Over the past week I have been giving Tritton’s newest headphones, the Warhead 7.1 Wireless Surround Sound Headset for the Xbox 360, a thorough listening. From music to games, I have been putting it through its paces. The Warhead is Tritton’s showcase headset and it was developed in conjunction with the fine folks at Microsoft. The Warhead has been ‘brewing’ for quite sometime and Tritton has finally released it to the gaming masses.
There are a few key features to this headset, and two of them are worth mentioning at this stage of the review. Tritton’s biggest selling feature is that every headset you buy, including the Warheads, includes every single thing you need in the box, so there will be no having to head down to your local gaming or electronics store to buy an extra cable or two. I am always skeptical about claims like this, but low and behold after looking in the box everything is indeed there. Inside you will find the following gear to get your Warhead headset going:
- Headset with Stand
- Base Station (with built in charger)
- Removable Microphone
- RCA Adapter
- Optical Cable
- Digital Audio Adapter (for legacy Xbox 360’s)
- AC Adapter
- 2 Rechargeable Battery Packs
Tritton was not kidding when they said everything is in the box. Of note is that the AC Adapter is a multi region AC Plug too as it has removable prong adapters for different countries (three types). You just simply find the prongs for your region, attach it to the AC Adapter, and you are ready to plug it in. It is a pretty neat idea as the Warhead Headset is truly ready no matter where it ships.
After I had gotten the headset out of the box, and checked out the contents, one of the biggest things I noticed was the look of the headset. You can tell that Tritton worked with Microsoft, and this includes how the Warhead looks. It really does match the Xbox 360 ‘slim’ that was first released just over two years ago and is still the defacto standard. They are great looking and have angles that really set them apart from other headsets. Bottomline, these look pretty darn good in my books.
That being said, I did have an issue in this department, the problem here is that the headset is Piano Black, which is glossy. I was talking to fellow editor Trevor H. about this and I alluded how the headset is a dust magnet and hard to keep clean without creating surface scratches. Of course they also will get minor scratches if you put them down on a harder surface. Sure, this is a minor thing given that a user’s care of the headphones will minimize such scratches, but if anyone has a first generation PS3, which is in Piano Black, you will know what I mean. I have been keeping any dust off with a feather duster, as I don’t have the guts to use a cloth of any sort.
After getting what I needed out of the box, plugging in the Base Station, feeding the optical cord to the Xbox 360, and putting the battery into the headset, it took a few presses of the various sync buttons to get everything up and running. You need to sync the headset to your Xbox 360, as well as sync it to the base station. Some of you may be wondering why so much syncing, well, this is the first headset made by a third party to be TOTALLY wireless for Microsoft’s console. There are absolutely no wires or adapters when using this headset. Given that the Warheads are officially licensed for the Xbox 360, and they were developed with some assistance from Microsoft, they use Microsoft’s proprietary wireless chat system for total wireless freedom. It is great to have a true wireless headset given there are no cables to the controller at all and no need of an adapter of any sort. On a side note, the batteries don’t come charged, and you will have limited power, so I recommend you charge one up right away.
Given that the Warhead uses Microsoft’s propriety chat technology there are a few benefits. First off, you can see the power status of your headset in the menu’s dashboard, just like you can see your controller’s battery status. Being able to monitor your power status is simple but something that you will definitely appreciate. Another great feature of using Microsoft’s technology is that for those friends who may have this headset as well, up to four Warheads can sync up at the same time, so everyone will be able to play and use their own headset when playing on one Xbox.
The headset itself is very well designed. The battery compartment has a magnetic cover that allows quick and easy access to the battery should you need to change it on the fly. I found that the button placement for all the headset’s features was very intuitive and easy to access without having to think about it. Tritton’s engineering team put some thought into where to put the buttons for sure. There are two main silver buttons on the front top of each earcup. The left earcup has a button for switching from optical to stereo (RCA) input. The right earcup has an EQ button, which allows you to switch on the fly from stereo, music, game, and movie modes. On the back of each earcup there are different buttons as well. On the back of the left earcup is the voice chat volume that also doubles as a Selective Voice Monitoring button when pressed down. The back button on the right earcup is the in-game volume control. All in all the buttons became second nature to use and pressing them took no effort, thinking wise, to use at all.
As for how the headset felt on my noggin, I’d have to say that it fit pretty well. Now, not all heads are made the same, some are small and some are large (I fall into the latter), but I think this headset should do the job for all. There is enough flexibility in sizing for most gamers out there. The headset it also not too heavy even though it is 100% wireless; don’t get me wrong, you will notice it now and then, but the weight is not over obtrusive and it should not be an issue to anyone. In regards to my experience, I had no problems. I sat down for an extended gaming session or two and found that the headset was quite comfortable even after playing for a couple of hours or more.
During my time with the Warhead summer seemed to arrive with a bang here in Vancouver, and it was extremely warm, even in the evenings. My media room/home office can be warm during this type of weather even though it is on the bottom floor. My fear was that the faux leather wrapped padding would be hot and sticky after extended playtime under these settings, but alas it was not as bad as I had imagined. Sure, there was a bit of sweat, as it is summer with no A/C in my media room, but I was surprised that the over the ear headphones did not soak my ears in sweat during these conditions. The faux leather was able to breath much better then expected.
So, now you know what is in the box and how they look and feel, but I am sure you want to know how they sound. Well, in a few words, I would have to say pretty darn good. Tritton opted to use the 5.8GHz frequency for wireless connectivity. This allows for less interference with all the other wireless gear you may have in your house. This signal is also somewhat stronger. My media room/home office is on the bottom floor, and I was able to walk up the stairs to the second level, and around the corner, before the headset started to cut out. Pretty good distance for wireless headphones.
Unlike some of their competitors, Tritton has kept the EQ settings as simple as possible, and with the simple press of a button you can change from stereo, music, game, and movie mode. I am sure that some will want more ability to fine tune, but personally I found the simplicity a good idea as I didn’t have to go into any menus or play with any external gear to hear differences in sound.
I do have to admit that my review unit did have an issue now and then. The left speaker would cut out ever so often, and in the end I found that I had to give it a light smack to get it to work again. When the connection was working fine, I was able to play, and listen, with no problem. I contacted Tritton directly and they stated that the units sent out early for review were beta units. A few e-mails later I was informed by tech-support that it was most likely a loose connection of some sort and that they would be sending me a replacement unit right away. If there is one thing that Tritton does, is it stands behind their products with great customer support.
My first night with the Warheads was spent listening to music and playing Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. Something that hit me right away was when I was listening to The Eagles “Hotel California”. I put the headphones in music mode, put my theater chair in recline, closed my eyes and listened. Within a few moments I felt like I was sitting in the middle of my room with speakers all around. The Dolby Surround was bang on and I loved it. Guitars and bass sounded clean and the separation of sound was quite impressive. I listened to a bunch of different music, from Madonna, Tool, the Eagles, to various techno-soundtracks. All sounded very good without any noticeable issues. Bass was solid and not muddy, while the mids and highs were prevalent.
As I fired up Ghost Recon: Future Soldier I switched to game mode and started to play. Immediately I found myself in the middle of action with gunshots going off all around me and my teammates barking out various information. Everything was well mixed and nothing stood out as either overly done or underwhelming. One particular level about midpoint in the single player campaign has you trekking through a snowstorm. The wind howled through headsets 50mm drivers and was literally blowing around my head. It was a pretty neat effect.
One of my biggest tests for the Warheads was an extended play session with fellow reviewer Frank N. I attached the removable headset and then went online to play some Forza 4 for a few hours. I was more then happy with sound of the cars and surrounding environments of each track. When racing in the Alps, and passing under the tramcar, I swear I heard the sound of it passing above me. Other cars on the track could be heard in “surrounding” fashion too, from sneaking up behind me to trying take the inside line. While we were playing Forza 4 online, I was also able to hear Frank N. loud and clear. It took a bit of time to find that sweet spot between in-game sound and hearing Frank, but once I found the right volume levels it was as good as gold. Frank told me I sounded cleaner and crisper then when using other headsets in the past, and that includes the standard online headset, as well as Microsoft’s own wireless set. I was impressed to find that there was such a noticeable difference given that Frank could hear me better than before.
During my time online I also tired out the Selectable Voice Monitoring (SVM). This allows you to monitor your own voice in the headphones. Upon activating it my voice came out loud and clear with all the other sound in the headphones, and although it was neat, I found that I really didn’t need to hear what I said. Some may find this a neat feature, and it can be nice to hear what you say, but you won’t use this feature all the time.
My final extended test came with a couple of nights of playing my review copy of Darksiders II. I have to say that if there was a game to show off these headphones with, it was this game. Without giving too much away in regards to the sound of Darksiders II, the Warheads were amazing. From deep bass, clear voicework to the sounds of each and every environment you explore. The headphones helped add to the overall scope and feel of the games aural experience and I found that they were awesome to use as I played. I took them off to compare them to my media room’s full sized speakers, and although most, if not all, headsets cannot reproduce the sound of full sized speakers, they managed to sound pretty darn good when compared to the speakers, which was great to see…I mean hear.
I am sure that some of you are wondering about movies. I did not check out the movie mode that much. I watch Blu-rays as nothing beats 1080p and uncompressed sound. I did watch a DVD movie to check out a bit of sound, so I plugged in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. All in all it sounded good, and of course as seems to be the theme here, the surround sound worked well. I just don’t see myself watching movies through these headphones, but to those that find themselves in a situation where they may have too (e.g. child sleeping, wife/girlfriend/partner not wanting to hear the sound, etc.) most will enjoy what they hear.
Finally, it is worth commenting on the battery life of these headphones. Tritton claims that the battery length should average around 12 hours. Well, after fully charging the batteries, I got more time then the average 12 hours. I have alone put 8 hours on Darksiders II, the majority of it with the headset on. Add to that a few hours on Forza 4 and at least a couple of hours of music and Ghost Recon, and you have well over 12 hours. And this was just on one battery. Remember, two batteries come in the box and one can be charged at the same time as you use the other. You will get hours of use out of these headphones without any battery issue.
At the end of the day the Tritton Warhead 7.1 Wireless Surround Sound Headset offers up so many features for the Xbox 360 gamer you can’t go wrong. With true syncing and wireless features (e.g. power meter in dashboard, ability for multiple headsets to sync up to one Xbox console), everything you need to hook them up in one box, and ease of use, gamers will find that these are one of the best headphones made in regards to the overall user experience. Add to this the solid sound, great use of Dolby Surround technology, and unparalleled battery life, and you have a headset that really does compete with others out there. I have to say that really enjoyed my time with the Warheads, sans the left earcup issue, and I have no problem recommending them to you as you should enjoy them just as much as I did.