One thing that’s kept me from buying an XBox 360 headset, was that I almost always play using headphones. Headphones and a headset do not go together well (as I found out on the original XBox) and so I simply did without.
Then a friend told me they’d seen a headphone/headset combination in EB Games and I did some research. Turtle Beach have a series of headsets that combine the headphones and headset into one device. Given my set-up – I run the PC, XBox and XBox 360 output through a stereo amplifier, using that to select my sound source – I decided to go for the “Ear Force X11”, which has stereo input, and is wired. I did ponder the X31, which is wireless, but it cost about $40 extra, and I wanted to see if the concept worked first.
The X11 comes with a lot of cabling. It has a nice, long cable with a mini-amp close to the headset, and terminating in a USB plug, a microphone plug and a 2.5 mm stereo plug. It comes with cables to allow you to plug the headset into the RCA (red and white) output from the 360, and with a cable to connect the headset to the controller. I only needed the latter.
The USB is purely to power the amplifier, so it doesn’t need to plug into the 360 to work, and in my case it goes into the nearest USB hub I have handy, which is connected to the PC.
Once you have everything connected, it works beautifully. You can adjust both game sound, and chat sound to different volume levels. The sound in both cases is clear and clean – which is what I got out of my standard headphones. The microphone can be easily adjusted to be in a comfortable, and out of the way position, and from the limited playing I’ve done seems to work well. Also, some audio is taken from the microphone and relayed to the headset, meaning you can easily hear yourself – so you don’t shout over the game noise, for example.
The headphones are comfortable, padded ear cups, which haven’t caused me to overheat so far. I could almost forget I’m wearing them.
The only real issue I have is with the cables. One to USB, one to the amplifier, one to the controller means someone as clumsy as me now has three chances, rather than one, to try to trip over, tug, twist or otherwise do nasty things to any one of those cables, or attached devices.
I’m seriously considering going for the X31 as soon as I can, which is wireless. Though I need to find out if that’s just the headphone portion, or if the connection to the controller/console is also wireless.
Still, my old headphones have been retired, and despite the cable issue, I’m happily using the Ear Force X11 as my primary headphones, and occasional headset. If you’re the sort of person who wants a headset, but also needs headphones, I’d definitely recommend you give these a go. However, check their range first to work out what solution fits you.
Also note that these aren’t cheap. In EB Games the X11 were $89, the X31 were $129 and the X41 (wireless, Dolby 7.1 surround sound) were $248, so bear this in mind.