As a father it’s amazingly hard to play video games. First, I’m not good at them anymore – try practicing sniping n00bs when you’re trying to feed a 3-year-old something other than Goldfish crackers – and second I can’t play them in their full aural glory because they sound like WWII carefully mixed with a terrible accident at a jackhammer factory. In short, they’re too hard and too loud.
Obviously I can fix the “too hard” part by only playing Yoshi’s Story. But what about the “too loud” part? I’m glad to say the Turtle Beach XP500s have taken care of things.
These headphones are completely wireless and connect to a Bluetooth base station. You can route the audio into the box via an optical cable or RCA jacks and the headphones – large cans that fit the ears comfortably – are connected to the base with Bluetooth.
I’ve never really liked wireless headphones. Many required line-of-sight connections thanks to wonky IR sensors and the audio quality was sub par. This new model – based on Turtle Beach’s PX5 headphones – is much more impressive. First, it works with both Xbox and PS3 and an included 360 dongle allows for a direct wireless connection to the controller’s audio port.
The headphones also add a few interesting sound processing tricks to the mix. First, you can change the “sound field,” reducing the sound of explosions and bringing out small noises – footsteps, guns cocking – that could be missed while sneaking through a warehouse or a jungle.
The headphones also simulate full surround sound and offers in-game voice morphing so you can disguise yourself. After all, on the Internet nobody knows you’re a dog – until you bark.
The XP500 is pretty cool, but I did run into a few problems. For example, in my setup the audio was very low, thus requiring me to turn most of the volumes up quite a bit. It was very specific to my receiver and I was eventually able to fix things by plugging directly into the TOSLink port, but it was a bit annoying at first.
Second, it’s a very complex pair of headphones and while there are loud voice prompts for nearly every action, it’s still a bit mystifying without the manual. All of its capabilities are hidden behind small, featureless buttons and it’s easy to press the wrong thing.
The price is a bit high, as well, especially for a gaming peripheral. At $270 you could probably just buy a pair of Sennheisers and a long headphone cord. However, the value added by the various DSP features as well as the microphone connectivity make things a little more acceptable.
Hiding your gaming from your children is hard work and anything that makes it easier is a boon to the young father. I, for one, welcome Turtle Beach’s innovations to the craft into my life and thank them for watching out for me. Now if I could only get past the weird baby creatures in Dead Space 2 without screaming obscenities, waking up my children and prompting them to ask what, exactly, a “c*nting f**kb**tard on warm toast” is.