Turtle Beach Ear Force XP500 Gaming Headset
If youve read the review of Turtle Beachs excellent PX5 headset, which took the top spot on the Best PS3 Gaming Headsets list, this review might seem a little familiar. The PX5 is Xbox-compatible, and would have had a strong shot for the top spot on this list as well, but for the introduction of the XP500. The XP500 is basically the same headset as the PX5, but with one added bonus wireless Xbox Live chat.
The XP500 is actually the first third-party headset that is completely wireless. No audio cables, no USB cables, no communication cable to the controller this headset allows you complete freedom of movement. Turtle Beach worked around Microsofts RF secrecy by simply using a Bluetooth transceiver rather than a cable to connect the headset to the controller. The small transceiver has a 2.5mm plug that clicks into the 360 controller, and it pairs with the headset for totally wireless communications. The system also conveniently allows the headset to be paired with other Bluetooth devices, like mp3 players and mobile phones, so that your intense gaming sessions wont cause you to miss any important calls.
Setting up any wireless Xbox gaming headset requires a few simple steps to get the audio from the Xbox to the headphones. In the case of the XP500, an optical audio (TOSLINK) cable connects either directly from your Xbox 360 Slim, or from the optical output on your older 360s AV cable, to the XP500s audio transmitter. Those using older 360s who use HDMI to connect their consoles will need to use an optical output from their TV or AV receiver, or a separate HDMI audio adapter, so keep that in mind. The transmitter also needs to be connected to AC power. Throw some AA batteries into the headset and pair it with the transmitter (as well as the aforementioned Bluetooth transceiver) and you are ready to do wireless battle.
The headset itself is sturdily constructed and while Turtle Beach does little bragging about the XP500s padding or ergonomic design, the headset is profoundly comfortable, even after hours of play. Its sound quality is rivaled by very few headsets, and the Dolby Headphone surround sound emulation effectively creates a spacious 360-degree soundstage and generates localized sound effects with pinpoint accuracy and directionality. The sound can further be tweaked using eight pre-programmed audio presets supplied by Turtle Beach, or download the XP500s programming software on your PC, connect it to your headset via USB, and create your own unique sonic profile that suits your exact needs.
The XP500 is one of the more expensive Xbox 360 headsets on the market with street prices in the $250 range, and for many casual gamers, all of its features and programmability may seem a bit overwhelming. Keep in mind its not required or necessary to use all (or any) of the programming options this headset sounds phenomenal right out of the box. Whether youre a casual gamer and just want a totally wireless headset solution, or a hard-core online warrior who wants to tweak every aspect of your audio profile, or, like most of us, you lie somewhere in between, the breath-taking sound quality, all-day comfort, and comprehensive programmability of the XP500 make it, even with its high price tag, the best Xbox 360 gaming headset on the market today.