Ear Force XLC

Ear Force XLC

What we liked:

+ Compact design
+ Great price
+ Built-in communicator

What we didn't like:

- Fold-up design can pose issues
- Ear buds hurt after a while

Rating
7.8
DEVELOPER: Turtle Beach   |   PUBLISHER: Turtle Beach   |   RELEASE: 10/05/2009
A quality package for the penny-pinching gamer.

Gaming headsets are becoming more and more common thanks to the specialists at Turtle Beach. The X-series has become widely popular among hardcore gamers and tournament players, but until now there hasn’t been a set that works for the low-budget gamer. The Ear Force XLC is the perfect answer for the gamer looking for a solid headset that functions as both a communicator and great way to game in silence. The XLC comes in at less than half the price of the higher-tier models and works well enough to satisfy gamers on a budget.

The first thing you will notice about the XLC is how compact the unit is. The ear buds fold into each other allowing you to store the unit nearly anywhere. The headphones are cushioned by a noise reducing padding that keeps outside sounds out, and they are comfortable enough to use during long sessions. My biggest gripe is that the design creates a problem for anyone with a bigger head. The way the unit contorts sometimes made me feel like I was going to snap the unit in half. Thankfully the unit is really well built, and actually snapping it would really take some effort on your part.

Sound wise the headset pumps out a decent stereo sound. Not quite the quality of the X31, mainly because this low-budget set does not include an amplifier for increased bass and volume levels. Still if you are used to standard headsets for gaming then this will be sufficient and quite comparable. The big hook though is the ability to use this headset to communicate with friends over Xbox Live. The built-in microphone works similarly to the X31 and has the adjustable boom that lets you position it wherever you like. The quality is actually quite good, and friends should have no trouble hearing you.

The other major difference is that instead of actually incorporating the headset into the unit, it uses the speaker out option to pump the sound into the headphones. This means you will have to go into the dashboard and change your communicator settings to come through both the speakers and the headset, as well as adjust the volume of the voice chat. Quality wise it is not nearly as nice as using the X31, but it still beats rigging a headset underneath a pair of headphones, not to mention tons more comfortable.

From a purely aesthetic viewpoint the headset is actually quite nice. The ear buds are comfortable as we mentioned, but after being spoiled by the X31 and its encompassing design I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed. Still for thirty bucks you simply cannot go wrong here. The one thing I did not like about the design was the fact that it compacts itself. Sure the principle is a great idea, but every time I take the set off my head, it snaps into the closed position, slamming the headphones together. This is a minor gripe, but one that I noticed time and time again throughout my play sessions.

On a whole you can’t go wrong if you want a solid Xbox Live headset for right around thirty bucks. You can use it for anything that supports a 3.5mm headphone jack, and the sound quality is actually really good. The design of the unit is a bit clunky and the headset sometimes gets in the way when you are watching TV or playing a single player game, but there really is little else to complain about when you consider how much bang you are getting for your buck. If you are in search of a solid headset that also functions as an Xbox Live communicator and don’t want to break the bank, the XLC is perfect for you. It will make a great gift for your favorite gamer this holiday season.

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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