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Feb 23, 2009

Review: Gaming Headsets - Tritton Ax Pro VS. Turtle Beach Ear Force X4

Serious gamers these days aren’t just looking for the true HD experience to enhance their game play they are also paying close attention and a lot of money for a better audio experience. Many of us have shelled out for a sweet window shattering surround sound system but there are often circumstances that don’t allow for the blasting of full game audio. I work shift work for example and do much of my gaming at night and really can’t be waking up the neighbours or disturbing my better half when I feel like playing Call of Duty at 1 am. I still want the advantage of playing in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound at anytime as well as having a microphone for chatting so I’ve been checking out the latest in high quality gaming headsets to complete my rig. Recently I’ve had the chance to try both offerings from industry leaders Tritton Technologies and Turtle Beach

What You Get:

Tritton’s Ax Pro gaming headset is the company’s most recent release and is built from the success of their previous model the Ax 360. The Ax Pro offers up a true 5.1 surround sound experience with Dolby Digital decoding and eight individual speakers (4 in each cup) which claims to improve 3D positioning. The Ax Pro features a detachable mic for online chat and independent controls for both chat volume or mute and full control of the different sound levels in the game. This is a wired headset however it is also versatile being compatible with the Xbox 360, the PlayStation 3, PC and Mac or virtually anything with digital optical or 3.5mm analog 5.1 outputs. All needed cables are included along with some extra head and ear pads which were nice. The Ax Pro’s receiver is capable of handling two simultaneously connected headsets.

Turtle Beach’s Ear Force X4
may have a silly sounding name but is one of the more well known brands on the market. The X4 is wireless and it also features 5.1 Dolby Digital decoding, separate controls for chat and game volume and a detachable microphone. The X4 is specifically designed to work with the Xbox 360 only however the receiver/transmitter has digital optical input and output which allow connection to a home theatre system as well as regular analog left and right inputs from something simple such as a TV. The wireless headphones have an automatic shut off to prevent battery drain and incorporates a bass boost feature. The X4 also features mic monitoring which allows you to hear yourself in the audio so you don’t end up shouting when using the headphones. The X4 is capable of handling multiple headsets simultaneously.


When comparing these two headsets the obvious difference is one is wired and the other wireless. While you may feel encumbered by having to deal with wires, no matter what anyone tells you going wireless sacrifices sound quality and this definitely rings true here. The X4 uses infrared to transmit sound to the headphones and at first it sounds fairly decent on full batteries and if you are directly in front of the transmitter. As soon as the AAA batteries start to drain (and they will rapidly) you can noticeably hear hissing during quiet parts of your game. Tritton’s Ax Pro has none of this, in fact power isn’t a problem, it comes with two adapters which you must plug in. While it may be a power hog the Ax Pro delivers consistently crystal clear sound over the Ear Force X4.

Another distinctive difference in sound between the headsets is the bass. The X4 offers an on/off bass boost switch on the headset and the Ax Pro has dedicated subwoofers in its 8 speaker set. With the ability to increase the subwoofer sound individually from the other speakers (front, center & rear) using the illuminated controller, the bass increase is substantially more skull shaking. The X4 fails at providing much more of an actual bass boost than your average cheap MP3 player.

In regards to the 5.1 surround sound both headsets performed well. Using Call of Duty again for example, I could hear enemies approaching from all directions which of course gamers recognize as a distinct advantage. I have to say the Ax Pro edges out the X4 in clarity though because of the dedicated 8 speakers. Both headsets have in game chat of course and each has a detachable mic though I preferred the X4’s flexible mic compared to the Ax Pro’s moveable but rigid boom mic. Each headset’s chat performance measured equally with separate volume controls delivering coherent sound between players and game audio. The X4’s mic monitoring feature which mixes your own voice into the audio so you don’t end up shouting when wearing the headphones is a great idea although is barely noticeable, at least according to my spouse. This feature could use some improvement.

Design wise each headset has big comfortable padded cups, the Ax Pro’s faux leather ones are huge and fit over and around the ear completely immersing you, the X4 has comfy cloth pads. The Ax Pro is heavier than the X4 and you will feel it after extended periods of gaming. With weight though comes durability and the Ax Pro looks like it can take a beating, I’d be afraid to drop the X4 for fear of it shattering. I also liked the overall design style of Tritton’s headset which features their illuminated logo.

The Verdict:

If you like the free roaming convenience of having no wires attached to you aside from what goes into the controller then Turtle Beach’s Ear Force X4 may be for you. It is by no means a terrible gaming headset but I would hardly call it premium and priced at $200 that is asking a lot for what you get which is basically line of sight wireless range with OK sound.

Serious gamers and audiophiles will no doubt be happy with Tritton’s Ax Pro for many different reasons. Consistent quality sound that is completely adjustable to your preference, noticeable bass boost and easily the biggest advantage: compatibility with all consoles and systems. This makes it a substantially better value at a price point of only $160 beating out the X4 easily.


Xbox Freak said...

Honestly I think you have a very biassed review over the two headsets. You obviously favor the Triton headset but, every other review I have seen has said that the Ear Force headset is a much better buy. Furthermore, you say something about an illuminated logo. WOW! I thought headsets were for good sound quality, not pretty logos that light UP! You can't even see the logo when you put the headset on so why does it matter?

JJD74 said...

It's ok, Kiddo. Despite you feeling this is a "biased" review, the end result is an agreeable one.
I've been a Turtle Beach user for a long time now, and in all honesty, once I heard the Tritton Pro series headsets I knew I was changing over.
Is that saying Turtle Beach isn't good? No. Nor is the reviewer saying that. HOWEVER, in COMPARISON, Tritton Technologies went all the way with their pro series, and it clearly shows.
I'd be willing to bet that ANY "serious" or "professional" gamer that tried the two would agree that the Tritton Pro series is simply the best headset for gaming right now, hands down, no comparison.

Please don't bash reviews, or make your own unless you've literally tried them on side by side.

Nice review, Ladies, despite what your viewer says, it's clearly not a biased review. You've given the due props to Turtle Beach, as well as Tritton.


Gabriel said...

Having personally owned both of these headsets, I can safely agree with the writer of this review. I tried out the AX PC and the Turtle Beach headsets, and there was a little competition between the two. The AX PC and the Turtle Beach ear force x4 sound very similar, but both have problems which make them not really worth buying, in my opinion.

The AX PRO, however, is in a class unto its own. It has no competition in the gaming market, standing head and shoulders over any similar product. I am a very happy owner of the AX Pro. I would give it a 9.2 rating overall. The turtle beach headset would be far less, getting a 6.5 or so rating, and the AX PC a little below that at around 6.0

Stephen said...

Review was perfect , im a x1 user and this has made me switch to Tritton thanks !

Azul o9 said...

ok xbox freak maybe your opion is "biased" seeing as your are only favoring the x4 I have used both turtle beach and tritton ax pro headsets and all I have to say is that I no longer own a turtle beach and gave it to my friend as a birthday present cause I knew I would no longer use them since I own tritton's

Tritton AX PRO said...

Attention! Don´t Buy The AX Pro Playstation 3 Headset From Tritton Before Reading This!

Another great review available here: www.headsetps3.net

Bob said...

I just bought a pair of the tritton ax pc pro headphones. While at first they seem nice, there are some definite flaws. I purchased these, by the way, after purchasing logitech G35 headphones, which are far too tight (enough to make your blood pressure in your face rise, pulsate, around your ears sweat, and make your ears ring..the bigger head you adjusted them for the tighter they are because of the arching metal band)

The first flaw is that they hiss. They hiss bad. This can be negated by turning the SUB(woofer) volume setting all the way down, however then you don't have functionality of the subwoofer, so these might as well say "Non-working subwoofer built in!"
These have obvious quality flaws, you can tell they weren't quality tested well just like the Logitec G35 headset. If I'm paying $100 or more for headphones I expect them to be quality tested well. I expect them to be just as comfortable (or moreso) than PLANTRONICS headphones which cost less than 1/2 the price..and are about the equivalent of skyy vodka, not the best but good enough. Well if I'm paying $100/bottle instead of $20-40, I expect the quality to at least match the $20-40, but it'd better surpass it. These don't. These aren't worth $100, and I would only reccomend getting them if you can get a killer deal of $50 or less, as they aren't worth more. They are relatively comfortable, esp compared to the logitec G35, however compared to the audio quality of the logitech G35's these suck, and bad.
I also bought a pair of Sound Blaster Tactic 3d Sigma headphones from Creative Labs, they are still in the box however I will be testing them out next, as the G35 and trittons are failures. The trittons are really nice if the audio was fully functional, but it's not. I will post a review on the sound blaster tactic 3d sigma earphones after I try them out tonight. One thing I can already tell I don't like is the leather earpieces. These make your ears sweat and are generally not nearly as comfortable as the microfiber ones. Hopefully, just as the tritton included a pair of swappable leather ones, these creatives will include a swappable pair of cloth earmuffs.

Anonymous said...

Going today for my 3rd headset this month. I've had the turtle beach x31's which i returned because i wanted the dolby surround sound so i upgraded to the x41's which i did not see much of a difference and at times it sounds like rice krispies with all that snap, crackle and pop, definately not something i want to have happen for the price im paying, I'll be trying Tritton this time, hopefully I'll see better results, if Tritton fails me, i might have to move on to Astro's. Is this the picky gamer or female in me?

Anonymous said...

I have the wired Turtle beaches, and their AWESOME, no popping sounds. great surround sound quality. Wireless is horrible with any head set. Both sets of head phones should of been wired to make it a fair review. Wired turtle beaches are a tad cheaper, and your not tossing money down the drain on batteries.

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That Professor Guy said...

this review is rather one sided seeing that you compared a wired 8-speaker headset to a wireless simulated surround sound headset. these 2 are not even on the same level it was apparent that the ax pro was going to win. a comparison of the ax pro would be putting it up against the HPA2 or Z6A by turtle beach and testing them using pc so the sound processor is not an issue.

Bikerrebel said...

Thank you!! Great review helped me make a good choise!!

Anonymous said...

I have owned both Turtle Beach and Tritton headsets (currently the Tritton AX Pro. If you don't mind replacing the headset every three to six months then the Turtle Beach will do. I went through 2 cords in less than a year. Basically junk made for the kiddies playing on xbox. My current set of Trittons has lasted me for 2 years (give or take. As far as sound quality goes the Trittons win hands down.