Two years ago we gave our oldest daughter an Xbox One for Christmas. It was a natural upgrade from our heavily-used Xbox 360 and something she had been asking to receive for quite some time. We had previously relegated everything video game related to the basement play area, but because of the multimedia power of the new Xbox One, including apps for Netflix, Hulu and more, I chose to attach it to the largest screen in the house – our family room television.
It didn’t take long to discover the error of my ways. Our kitchen/dining area connects openly to the family room and it also happens to be where Nicole has her computer. I’ve offered many times to set up an office for her where she could have some peace and quiet to work, but she enjoys having her workstation in the center of everything. She says it is so she is always easy to find, but I believe the real truth is it is her “throne” from which she can rule the household. (don’t kill me)
But with the addition of a video game console attached to a large screen TV and 5.1 surround sound, we regularly heard “can you turn that down?!” from the kitchen. As any true gamer knows, you need the sound turned up to hear the footsteps of your enemy or audio cues of where to go next. Soft sounds might be muffled by other noises in the room (typing on a computer, microwave running, etc.), so we needed a solution. We knew a headset would be a good choice and our Xbox One had the required mini jacks on the controller necessary to plug in any set of stereo headphones.
At first we grabbed an old pair of PC headphones I used while playing World of Warcraft. They weren’t expensive to start with, and the fact that they were now a decade old meant they were showing their age. I picked up a pair of wired Turtle Beach headphones at our local Best Buy and the sound was MUCH better. Nicole was happy because now the Xbox could be played without her hearing it, and we could hear the game clearly without her interrupting us. But there was still a problem.
This time is was a limit of the technology. Because the Xbox was streaming both the game’s audio, the microphone’s audio and the controller information wirelessly, we experienced quite a bit of lag when playing any online game. Our current favorite is Overwatch, which pits two teams of six against each other in a real-time battle on large maps. System lag means you cannot react as quickly as your opponent. We died a lot. So we put up with the volume turned down and continued playing sans headphones.
Happily, I recently discovered a solution that has everyone coexisting in peace (and quiet). Best Buy recently started carrying Turtle Beach’s brand new Stealth 700 for Xbox One. In the past wireless headsets have connected with consoles via Bluetooth. This new model is the first premium wireless surround sound gaming headset to connect directly to the Xbox One (including the new Xbox One X). And setting it up is as easy as syncing a new controller!
Previously we had always stuck to the lower end models from known brands, like the above-mentioned wired Turtle Beach headset. I couldn’t justify paying well north of $200 for a wireless model when the entire gaming console isn’t much more! This Stealth 700 model rings up at just under $150, and if I had waited until now I could have saved another $30 buy purchasing during the holiday season! Let me tell you, it is totally worth the additional cost.
First, these are more than just dumb stereo headphones. They feature Active Noise-Cancellation to help drown out exterior sounds (like cooking in the kitchen). If you’ve ever used this technology before, first seen on headphones designed for air travel, you’ll never want to use anything else. They are also optimized for Windows Sonic for Headphones, built into your Xbox, which turns the unit into a full surround sound experience for truly immersive gaming.
Bluetooth is also included and can be synced to a different device at the same time so you can listen to music or take a call without affecting your game. This also allows you to connect to the headphones via a free app that gives you access to various settings. You’re not limited to the out-of-the box audio settings – you can adjust them freely to deliver the best sound for YOUR ears.
Most impressive to me is the attention to design. Flipping the microphone away from your face does more than just get it out of the way. It completely disables the mic so it doesn’t pick up any audio it shouldn’t. The ear cushions are wrapped in leather and the entire headset is designed in such a way not to interfere with your glasses! I can’t tell you how much my head hurt when I wore a headset that continually pressed the arms of my glasses against my head.
The new Turtle Beach Stealth 700 has made a convert of us. Never again will we suffer with inexpensive stereo headphones. The comfort, sound quality and audio customization is worth paying a little extra for, and the fact that it prevents arguments over the volume level in the house is priceless. If you have a budding gamer in your family, pick up a set as a Christmas gift before the 23rd and save an additional $30!
Do you use headphones when you play games?