RRP: $399 (although can be found for $349 at some retailers)
Available from: Mighty Ape, JB Hi-Fi, Playtech, EB Games
Turtle Beach’s flagship headset, the PX5, has recently touched down in New Zealand. In many ways, the PX5 is similar to the Ear Force X41 headset (reviewed in the final, April issue of Game Console), but there are some rather nifty additions that elevate its appeal.
The major new feature of the PX5 is that you can download audio presets right to the headset. These range from presets devised by pro gamers in order to give you an edge online (such as presets that emphasise certain frequencies so that you can, say, hear footsteps clearer in Call of Duty) to the optimal audio settings as composed by game developers themselves so you can hear the in-game audio in the way it was intended. For instance, Visceral Games developed a preset for Dead Space 2; a game in which the in-game audio is absolutely crucial to getting the most out of the atmosphere it provides.
The PX5 system is developed primarily for the PlayStation 3 and, subsequently, utilises Bluetooth technology. Because of this, a nifty feature is included in that you can actually synch your mobile phone to the headset so you can answer your mobile phone while you game.
As with the X41 set, the general audio quality of the PX5 is outstanding. With rich, full 7-channel surround sound, it not only immensely improves your audio experience, but I’d go as far as to say that, in the case of certain multiplayer games, it gives you an edge. Knowledge is power, and the subtle audio cues that you may miss with a mediocre sound setup come to the fore with the PX5: the direction and purported distance of certain sound effects hint at how close a firefight may be, how many are involved, what weapons are involved and so on and so forth.
Also worth highlighting is the fact that, like the Ear Force X41 before it, the PX5 has to be one of the easiest multi-platform headset systems to set up. Seriously, the likes of Tritton and Astro should really take a cue from Turtle Beach in this respect. Cables between the console and the transmitter are kept to a minimum, and you'll have full 7-channel surround sound within five minutes of unboxing.
Unfortunately, some of the problems presented by the Ear Force X41 unit carry over into this model as well. Again, despite the use of the signal transmitter as a "dock” for the headset, a rechargeable-battery system has still not been implemented. It transpires that wireless, 7-channel surround sound systems are battery guzzlers (go figure), and if you’re even a modest gamer, you’ll chew through a fair number of batteries; rechargeable AAAs are highly recommended. And while I didn’t encounter it as frequently as I did with the X41, the PX5 is still susceptible to brief signal drops. It feels like a slight audio "pop”, and it can be quite jarring, but it’s thankfully rather infrequent.
A few times when playing online, my teammates in Battlefield: Bad Company 2 complained of echo coming from my mic, which forced me to switch it off. Of course, there are any number of reasons for this that aren’t necessarily the fault of the mic (such as wireless interference). But it warrants mention, especially given that I didn’t have the problem with my usual headset, or the Ear Force X41s, for that matter.
PROS: Exceptional in-game and chat audio. The downloadable-presets feature is brilliant, as is the ability to synch a mobile phone to the headset. Extremely uncomplicated to set up and use - you'll be up and running in no time.
CONS: Guzzles batteries. Occasional, infrequent audio drop-outs. My teammates occasionally complained of mic echo. You could almost buy another console at that price point.
VERDICT: Easily the best in-game audio headset that I’ve ever used in terms of sound quality, the PX5 is let down slightly by the occasional audio pop and some problems with online voice. These fairly trivial bugbears aside, the Ear Force PX5 from Turtle Beach comes as highly recommended for those who're serious about their in-game audio and are also prepared to pay for it.