Turtle Beach has long been a benchmark in the consumer audio market and among gamers as gear to strive for. Their headsets are famous for their quality and customization, there are people out there that just buy the headset interchangeable plates to mount them on the wall as art, Turtle Beach even had them displayed at CES 2014 in a shadow box artfully done. Looks mean nothing though if the product itself isn’t effective and comfortable so the question of the day is whether or not the Turtle Beach Ear Force XP Seven Headset is worthy of being the Major League Gaming official headset.
The Ear Force XP SEVEN, our newest premium console headset, offers the ultimate in game tournament and lifestyle performance. The official headset of Major League Gaming (MLG), the XP SEVEN is the perfect headset for the elite e-sports player or any gamer seeking a pro-audio gaming experience, featuring Dolby Surround Sound and a fully programmable digital signal processor (DSP). The programmable DSP allows gamers to enhance and personalize the entire audio experience with fully customizable game, chat, and mic signals. On-the-fly audio preset switching, independent game and chat volumes and more are now at players’ fingertips thanks to the Audio Control Unit. With a sleek and distinctive new design, gamers can now also customize the look and feel of the XP SEVEN thanks to its removable mic boom and easily interchangeable speaker plates; it’s the ultimate audio weapon for competitive console gamers.
· Programmable presets that change your sound environment and allow you to hear sound cues you’d normally miss the Advanced Sound Editor tool to download, manage or create presets for your headset.
· The XP SEVEN uses Dolby Digital surround processing technology – the industry-standard format for encoding multi-channel game audio. Dolby Digital processing recreates 5.1 channel surround sound using the XP SEVEN headset so you can hear the sound all around you, as if you were listening to a 5.1 speaker system.
· Adjustable surround sound angles for the optimum surround sound experience.
· Auxiliary line input for use with a digital music player or mobile phone.
· The Audio Control Unit (ACU) is fully compatible with the Turtle Beach TM1 Tournament Mixer facilitating multiple player communication.
· Durable 4-pole, 3.5mm breakaway cable connects to the Control Unit, portable game systems and mobile devices for great sound across all your gaming and digital media.
The Ear Force XP Seven puts us in one of the strangest but probably most wonderful situations we at GamingShogun.com have faced when it comes to a headset review: this product is designed to go with pretty much every system. If it has a stereo jack or USB output, odds are this system will work with it. To try and try and give this product its due justice we will first do an overview of what you get with the XP Seven then break it down on how it works and how well it works with different systems.
The Ear Force XP Seven System:
To make it compatible with all these different systems it comes with a bunch of varying cables, but breaks down into three distinct sections. The first section is the console interface, this part is used exclusively for the console you are playing. I found when trying it out on the PC, laptop, iPad and iPhone I just left this section plugged into the last console I was using it on. At this point in time a majority of games I am playing or reviewing console-wise are on the Xbox 360 so that is where it is, especially with the XO Seven hitting the market soon for the Xbox One. The console section basically serves as an adapter between the console and the rest of the system.
The main diversity and interactivity with the system lies in the next section, the Audio Control Unit. This is a small device with buttons ringing it and a knob on the top. The back has a clip to attach it to your belt or shirt while playing as well as some small peg legs to rest it on a surface if you choose. The audio control unit is used in all interfaces except “portable/mobile”, it is also the only section that requires a learning curve. If you start off using this system with a PC the accompanying software and more detailed user’s manual help this curve a lot. If you jump in on a console, this will take a little bit longer. The Audio Control Unit does what its name implies, controlling the levels and routing of audio to and from your game, your chat, your mobile phone and to your stereo speakers. It has 8 presets so that you can have saved audio configurations for different games and systems and with a push of a button you can configure how the surround sound “speakers” are set up around you.
The final section is the Headset and headset cable. This can be used and plugged into anything with the right size aux output jack (or adapted). The cable has a mic in it so that you don’t have to use the detachable boom mic if you are on the go as well as a breakaway cord so that you can disconnect the headset from the system about six inches from the ear to enable you to leave the headset on when you need to leave the system or in case you forget you are wearing it and get up and walk away it won’t be torn off your head (hence the name “breakaway”).
There is also detailed software involved with the hardware but that will be covered under the PC section.
The console interface system allows for optical audio cable use as well as a digital input, USB input and digital input with a nine pin and USB going to the Audio Control Unit. This makes it adaptable with with all the systems and since we have most of them I was able to give it a run on them. The Xbox 360 was one that had digital out (earlier models didn’t) and the game sound was absolutely amazing. In shooter games where it is crucial to know where the enemy is by listening for footsteps or opening fire, this headset performed like a champ. The padded and sewn headset arch and memory foam ear cushions were extremely comfortable even after long periods of use (exceeding eight hours) and blocked out any external noise very well. I found when someone wanted to talk to me and I didn’t want to take the headset off, I would point the boom mic in their direction to hear what they were saying as long as I wasn’t in team chat. Opening and closing your mic is as simple as brushing a spot on the control unit and mixing game sound versus chat was a matter of turning a couple of dials while adjusting the overall sound involved cranking the main knob. After a little getting used to, it was easy to do on the fly in case you had your chat turned up to listen to a quiet spoken teammate and suddenly a burst of obscenities came screaming through the channel from a dead team member.
If you do feel like taking off the headset and you have a speaker system hooked up to the control unit you can hit the mode button and make it so that the sound starts playing through the speakers. If you are worried about a phone call or text or want to play your own music you can plug your mobile into the control unit. This can be used with any audio source with an aux output but if you decide to pick up a call the phone mic on your cord can be handy and used to talk both to the phone or in team chat. Personally I liked the boom mic for each since then it can be adjusted directly to your mouth and give perfect speaking clarity.
The PS3 was a similar experience though I have it on a different part of my entertainment center so I was able to utilize the cable extenders provided to give me a little more length between the console unit and the audio control unit so I could reach the extra distance. The extender didn’t seem to weaken or degrade the audio quality any so it might just become a standard part of the console connection to give more leeway.
One thing to note about the system is that if you use it with the Xbox One you won’t be able to hear team chat except through your Kinect which by now you are probably used to yelling at anyways. Also the headset system can be used plug and play but for the best experience and control follow the directions in the manual and go into the console systems and perform a proper setup.
The XP Seven works great with consoles but it truly shines when on a PC with the proper software installed and a decent sound card. The software alone could be a 20 page story loaded with techno-babble, graphs, diagrams, and charts that would make the common gamer’s head spin and the professional gamer geek out. I know this because that is how long the user guide is for it and it has all that information. The real keys are you can adjust every aspect of the sound and how you hear it from every source, pitch, frequency, complete equalization. You can download audio presets the Turtle Beach community has come up with so that if you want to sit down at a game and play it without messing too much with the controls you can download a preset designed specifically for that game, and use it immediately. If you want to go in and build a custom setup you like you can save it to a preset or even upload it to the community for others to use.
If you are a gamer gal and are tired of all the smack talk you can morph your voice into a guy, a robot, a little kid, you can play with pitch to make yourself sound like whatever you want. This has been a particularly popular feature and I’ll admit to a certain fondness for robot voice, I blame the movie “War Games”.
Really when it comes down to it with all the things you can do with this headset the most important thing is you are getting amazing quality sound exactly how you want it whether or not you are plug and play or a Major League Gamer who has precise settings you have found the performance of this headset will only further the Turtle Beach name.
This is where the headset gets simple but still has some customization. You just need the headset and cable, remove the detachable boom mic, plug into your phone or other aux output device such as an iPod and away you go. It has a fashion style all its own yet fits nicely in with the popular full cup headset culture. Some might not be fans of the black and white subtle color scheme but with the removable speaker plates you have dozens of options on how you can make them look, jazz them up. Personally I love the Halloween Pumpkin speaker covers but I know Marvel fans who like those covers so much they are now wall decor.
The Turtle Beach Ear Force XP Seven headset never failed me in any sound tests I threw at it and gave absolutely outstanding performance on all devices. If someone is concerned about the possibly prohibitive cost, you just need to think about how the system can replace every other headset you use for all the devices in your house. That diversity should appeal to the common player as well as those who aspire to the MLG ranks!