Tritton AX720 Headset Review (Xbox 360/PS3/PC)
Posted by Jim Cook, Oct 15, 2009 15:36
When I was assigned to review the AX720 headset, I misunderstood what it was and thought they were trying to charge $130 for a mere Xbox Live headset replacement. Certainly it does work as an Xbox Live headset, but it is more than just that; it is a functional headset for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC that can handle all the audio from one of those systems, not just voice chat. Music, sound, gunfire, voice, when you properly hook up the AX720 to one of these systems it will run all of those right to your earphones in rather good quality, and this makes the price tag far more reasonable.
Your $130 will get you the main headset, detachable microphone, an amp/control station, and the various wires and plugs needed to make all this work. The amp/control station box is the hub through which everything else works, and it’s about half the size of a Wii (or slightly larger than most portable game systems); your power cable and lines that run to your game system all go through here. It has several switches to tweak various modes, optimizing the headset for use in different environments and on different systems, and does require its own electrical outlet. It’s also worth noting that the Xbox 360 connector goes through the optical port on the back of your Xbox 360’s HDMI cable, in case this affects your wiring setup.
Once you have the box set up, it’s time to hook the headset in to it. This is a generally straightforward process, and the manual tells you most of what you need to know (including any software adjustments you’ll need to make in your game system’s main menu) so it won’t take long to get it going. From there, the AX720 acts like most gaming headsets by piping both game audio and voice chat to its earphones. Once you’re in-game, a pair of volume knobs and a mic on/off switch will let you adjust both what you hear, and what you transmit.
The volume controls are the main appeal of this product, enough so that the AX720 has replaced the default Xbox Live headset for me. While that headset works well enough for most people, I’m in the unusual situation where there is a lot of ambient noise in the area plus the Microsoft mic has trouble picking up my voice loudly enough for others to hear, so the AX720 solves my problem by simply letting me increase mic volume. The main benefit to this is I no longer have to yell to be heard on Xbox Live, and can just speak normally. This on its own is a huge deal to me, but I admit it wouldn’t be enough to justify the price tag if that’s all it did.
Fortunately, the headset does more than that. It offers excellent sound quality, including Dolby compatability when run through the control box. This will generally result in good audio no matter what, but may offer some real benefits to your gaming session depending on what you’re playing. The only real perk is an improvement in sound quality when playing fighting games like BlazBlue, but other genres get a huge benefit from being played on the AX720. First Person Shooters are perhaps the most noteworthy, since when compared to play on regular speakers it becomes much easier to hear which direction a sound came from; very useful when you can only hear and not see a threat. Dead Rising is also a personal favorite with this headset as I was previously unable to hear the game’s ambient music and sound effects, but now I hear them just fine and they add a lot to the game’s atmosphere. On the flip side, I also hear survivors shrieking "Fraaank! Fraaaank!" far more clearly than I used to, but that’s the game’s fault.
The headset itself also fits quite well. The earphones are well padded, and the fit is adjustable such that it was pretty comfortable on my head even for lengthy sessions, and I had no problem wearing them in conjunction with my eyeglasses. Combine this with well labeled inline volume controls and a flexible, detachable microphone, and you have a headset that does everything it should.
I admit the $130 price is steep, and this puts it squarely in the category of being a fantastic luxury item. It might fill an important niche for professional players and others who need both good voice chat and 3D audio in headset form, but for everyone else this is an optional way to improve your game’s sound quality. On the other hand, the improvements are really good and solved some very real problems I had with my Xbox 360’s sound; so much so that I have disconnected my Xbox 360 from my main speakers and just use the Tritton AX720 all the time when playing on it. Its independent mic and game volume controls are also a huge help, and made voice chat much more practical for me. Combine this with the fact it works on Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and many computers (plus DVD players and similar devices if you hook it up right, and the manual gives you some good advice on this), and the price tag becomes more tolerable if you plan to use it on multiple systems. Certainly it’s an extravagant purchase, but if you have the money and really want to treat yourself to a nice headset, this is worthwhile.
Important Post-review Note: As of press time, the Tritton AX720 is only available at Best Buy. This includes retail locations and their website, where it retails around $130. Also, depending on your wiring situation you may need an extension cable or two; most of the wires in this product are long enough for typical situations, but a few fell a little short for my needs... particularly the USB cable. So you may want to budget a few extra dollars for that just in case. Beyond this, I have no serious complaints about the product.
Rating: 3.9, votes: 13