Turtle Beach XP500 review: Turtle Beach XP500

Typical Price: $329.95
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4 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Wireless headphones. Bluetooth connectivity for VoIP. Good sound quality.

The Bad RF interference issues. Very expensive.

The Bottom Line The XP500s deliver the ultimate in connectivity and above average sound. Gamers with well-stocked bank accounts will find plenty to like.

8.0 Overall

These feature-packed headphones include more gadgets and gizmos than we ever thought possible, but is the listening experience anywhere near as impressive?

Costing more than an Xbox 360, these console headphones are not aimed at the average gamer. Intended for gadget lovers with money to burn, Turtle Beach has jammed an amazing array of technology into this package. Most impressive is the headphone amplifier/radio transmitter that doubles as a resting place for your cans. It'll accept an S/PDIF input directly from your Xbox 360 or PS3, which is then processed via Dolby Headphone support to deliver surround sound over the headphones' stereo speakers. There's a pass-through connection so you can still use your amp and speakers without having to swap cables, while the RCA stereo audio inputs will work with your Nintendo Wii. PC users can try using the S/PDIF connection, but we found the experience to be less than desirable, with terrible directional audio.

The built-in Bluetooth receiver on the headphones allow you to patch directly into your PlayStation 3 for VoIP support. Xbox 360 users are also catered for, with a small Bluetooth transmitter that plugs into your controller. You can even synch the headset to any Bluetooth-equipped mobile phone and the headphones will automatically switch to incoming calls, a handy feature for gaming surgeons on call.

The gaming soundscape can be tailored and tweaked thanks to the audio preset feature, allowing you to boost the bass, increase voice volume or even enhance the sounds of enemy footsteps. It's a promising feature on paper that doesn't work so well in reality; the footstep focus preset made certain ambient sounds incredibly loud while drowning out the rest of the audio. There are 18 presets preloaded into the headphones, but more can be found online and then uploaded via USB. The microphone also has a range of preset filters, morphing your voice and dynamically adjusting volume. A nice touch is the pass-through of voice to the headphones, allowing the player to hear themselves speak.

Controlling so many options could have been a nightmare, but Turtle Beach has used a sensible layout of controls and dials. Interactive Voice Prompts also tell you exactly which button you're pressing, making operation a breeze.

Turtle Beach has included quality 50mm neodymium drivers in the headset, and they deliver a solid soundscape. They tend towards the tinny end of the spectrum with rather piercing highs, but a bit of tweaking helps lower the issue. We also noticed a bit of distortion when things got hectic, but overall the sound quality was above average. However, this is the second set of Turtle Beach wireless headphones we've tested that has a major issue with RF interference. Our audio signal cracked and popped every few seconds, despite the base transmitter being just 2 metres away from the headset. Unfortunately, some of the suggested solutions are to disable any nearby wireless devices or switch off your router's wideband mode, lowering bandwidth by 50 per cent, neither of which are particularly desirable. Having said that, it's likely that many users won't experience any issues — it all comes down to the operating environment.

Despite our RF issues we can't help but be impressed by the immense range of options squeezed into these headphones. Delivering the ultimate in connectivity and above-average sound, gamers with well-stocked bank accounts will find plenty to like.

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