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Author Topic: [360] Gaming Headphones  (Read 12355 times)
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msteelers
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« on: October 23, 2009, 06:56:32 PM »

Recently the girlfriend has been complaining about having to listen to me play video games all the time, so I've started looking at headphones that I can use whenever I'm playing a game and she's doing something else. I could plug a regular pair of headphones into the TV, but with Modern Warfare 2 coming out in a couple of weeks, I will need to have a headset that also includes a mic.

From what I've seen, it looks like the Turtle Beach Ear Force line of products is going to be my best option. There are four different models that work with the 360, ranging from $30 up to $200. Right now, I can't afford the $200, so that one isn't an option.

The cheapest one is the Ear Force XLC for $30. This seems like what I need. Stereo audio, with the mic to talk over live, and separate audio levels for game and chat channels.. The problem is that it is wired, and could get complicated. From the pictures, it looks like the wire coming out of the headset splits, one to go into the controller and one that taps into the audio from the 360 (or you could plug it into the TV like normal). If the wires aren't long enough, this could be a problem.

The next one up is the Ear Force X1 for $60. This seems the same as the XLC, but with better audio, and a different wire coming out of the headset. Instead of just plugging directly into the TV, it needs to also be plugged into the 360 via the USB port. The features are what I want, but again, it has a wire, and now it needs to plug into both the TV and the 360.

Finally, there is the Ear Force X31 for $100. There are some new features here that I think are important. First, the chat volume supposedly automatically goes up as the game volume increases. One of the big complaints I've heard about these type of headphones is that the chat volume can get drowned out at times, so this seems pretty important. They also have a feature where you can hear yourself whenever you speak into the mic. The broadcaster in me really likes the idea of that. But, those both pale in comparison to the fact that this headset is wireless!

So does anybody have any experience with these? Are these comfortable to wear for long periods of time? How's the audio, and is it a good headset to use as well?

It seems like the X31 is a no brainer, but I don't really have $100 to go and spend. If it's really worth it though, I've got a birthday coming up and can make sure that people get me gift cards for it. But, if the audio isn't that much better than the XLC or the X1 then I will probably just go out and get one of those.
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Kevin Grey
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« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2009, 07:20:56 PM »

When you can afford it, I would highly recommend picking up a JVC Dolby Headphone unit.  These do an extraordinary job of simulating Dolby Digital and DTS surround through any pair of stereo heaphones.  Make sure to get the AC Adapter though otherwise you are stuck with batteries. 

Combined with a pair of Sennheiser HD-555s makes for an excellent audio experience. 
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leo8877
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« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2009, 07:23:32 PM »

Quote from: Kevin Grey on October 23, 2009, 07:20:56 PM

When you can afford it, I would highly recommend picking up a JVC Dolby Headphone unit.  These do an extraordinary job of simulating Dolby Digital and DTS surround through any pair of stereo heaphones.  Make sure to get the AC Adapter though otherwise you are stuck with batteries. 

Combined with a pair of Sennheiser HD-555s makes for an excellent audio experience. 

Would those be good for a PSP when traveling?
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« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2009, 07:27:07 PM »

I think the Senns are probably a bit large for traveling.  Even in the house I tend to use smaller, more compact, headphones for the DS and PSP. 
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« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2009, 07:29:30 PM »

can i semi hijack this? are there any headsets comfortable to wear with glasses? been wearing them the last year and using a headset sucks. i'm sure those who wear glasses know what i mean. it presses them against your face, very annoying.

as for your question, i use the turtle beach right now the pc and i love them. i used them a few times with the 360 and it works well
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« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2009, 07:53:38 PM »

I know my nephew and most of his friends use these $200 ASTRO A40 headsets.

There is a review of them up on IGN

http://gear.ign.com/articles/939/939782p1.html

A bit steep for me, I would also look at the stuff Tritton has to offer.  I have a set of Tritton AX360's that can be used with either a console or a PC, I have mine hooked to a pc.  They are wired and my only real complaint about them is that they are a bit too large for my smaller sized head.
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wonderpug
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« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2009, 07:58:52 PM »

The A40 is really high on my wishlist this holiday season.
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Bob
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« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2009, 08:02:57 PM »

Comfort.  Make sure they are comfortable.  That's as important as how they sound, to me.

I bought these from woot awhile back and though they look huge and silly, they are quite light and sound good.  Cable is stiff which is weird but it keeps it from ever tangling. I paid $25.

[I totally missed that you needed a mic. Doh!]
« Last Edit: October 23, 2009, 08:26:42 PM by Bob » Logged
mytocles
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« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2009, 08:08:50 PM »

I have two sets of the X3 Turtle Beach headsets, and I plan on picking up the newest model this weekend.  Mine work fine, so I wouldn't bother, but the new ones also work for the TV when not gaming.  They run about $170, btw - $200 only if you don't shop around.  I'm no audiophile and I wouldn't spend that kind of money on headsets, if they didn't do exactly what I wanted them to do.  I spend money on very little else, though, so I'm treating myself to them.   nod

Jersoc - I wear glasses and though I'd prefer to play without the headphones, if the game is any good, I only notice I'm wearing them when I take a break.  I adjust my glasses after putting the 'phones on, and am not bothered by them after that.  Bear in mind I'm wearing "last gen" eyeware with thin ummm... arms?  Not the Rachel Maddow style with the thick whatever they call them that land between your temple and your ears! 

There was one problem with the X3's (that turned out to be instantly solvable) - whenever I played with them on, but not chatting with anyone, they were perfect.  If I tried to talk to someone on XBL though, the sound kept cutting out, frequently.  I mentioned this to a nephew who I'd given a set to, and he said just to choose a particular setting on "Base Boost."  I haven't tried yet, so I don't remember if it's leaving Boost on, or turning it off, but he said they work great once he figured that out.

I can't speak to the latest version, but I expect I will love them;  Turtle Beach did a lot of things right with their X3's and I doubt they'll let me down on their latest version.

Quote
Wireless Digital RF XBOX 360 Headset with XBOX LIVE Chat and 7.1 Ch Dolby Surround Sound

The Ear Force® X41 is our top-of-the-line XBOX 360® headset featuring 7.1 channel Dolby® surround sound, XBOX LIVE® chat and a digital RF wireless connection for crystal-clear game audio. Combining outstanding comfort with a stunning 360 degree sound field and enhanced online communication, the X41 puts you in the middle of the action so you’ll enjoy a gaming experience that’s second to none.

Playing your favorite XBOX® game with the Ear Force X41 is like having a “secret weapon” in your arsenal. You’ll get a competitive advantage by hearing sound cues that you can’t hear with speakers, such as the soft footsteps of an enemy sneaking up behind you, or the click of a loading weapon far in front of you. By hearing sounds others can’t—and by knowing where they’re coming from—you’ll react faster and take them out before they take you out.
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Teggy
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« Reply #9 on: October 23, 2009, 08:13:09 PM »

Wait, so this doubles as a LIVE headset? How does it mix audio chat with the game sound? I usually turn my tv down so I can hear what people are saying on my headset.
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« Reply #10 on: October 23, 2009, 08:17:29 PM »

In a not entirely unrelated question, is there any way to make the regular headsets louder?  I find it's too difficult to listen to chat with the tv up real loud.
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Bob
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« Reply #11 on: October 23, 2009, 08:25:56 PM »

Hmm.. you know if you are wearing headphones and talking she's still going to be upset with the noise. smile
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wonderpug
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« Reply #12 on: October 23, 2009, 08:53:31 PM »

Quote from: Teggy on October 23, 2009, 08:13:09 PM

Wait, so this doubles as a LIVE headset? How does it mix audio chat with the game sound? I usually turn my tv down so I can hear what people are saying on my headset.

Part of the A40 system is a headphone amp that doubles as a sound mixer for your XBL voice chat. You can dial in the balance you wan between voice and game sounds.

Discounted if you buy it with the A40 headset, but you can also buy it separately and it works well with other brands.
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« Reply #13 on: October 23, 2009, 08:53:58 PM »

Quote from: msteelers on October 23, 2009, 06:56:32 PM

The next one up is the Ear Force X1 for $60. This seems the same as the XLC, but with better audio, and a different wire coming out of the headset. Instead of just plugging directly into the TV, it needs to also be plugged into the 360 via the USB port. The features are what I want, but again, it has a wire, and now it needs to plug into both the TV and the 360.

It's been over a year since I used them, but this sounds like the model I have.  I found the "Bass Boost" was a bit excessive and they're not particularly comfortable. Still, I got used to them and managed to get in lots of late night Rock Band without any complaints from my neighbors.  They make pretty good PC gaming headphones, too, since you get greater controll on bass levels through your computer.

I give 'em a C+.  
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« Reply #14 on: October 23, 2009, 09:02:53 PM »

Quote from: wonderpug on October 23, 2009, 08:53:31 PM

Quote from: Teggy on October 23, 2009, 08:13:09 PM

Wait, so this doubles as a LIVE headset? How does it mix audio chat with the game sound? I usually turn my tv down so I can hear what people are saying on my headset.

Part of the A40 system is a headphone amp that doubles as a sound mixer for your XBL voice chat. You can dial in the balance you wan between voice and game sounds.

Discounted if you buy it with the A40 headset, but you can also buy it separately and it works well with other brands.

Hm. But to get the benefit of hearing people walk around you it would seem you'd need to have the sound up. But then to hear chat you'd have to have the sound down. Do any of them have a feature where the game sound is lowered when someone speaks over chat?
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Harkonis
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« Reply #15 on: October 23, 2009, 09:32:30 PM »

I'd have to look for a girlfriend who understands how much I like gaming slywink

I have the X31, stopped using them since I couldn't hear chat still.
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mytocles
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« Reply #16 on: October 23, 2009, 10:15:54 PM »

Sorry, I'm not the best one to ask about the different volumes, since I rarely play and chat at the same time (much like no chewing gum while walking, for me.)  I do remember playing with a few adjustments to balance it out, and I was able to hear Metallicorphan and L4D.  I was annoyed about the cutting out problem though, and didn't know how to fix it, so I may not have been paying strict attention to the volume levels.  I don't recall having any more trouble understanding Metal than I usually do - I'm old and he's British, it's a wonder I understand anything he says!  icon_twisted

I do know that the 3X ones did not have anything that automatically lowered the volume of one when the volume of the other got louder or quieter.  I'll be interested in seeing how the 41s' deal with this.  I suspect that listening for footsteps and creaking floors is more of a single player need than with MP.  The way Turtle Beach talked about the new ones producing the sound like it would be "in your head," not coming into your ears, makes me think that they could at least enable the sounds to be differentiated better. 

That's about all I got, lol - but I should know soon, unless they are sold out everywhere.

 icon_razz
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Mytocles (MY-toe-cleez)

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mytocles
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« Reply #17 on: October 23, 2009, 10:22:00 PM »

D'oh!  I just went to the Turtle Beach site, and I should've done that before I posted.  I was mostly happy about the idea that the headphones can be used for TV viewing as well, and didn't remember this:

Quote
   Chat Boost™ dynamic talkback expander automatically increases incoming chat volume during loud game sequences

 icon_razz
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Mytocles (MY-toe-cleez)

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msteelers
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« Reply #18 on: October 23, 2009, 11:40:21 PM »

Quote from: Bob on October 23, 2009, 08:25:56 PM

Hmm.. you know if you are wearing headphones and talking she's still going to be upset with the noise. smile

I mentioned that to her, plus that whenever I play Rock Band she'll just hear me banging on the drums without the benefit of some music to cover it up. The headphones all seem to be noise canceling, so I wont be able to hear her complain.  icon_biggrin

I was thinking the X31 model would be good for balancing the chat and game audio levels. Supposedly all the models have a way to change the volumes independently of each other, and the X31 also increases the chat volume if the game audio spikes. Unfortunately according to Harkonis that isn't necessarily the case.  icon_frown
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msteelers
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« Reply #19 on: October 23, 2009, 11:41:47 PM »

Quote from: IkeVandergraaf on October 23, 2009, 08:17:29 PM

In a not entirely unrelated question, is there any way to make the regular headsets louder?  I find it's too difficult to listen to chat with the tv up real loud.

I think there is a way to do it through the dashboard, but I don't remember. Try the system settings and see if there is anything there.
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« Reply #20 on: October 24, 2009, 03:05:02 AM »

Quote from: msteelers on October 23, 2009, 06:56:32 PM

The next one up is the Ear Force X1 for $60. This seems the same as the XLC, but with better audio, and a different wire coming out of the headset. Instead of just plugging directly into the TV, it needs to also be plugged into the 360 via the USB port. The features are what I want, but again, it has a wire, and now it needs to plug into both the TV and the 360.

A word of warning for the X1. I also got these to be able to play rock band with the music turned up. I also liked the fact that I could chat online and have the sound be heard in-line w/ the game audio in the headset. The way the headset does this is by having a cable where one end plugs into the game controller and the other plugs into the little volume control box that controls the volume to the headset and lets you select between the mic muted or on.

But...

The part that plugs into the game controller ends in a little puck shaped socket. Which makes it perfect for connecting to the xbox360 controller but useless for plugging into the rockband drums or guitar without the old socket interface from the rockband 1 set. Sadly, I no longer have that little socket interface so I can't chat while on drums or guitar.

On the bright side I can still chat when playing w/ the xbox controller for games like Halo:ODST and such.

The thing that sucks is that they learned their lesson on the X31 and have a cable that ends in a 3mm headphone jack - but apparently they can't retrofit and make a cable for the X1 that also ends in a 3mm headphone jack. I'd buy that in a heartbeat.
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mytocles
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« Reply #21 on: October 24, 2009, 08:28:33 PM »

Quote
The thing that sucks is that they learned their lesson on the X31 and have a cable that ends in a 3mm headphone jack - but apparently they can't retrofit and make a cable for the X1 that also ends in a 3mm headphone jack. I'd buy that in a heartbeat.

That reminds me (unfortunately) how often I've tried to answer a Live voice message on them, and couldn't immediately figure out why I wasn't succeeding...  The headphones are not totally wireless, they still need to be connected to the controller.  The X3 line is that way, and I'm assuming the 41s are the same, especially since you mention the jack.  Roll Eyes

As if I didn't feel stupid enough, lol - I have to go through that relearning process every few months or so! 
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Mytocles (MY-toe-cleez)

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« Reply #22 on: October 27, 2009, 05:21:19 PM »

I got the Turtle Beach X41 headphones and have been using them late at night for several hours each night.  I haven't tested the Chat functions yet, just the sound quality and such.  I have slightly mixed reactions to them, but the fault might be mine - I'm not 100% correct I set them up properly.  I won't pass judgment on them until after I talk to the Geeks at BestBuy.  If anyone does consider them, be sure to read the box - some 360s don't come with a cable you need to use them properly with HD.  Mine work fine with one exception:  a "problem" that could bother some gamers, but doesn't bother me.  They sound like the volume is a bit low, so that someone playing purposely very  loud (Rock Band, etc.) may not be happy with the volume.

As I said, I'm no audiophile, but I love the sound quality.  It really does sound like the effects are happening around you and "inside your head" - not being fed into your ears.  I heard things on Borderland that I hadn't heard straight from the TV.  I also didn't test how they work with regular TV sound yet, because I didn't want to turn the 360 off and I think it has to be off to do that.

As for comfort, they are heavier than the X3 model, but not unreasonably so - and if I'm immersed in a game, I don't notice any discomfort.  The X41s are a little easier on my glasses too, I hardly have to adjust them at all, and only once.

Overall, I like them al lot.  I'm not sure they are really worth $200, but they are far better, imo, than cheaper ones I've tried.  For me, they are an 8 out of 10.  I'd say if you are considering them, get them from a retail outlet that allows you to return them if you aren't happy with them.  

 icon_razz
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Mytocles (MY-toe-cleez)

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« Reply #23 on: October 27, 2009, 05:34:30 PM »

Quote from: raydude on October 24, 2009, 03:05:02 AM

The part that plugs into the game controller ends in a little puck shaped socket. Which makes it perfect for connecting to the xbox360 controller but useless for plugging into the rockband drums or guitar without the old socket interface from the rockband 1 set. Sadly, I no longer have that little socket interface so I can't chat while on drums or guitar.

That might not be a big deal for me. I've never really played Rock Band over live, and I don't see myself suddenly doing it in the future. Plus, I still have a regular wired headset, or the wireless headset if I need to, and I can just turn off the headphones.

Other than that, how was the quality? Did they sound good, both just as headphones and also when trying to chat over the game noise as well?

Quote from: mytocles on October 27, 2009, 05:21:19 PM

Overall, I like them al lot.  I'm not sure they are really worth $200, but they are far better, imo, than cheaper ones I've tried.  For me, they are an 8 out of 10.  I'd say if you are considering them, get them from a retail outlet that allows you to return them if you aren't happy with them.

I would probably like them, but $200 is out of my price range unfortunately.
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« Reply #24 on: October 27, 2009, 05:54:47 PM »

Quote from: mytocles on October 27, 2009, 05:21:19 PM

I'm not 100% correct I set them up properly.  I won't pass judgment on them until after I talk to the Geeks at BestBuy.  If anyone does consider them, be sure to read the box - some 360s don't come with a cable you need to use them properly with HD.

I think you're thinking of the optical TOSLINK audio cable. I believe you need that to get the 5.1 dolby out of the Xbox, and you may need a new Xbox A/V cord for that.  It'll be around $50 at Best Buy but only $6.75 at monoprice.com
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« Reply #25 on: October 27, 2009, 08:03:01 PM »

Yeah, MS, i was afraid they would be - they are normally out of my price range, too, but I really wanted a set that would work for both gaming and TV.  Hopefully that works well, I can't stop playing Borderlands long enough to check that out!   icon_biggrin

Quote from: wonderpug on October 27, 2009, 05:54:47 PM

Quote from: mytocles on October 27, 2009, 05:21:19 PM

I'm not 100% correct I set them up properly.  I won't pass judgment on them until after I talk to the Geeks at BestBuy.  If anyone does consider them, be sure to read the box - some 360s don't come with a cable you need to use them properly with HD.

I think you're thinking of the optical TOSLINK audio cable. I believe you need that to get the 5.1 dolby out of the Xbox, and you may need a new Xbox A/V cord for that.  It'll be around $50 at Best Buy but only $6.75 at monoprice.com

Ahh, thanks Pug, if I do decide on getting that, I will go the monoprice route!  I've seen others mention that site, but the reminder is definitely helpful, and timely.   nod
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« Reply #26 on: October 27, 2009, 08:45:40 PM »

Myto, check your audio settings for the 360 output. There's probably a headphone setting instead of speakers. If that hasn't been set, it might explain the volume issue.
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« Reply #27 on: October 27, 2009, 09:33:21 PM »

I'll do that, MG - thanks!   icon_razz
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Mytocles (MY-toe-cleez)

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« Reply #28 on: October 28, 2009, 05:52:19 PM »

Quote from: Misguided on October 27, 2009, 08:45:40 PM

Myto, check your audio settings for the 360 output. There's probably a headphone setting instead of speakers. If that hasn't been set, it might explain the volume issue.

Before I could check those last night, I had to move the transmitter for the headphones.  It was - apparently - too close to the 360 and was interfering with the connection.  I couldn't get XBL, or I'd be able to sign in, but would be disconned after some time.  I moved it to the other side of the TV, and hopefully that solved that - I was able to connect and played for several hours with no problems.

About the volume - there is no selection on the 360 for the Dolby that the X41 uses, and if there's a headset choice, I couldn't find it.  There is "Dolby" and "Dolby 5" (or maybe it was 5.1); what the headphones use is something called "Dolby Headphone 7.1"  There is no such choice in the settings menu of the 360.  I'm going to root around more in the menus later today, just in case I missed it.  Always possible, lol.

As for how they work with just the TV - they are great!  There is still a lot of "dead space" at the lower end of the volume control, but it's plenty loud higher up.  Now I can actually understand Craig Ferguson late at night without waking anyone up... except for the part where I can't keep from bursting out laughing, I'll have to work on that.   icon_biggrin
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« Reply #29 on: October 28, 2009, 05:54:21 PM »

If the headphones use Dolby Headphone then you should set the 360 to output in Dolby Digital 5.1 
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« Reply #30 on: October 29, 2009, 08:28:12 AM »

Quote from: Kevin Grey on October 28, 2009, 05:54:21 PM

If the headphones use Dolby Headphone then you should set the 360 to output in Dolby Digital 5.1 

I meant to check this when I played tonight, but had signed in already... I hate when you can't get to the Dashboard without signing out, grrr...  Anyway, I think that must be what we finally chose, because there seems to be more volume now, and plenty for me.  If I remember, I will double-check this though. 

Either way, I love the headphones, I'm quite happy with the purchase - anyone who is still playing with the basic 360 headset, and has trouble hearing some things, should at least check out the lower priced models.  And if you can afford an indulgence, I suggest you try one of the high-end sets that people have recommended.  The difference between a good set of headphones and the 360 set... is like HDTV vs black-and-white SD TV.  I'm a convert.

 icon_razz
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« Reply #31 on: October 29, 2009, 01:02:25 PM »

Quote from: msteelers on October 27, 2009, 05:34:30 PM

Quote from: raydude on October 24, 2009, 03:05:02 AM

The part that plugs into the game controller ends in a little puck shaped socket. Which makes it perfect for connecting to the xbox360 controller but useless for plugging into the rockband drums or guitar without the old socket interface from the rockband 1 set. Sadly, I no longer have that little socket interface so I can't chat while on drums or guitar.

That might not be a big deal for me. I've never really played Rock Band over live, and I don't see myself suddenly doing it in the future. Plus, I still have a regular wired headset, or the wireless headset if I need to, and I can just turn off the headphones.

Other than that, how was the quality? Did they sound good, both just as headphones and also when trying to chat over the game noise as well?

They sound great as just headphones! I crank up the volume on it and it doesn't sound distorted, with one exception. Its a bit bass heavy and you can hear the bass volume distort when playing bass on rock band and kicking it into overdrive. Turning down the volume helps but its rock band! smile

I have had no problems hearing or being heard over the game noise either. I was able to use it quite a bit with the controller back when the Street Fighter IV gamingtrend tournament was being run.

If you don't mind the hockey puck interface and don't see yourself trying to chat with anything other than the gaming controller then I'd say its a good buy.
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« Reply #32 on: November 02, 2009, 10:26:35 PM »

I really need to get a pair too.  My wife isn't bothered by hearing Madden or Basketball noises, but gunfire is a different story, and I fully expect only gunfire andpossibly some dragon slaying the rest of the year. 

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« Reply #33 on: November 03, 2009, 12:24:52 AM »

I already put these headphones on my christmas list keep my wife from yelling from upstairs turn the gunfire down in the living room lol.
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« Reply #34 on: November 03, 2009, 01:09:04 AM »

Quote from: pingwrx on November 03, 2009, 12:24:52 AM

I already put these headphones on my christmas list keep my wife from yelling from upstairs turn the gunfire down in the living room lol.
Sorry if I am confused, but what are "these headphones"? I have been reading through this thread I think I missed the pair you are talking about.
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« Reply #35 on: November 03, 2009, 03:08:56 AM »

These  http://www.ebgames.com/Catalog/ProductDetails.aspx?product_id=75201
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« Reply #36 on: November 03, 2009, 09:57:51 AM »

The ones I got were the new Turtle beach model, the X41... but I believe I got a defective set.  At first, I thought it was a wireless compatibility of some sort between the 360 and the headphone transmitter.  However, I've also noticed some static from them at times, especially when moving the microphone - but last night it was worse - more frequent and some quite loud, crackling static - and then they just went belly up.  The batteries were brand new, so no luck there either.

The shame is that I have grown to really love them!  They cost twice the price of the X31 model ($200, or a little less if you search online)... and for me, that was a big deal, but the X41s will work with the 360, and with TV viewing, which I need.  They are very comfortable, and very realistic - and the chat feature is stupendous - it raises the voice chat volume whenever the game gets loud, so no more fiddling with the volume controls while playing.

In Borderlands, I'm hearing things I haven't even hear from the TV... one time I even thought the babbling-brook noise in my left ear was something leaking in the house.  Then I turned around in the game, and the noise changed sides - because now the river was on that side.

I am hoping I got a single bad set, and am going to return them for one more try.  If the second set also has some static issues, I might keep them anyway, as long as they work properly for everything else.  And of course, as long as they don't croak off in a week and a half.   icon_eek
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« Reply #37 on: November 03, 2009, 02:47:10 PM »

I got the Astro A40 System I mentioned earlier in the thread for my birthday and it just arrived yesterday.  It is incredible.

It's main competitors are myto's Turtle Beach X41 and the Tritton AX Pro.  With the A40 System you get:

  • The A40 Headset - Everything I've read puts it on par with something like a Sennheiser HD550, except the A40 has a built in microphone boom.  The boom is easily detachable (and reattachable) if you want to switch between bein
  • The Mixamp - This is key.  It's both a headphone amplifier (it'll make any headphone sound better, not just the A40) and a mixer for various inputs.  Oh, and it does Dolby Digital decoding.  You can listen to your 360, plug in your mic for Xbox Live chat, oh, and also plug in your iPod at the same time if you're into custom soundtracks without dealing with the Xbox interface.  It has a mixer dial to let you adjust the balance between voice chat and game sounds, but only for the Xbox.  You'll have to manually adjust voice chat if you use it for the PC or PS3.  It has RCA inputs, stereo plug inputs, and TOSLINK optical in.
  • A crapload of wires.  It has everything you need for almost every conceivable home theater setup, a cord for your iPod, multiple cords for your computer to account for different setups, and more.  The big omission is that there's no optical cable--head off to monoprice for that.
I seriously looked at the similarly priced X41, but from what I've read you sacrifice some sound quality and reliability (RF interference) to be able to go wireless with the X41.  I'd just be sitting on the couch or at my computer when using the headphones, so wireless wasn't a priority for me.  I have three short optical wires going from my 360, PS3, and TV to a $6 Monoprice switcher, then a 25' wire running around the walls to hook up to the Mixamp next to my couch.  The headset itself is as comfortable as my old Sennheisers; you barely notice you're wearing them.  Eyeglasses would fit fine with them.

Oh yeah, and the sound?  Awesome.  I fired up the opening fight of Transformers 1 on bluray and was blown away.  The clarity of the sound compared to my built-in Samsung TV speakers is astounding.  The surround effect is very convincing.  There can be some uncertainty whether something is in front or behind you, as you'd expect with any surround headphones, but I fired up Call of Duty 4 and was successfully able to place where enemy sounds were coming from, including front/back distinction.

One of the best parts about the way it sounds and feels is that it doesn't feel like the sounds are coming from the headphones--you get the impression that the sound is coming from the room around you. 

Even my wife was impressed when I gave her a demo.  I showed her the opening scenes of Transformers with the TV audio and then again with the A40 and she said she was hearing sounds that she never noticed before, and she instantly mentioned how much "cleaner" it sounded.  I then put in her copy of Enchanted on bluray and queued up one of her favorite songs from the movie that she's seen a million times.  Aside from her remarking on the added surround effects of all the little vermin running around in the cleanup song, it was great to hear her say "the cockroaches cough!  I never noticed the cockroaches cough when they get out of the vacuum cleaner!"

tl;dr - This headset is awesome and if you can get over the sticker shock you'll find it well worth your money.
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« Reply #38 on: November 03, 2009, 03:49:35 PM »

Nice impressions wonder.

Way out of my price range, sticker shock for sure.  I bet the sound great though.
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« Reply #39 on: November 03, 2009, 07:54:49 PM »

Yeah, great comments, Pug - thanks!  For now, I may stick with the X41s, though I would definitely consider the Astros instead (more research, uggh.)  I had the same experience with the X41s that you and your wife describe on the Astros - although I don't think there are coughing crickets in Borderlands, lol.  The fact that the two wireless systems haven't "played well together" has me concerned, but since the X41s just up and died, it's possible it was just a bad set.

How much more sticker shock would there be if I went for the Astros?  I don't usually spend this kind of money on something that isn't an actual console - but I've already plunked down the initial $200, so it would be relatively painless.  Also, was there any mention of wireless interference in the paperwork that came with the Astros?  Can they be used for TV viewing as well?

Thanks for helping with my research... I really don't want to end up with a lame product like TV Ears or something.  At my age, that is a very disturbing thought; I'm not ready to cave yet!   saywhat
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Mytocles (MY-toe-cleez)

"Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most!"
- I don't remember who said it, and probably neither do they...
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