Ever since becoming a father, gaming headsets have become a necessity in my household. I have tried the best and the worst, so whenever I get a chance to test the newest models, I get pretty excited. I have been a self-proclaimed Turtle Beach man for quite some time, but heard nothing but great things about the Tritton brand. When we got the chance to check out the Xbox 360 Warhead set, needless to say I was highly enthusiastic. When you consider the feature list this is truly the cream of the crop, but the real question is, “Can reality match the trumpeting in the bullet points?”
The first thing you will notice is that the design, from packaging to the unit’s form factor, is fantastic. You really get the sense that you got your money’s worth. The classy slip cover box with instructions, cables and components packed away with care gives a great first impression. This is one slick package, and it doesn’t end with that. Once you get the base and headphones out, the fantastic design continues. The ear cups are molded so that outside sound is kept out, and the base itself has a built-in battery charger. The shape gives the impression and feel of the new slim Xbox 360.
The base also has a ring of light that lets you know which controller port is synced to the headset. You can switch them with a simple click of a button and even monitor the battery life onscreen, much like the official wireless chat headset from Microsoft. This is the first licensed product that supports true wireless chat with the Xbox 360, and it works rather well. You have a button to control Selective Voice Monitoring (SVM) to subtly route your voice into the sound mix and prevent accidental shouting. This is also attached to the volume button on the left earcup making it entirely convenient to change the volume and mute your own voice at the same time. The other earcup hosts the main volume making both easily accessible during gameplay, pressing them in mutes both.
Included in the package is a cable to hook it up using the HDMI port or, of course, optical audio. Connecting it directly to the optical cable still allows audio to travel through the HDMI if you want sound coming directly from your TV. Setting it up and getting things working on the 360 is quick and painless, and outside of trying to hook it directly into your TV, things go smoothly. It is no secret that this unit is designed for Xbox 360, and 360 alone. Hooking it up to a TV or even a PS3 is possible, but this is definitely designed for hardcore 360 players. The chat function is exclusively designed for 360, and won’t work with the PS3.
There are three equalizer modes built in to switch between. They cycle between music, movies and games and all three sound good. Personally I would have loved to see customizable presets much like Turtle Beach’s PX5 unit. Still even without this option, the bass sounds deep, and the highs sound clear as a bell. The unit features twin 50mm drivers that produce a thick, smooth sound. There is no distortion when the bass is booming, which can be an issue with larger speaker sizes. One thing you cannot knock on the Warheads are the sound. I just wish it was a bit more customizable for personal preferences.
Performance for wireless headsets can vary depending on their frequency. I know I have had a fair amount of crackling and interference with my PX5s when near other devices. The Warheads have fared much better as they transmit at 5.8Ghz. Rarely did I have any issues with crackling, and the only noticeable issue stems from having the SVM on and the base not synced. You can hear the constant blink of the ring of light. Again, this is a rare occasion and one you would likely not encounter if using the unit correctly, but it is there.
In my time with the unit I played through Darksiders II in its entirety, and the range was incredible. I also tested out Halo Reach which sounds fantastic when showcasing dynamic audio. Games like Call of Duty and Gears of War also showcase just how much range these babies have. The chat function works great with any game, and being able to shut it off at the tap of a button is nice. Also the microphone sits nicely to the side allowing you to keep it attached at all times without much hassle.
I love how everything in this headset is compact. As I mentioned earlier, the base hosts a battery charger, and the unit comes with two proprietary batteries. That means you can always be charging one while using the other. You can also hot-swap the batteries without any downtime, which is truly convenient. The unit was definitely designed with ease of use in mind. The headphones themselves are actually pretty heavy. After several hours of play time I definitely felt the need to take a break and get them off my head.
The padded leatherette earcups are comfortable enough, but closing your ears off from outside sounds takes some adjusting when removing them. Overall comfort is not as good as some other units, but 3-4 hour stints are entirely feasible. There are plenty of great things to say about the Warheads, but it doesn’t come without some downsides.
First up the price is steep. This baby runs a solid $299 and while that will scare off some consumers, if you have the coin I cannot recommend it enough; especially for hardcore 360 players. Secondly, it took me a while to get used to the feel of the headphones. They are definitely tight and drowning out all outside audio can be disorienting at first. I definitely could handle wearing them for hours at a time, but they do take some getting used to.
If you can get past these minor quibbles you will certainly get your money’s worth out of Tritton’s Xbox 360 Warhead 7.1 unit. This is an expertly designed headset with fantastic sound and all of the bells and whistles. If you have the money and are a dedicated 360 gamer, this is the headset to own. Tritton has made me a believer and this will be a permanent part of my 360 experience.
Review copy of headset provided by publisher.