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Nov 30

Written by: Thryon
11/30/2009 2:30 PM  RssIcon

Product display box
One headset to rule them all!
Ear Force X31
Release Date: August 25, 2009
Developer: Turtle Beach
Hardware Category: Headphones
Reviewed by: Brian Wray
There is nothing like the feeling of lying down late at night, plopping in a favourite game and blasting aliens/zombies/ghosts into the late hours of the night. The only problem with this scenario is while I am enjoying my game, others are trying to sleep. Turning down the volume of a game is not an option as sound is essential to fully enjoy a game. Go ahead and play a level of Modern Warfare 2 with the sound turned off to “see” just what I am talking about. Since I sit about 10-13’ away from my Xbox 360 console, a wired headset solution is not really an option and honestly who still wants to use anything wired anymore? Finally at times I enjoy playing with friends and would require the capability to chat over Xbox Live. While my requirements may sound specific, Turtle Beach produces a line of headsets that cater to gamers such as me. The newest product from its labs is the Ear Force X31.

The first thing I noticed about the X31 headset is the top quality of the build. Unlike other headsets, they do not feel like they will fall apart while handling them. The headset is a very appealing mixture of black & white. The ear cup is large but comfortable. It easily encompassed even my Dumbo sized ears. The headset can feel a bit bulky for those used to wearing the small wired Xbox 360 headsets that ship with every console, but I was used to wearing a large Sony wireless set that was way larger in size therefore find these the X31 very comfortable, even after an extended play session.

The setup was super simple and easily completed in just minutes. I needed only connect a bypass cable to the Xbox 360’s own sound cables, and then connect the other end to the RF receiver. The next step is to provide power to the receiver by way of USB. Any USB port will do be it on the Xbox 360 console, a nearby computer, an AC/USB adapter. It really does not make a difference. The final step was to add the included AAA batteries to the headset and turn it on.
Screenshot
What really makes the X31 stand out from the competitors is the sound quality. The headset produces an amazingly clear sound. This is possible thanks to the new wireless technology in use. Conventional wireless headsets transmit an analog sound over infra-red providing a radio type sound quality with a persistent hiss in the background. IR also can cause disturbance with some Plasma TVs. The X31 transmit an uncompressed digital data over radio frequency signal delivering CD quality sound. Unlike infrared headsets, RF does not require line of sight and will produce a quality sound as long as I was near my console (within about 30’). The sound quality is so good that I would use the headset to listen to music late at night while working on my site (or this review).

The unit also comes with a couple built-in sound effects. The first is a bass boost that does wonders to improve the sound quality making every explosion that much more explosive. The other effect is called “widening” which is supposed to make the sound appear to be coming from a deeper sound field, so that objects far away sound farther away and close object sound closer. The final setting combines bass boost with widening. I normally left my headset at bass boost as the widening tended to sound a bit hollow to me.

Great sound quality is only half the equation. The other half is also covered with great chat functionality. The X31 headset contains a boom mic whose position is completely adjustable. I really like the fact that the headset allowed me to hear myself talk. This was a bit weird at first, but I quickly got use to it as it allowed me to easily monitor the level of my voice. No longer did I feel the urge to speak louder as the game got louder. I think Microsoft should make this technology mandatory for everyone on Xbox Live. When I wanted to use the chat the headset to chat, I needed only connect a small cable from the headset to an Xbox 360 controller. The new connector supports all controllers, even those with chatpads. The only drawback to this setup is that the small cable connecting the headset to the controller is easy to misplaced resulting in a frantic entire room search on a few occasions.

The headset also features Chat Boost that adjusts the chat volume when the in-game music volume increases so the game sound will never drown out the chat sound. Each volume level (chat and game) can also be adjusted manually of course, with the main game volume adjusted on the headset itself and the chat volume adjustments done on the cable connecting the headset to the controller.
Screenshot
The only complaint I have about the Ear Force X31 is that the headset will go to sleep if there is no sound that comes through the headset for a couple minutes. I do understand this is to conserve on battery life, but some games have very little ambient sound and at times there can be near silence for two minutes turning the headset off. Even when it did occur, I needed simple reach up and press the on button.

Do you have multiple consoles? No problem, the Ear Force X31 will work with any device that has an audio output option and a location to connect the RF receiver (any USB port or AC/USB adapter). Connect it to your PS3, Nintendo DS, or TV. Of course the chat function will not be available, but the mic can simply be move aside when not in use.

Turtle Beach has been making fine audio products for the past few decades now. The Ear Force X31 appears to have been designed by taking the best features of each previous version and improving upon the design. While the headset is a bit pricier than some alternatives, the performance greatly validates the extra few loonies it will set you back.
--Brian Wray

Copyright ©2009 Xbox360Asylum.ca

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3 comment(s) so far...


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Re: Asylum Hardware Review - Ear Force X31 Wireless Headset

i hate when i can hear myself in the headset, causes me stop talking. but maybe thats just when my voice is delayed so i hear it seconds after ive said it.

By Althenias on   11/30/2009 5:03 PM
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Re: Asylum Hardware Review - Ear Force X31 Wireless Headset

Good point. Do not worry as there is not delay here, it is instant.

By Brian Wray on   11/30/2009 5:26 PM
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Re: Asylum Hardware Review - Ear Force X31 Wireless Headset

Brian
where did you get yours?

By dude163 on   12/24/2009 10:13 PM
 
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