In terms of comfort and design, the Ear Force X41 headphones are a bit heavy on the head, but not to the point where they feel overwhelming during long gameplay sessions. On the left ear cup is where you'll find the controls and ports, including a volume adjuster, a power button, bass boost, and the port for the chat adapter that hooks into your Xbox 360 controller. The left ear cup is also home to the flexible microphone boom. We really liked that the boom is detachable, as it can become distracting when not in use. The right ear cup is where you'll install the two AAA batteries. Turtle Beach includes a pair in the packaging and claims they should work for at least 25 hours, but we do recommend getting some rechargeable ones.
In terms of sound quality, we were impressed with the overall channel separation. During our trial with Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer, we could easily tell when an enemy was behind us because of the footsteps and gunfire. During the most intense combat, we were able to visualize all of the action and tell where it was coming from in our virtual space. Our only complaint with the headphones is that they don't really allow for complete noise reduction or isolation. If there is other sound playing in the same room, you may notice it more than you'd like.
A few times during our testing we experienced a brief pop and breakup of audio but couldn't recreate it. It's possible it was because of Wi-Fi interference, since the headset operates on the same 2.4GHz frequency that Wi-Fi routers do.
We enjoyed having a volume adjuster on the side of the headphones, but didn't really notice much of a discernible difference when turning the bass-boost switch on. It does add a sliver of richness, but it's not drastic, by any means. If you're concerned with maximizing battery life on the headphones, we'd recommend leaving the feature off.
Our experience with using the X41s to chat during gameplay was excellent. Incorporating chat requires you to connect the headphones to your 360 controller via the included wired adapter. This is almost exactly the same adapter that is on the end of the Microsoft-branded headset, complete with a microphone mute switch and volume wheel. A wireless solution for chat would have been ideal, but we'd imagine this would severely compromise battery life on the headphones. While we didn't necessarily notice it in action, Turtle Beach claims the X41s contain an autoadjusting chat-volume feature to compensate for noisy gaming sessions. Regardless, there was never an issue with hearing anyone during our online play with Modern Warfare 2.
Overall, the Ear Force X41 headphones provide a great-sounding experience for playing games when using external speaks isn't an option. We'd imagine a few gamers would even prefer the X41s, regardless of the situation, as they provide accurate 7.1-channel surround-sound effects. Similarly, this is certainly a well-advised alternative for those gamers who don't have an external surround-sound system. The $200 list price is a bit steep, but with online prices closer to $180, you could think of it as an alternative to buying three mediocre games. And, when you consider that the Ear Force X41 headphones are compatible with almost any source, they may be the only wireless headphones you'll need for a while.