Turtle Beach has been in the gaming headset business for a while now, and their previous Xbox 360 wireless headset, the Ear Force X4, was a solid solution for gamers. However, they have released the new Ear Force X41 and blown the lid off of the console headset market.
The Ear Force X41 features a hard plastic frame with the head band wrapped in comfortable, padded material. The ear cups are primarily foam mesh with also a good amount of comfort and fit nicely around the ear so that you do not get earache after a few hours of usage. The snake microphone protrudes from a pylon on the left ear cup with a limited pivoting ability. On the bottom of the left ear cup you will find the headset controls. You will find a power button, game controller jack, bass boost button, and game volume slider. The right ear cup slides open to reveal the unit’s power source: Two AAA batteries.
The base station features an array of status lights on the front of the unit as well as an input sensitivity volume dial. Conveniently, extending from the top of the base station is a metal stand which you rest the headset on. This makes storing the X41 much more feasible and attractive, visually-speaking. The base station connects to and is powered by the Xbox 360 console via USB cable.
Installing the X41 is very simple. Just plug the USB cable from the base station into the Xbox 360, then put the included AAA batteries into the headset unit. Turn it on, set your volume levels, and you are all-set for gaming goodness. Also, don’t worry about turning the headset off when done playing, the unit will detect the inactivity and turn itself off shortly after playing ceases.
The ear cups each contain one 50mm driver with neodymium magnet. The frequency response is good, with a range of 20Hz – 20kHz, and the unit even features a bass boost. Utilizing Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic IIx, and Dolby Headphone surround processing technologies, the virtual 7.1-channel sound in the Ear Force X41 is believable and crisp, due in part to the 2.4GHz radio connection to the base unit. This is in contrast to the X4’s IR connection, which needed a line of site path to the base station. With this new connection protocol line of site is not a necessity.
Additionally, the in-game voice chat is exceptional as the headset features several automated functions to help this aspect along. The headset features a ‘Chat Boost Dynamic Talkback Expander’ module, which dynamically increases or decreases the voice-chat volume as the actual game volume changes. This system works very well and when things got hot and heavy in Left 4 Dead 2, other players were still audible as opposed to when they were drowned out by gunfire without the X41. The headset also features microphone monitoring which allows you to hear your own voice/volume levels while you speak. This helps avoid ‘shouting’ syndrome, where you lose control of your own volume, having your hearing hijacked by the headset’s closed audio environment. Another wonderful feature of the Ear Force X41 is that the voice-chat volume and game audio volume are controlled by different rotary knobs. This means that you can customize a balance between the two based on your preference, not what the hardware or game company preset it to be.
There are only two real issues with the X41, one of which is not even the fault of Turtle Beach. The first issue is that the new headset uses standard AAA batteries. I would much rather the X41 come with a rechargeable battery and a charger on the base station. One way to circumvent the battery issue is just to use your own rechargeable AAAs but I digress. The second issue which is not the fault of Turtle Beach is the use of the Xbox 360 game controller cable to tether the controller to the headset in order to get voice-chat capability. Unfortunately, this is one of Microsoft’s rules and won’t be fixed until they allow voice-chat to be sent wirelessly as well.
The Turtle Beach Ear Force X41 gaming headset is the best wireless headset solution you can get today on the Xbox 360 when looked at from a dollar to value ratio. You would be hard-pressed to find any other system out there capable of what the X41 can do for less than its $200 dollar price point. If you are in need of a wireless headset for your Xbox 360, you need to get one of these – you will not be disappointed.
*DISCLOSURE: Turtle Beach sent GamingShogun.com an X-41 unit for the purpose of this review.