Being a married man sometimes it is hard to blast your surround sound at awkward hours of the night. This is when I discovered the glory of owning a solid pair of headphones for my late night gaming excursions. Of course having an ear piece plastered underneath my soft ear cushions and trying to hear my friends online, let alone chatting with them becomes a royal pain. I had been eyeing the Turtle Beach headsets for quite some time, and the prospect of being able to game comfortably without ear bleeds was reassuring. Over the past week I have put the Turtle Beach X31 Wireless Headset to the test, and I am happy to report this is one of the nicest sets you can own for the price.
The first thing you will want to note about the X31 is that it is not capable of producing a Dolby Digital sound. However, the way it separates stereo sounds is good enough that non-audiophiles will likely not even notice. During my review test I ran everything through it you could possibly imagine. Playing games such as Red Faction Guerrilla would deliver dynamic combat sounds. You can tell where the action is all around you. Movies deliver solid performance with plenty of definition in action movies, while not drowning out the dialogue. Music delivers the same quality, in fact everything I threw at the device performed well above the standards of a normal, quality headset.
The wireless design is one of the most appealing features simply because it eliminates having to sit closer to the screen if you have a large living room. The technology uses an RF signal to transmit the sound, and from our tests we could detect no lag, but considering it uses the same technology as several other of my devices, I would get interference occasionally. This was my biggest gripe and it has nothing to do with the construction of the device itself. If you have lots of devices that use this wireless technology, it might be best to try to keep the headset away from other wireless devices if possible.
The X31 uses two AAA batteries (included) and claims to hold up to 20-25 hours of juice on one go. The technology is supposed to squeeze every single drop of power out of the cells, and over the weekend I tested these out I killed every bit of power. The stats do not lie. I also love how it automatically shuts off use after five minutes of silence, and disables the headset feature when it is not being talked into. I would still recommend investing in rechargeable batteries to save some cash in the long run, but if you only use the headset sparingly you should be fine.
One of the most appealing things about the X31 headset though is the design. The ear cups are padded and fit perfectly around your ears. The soft padding inside the headset makes wearing them for extended gaming sessions less of an issue. Most headsets give you a headache or make your ears hurt after an hour or so, but not the X31. I spent one night playing nonstop for hours, then moving on to watching a marathon of House before taking the headset off, and even after all was said and done; my ears did not feel like they were going to fall off.
The other major feature for the X31 is the ability to combine the chat feature with the audio itself. It is worth noting that this only works on Xbox 360, so sorry PS3 owners you will still need to use your headset. The integration is very well done, and even contains technology to increase chat volume when the action in the game amps up. You also have the option to adjust the volume of chat manually, which I found myself relying on more than the built-in functionality. The boom mic is absolutely phenomenal. It adjusts using a wireframe arm that allows you to position it in any way you see fit. This is the ideal setting, and I wish other headsets would take note.
For the price it is hard to argue with the value you get in the X31 headset. The comfort and ease of use make it ideal for 360 gamers who spend a lot of time on Xbox Live. The ability to use it for all audio is great, and the sound quality is about as good as you could ask for from a device that doesn’t output true Dolby Digital. If you are like me and need that rich sound on late nights when the wife is sleeping this is the idea investment. At $99 this thing is a steal for anyone who will use it often, just make sure to invest in some rechargeable batteries to save you some money.