Turtle Beach XP500 Wireless 5.1/7.1 Headset Review
After about 2000 hours of console time, my Turtle Beach X41 5.1 wireless headset finally had its last hurrah. With the need for high quality audio to review my games and enjoy my off time, I decided to make a run to my local retailer and pick up Turtle Beach’s top-of-the-line headset, the XP500. Touting its compatibility with both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 chat, integrated Bluetooth audio and 7.1 surround sound through 50mm drivers, I felt that it would be the obvious choice for my gaming needs. But does Turtle Beach’s flagship headset line make the grade? Let’s find out!
Turtle Beach has learned some important lessons with their next-gen lineup of headsets. Most notably is the design of the new series. Gone is the clunky matted black and white design that made the cans look like a cheap knock off. In its stead is a beautifully sleek and sexy gloss black design with neon green accents and the rigid lines have been replaced by subtle curves that make the XP500 headset look like it should at its $270 price point.
The amount of technology that’s been poured into the XP500 is quite a long list as well as impressive. Up to 18 customizable presets are available, Dolby 5.1 and 7.1 surround capability, Bluetooth pairing, and wireless chat capability with both the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 are just a few of the features that we’ll be test driving in this review.
If you’re familiar with Turtle Beach’s previous wireless lines, then you’ll find setup to be a familiar and painless experience. Simply plug your console’s RCA audio or digital cable, as well as the USB power supply, into the input on the back of the transmitter. Install your two AA batteries into the right side can by sliding off the panel, replace the panel, and press and hold the power button. You might be surprised to hear a woman’s voice tell you that it’s, “Powering on” and that, “Wireless chat (is) enabled”. Don’t worry, it’s not inside your head; the headset is talking to you.
Once the unit is on, you’ll need to configure your PS3 or Xbox 360 for the correct audio input you’ve connected with. I highly recommend using the optical digital connection for best results if at all possible. After you have the sound configured, you can move on to connecting the headphones for wireless chat, which is a fairly simple process.
For the PlayStation 3, all you need to do is follow the instructions for pairing your Turtle Beach XP500 headset to the console’s Bluetooth setup. For the Xbox 360, the headset comes with the Xbox Adapter, or XBA. Simply plug it into the jack on the bottom of the Xbox 360 controller, follow the instructions for pairing the headset and XBA, and you’re connected. However, if you’re using an Xbox Chat Pad, you cannot use the XBA for chatting, and an extra cable must be purchased in order to connect the headset to the controller, leaving the wireless option out in the cold.
Chat was tested on both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, as well as with my smart phone. Initially, some adjustment of the position of the microphone was required for clear communication, however, once done, the people receiving on the other end of the chat said that my voice came in exceptionally well. When not in use, the microphone can be disconnected and stowed like most other wireless Turtle Beach models, ensuring you aren’t unnecessarily distracted by a mic boom out of the corner of your eye while playing.
The integrated Bluetooth also pairs up with your mobile phone to allow you to take calls if you so desire. Once paired, you’ll be notified of incoming calls by the familiar jingle of “Rise of the Valkyries” in your ears. Tapping the Bluetooth button on your headset cuts off the in-game chat and flips you over to take the call. A separate rocker switch on the right can adjusts the volume of the call, allowing you to configure it separately from the game volume. When finished, simply hit the Bluetooth button again to hang up, all while you’re gaming.
Once you have your new set of cans configured, it’s time to take them out for a test drive. Turtle Beach’s 50mm drivers deliver a frequency response of 20Hz to 20,000Hz for deep lows and bell-tone bright highs without crackle or pop on either end of the spectrum. It was quite interesting to sit down and play Modern Warfare 3 for another round and hear things that I simply didn’t hear with my X41 headset. Subtle sounds such as the shuffling of enemy feet gave their position due to the highly accurate directional sound that the XP500s provide. This accuracy and crystal clear sound allowed me to get the drop on my foe where they otherwise would have done me in. The drivers are powerful too; I could take off my headset, set it down a few feet from me, turn up the volume and hear my movies clear as a bell. Magnificent indeed.
Of course, the initial presets on the headset may not meet your aural needs. In that case, a number of presets that change the low, mid and high levels are available to be selected on the cans. Eight presets are configured on the headset and are changed by pressing the Presets button on the left can. For advanced users, Advanced Sound Editor software can be downloaded from Turtle Beach’s website to further customize the presets to your liking using a USB cable to connect your headset to your PC or laptop.
The XP500 headset isn’t without some issues, however. The most notable problem is the issue with close proximity to wireless devices. I noticed that while I was streaming from YouTube on my laptop while listening to Music Unlimited on my PS3 through the cans, I did hear some crackling, regardless of what Wi-Fi channel I selected for my laptop. While most people don’t play games while streaming or taking notes with their laptop next to them, it is worth noting.
The features built into the XP500 make them quite possibly the most advanced gaming headset to date. Each feature tested on multiple platforms performed remarkably well. While the $270 price point may be prohibitive, you are truly getting a high quality piece of equipment for the price – and a highly recommended one if you’re serious about gaming.
The Turtle Beach XP500 5.1/7.1 Wireless Headset receives a 4.75/5.0.
***EDITOR’S NOTE*** – Hey, PC and Diablo fans! Don’t forget that we’re giving away not one, but two sets of Diablo III Headsets, Mice and Mousepads to two lucky winners this week! Head on over to our Facebook page and Like us for a chance to win one of these awesome packages, compliments of SteelSeries.
About This Post