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Turtle Beach gaming headset breakdown

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Posted by: Lance Liebl

When it comes to quality gaming headsets, there's only a few names that come to mind — Turtle Beach probably being the most prevalent.  They make gaming headsets of different pricepoints for the Xbox 360, PC, and PlayStation 3, one of them being the Ear Force X41, which won Official Xbox Magazine's "2009 Peripheral of the Year."  The fact that they make such a broad range of really good headsets so gamers with different budgets can afford them, make them number one in my book.

But what if you're on the fence about which of their headsets are best for you?  Well, that's what I'm here for. 

Ear Force X12

We'll start with the headset that I personally own, Turtle Beach's Ear Force X12.  The Ear Force X12 is the next generation of the X11, which has been the best-selling Xbox headset in history.  The X12 uses 50mm speakers (big for headsets), and it is primarily designed for the Xbox 360, but it is compatible with PC.  I use it for both, and rest assured, there is no change in sound quality.  I actually prefer them over my more expensive Tritton headset — they're more comfortable and I can hear my own voice, so I'm not talking louder and waking up my wife and child.

Some key features for the Ear Force X12 are:

  • Premium 50mm speakers for highest fidelity sound
  • Amplified stereo audio for crisp highs and deep lows
  • Variable Bass Boost adds depth and realism to game audio
  • In-line amplifier allows for independent control of chat, bass, and game volume
  • Microphone Monitoring so you never have to raise your voice to hear yourself
  • Powered completely by USB
  • Breathable, fabric mesh ear cushions for enhanced comfort

The Turtle Beach Ear Force X12 gaming headset goes for $59.95.

Ear Force X32

The Ear Force X32 is a wireless stereo headset for the Xbox 360.  It replaces the popular X31 model and provides superior stereo sound and a clear, wireless connection.  It's a bit more expensive than the X12 at $99.95, but you're not hamstrung by a cable.  It includes audio preset technology and lets users combine equalizer and sound field expander presets to customize their gaming experience.

Key features for the Ear Force X32 are:

  • 2.4/5GHZ Dual-Band Wi-fi: selects the optimum frequency and eliminates interference
  • Wireless digital game sound: uncompressed digital RF audio signal delivers CD-quality sound
  • Multiple Equalizer presets including bass and treble boost combinations
  • Field expander presets: boost the sound levels on the left and right sides for better tactical accuracy
  • Chat volume automatically increases as the game volume gets louder
  • Microphone Monitor: hear your voice in the headset while speaking
  • Auxiliary input: listen to your favorite songs while gaming

Ear Force X42

Got more cash to spend on a gaming headset?  The Ear Force X42 wireless Dolby Surround Sound headset goes for $159.95, but you're getting the bang for your buck.  Seriously, the bangs will sound bang-tastic on this headset.  It replaces the award-winning X41 model; it features Dolby Surround Sound, Xbox Live chat, uses Wi-Fi, and coexists with other wireless devices.  The Ear Force X42 introduces Turtle Beach's new post-processing system for Dolby Surround Sound.  It pretty much allows a user to select between six different speaker angle settings to optimize the 5.1 surround sound effect.  You can hear subtle directional details with 360 degree accuracy.

Key features for the Ear Force X42 include:

  • Dolby Surround Sound: 360 degree audio allows you to pinpoint the direction of every sound
  • 2.4/5GHZ Dual-Band Wi-fi: selects the optimum frequency and eliminates interference
  • Wireless digital game sound: uncompressed digital RF audio signal delivers CD-quality sound
  • Adjustable surround sound angles for the best audio experience
  • Multiple Equalizer presets including bass and treble boost combinations
  • Digital Optical Connection delivers the highest quality of surround sound
  • Digital pass-through: connect your home theater to the X42 optical connection to hear the sound on both the headset and external 5.1 speakers
  • Analog inputs lets you connect a TV or other analog stereo source to the transmitter to hear it processed with virtual surround sound
  • Dynamic Chat Boost automatically increases chat volume as the game volume gets louder
  • Microphone monitor lets you hear your voice in the headset while speaking

Ear Force DSS2 Dolby Surround Sound processor

The DSS2 is the next iteration of the DSS surround sound upgrade that transforms any stereo analog headset or headphones into a full, immersive surround sound experience.  It is designed for gaming on the Xbox 360, PC, and PlayStation 3, as well as watching Blu-Ray and DVD movies.  Keep in mind, this is not a headset; it is a headset accessory.  That being said, it is the first headset accessory with adjustable 5.1 "virtual" speaker positions in six unique configurations.  With the touch of a button, gamers can quickly switch between the configurations until their ideal surround sound effect is achieved.  Quick note: PC/Mac functionality requires a sound card with optical output and Dolby Digital Live installed.

Details of the DSS2, which sells for $79.97, are:

  • Dolby Surround Sound: 360 degree audio
  • Adjustable surround sound angles let you alter the positioning of the surround sound angles
  • Multiple Equalizer presets including bass and treble boost combinations
  • Digital Optical Connection delivers the highest quality of surround sound
  • Auxiliary analog inputs let you connect a digital music player or secondary audio source
  • Headphone volume control has a "push to mute" feature
  • Powered by USB
  • Lets you connect a USB powered headset with USB Pass-through, so you don't take up a second USB port on your game console

Combo packages featuring the DSS2 paired with a Turtle Beach headset are available as well.  The options, from cheapest to most expensive, are:

Turtle Beach Ear Force DXL1

  • Xbox 360 compatible
  • DXL1 headset with 50mm speakers and in-line amplifier with independent volume controls
  • USB powered
  • Digital optical cable included for the highest quality surround sound
  • Includes XL1 headset and DSS2 Surround Sound Processor
  • Digital optical cable included for the highest quality surround sound
  • $99.95

Turtle Beach Ear Force DP11

  • PS3 and PC compatible
  • P11 headset with 50mm speakers and in-line amplifier with independent volume controls
  • USB powered
  • Digital optical cable included for the highest quality surround sound
  • Includes P11 headset and DSS2 Surround Sound Processor
  • $119.95

Turtle Beach Ear Force DX12

  • Xbox 360 and PC compatible
  • X12 headset with 50mm speakers and in-line amplifier with independent volume controls and adjustable bass boost
  • USB powered
  • Digital optical cable included for the highest quality surround sound
  • Includes X12 headset and DSS2 Surround Sound Processor
  • $129.95
  • Best Buy exclusive

So, there's the break down on the latest Turtle Beach gaming headsets.  As you can see, the headsets have a bevy of features and offer different pricepoints for gamers of different budgets and consoles. 

Tags: Turtle Beach, gaming headsets, Xbox 360, 360, PlayStation 3, PS3, PC

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