In my last Turtle Beach headset review, I sang the praises of the Z6A PC headset. It was a fantastic headset and gave some truly top notch, 5.1 surround sound. However, what about console headsets?
The XP400 is a wireless console headset that offers the same fantastic quality from the comfort of your own couch. I don’t think I need to stress how great it is to have the audio for a video game or movie blasted as loud as you want it, all contained within a headset with no wires. As someone with a one year old infant, it’s nice to be able to enjoy the roaring sounds of car engines in Forza 4 without having to keep the volume nearly all the way down just to avoid waking their baby.
Unlike the Z6A which was loaded to the brim with different wires, setup for the XP400 is about as simple as can be. A small OnLive Microconsole-sized transmitter plugs directly into your console via USB and digital optical cable. After pairing the headset to the transmitter, you’re ready to go. A word of warning, though; there is a potential extra piece and step needed for Xbox 360 machines. If you have the current 360 Slim, then you’re good to go; however, if you have the older 360 models (sans HDMI and optical audio port), then you’re going to need to obtain an additional piece (Xbox 360 Audio Adapter Cable, sold separately).
The XP400 is extremely comfortable to wear, despite its bulky appearance. It’s extremely light, and the ear cups are very comfortable, being made from a breathable mesh cushion. As with most headsets today, the frame is made of a soft, moldable material that forms to the shape of your head. The ear cups themselves also twist, allowing them to rest comfortably on your shoulders if you choose to have the headset sitting around your neck.
As far as performance goes, the XP400 is worth every penny of its fairly high price tag (MSRP $219.95). It comes with 2.4/5GHz dual band wi-fi radio tech that eliminates almost all wireless interference. This is very much appreciated, since I live in a house that has at least 10 devices running off our wi-fi at any given time.
The sound quality itself is powered by 50mm speakers in each ear cup, which will fill your ears with Dolby Surround Sound for 360 degrees of audio. My test movie of choice was The Avengers, and the climactic battle sequence was spectacular, mimicking a movie theater experience. As far as games went, I played everything from Gran Turismo 5 to Uncharted 3, each game giving a booming sound experience unlike what I would normally get from my 5.1 setup at home. When the XP400 is advertised as having 360 degrees of true surround audio, they mean it. In fact, on the transmitter, you can adjust the surround sound angles, placing each “speaker” at a variety of pre-set angles.
A few other features make the XP400 stand out from the competition. Chat Boost is a nice feature that indicates Turtle Beach is well aware of the prominence of online multiplayer gaming. With Chat Boost, if the game hits a point where the action gets too loud (for example, a particularly explosion heavy firefight in COD or something), the chat volume will automatically increase. Typically, the chat function would be drowned out by the sound of the action in-game. If you turn up the volume, your eardrums will explode. Chat Boost dynamically adjusts the levels of both the in-game sound and the chat sound, bumping up the chat volume when needed while keeping the louder action sequences steady. Once the game quiets down again, the chat volume gets bumped down as well. It’s really, REALLY nice to not have to start screaming over the sound of the game audio, especially if you’re a fellow player who doesn’t enjoy a bunch of random screaming people all of a sudden. Toss in the ability to hear your own voice through the headset, and you’ve got yourself a pretty decent multiplayer experience.
While we’re on the subject of chatting during gaming, the XP400 has a really cool feature where you can dual pair the Bluetooth. With this feature enabled, not only can you chat with your friends (or punk 12 year old strangers), but you can also have the headset paired to your phone, allowing you to answer calls seamlessly. I went from chit chatting with a buddy online to answering a call from my wife all without stopping my game. Bravo to this feature; you now don’t have to get up for ANYTHING (except bathroom breaks, hopefully).
Rounding out the features are a few things that I would expect to be standard on any high end gaming headset; things like EQ presets, a flexible mic boom, rechargeable built-in batteries, and Ear Guard, which limits the level of loudness to prevent any ear damage. While I appreciate the Ear Guard feature, I often felt that the volume was restricted a bit too much. I like my movies and games to be pretty loud, right on the verge of being painful, but with the safety guards in place (and with no noticeable way of disabling them), I was left feeling like everything could be slightly louder. It’s a really tiny thing to complain about, and truthfully, not something that will affect everyone, as not everybody likes their audio blazingly loud.
The fact of the matter is, the XP400 is expensive. Sure there are more expensive sets out there, but this isn’t exactly something that you can just buy on a whim, unless you happen to be loaded. But, as is true with most things, you get what you pay for. You get extremely high quality audio, excellent craftsmanship, and a plethora of features that make the XP400 one of the more feature rich gaming headsets out there.