Multiple consoles and gaming headsets: Ask the Editors

Today we answer an e-mail from a gamer who'd like to hook up more than one console to a wireless gaming headset.

Hi Jeff,

Sarah Tew/CNET

I've read almost all your reviews about the gaming headsets that give you wireless surround sound, but there's a problem for us gamers who own more than one console. How do I hook up both my Xbox 360 and PS3 to one wireless gaming headset? Is it even possible?

Thanks,
Paul, Chicago

Hi Paul,

Thanks for writing. Accomplishing this isn't impossible, but it's certainly an issue we think gaming headset manufacturers need to become more aware of. We've received dozens of similar questions with gamers anxious about having to finagle a way to get more than one source into a wireless gaming headset transmitter.

We'd love to see a device that allows for more than one digital input, though we are fans of Logitech's F540 system, which accepts up to three analog sources. However, if you're using something like the Turtle Beach X41s , Astro A40s , or Tritton AX 720s , you'll have to manually swap out the digital audio cables each time you want to switch consoles. Not only is this an arduous process, but if you're like me, most of these ports and wires are not conveniently accessible without some serious furniture moving.

Sarah Tew/CNET

There are a few ways to go about getting multiple consoles connected to a single wireless headset. The first--and easiest--depends on your TV or receiver (if you use one). It's possible that your HDTV has a universal digital audio-out port on the back panel. If it does, all you'll need to do is connect that wire right into the wireless transmitter's input. As long as each console is feeding the HDTV with a digital audio signal (like HDMI) this should work fine--though some HDTV's only support a 2.0 digital output.

The second way to accomplish this is by checking out the back of your AV receiver if you're using one. Some--not all--receivers carry a universal digital audio out port that would work just like an HDTV's universal out. If both your TV and receiver do not have that port, your options become even more limited.

We scoured the Net to find the most affordable solution to this issue and came across a 4x2 HDMI Matrix sold by Sewell. For $85, the device will let you hook up any four HDMI devices and output the universal audio signal via an optical audio connection or analog headphone jack. It even lets you output the video twice, in case it's inconvenient to have all the appropriate wires jammed up in a single location.

It's certainly not the most glamorous of devices, but in our testing it did the trick. We were successfully able to attach an Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Blu-ray player, and cable set-top box all to it. An included remote let us cycle through each port, which in turn fed our wireless headset the correct audio feed. It also has a row of buttons directly on the device for manual switching.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Another reason we chose this device is because of its size. We have plenty of HDMI distribution and switching devices in our office that are four to five times larger than the device sold by Sewell. It does require its own power, but that's really the only extra prerequisite save for extra HDMI cables.

For the nighttime wireless headset gamer who needs to have maximum compatibility with multiple consoles, one of these three solutions is definitely their best bet.

--Jeff

Of course, we're open to suggestions that will help our gamer friend from Chicago! Got any?

 

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