Saturday, January 10, 2009

Ear Force X3 Headset -- my review (or 2 cents)

I love gaming. I love gaming late at night. Unfortunately, this means that I can't play certain games and fully enjoy the experience without disturbing my family as they sleep.

I discovered that Turtle Beach makes wireless headsets to solve this problem. They allow you to listen to the audio of the game AND chat with friends at the same time. Up to now, my options were:
  1. use the original Xbox headset and keep the game sound low
  2. plug my stereo headphones into the stereo to listen to the game audio and not bother with voice chat
  3. use both my stereo headphones and the Xbox headset at the same time (ever tried wearing two headsets at the same time?) :)
I picked up the Ear Force X3 after a few friend recommendations and reading glowing reviews on the web. I had high hopes for these, but I have to say that I am disappointed.

The sound is good and they're comfortable, but there is one thing about them that is making me seriously consider returning them: they are not compatible with the Rock Band guitars or the Xbox chatpad. You can't even use the adapter wire that came with Rock Band.

I thought that surely I must be doing something wrong. I visited the Turtle Beach web site and found this:
The wireless X3 and X4 model headsets use special connectors that draw power from the Xbox handheld controller's "puck" connection. This connection is used to power the X3/X4 chat level boost, which boosts the chat when game soundtracks get so loud that they might obscure the chat channel.

Because the Chatpad, Rock Band and Racing Wheel controllers do not provide these extra power connections, the X3 and X4 headsets are *not* compatible with these aftermarket controllers. There are no adapters available that will make them compatible.

The Guitar Hero controller has been reported to work with the X-series headsets.
So, not only can I not use it with the chatpad or the RB2 guitar, but I can't use it with the racing wheel either.

I may be able to live with not using it with the chatpad, or the racing wheel, but when I play Rock Band or Guitar Hero, I use the RB2 guitar. My main purpose for getting these was so I could talk and play RB2 or GHWT later at night. Without being able to talk, I may as well wear my old stereo headphones and put up with the inconvenience of the headphone wire extension. (and wear two headsets at the same time) :)

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1 comment:

  1. That's what's keeping me from upgrading from the wired X1s to the wireless X3s or the 5.1 X4s. I use my Chatpad way too often. And, I have a hard time taking the Chatpad on and off, so taking it off when I want to use my headset is not what I consider an acceptable option.

    I do use the adapter wire that came with Rock Band for the puck on the X1 headset, and it works ok (although the plug is a little heavy and has a tendency to pull out of the Chatpad socket if I'm not careful).

    I'm surprised they say it doesn't work with the racing wheel. The wheel (Microsoft's version, anyway) has a shaped socket for the headset that accepts a puck. From Turtle Beach's description, though, it sounds like the holes on either side of the headset jack on the wheel are just cosmetic, so the pins on a headset puck have somewhere to go, but don't supply any connectivity or power.

    If you can find the X1 model, and you can deal with the wires (having to unroll 10' or so of wire when I want to play does get tiresome, I admit), I'd recommend them. It's a really good headset, and the separate volume controls for game and chat are really nice.