Being a gamer with many machines, owning a PS3, Xbox 360 and a PC for my gaming needs, not to mention my handheld devices for on the go gaming, I also have an abundance of gaming headsets to go along with the prominent consoles in my collection. As such, I have a pair of Turtle Beach Earforce P11′s for both my PS3 and PC and a now defunct pair of Tritton AX180′s (Gears of War 3 Edition) for use with my Xbox 360.
With this in mind, one of my core criteria when searching for a new headset was cross compatibility, and following on from Ilander’s Tritton AX720 review, I decided to check out its main competition in the Turtle Beach XP500. Given that the price for this headset runs from £97.97 up to £249.99, (if you want the MW3 Ear Force Delta edition), its no small investment to make.
The XP500′s are the metaphorical big brother to Turtle Beach’s PX5′s, and include all of the bells and whistles of its earlier incarnation, runs at the same approximate retail price, but with one main difference which we will come to shortly. So, lets move on to what we get in the box. Included, are the XP500 Headset itself with flexible mike , a mini-usb PC cable, 3ft optical cable, XP500 Transmitter/headphone stand, XBA Bluetooth Chat Adapter and transmitter usb power cable.
A common fault aimed at the Turtle Beach line of headsets, specifically its low to mid range sets, is the build quality. Typically, the headsets at the lower end of the spectrum feel very cheap, with a large amount of moulded plastic fittings. The XP500′s move away from this design, instead favouring faux leather and oval padded fabric ear-cups, to achieve a construction that feels both solid and simultaneously comfortable and lightweight.
All of the features of the PX5′s have been implemented in the XP500 including the DSP (Digital Signal Programming) which allows up to 8 programmable audio configurations. The left cup containing a ‘Preset’ button which cycles through each of the 8 presets available. The default presets listed in the instructions are:
Hear stereo game sound without effects processing or stereo game sound.
2) Dynamic Bass Boost
Crank up the bass and really feel the deep sound effects.
3) Dynamic Treble Boost
Boosts the high frequencies for crisper sounds and higher frequencies for crisper sounds and higher clarity.
4) Bass Boost & Treble Boost
The best of both worlds! Rumbling lows and pristine highs come through clearly.
5) Stereo Expander
Stereo processed with at 3D effect. Pushes sounds away from your head, allowing you to focus in on subtle clues.
Focus on sounds in the mid-range frequencies that often get lost under bass and treble.
7) Footstep Mastery
Tune out excessive noise and focus on the sound of your enemies approaching.
8) Superhuman hearing
Let no sound slip past you! Boosts the low volume sounds of mere mortals so you can hear like a superhero.
With this plethora of settings, there is a configuration for each and every gamer. If you cant find something you like in the original presets they can be modified at will via the comprehensive Advanced Sound Editor, or by downloading community presets stored on the website itself. Setting a new preset is as simple as connecting the headset to the PC, selecting the required configuration number from the buttons on the app, and then selecting the required preset from the drop-down boxes before clicking “upload to headset”. For those true audiophiles, there is an advanced setting where you can tweak the settings on each of the numerous frequencies on the equaliser before saving it as your own custom preset, which you can upload and share on the Turtle Beach website.
Also out of the box, the headset is capable of Dual Pairing, allowing you to have both your console of choice playing through the headset, all the while able to receive calls off your phone, or stream music from your Bluetooth enables music devices. Testing of this works perfectly, and the headset will announce an incoming call with a small musical ringtone. Once you press the Bluetooth button on the headset, your call will be answered and you will divert from game or party chat into hands-free mode instantaneously. Once you or the caller disconnect, it will seamlessly reconnect you to the chat you had just left. Take into account the Dynamic Chat Boost, which ensures that the chat level is automatically increased to be heard over any in game audio, and you will find yourself able to have a full conversation while still able to hear events and dialogue in the game.
This brings me to the big difference between the PX5 and the XP500. While the PX5 has all the wireless goodness with PC’s, PS3′s and any device compatible with your headset, the PX5′s required a wired connection to use with Xbox Chat, but included with the XP500 is the XBA Bluetooth chat adapter, which allows you to easily do away with those fiddly cables previously needed to use your headset with the Xbox. With a single sync button on the adapter, this wireless Bluetooth mode is simple to set up, and works perfectly with no distortion or interference when connecting the controller to its charging cable, which was my singular issue with the AX180′s. That said, should you wish, there is also a wired connection available, but with this package no 3.5mm – 2.5mm jack is included, so you would need to provide your own.
This headset covers all my bases. A simple press of the Bluetooth sync button and I had connected the headset fluidly to my Playstation Vita. Press it again and I was connected to my phone, press it a third time and I was connected to my PS3, all the while still connected to my Xbox directly via the Transmitter. This particular model embraces the one set fits all mentality, and so far I have yet to find a device to which it has not been able to connect.
The Transmitter is a close cousin to the model used with the older X41 modes, but instead of the gloss white, it has gone for more of a matt black finish that is more in keeping with the colour scheme of my current entertainment unit, and as such its sleek, compact form fits in perfectly with my set up.
The XP500 gives you everything you want from a stereo headset, excellent uninterrupted audio that confers the welcome illusion that events are unfolding around you in amazing 7.1 surround sound.
In all, there are only two main downsides to this headset. Firstly, I found with this headset there is the occasional burst of interference when using it with the Xbox on Bluetooth mode, but this was few and far between, and seemed to occur more often when moving out of range of the transmitter, which at around 7-10 meters is still an acceptable compromise. The XP500′s work on the 2.4Ghz range, along with numerous other standardised devices, so this is obviously something you would need to keep in mind before purchasing.
Secondly, and far more negatively is the lack of rechargeable batteries for the headset themselves. A pair of standard AA’s are included in the package, but for best long term use of this accessory, you would need to invest in at least two sets of decent rechargeable AA batteries, should you not already own them.
In my opinion, this headset is a superb, flexible addition to anyone’s gaming set up, and if you are still using a non-surround headset, you could do a lot worse than to pick these up.
MLG Rating: 8/10
Disclosure: Derek McRoberts bought the Turtle Beach XP500 7.1 Surround Sound Gaming Headset for personal use. Purchased from Amazon for £97.97 and tested extensively on Xbox 360, PS3, PS Vita and PC. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.