Earforce X4 Wireless Surround Sound Headset

Final Verdict: Unfettered Audio Godliness

Score (for those who need it):
9.0

What It Is:
Turtle Beach’s Earforce X4 is a wireless surround sound headset that can also plug into an Xbox 360 controller for full Live chatting.

The Price: $200

Pros:

  • You can have the music loud and not disturb your family
  • The base station can pass the AV signal to another device for convenience
  • Fantastic sound quality
  • Wireless surround sound

Cons:

  • You do not get the bass feel in your body like a chair or external speakers
  • Too many sounds can get lost with bass boost turned on

There are quite a few solutions in the marketplace for making your gaming experience sound better. Previously, I reviewed the wireless BoomChair (which I still use to this day). Now, I am split between using the headset and the chair, but I have figured out that I can actually use both, since I personally like the feel of the bass. When used with the optical input from your console, games come to life and you can hear everything in full surround.

The X4 utilizes a wired base station that allows you to connect an optical source from your Xbox 360 or PS3 for the ultimate in gaming sound. It also has inputs for RCA connections from any audio source. Ports on the transmitter include optical S/PDIF in- and output and RCA stereo input. There’s also a gain adjustment, a jack for the power brick, and an on/off button. If you’re also using an AV receiver and surround speakers, don’t worry: the X4 has a digital out port for passing the signal on, so you don’t have to constantly unplug and plug in wires whenever you want to play using the headphones.

The headset is large but very comfortable and is powered by a pair of AAA batteries. The headset includes a flexible boom microphone with optional wired connector to plug into a 360 controller for chatting via Xbox Live. One thing to note about the battery lifetime is that after about 10 hours of gameplay they will need to be replaced; however, keeping the bass boost turned off did add some additional play time.

There is a switch to turn on or off bass boosting, but all you can do is flip it on or off. When experimenting with Rock Band and Mass Effect, I found that the bass boost was not a good option. Since there is no way to adjust the sensitivity, most of the "midrange" sounds simply got lost in the shuffle. The power button and volume slider are very easy to find without having to fiddle too much; however, it is just a shame the bass boost was not built in as a slider.

When it comes to the sound, it’s a perfect surround sound headset, ideal for gamers who don’t already have a surround sound solution, or those who need something just a bit quieter for those late night gaming sessions that would otherwise disturb family or roommates.

A wireless solution for chat would have been ideal, but we’d imagine this would severely compromise battery life on the headphones.

The cost for the average gamer may seem a bit steep, but figure that you could skimp on a few average games or get family members to possibly pitch in on the cost since they will be gaining some peace and quiet.

All in all, the X4 from Turtle Beach is a wonderful solution for enjoying all the rich sounds that are available on next gen gaming consoles. The value that you get from your games has just increased, as you can go back, flip them on and play Halo 3 or BioShock again to hear what you were missing. While the price may seem a bit steep, I would recommend this product to any gamer that loves the sound and music in games or is looking for that competitive edge in an online match.

Features:

  • Enjoy Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound with your favorite games and DVD movies
  • Dolby Pro Logic II provides surround sound from PLII encoded audio and also enhances stereo
  • Hear XBOX Live Chat plus stereo game sound
  • Heart-thumping bass boost adds sonic realism
  • Dynamic Talkback lets you hear chat even when the game gets louder
  • Separate controls for game and chat volumes
  • Eliminates game sounds picked up by chat microphone
  • Mic Monitor lets you hear what you’re saying
  • Digital input for highest XBOX sound quality, plus analog input for TV and other audio sources
  • Auto Power Shut Off for power saving

What others had to say:

  • ZDNet – 7/10
    With their accurate 5.1-channel separation, the Turtle Beach Ear Force X4s are great surround-sound headphones for the Xbox 360–or any other home theater component.

  • Planet Xbox360 – 9.5/10
    There is just something special about having that full surround sound effect right in your eardrum, the sounds virtually booming out of all places. Turtle Beach is known for their audio excellence and the quality shines through from every aspect of the Ear Force X4 gaming headset; go pick it up.

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