Turtle Beach Ear Force XL1 Headset Review
Headsets are a staple amongst the PC Gaming community, everybody has them and everybody always wants a better pair, but that same idea isn’t usually applied to console gamers. Those gamers of the console variety tend to use the communication device that came with their respective consoles, perhaps buying a similar one but of increased quality, but never really deviating from something that “just works”. Turtle Beach, creators of some excellent quality headsets over the past years, are aiming to change all that with their line of headsets aimed squarely at the console market. The Ear Force XL1 is just one of those special little headsets, one that’s primed and ready for all your Xbox LIVE needs, but how does it handle in the real world after many hours of gaming and general use?
The first thing that most people will notice when they start using the XL1 will be just how comfortable it is, the padded ear cups fit neatly over the ear and ensure that even after long gaming sessions the headset remains comfortable for the user. Players may even find that they forget they’re wearing it at all, which is one of the best things that can be said about a piece of hardware that most players, especially ones that will use all of the features of the XL1 (namely multiplayer gamers) will be wearing for hours and hours on end.
The headset fits so comfortably and securely around the user’s head that they cut out the outside noise extremely well, so much so that on more than one occasion I was seemingly ignoring people that were sitting right next to me. One of the downsides of the headset however, is that those same users that are sitting next to somebody with the headset on will be able to hear everything that’s happening in the game. Basically the headset is good at keeping sound out but not so good at keeping it in.
One of the other plus points of the XL1 is that the volume can be set very high if the user wishes and the depth of sound is amazing from such a comparatively cheap device. You’ll be able to hear sounds you didn’t even know we’re there before and certain sounds, especially ambient noise, were so realistic I had to look outside to make sure it wasn’t really thundering and that it was indeed just inside the game world. The sound volume of both the game that the player is currently in the middle of, as well as the volume of the people that are talking over the voice chat, can be very closely controlled using the in-line amplifier using two separate volume control wheels. This means that each individual user will be able to tailor the headset to their own exact preference; further increasing the comfort of the headset.
One of the major downsides to the headset are the connections that are supplied with it, the only way of connecting the headset to the Xbox 360 is through the use of a pair of RCA connections (the red and white connectors that you’d find on most TV’s). The problem lies in the fact that these connections aren’t on all TV’s and the other way that is suggested to connect the headset, by connecting them in-line with the cables coming out of the Xbox 360, isn’t very useful on an Xbox 360 that is connected to the TV using a standard HDMI cable. This problem is easily sorted through the purchase of an audio adapter but the idea of buying something extra to use a piece of equipment that you’ve already bought could put a lot of people off and considering that most people probably have an Xbox 360 that has an HDMI port by now, most of them will require this extra purchase.
- 50mm diameter speakers with neodymium magnets
- Speaker Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz, >120dB SPL @ 1kHz
- Condenser Microphone Frequency Response: 50Hz – 15kHz
- Cable length: 16 ft. (4.87m)
- Weight: 6.4 oz (181g)
- Headphone Amplifier: Stereo DC-coupled, 35mW/ch, THD Mic mute switch
- Maximum analog input level with volume control on maximum setting: 2Vpp (700mV rms)
- Fixed Bass Boost +9dB @150Hz
- 2.5mm XBOX 360 controller input jack
- USB connector for power (5VDC @ Dimensions: Height .5in (1.3cm), Width 2.3in (5.8cm), Depth 1.1in (2.7cm)
- 10 x 8.5 x 4.75 (inches)
VERDICT: The Ear Force XL1 is an impressive headset and for people that only have an Xbox 360, or just play online using one, you couldn’t do too much better in terms of headsets for the price level. The fact that the player will be able to hear their own voice through the use of a built in mic monitor is a particularly nice touch of quality. The sound is excellent and the amount of control given to the user with regards to the audio volume is also a nice little addition. The fact that most people will require an extra piece of equipment is something that could potentially sour a lot of people’s first experiences. If you’re a player that plays on more than just the Xbox 360 then you’d probably be better suited with something different but you probably wouldn’t be disappointed with the XL1 as long as you’re aware of its shortcomings.