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In an industry where the focus is the ever improving graphical quality of its products, it is undeniable that while the audio experience lends much to immersion of the gamer, it isn't the very first thing on the priority list for most consumers. If you had to buy each bit of your entertainment system one at a time, this is how it's likely to go down - HDTV, gaming rig PC and/or console, variety of controllers (fighting sticks, motion, sim rigs) and then audio equipment. Am I right? That doesn't mean no one pays attention to the audio aspect of gaming, of course. You've got guys like Turtle Beach and Tritton who have been battling it out to be the undisputed manufacturers of gaming audio hardware.
Enter the Tritton AX 720 7.1 gaming headphones for the XBox 360, PS3 and PC.
I've had these babies for a good month and a half now, which I believe is ample time to have sized em' up and compared them to the official Sony Playstation 7.1 Headphones.
I was going to make a video, but I got lazy. I still might do that, who knows. If ever I do, I'll embed it in the space below. But for now, let's just talk about what it comes with and how complicated this shit gets in a hurry.
- Headphones with a cable that plugs into the in-line audio controls
- Decoder box
- Decoder stand
- Extra foam headphone cups
- Optical cable
- On the fly in-line audio controls cable that connects the decoder box with a proprietary jack
- Cable with printer jack/ USB jack to power the decoder box
- XBox 360 communicator cable
- PC 3.5mm jack adaptor
That is a bunch of stuff. When I took em' all out of the box, I had this expression on my face.
Thankfully, when it came to the actual set-up, it wasn't as bad as it I initially thought. I won't get into a tutorial on how to put it together, there are tons of those on YouTube, but I'll breeze through it quickly. First, if you're on a PS3 like I am, toss the 360 communicator cable and the PC adaptors back into the box. You won't need em'. After that, in a nutshell, here's what you do:
1. Take the headphones and connect its cable to the in-line audio controls and you plug that whole thing into the decoder box.
2. Plug the decoder box into your PS3 via the USB port. (I'm happy that this thing no longer needs to be plugged into a socket, like the model that came before it.)
3. Plug the optical cable into both the decoder box and your PS3
4. Plug microphone into headset
5. Turn PS3 on, enter options - audio output should be optical cable and mic input (under accessory settings) should be Tritton AX 720
See? Easy peasy! Okay, granted, it isn't as easy as plugging in the USB receiver and turning the headphones on, but the extra steps will be worth it.
Ease of Use
After the semi-difficult process of setting it up, you'll find that using it also sometimes becomes semi-difficult. Let's start with the way the in-line controller works, because that's where you control everything.
So imagine this - you've poured a few minutes into setting the volume of the voice chat and the in-game audio using the toggles just the way you like 'em and then you decide to call it a night. Fire it back up the next day and voila, all your settings are gone. Yep. It doesn't save whether you want your mic muted or how loud you want the game to be. No biggie, just do it again. Every. single. time. you. fire. it. up. Now, to be fair, there may be a way of saving your settings, but I just have never figured it out and I've tried to, extensively.
On to the basic controls - flick volume up and down to increase or decrease volume. Press it to mute. Same goes for the voice controls, only when you press it, it just stops yourself from hearing what you say through the mic. If you want to mute the mic in-game, slide the slider at the top towards the mic mute icon.
The lights on the decoder are a little complicated, but just make sure everything's lit up blue when gaming and you should be good to go. The one button next to the power and master volume rocker is to toggle through Dolby/ EQ modes. Then the lights indicate if 5.1 signal is being received, if Pro Logic IIx mode is engaged, if Dolby headphone mode is on, and the EQ-type indicator. Read this for reference, folks.
I've been pretty harsh on it so far, but try as I might, there is nothing bad that I can say about the sound quality on this beast. Seriously, each cup feels like a movie theater right on your ear. And this is in comparison to gaming headsets I've used over the years. I've gone through Thermaltake eSports Shock Spin (which I use for music) and the official Sony 7.1 Headphones and I can honestly say that these are the best headphones I have ever used in terms of just the overall quality of sound.
The cups surround your entire ear so sound is isolated in that space and prevents ambient noise from coming in, giving it a booming immersive experience. You may wanna check if your house is burning down or if your kid is crying every now and again, though. As far as my untrained ears can tell, the highs and mids are decent and the bass is just powerful. Those things damn near blew out my eardrums the first time I put them on and cranked them way up.
Played some Battlefield 3, Killzone 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Uncharted and Uncharted 2 on it and all those games felt even MORE alive. This is especially true for Battlefield 3, which has been a game praised for its sound design and quality. I remember feeling this way when I first wore the Sony official 7.1 Headphones and played some inFamous. Because when citizens would speak, I would find myself turning my head to look for the offending NPC and I was amazed. These headphones took that and took it to a theatrical level.
There is one common complaint I've been reading about, though. There is a slight buzz present when there is no input and it does get annoying. However, as soon as any kind of input it detected, the buzzing goes away and you'll never really notice it again.
Surround is probably most important for competitive play because finding those pesky opponents before they find you is essential to your kill-death ratio. Again, I tested this baby on Battlefield 3 and COD: Modern Warfare 3 and I was very impressed with the results. The Tritton AX 720's weren't any more accurate than the official Sony 7.1 cans. I can just as easily tell where my next victim is coming from on either headphone system. It just sounds way better on the AX 720.
I cannot tell you how many times I just knew where that throwing knife that lodged itself into my brain came from. "Ah, it was that douchebag to the left!"
When I figured out how to turn the mic on (it's under Accessory Settings), I tested it out against foul mouthed racially insensitive first person shooter players. I said "Hey guys. I just got Trittons and I'm testing out the mic. Can you hear me?" I was met with "Shut up retard faggot!," which I'll take as a positive "It sure sounds great, good sir! Good enough for me to feel like I have to put you down by insulting your intelligence and sexual preference."
A couple days later, I was playing with this one English speaking guy in a Japanese served game. We talked about how everyone was camping and that us low ping guys were fucking up the game for our team. As soon as we took the lead by 1 kill, we were all "OKAY GUYS! NOW HIDE!" and we both hid and we started laughing our asses off. Okay, the point is, the mic is great and that there are some decent people online out there.
Also, it's bendy and it'll stay bent the way you want it, which is good.
I have a fairly fat face and big head, and it fits me very well. I keep it at about 3 clicks from the smallest setting. Even if you had a watermelon for a head, this would fit you fairly well still. The main band bends to accommodate many head sizes. Right underneath the main band, there's some foam support so it can gently rest on your noggin very comfortably.
The cups themselves accommodate my Asian-average sized ears completely. The whole thing fits like a glove. Problem is, I sweat a lot and even though keeping it on doesn't hurt anywhere, it does make me sweat into them so I have take 'em off and wipe 'em down every now and again.
When taking them off and wearing them around your neck to, I dunno, take a call or something, the ear cups fold inward so they can rest on your clavicle comfortably. Not only does it look cool, it's very practical, too.
I don't know how to smile.
One thing that makes me uncomfortable, though, are cables. And with the Tritton AX 720, there a buttload of cables. I feel like I can't move when there are bunch of cables around. That kind of annoys me. Also, the in-line audio controller doesn't come with a clip or anything so it just dangles off the side of your head, making the headphones feel VERY unbalanced, like the left side of your head is being pulled down by a very weak midget. To counter that, I take the in-line controller and put it on my lap, but then it falls and it gets very frustrating. I'm still figuring out a way to attach a clip to that thing.
Value for Money
The Tritton AX 720 goes for Php 7,000 to Php 7,500 depending on where you buy it. It is built very sturdily and it doesn't feel like it'll break any time soon. The sound is just fantastic and the surround works well enough to give you that edge in battle. I would actually say that the official Sony PS3 Headphones win out for value for money since they're cheaper and more comfortable (no wires), but if you've got the extra cash, then the Tritton AX 720 is a better investment - better sound quality and versatility because it can do 5.1 for movies, too.