Ear Force X41

Ear Force X41

What we liked:

+ Incredibly comfortable
+ Dynamic surround sound
+ Chat feature works great
+ Good battery life

What we didn't like:

- Steep price tag
- Some interference

DEVELOPER: Turtle Beach   |   PUBLISHER: Turtle Beach   |   RELEASE: 10/14/2009
Only serious audiophiles need apply.

After tackling both the cheapest line and the more affordable line of gaming headsets from Turtle Beach, I have to say I was excited to put the $200 model through the motions. The X41 is a revamped version of the previous X4 model that adds in some novel features, but still manages to feel more like a 2.0 version than an entirely new headset. However, if you don’t already own the X4 and are looking for a solid setup that offers Xbox Live chat functionality, incredibly comfortable design and a wireless experience that delivers incredible sound this is your unit. Of course that also comes with the stipulation that you must be willing to lay down the hefty price tag.

The most obvious attractions to the X41 are the Dolby Digital sound and of course the wireless functionality. I spent two solid weekends with these bad boys to see how they stood up in comparison to the X31s when it came to interference. I am happy to say that there was only one time where it was an issue, and I am not exactly sure what caused it. I also tried an assortment of games and media to test out the sound with positive results. Watching G.I. Joe on Blu-Ray as well as Disney’s latest Up really showed that the dynamic range of sound is of high quality. Massive explosions and action really never drowned out the dialogue and when watching Up, the score barreled through the headset delivering a cinematic experience unlike any other I have had at home.

When it came to games I had to run these puppies through the ringer. Taking on an assortment of rhythm titles, sports games and of course intense FPS action was a blast. First up on my agenda was the rhythm genre where I sampled LEGO Rock Band and Band Hero. The usual delay that is evident from headphones plugged directly into the red and yellow audio jacks was completely absent. It is probably worth mentioning that I had the X41 set running directly into my optic cable connection on the TV. Next up sports games where I tested out Madden 10.

The range of audio was impressive as you could really hear the banter so much clearer between players. Finally taking the king of audio delight Modern Warfare 2 for a ride proved just how sweet the headset truly was. Both online and offline modes performed excellent in my tests, and I was able to gain an advantage when playing Spec Ops with a colleague as I could hear where dogs and enemies were approaching from.

Setting up the X41 set was actually a cinch. Seeing as it supports both standard composite audio and optical you can plug it directly into your TV without much hassle. The unit now also comes with a USB cable that is used to charge the base unit, so no more plugging it into the wall. I had a spare USB slot on my TV so I simply plugged it in there and every time it was powered on, the base unit also came on. There are separate volume levels for just about everything including a line-in option on the base unit. You can also adjust between various presets on the headset, but I would have liked to control the treble, bass, etc. to satisfy my own levels. You can also adjust the chat level with the included cable that plugs into your Xbox controller.

The chat feature is one of the nicest bullet points for gamers. PS3 owners will be disappointed that it still does not support both consoles out of the box, but for 360 gaming this headset works great. Chat comes from both earphones so you get full stereo chat during games. Being able to adjust is independently from the game audio is also a great touch. The levels between game audio and chat audio work out surprisingly well and it felt like the voice was directly within the game. I really love the stereo chat feature when playing co-op games.

The biggest question on anyone’s mind though is are these really worth $200? In my personal opinion if you game a lot at night, have a spouse that hates loud noises, or just want superb sound without the hassles and wires of surround sound then this is a solid investment. Sure the XLC cheap headset will get you by if these premium features are not your cup of tea, but once you hear the quality of gaming and movies with the Dolby Digital sound you may not come back. Another small gripe though is that this unit still uses standard batteries to power the headset. So you can either own up and buy some rechargeable ones, or invest in lots of Energizers for your gaming sessions. In all fairness the unit lasts over 20 hours on two AAA batteries, so at least the life expectancy is good.

In the end I recommend picking these up if you are someone like me who enjoys quality sound mixed with Xbox Live chat that you can experience without disturbing your significant other, or perhaps your neighbors. The quality and construction of the headset is solid and the option to use optical and standard cables is definitely a plus. The comfort of the design is also a big plus as the headset is surprisingly lighter than it looks. If you are looking for a quality gaming headset for your 360 this is the cream of the crop, but be prepared to lay down the cash as the price tag definitely fits the quality.

Ken McKown
Ken is the Editor-in-Chief of this hole in the wall and he loves to troll for the fun of it. He also enjoys long walks through Arkham Asylum and the cool air of Shadow Moses Island. His turn-ons include Mortal Kombat, Metal Gear Solid and StarCraft.

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