Review: Turtle Beach XP400 Wireless Surround Sound Headset
Every gamer knows chatting with mates is integral to enjoyable online. And almost every gamer will also have come across Turtle Beach at some point, the company synonymous with high-end games audio products. So how does Turtle Beach XP400 Wireless Gaming Headset fare? NowGamer puts it through its paces.
The XP-400 is teeming with features and options, as is clear from the vast array of buttons smattered all over its outside. Its main draw has to be the ability to pump virtual Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound into your ears over Wi-Fi on PS3 or Xbox 360, with variable EQ settings, a detachable mic and BlueTooth mobile phone connectivity.
Here’s the main features worth getting excited for:
- Xbox 360 and PS3 compatibility with 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound
- Dual-Band Wi-Fi to minimise interference with other networks, switching between bands automatically.
- Optical Digital Audio Connection
- BlueTooth Compatibility
- Connects to mobile phones for chatting with mates or significant others without interrupting the action
- Multiple virtual surround sound setups to alter sound angles
- Mute chat in one touch
- Blast Limiter reduces explosions and increases ambient noise, e.g. footsteps, to aid online play where small sounds matter, such as Call Of Duty
- Wired or wireless connection to Xbox 360 controller using BlueTooth adapter or plug-in port
- £130-£180 pricetag (depending on where you look for it).
- Four EQ settings including normal, bass boost, treble boost and bass & treble boost
- Detachable microphone
Setup & Ease Of Use
Wi-Fi setups are always fiddly. The XP400 is no exception to that rule. The headset is plugged into the USB of the console, with an Optical Digital cable run into the transmitter unit from the console’s port and the sound beamed from the transmitter to the headset via Wi-Fi.
It took the best part of an hour to force the headset to pair with the transmitter on both PS3 and Xbox 360, a maddening experience of turning both headset and transmitter on and off again and trying to discern what the different bleeps and patterns of flashing LEDs meant. It’s not as easy to set up as the box would have you believe.
Once up and running, it’s pretty seamless. On PS3, chat is activated by changing the settings in the XMB menu to recognise the heaset’s mic.
On Xbox 360, it’s a little trickier, with two options – either plug in the bundled adapter to the controller’s headset port and use BlueTooth to pair it to the headset, or wire the headphones into the controller.
Whichever your console, once you’re off the ground, it’s easy to switch on and off, while deactivating chat is as easy as pulling out the mic connection and muting others is the push of a button.
One thing to note for 360 owners: if you have an older Xbox 360 console (i.e. one which lacks a Digital Optical Audio Out) you’ll need to buy a sold-separate adapter to go beyond stereo sound. Similarly, if you want to chat by plugging the headset with wires, you’ll need to buy those wires seperately, too.
The XP400s look heavy, but in use they’re light and comfortable, the headphones’ closed cups fitting comfortably over the ear, the ultra-padded headband proving light and comfy. At 0.9kg, they’re also a lot lighter than they look, yet they feel sturdy and expensive. No complaints here.
Out of the box, sound is flat and a tad disappointing. Not bad, but lacking the punch you’d expect from a £100+ set.
But the EQ and Surround Sound settings are where the set shows its colours. Of the three EQ options, Bass & Treble Boost is the only one worth bothering with, jacking up both and making proceedings sound much punchier; a beefy, rumbling bass giving way to a tighter, bright treble.
Surround Sound works well. Of the available settings, one or two sound a little odd and we’re not entirely sure why anyone would want to set their room up as shown in the pictures.
But some of the setups work well, providing a layered sound which really gives the impression of being fired at or spoken to from different angles.
Distant footsteps sound far away, proximate melees sound ‘close’ and deep, impacting the middle of the ear. It gives a great sense of immersion and is definitely the number one reason to choose this set over non-surround alternatives (though we’d have liked 7.1, which is missing from the features).
It still lacks refinement, sounds coming across a little scratchy and speech a little reedy. For an audiophile, it’s really middling at best and dependent on the console and its EQ settings to do all the heavy lifting.
But this isn’t a set for listening to Vivaldi and Deadmaus. It’s for streaming a loud, punchy sound direct to the ears for getting lost in worlds of headshots, tyre squeal and explosions in surround sound and for this they more than get the job done with clarity and bass in spades.
Chat is the other main reason to choose these. Speaking both in lobbies and in-game is picked up easily by the mic, which can be moved closer or further from your mouth, and it’s sensitive enough to pick up quiet speech without taking your every whisper, utterance or background sound and beaming it over the web.
Receiving chat is even better, with speech coming in loud and clear and sounding ‘separate’ to the game’s audio, especially in surround sound mode, rarely stuttering.
Easily, the headset is as good as any on the market for chatting and playing online is a real step up from a bundled Xbox 360 headset or a cheap BlueTooth solution.
Another neat feature is the ability to chat over a mobile via BlueTooth. Pairing it with a phone is surprisingly easy. It picked up our Galaxy Note 2 in seconds and phone calls come in loud and clear, meaning you can automatically chat with your other half while you slice baddies in two using the headset’s mic, picking up with the press of a button (though obviously you can’t talk to your girlfriend and your lobby at once).
For those in demand who also want to game without interruption, this is a great selling point.
The XP400s pack plenty to recommend, once you’ve actually managed to get them working. Sound is punchy and clear, with no real reception drops and a decent warmth once you fiddle with the EQ settings.
Surround Sound is nifty and works pretty well, while chat is mostly flawless and reception smooth. In all, the XP400s are pricey, but a great all-round chat/sound solution teeming with features and worthy of serious consideration.