will highlight what mode quality settings you’re currently hearing, including Stereo, 5.1, 7.1, Dolby Digital and Dolby Digital Pro Logic IIx. The preset EQ modes for movies, music and gaming really make a difference too. It’s clear that music has more bass than movies, and gaming mode is better at picking up the crisp sound of oncoming footsteps. The 50mm precision-balanced speakers are what allow for the enhanced clarity and vibrant bass.
Each base station can sync up to four headsets, meaning you can take your headset round to a friend’s house and pair it to your controller, for some multiplayer wireless action.
Another nice touch about this product, is the overall package. The box contains literally all the cables you could possibly need to get your headset setup with your Xbox 360/TV/Sound System. The idea, I’m sure, is to make sure you can set this up out of the box and start gaming as soon as possible.
The build quality is on par with the audio quality. It wouldn’t make sense to have a technically superior headset, in a cheap shell. Warhead doesn’t disappoint, being expensive-feeling, yet not too heavy. The ear-pads are comfortable for long-play, and there’s a perfect balance between both cups and the head rest.
VERDICT: The Warhead 7.1 is the first and only wireless headset that doesn’t need a chat cable. Doubling as headphones for game audio and voice chat headset for Xbox LIVE. It looks great, feels great, and most important of all, it sounds great. After experiencing these headphones, it’d be impossible to recommend any other headphones with a clear conscience. If you’re an Xbox 360 gamer in need of a new pair of wireless headphones and/or headset, grab the Warhead; you won’t look back.