Videogames today require more than just the proper console in order to get the most out of the experience. More often than not a HDTV and a tricked out surround sound system is essential to capturing the essence of the game the way the developers had intended. The bad thing about this new standard is that it could cost well over $1000 to meet the requirements for the ultimate gaming experience. While there is currently no way to get around the need of a HDTV, Tritton Technologies has the audio side of things covered with its Ax Pro 5.1 surround sound gaming headset. This headset will make you wish everything was in surround sound including your dreams. It’s very comfortable to wear, easy to adjust and is the perfect alternative to having a surround sound home theater.
Right out of the box the Tritton Ax Pro headset makes its presence known. It’s lightweight and shiny but it doesn’t show fingerprints which is a plus. The headset itself comes with the leather padding already attached to the unit and also includes replacement leather pads to use when the old ones wear out. The microphone doesn’t come attached to the set which is nice when you want to just passively watch a movie. Either way the microphone doesn’t come close enough to the mouth to be an inconvenience and still produces a clear voice when spoken into. Also included in the box is everything you need to get this thing up and running on either a PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Mac or a surround sound system. That is one of the things I like most about this package. There is really no additional hardware or software to buy. You already have an optical cable, USB cable, Xbox Live cable, and an analog PC cable right out of the box. While this is one of the Ax Pro’s biggest strengths it’s also it’s greatest weakness.
It can be downright daunting how many components are needed to set the headset up. There are so many wires going in and out of things it’s easy to get mixed up. The power supply needed is also over the top. It takes two AX adapters to power both the headphones (it has lights on it) and the dolby decoder box. They also take up more space than one would like on a standard power strip. When you’re done figuring out how to connect everything you’re left with a pile of cables on the floor. It will take some clever thinking to hide these unsightly wires from guests and to keep people from tripping over them. It’s probably best not to use the headset from across the room as the cord coming from the headset must plug into the dolby decoder box. This frustration came after setting up the headset on the PS3 only. The Xbox 360 requires an additional cable that plugs into the controller and the volume adjuster. It’s no more in the way than the standard Xbox 360 headset but given all the other components required it just looks messy. Once everything is connected it’s just a matter of turning on your system of choice and adjusting the audio settings. This will only take less than a minute but you must manually switch the settings again on PS3 if you want to stop using the headset.
Performance wise the Ax Pro headset is amazing. The headset has eight built in speakers that can be controlled in pairs. Each side of the headset has a speaker for the front, rear, center and subwoofer. They are adjusted using the controller attached to the headset. Each speaker has it’s own button that illuminates in five colors according to volume. I experimented with the headset while playing Resident Evil 5 and immediately got sucked into the sound design. The sound of a scurrying spider in the distance came in very clear and allowed me to prepare ahead of time. I knew where the enemies were without ever seeing them due to the quality and position of the speakers. The same can be said for Killzone 2 especially when there is a lot of chaos going on all over the screen. Using the Ax Pro in multiplayer sessions easily makes you the clearest sounding player in the match. It’s easy to adjust the microphone volume and switch it on and off.
For $179.99 it’s hard to not recommend the Ax Pro headset to gamers and audiophiles alike. Quality drips from this product in more ways than one. Each speaker is distinguishable even though they’re all packed close together. It provides easy to reach controls for adjusting volume while providing lights with a guide to let you know how high the levels for each speaker are. The biggest flaw has to be the large number of wires needed to make it work. They will become tangled and demand a customized setup to avoid having one big mess on the floor. Even with that noticeable flaw you will not regret purchasing this headset to handle all your surround sound needs.
+ Sound quality is superb
+ Easy to use volume controls for each speaker
+ Provides everything you need right out the box
– Wires are a horrible mess
– USB and optical cables a bit too short
– Hefty power supply