In the last generation, two headset manufacturers seemed to stand head and shoulders above the rest for overall market penetration: Turtle Beach and Tritton. With the current generation now underway, a new contender has nudged its way forward and are looking to capitalise with their latest offering.
During the PS3/360 era Gioteck came to represent well built custom controllers and accessories, but following success with their wired offerings they are now stepping into the ring to take on the two big T’s with their Ex-06 Wireless Headset.
The first thing you notice straight out of the box, is the build quality. Although designed with collapsible cans for easy storage, (also coming with a handy little case in which to store your headset) the entire build feels solid and robust. Although the adjustable headband felt a little stiff to resize to fit my head, this did mean that once the headset was in a comfortable position I got the feeling it was going to stay that way.
Comfort is a key component of any headset for a gamer, with marathon sessions in an ill-fitting headset being a major setback, this charge cannot be levied against the Ex-06. The earpiece padding is deceptively soft, and although from appearance these look weighty and durable, its appearance belies the lightweight feel which allows several hours of gaming to be enjoyed without any noticeable discomfort.
Wireless set up is quite straight forward and painless for those more versed in the intricacies involved with your Aux and RCA connections, but the small booklet provided does go some way to guiding the unwary through their initial set up. Having used a setup which utilises an Optical Audio cable to a large free standing transmitter for my wireless, having a small dongle to provide my aural needs came as quite a surprise until I remembered the limitations of the headset. Unlike the more expensive iterations from the two T’s, which support 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound, this headset is a Stereo set with only two channels. So, with the couple of cables provided, and a clamour to check out what the Ex-06 were capable of, I beavered away to test them to their fullest.
The quote on the box states compatibility with last gen tech, PC and the new flavours from both camps, and without Microsoft’s latest shiny box, my first port of call was the PS4, Sony’s contender in the next gen melee.
The wireless transmitter requires only two things to work, a USB port for power and the required source providing the audio to the 2.5mm jack port on its side. This is where I encountered the first of many nuances that need to be overcome. Focus on the headset is for use of the RCA in conjunction with the provided video out cable provided by Sony and MS for their last gen counterparts before HDMI became de facto standard. The alternative being to hope that your TV is blessed with a Audio Out position to allow you to plug your old reliable Red/White Phono into the back of your TV. Neither of these were an option, so in the end I had to resort to a cable of my own, a standard 3.5mm to 2.5mm cable from TV Headphone port to Wireless adapter. Although one of these cables are supplied in the box, I required to keep it back to allow me to set up chat.
Those like me, who have a plethora and range of cables littered about the house, (much to my wife’s chagrin), will no doubt be able to find the optimum way to make these work within our set up. I would recommend if you are picking up this headset for the first time, and aren’t laden with cables, to take the time to find out exactly the set up you have and pick up the cables needed to get it working optimally, it is worth it.
So, with set up covered, what about the actual audio? Well, testing this out on the PS4, it works “almost” perfectly. Once correctly set up I slapped on Need for Speed, Killzone and Battlefield to get a good feel for the set. Although there was a notable audio hiss throughout during quiet sections, when the sound was plentiful this was obscured completely. The Stereo output from the EX-06 is complemented further by the inclusion of a “Virtual Surround button”. Pressing this widens the audio range and gives the impression of a greater aural depth of field, which works surprisingly well. The fact this does not interfere with the chat audio means there was no reason for me not to switch on this mode permanently. Talking of chat audio, I did have some issues initially with people hearing me, but this was not down to the quality of my voice but the volume. I could only attribute this to the rigid mic attachment that can be moved between the cans of the headset, but does not initially feel that it can be bent into a better position. Thankfully this is not the case, and after daring myself to try to reposition the microphone, I found that although it suffers from the same stiffness encountered in the head band adjuster, it too was able to be reshaped into a more comfortable and nearer position in order to better pick up your voice. Once set up correctly, those on the chat had no problems discerning what I was saying, but the feedback from these people is that there was an audible buzz on the chat when I spoke, although it was a low enough volume to be ignored for the most part.
Testing of this headset on the Xbox360, PS3 and PC all followed a similar path: finding the correct cabling to set up the headset correctly, fiddling with the audio settings on the device, followed by testing of sound and chat all came back with the same outcome. The Ex-06 is flexible enough to allow for use on any and all of these devices and performs admirably. On the 360 and PS3 the audio buzz at the lower tones was gone, but it also appeared on the PC and when it did appear it was something that could easily be overcome.
All in all, if you are looking for a headset that performs well on each of the machines, but you cannot devote the money to invest in a 5.1 or 7.1 set up, you would find value for money if you pick up a pair of EX-06. Going into this review with a low expectation, I was extremely surprised how well it performed on each platform with minimal fuss to set up, and had the build quality of a headset three times its cost. I will be keeping a close eye on the guys at Giotech in the future, and look forward to seeing what they come out with to compete with the high end sets.
MLG Rating: 7/10
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided with a pair of Gioteck EX-06 for review purposes. The headset was reviewed over the course of 10 days on a PlayStation 4. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.