Play Tested: Four Gaming Headsets Page 4

Turtle Beach Earforce PX5

Everyone hears things differently. With that in mind, Turtle Beach created the Ear Force PX5 headset. What sets this apart from other headphones is the ability to customize the sound field to your liking with a handful of audio pre-sets. These are accessible from a button on the left earcup, there's also a PC-only customization suite to install and create your own presets..

I ran the eight stock options though their paces and found setting number four (Bass and Treble Boost) the most to my liking. Other settings had too much treble and no bass (Dynamic Treble) or vice versa (Dynamic Bass). The footstep enhancer proved quite impressive for multiplayer, but had adverse effects on single-player campaigns: sound was unnatural, with distorted dialogue and effects throughout the mix. Changing between presets is jarring, with a tinny female robotic voice hissing out each preset - the only cheap-feeling aspect of the entire unit.

The ability to download user-created audio presets and for game developers to make game-specific presets is fantastic. At the time of the PX5's launch earlier this year, there was little to download aside from official multiplayer settings for Dead Space 2 crafted by the developer. Now, there are multiple (unofficial) presets for almost all of this fall's biggest games ranging from Gears of War 3 to Assassin's Creed: Revelations with individual variations for campaign and multiplayer.

The extent of my creativity is putting words together into coherent sentences - I'm not inclined to make my own anything. Creating levels in LittleBigPlanet or maps in Halo: Reach's Forge World mode is Greek to me, so I'm ecstatic to see that the community has taken this ball and run to the goalposts with it.

Unfortunately, the unit I tested wouldn't connect with my computer to add any of these presets to the headset. No matter what, the sound editor software wouldn't link with the headphones via the supplied USB cable.

I might have been able to live with that, but I also had intermittent audio drops. Sitting at a pause menu I never lost sound, but when the action got going in Battlefield Bad Company 2 or Uncharted 2, I'd lose audio signal. At first it was a slight annoyance, happening once every few minutes, but it progressed to the point of dropping every few seconds, taking me completely out of the experience of what I played.

$250, turtlebeach.com

ProsCons
* Overall sturdy feel* Intermittent audio dropouts
* Custom sound presets* Inability to connect to PC to load new presets on my unit; software isn't Mac compatible
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