Turtle Beach X12 Headset Review
Top-of-the-line headsets are always going to be a tough sell. Anything too expensive might just beg the question of why you’re bothering with a headset when you can spend a bit more and get a surround-sound system or subwoofer. On the other hand, anything too cheap might break easily or degrade from wear and tear. Turtle Beach’s X12 headset is set to bridge that gap. A headset designed specifically for gaming – and heavily geared toward multiplayer gaming, at that – it’s a simple system devoid of silly gimmicks that looks to deliver superior sound quality for a variety of gaming needs.
One of the major problems you’ll encounter when you pop open the box is the sheer number of wires. The main plugins, comprising the microphone jack, headset jack and USB plug, are attached to a cord that has to be at least 8 feet long. Presumably, this is so that your new headset will fit into whatever your gaming setup is (which, to get the cord to stretch out as far as it could go, would have to be a monstrously large TV set up across the room), but more realistically, if you’ve got a dorm room or are using the headset for your PC, they’re going to get tangled – often.
Setting up for the PC and the Xbox 360 are two entirely different beasts. The PC is pretty straightforward, just the microphone and headset plugins and the USB power, all of which is pretty foolproof. The 360 presents an entirely new set of problems. On top of the 8 foot long main cord, you’ve got an adapter for either your outgoing audio outlets for your TV – the familiar red and white plugs – or the original standard definition AV cords from your Xbox, and a jack that plugs into your Xbox controller. Providing you get everything successfully connected – which may or may not take a third-party piece of hardware to connect to your Xbox, if your TV doesn’t have outgoing audio attachments – you have a working headset, but you have 8 feet of cord you don’t need and a rat’s nest of necessary attachments and cords. The idea, of course, is that your headset not only has the audio from your Party chat or matchmaking lobby, but from the game itself.
Aside from having to become part Borg in order to get your headset to work, the audio quality is actually quite good. The X12 uses 50mm speakers which are able to produce some pretty incredible depth to the audio. It’s intensely satisfying to play a solitary game like Dead Space, where the quality of the sound pushes the suspense up a few notches and makes for an overall more immersive experience. The same is true of a sprawling strategy game like Shogun 2: the headset’s audio crisply recreates each battle cry and flaming arrow during the battles. Coupling the headset with a game that has great sound design itself is a real treat.
The X12 also features a little in-line control panel that has an adjustment for chat, game and bass volume. It’s a simple addition, but the ability to instantly mute a lobby full of idiots by rolling the volume control on your headset down until you can personally mute each one through the XBL party controls is very handy. There’s also a control for the level of bass you want to hear, and even without going into your computer’s or a specific game’s sound options, the variability of the bass is pretty impressive.
A lot of players tend to prefer a smaller, lighter headset, something that you might find in an Xbox Live peripheral package, with a single earphone and mic. Less bulky headsets won’t interfere with how you hear the game, and also allow you to hear yourself speak clearly enough to not have to shout through the noise-cancellation of your headset. The X12 approaches this problem in two ways: one is piping the sound from your TV directly into your headset, and the second is a neat software feature that adjusts the mic volume instantly with how loud or soft you’re speaking. It has the effect of allowing you to speak at a comfortable level for yourself, but not to the extent that everyone in the party wants you to stop shouting. This capability is so subtle that you probably won’t notice it for a while.
One of the worrying aspects of any potential headset is their comfort. Using them for a quick Skype chat might not be that big a deal, but if you plan on having marathon runs of League of Legends you might need something that won’t smash your ears into the side of your head. Luckily, one of the best features of the X12 is their comfort. The ear cushions are made of extremely soft foam surrounded by mesh, and the entire thing is big enough to surround your ears easily. They also do quite a good job of noise cancellation, and while you’re not going to want to use them for hearing protection if you work on an aircraft carrier, they do a sufficient job of drowning out household or apartment noises while you’re gaming.
Unfortunately, there’s no one extremely notable feature that seems to tie everything together on the X12. They look nice, they’re comfortable, the sound quality is excellent and the microphone delivers clear sound, and while these are all the things you’d expect from a high quality pair of headphones, they’re also the same things you’d expect from a pair that are much, much cheaper. Coming in at $60, the X12 doesn’t have a distinguishing factor to make it stand above the crowd. While it’s nice to have something that does its job well and doesn’t resort to silly gimmicks like cramming a bunch of LEDs on it or adding in a rumble pack, there’s also nothing to really justify the stiff price tag. They’re also not any more rugged than a $20 set, which means a hard drop or a misplaced foot might do away with the whole thing.
If you’re in the market for a very solid headset with great sound quality and flexibility, it wouldn’t be a bad bet to go for Turtle Beach’sX12. If, however, you’re a college gamer or living on a modest income that might frown at dropping the full price of a game for a headset, it might be wise to look elsewhere. Still, the X12 has a lot going for it. Specifically for PC oriented gamers, it might not be a bad acquisition in the long run.
The X12 headset scores a respectable 4.25 out of 5.
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