RRP: $399 (but can be found for $372.99)
Available from: Mighty Ape, Playtech, JB Hi-Fi, EB Games
The Tritton AX Pro headset has been available internationally (and thus, locally via import) for around two years now. As such, console gamers at LANs tend to already sport either a pair of these or the Astro A40 set. The Tritton brand has only recently received local distribution, but a fair bit has changed in the headphone space since the AX Pro first launched. As such, while the AX Pro still constitutes an excellent gaming headset, anyone who’s tested out more recently released units will agree that the AX Pro feels a little dated in some areas.
The first thing you’ll likely notice about the AX Pro is the abundance of cables required to get the thing up and running. In my personal opinion, it’s overly complicated – it took far too long to set up at first – and leads to some serious cable clutter. Admittedly, the set has been designed for compatibility with both PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 platforms, but other recent headsets have dealt with the problems this presents more effectively. The AX Pro requires a power adapter, and there are cables from the console to a central hub, with further cables from the hub to an in-line controller, and then cables from the in-line controller to both the headset itself and (in the case of Xbox 360 gamers) to your controller to enable voice chat. Quite simply, it’s cable overkill, and it’s almost enough to put me off the AX Pro altogether. Once you’ve set the unit up, you certainly won’t want to do it again, so the AX Pro is perhaps not ideal for console LAN players.
One of the benefits of this setup, though, is the comprehensive control over your audio settings that it allows: independent in-game audio and chat control; independent control of each sound field (front, rear, centre and sub); and the ability to switch between Dolby Digital 5.1 and Pro Logic on the fly. However, this control is split between the central hub and the in-line controller, so there’s no easy-access, overarching control mechanism.
It’s fortunate, then, that the AX Pros excel in virtually every other area. The construction and build quality is easily the best I’ve encountered in a console-gaming headset, and it’s possibly the most attractive to boot. The Tritton logos on each cup light up in bright orange when in use, and the unit is both extremely comfortable and very stylish. The sound quality, while using slightly dated technology, holds up fairly well; while the latest crop of headsets boast 7-channel sound, the AX Pro utilises true Dolby Digital 5-channel sound as opposed to emulated 5- or 7-channel sound, which provides a more authentic (if slightly shallower) sound. The mic boom is flexible, if a little intrusive; there’s no way to retract it short of removing it when you’ve no need to chat. On that note, voice chat is another area where the AX Pro performed well, with my teammates coming through particularly clear and no complaints of feedback or otherwise from them.
PROS: Attractive. Sturdy construction. Great sound, and comprehensive control over it. Excellent voice-chat support. No batteries required.
CONS: Presents a mess of cables that’s more difficult to set up than most headsets. Rather expensive given the fact they first released around two years ago.
VERDICT: The Tritton AX Pro is strong in areas where its competitors are lacking, but equally as weak in other areas where it’s outperformed by those same competitors. If you game mostly at home, build quality is of the utmost importance and the lack of 7-channel audio is not a dealbreaker, it’s absolutely worth a look. If portability, ease of use and 7-channel audio are essential requirements, however, you might be best to look elsewhere.