ESG Review: Tritton Warhead 7.1 Wireless Surround Sound Headset
Initially announced at the 2011 E3 expo by MadCatz, the Tritton Warhead 7.1 Wireless Surround Sound Headset has been making a bit of a splash in the gaming headset market, due to its heavily marketed “fully wireless” capabilities. This basically means that unlike other Xbox 360 gaming headsets out there, you will not have any physical cables connected to the controller in order to make the headset work – the Warhead connects and syncs to your 360 without any wires getting in the way.
Being the first fully wireless 360 headset out in the market, does the Tritton Warhead deliver the same level of quality seen in wired headsets, or does the focus on wireless capability lead to some sacrifices in terms of overall performance? Read on below to get our take on this highly anticipated product!
Design: 4.5 out of 5
Considering that the Warhead is an accessory that is exclusive to the Xbox 360, it would only make sense that the headset itself share some design similarities with the console itself. That being said, the Warhead shares the design of the Xbox 360 Slim console, with a glossy black paint job, for better or for worse. Being that the headset is glossy by design (as well the base), it will be a near-impossible task to keep the headset free of dust and fingerprints – while having tech products with a glossy sheen is the “in” thing nowadays, it certainly puts a visual dent on a product that looks stylish enough to be displayed.
Other than that, the Warhead itself looks pleasing enough to the eye, sharing the same futuristic and angular look of the Xbox 360 Slim. While some may not be fans of the black color scheme of the Warhead, it is a nice change of pace from the usually dominant hues of orange that are usually seen in Tritton products, and the visual similarity to the 360 console itself certainly helps it stand out from the crowd.
On a comfort level, the Warhead, while feeling a tad bit heavy, doesn’t create any noticeable pain or discomfort on the ears while in use. During our extended gaming sessions with the headset, our ears were never in any discomfort, and this is perhaps due to the padded earmuffs, which provide a nice level of comfort for the ears. One other nice thing to note about the earmuffs is the fact that they were able to provide a good enough level of airflow to the ears, thereby preventing any sweat buildup from becoming a major issue – this might not be a big deal to some, but it is a welcome design feature nonetheless.
The other piece that is as important as the headset itself is the base, which syncs with the headset itself to provide the user with visual information on the various audio abilities and options that the Warhead features. Thankfully, the base itself is not too large in design and should be rather inconspicuous in one’s gaming room setup. In a nice design note, the base can be modified to add a holder to place the headset in when not in use, which is a nice touch. As stated before, in order to keep design uniformity, the base also utilizes the glossy black paint job, so it will also be a haven for dust and fingerprints. It’s a shame that a matte design wasn’t used instead, though it is understandable why Tritton went with the similar design to that of the Xbox 360 Slim. In the end, this is one slick-looking headset that will be right at home with the look and feel of your Xbox 360 – if you own a slim console, that is.
Features: 5 out of 5
The Tritton Warhead boasts a number of features to help make it as robust a product as possible. Below is a list of the features that you can expect with the Tritton Warhead:
- Truly Wireless – Utilizes Xbox 360’s secure wireless Xbox LIVE voice communications (no cable to the controller)
- 5.8GHz Wireless Technology – Clear surround sound without interference from wireless devices (range of 33ft/10m)
- Dolby Headphone 7.1 Surround Sound – Expands native stereo and 5.1 game and movie audio to immersive 7.1 surround sound
- 50mm Neodymium Drivers – Precision tuned and balanced speakers. Exclusive driver design, not available on any other product in the Tritton range
- Two Hot-Swappable Rechargeable Battery Packs – Change batteries on the fly for endless gaming
- Selective Voice Monitoring (SVM) – Allows the gamer to enable or disable the ability to hear their own voice during in-game chat
- Audio Control – Independent voice and game volume controls with microphone and game mute
- Built-in EQ – Gamer can choose from pre-defined equalizer settings for movies, games and music
- Designed for Extended Play – Padded, adjustable headband and plush, around-the-ear ear cups
- Everything Needed to Connect to Any Xbox 360 – Supports both analog and digital audio connections, and includes Digital Audio Adapter (for use with HDMI installations)
All in all, the Warhead’s feature list is rather impressive, and there aren’t any glaring omissions in regards to overall features. That being said though, it is a shame that there aren’t any manual EQ settings that users can tinker with outside of the predefined settings. Considering the price of the Warhead itself, being able to manually adjust settings such as bass would have been a welcome addition here.
Luckily, the headset performs well enough in the sound department where the lack of manual EQ settings doesn’t become a deal breaker, of which we will go into further detail in the next section.
Performance: 4.5 out of 5
Now, this wouldn’t be much of a review if no mention of how well the Warhead’s audio fared. We are pleased to announce that sound-wise, the Tritton Warhead performs quite well, with quality sound that is sure to please any owner. The Warhead’s advertised Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound does a good job of simulating multi-directional audio, and is especially apparent in action-heavy games such as Gears of War 3 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 where bullets and explosions completely envelop you. The sound coming from the Warhead’s 50mm neodymium drivers is clean enough to bring you a full enough range of sound from your games, although it does lack a certain punch in some instances, showing that it can’t fully produce some of the more powerful low-end sounds. Perhaps this may have been corrected somewhat if there was an adjustable bass level so that users could adjust that setting to more than the predefined level, although what is available is serviceable enough. It is worth nothing that while your typical AAA-caliber game will sound good enough with the Warhead, we found that the headset really shines with games that utilize multi-directional audio in a more claustrophobic and atmospheric manner, such as Condemned 2: Bloodshot and F.E.A.R. These games made great use of the 7.1 surround sound, and had us turning around in paranoia at various point during our playthroughs – hearing whispers and paranormal sounds behind us certainly helped immerse us in our gaming sessions with these titles. The 5.8GHz wireless technology brings a relatively clean audio signal to your ears, although there is still a very faint signal noise that can be heard for those with keen ears. During gameplay, this signal noise will be drowned out, though it can be heard more distinctly when navigating through the Xbox 360 dashboard or when a game is paused. It’s not a deal breaker, and some may not even notice it, but one has to wonder why there is any signal noise in the first place, especially considering the 5.8GHz wireless signal being utilized. On the whole, the Warhead delivers very good highs and mids, although the lows are a bit lacking (this can be somewhat alleviated by using the Music mode EQ setting, which enhances the bass to a degree), which may be off-putting to some.
One great aspect of the Tritton Warhead that has to be mentioned is the battery life on this unit – going on a full charge, a single battery can clock in at around 15 to 17 hours of use before having to be charged. Luckily, the Warhead comes with two batteries, so a simple swap of batteries will put you back in the game. This is a minor nitpick, though it has to be said: while it is nice that two batteries come with the Warhead, it is a minor inconvenience that the supplied base can only charge one battery at a time. It would have been ideal if the base had the ability to charge both batteries simultaneously, though that would have likely made the base larger, and we quite like its small stature as it is.
Regarding the wireless chat and microphone on the Warhead, in-game chat isn’t really anything substantially improved over other headsets out on the market. If anything, Warhead users will experience a bit less static than wither other headsets, though it is not a night and day difference. Other users will likely hear you clearer, but you won’t hear any extra fidelity on their end, as that is due to the factors of compression and the hardware they are using to chat. The microphone itself is sturdy, and users will likely enjoy the Selective Voice Monitoring (SVM) feature for its user-friendliness; after all, some gamers love the sound of their own voice. The mic is nothing out of this world, but it gets the job done; best of all, it can be detached when not in use, which is especially handy for when watching a movie with the headset and you don’t want the mic in your way.
Overall setup and installation for the Warhead is relatively quick and painless, and even more so if you own an Xbox 360 Slim – for those with an older Xbox 360 console, you will need to use one of the supplied adapter cables to obtain pure digital audio for your headphones. Beyond that, the headset and base are paired out of the box, so you only need to sync your headset with your Xbox 360 console, which is the same process as syncing any wireless controller to the console. A nice feature is the fact that you are able to see the battery life on your headset from within the Xbox 360 guide button GUI – as this is an officially licensed product for Xbox 360, it functions the same on the 360 as Microsoft’s own first-party wireless headset. Once synced to the 360, all of your functions can be accessed via the various buttons on the headset itself, which adjust the predefined EQ settings, volume, mic, and toggle between digital and analog audio. While it’s a relative no-brainer, it would be wise to stick with digital audio output to get the best audio that you can, though the option for analog audio is there for those who would prefer it. The base will act as your HUD, letting you know which options are currently enabled (such as digital or analog audio), as well as if the unit is currently on Music, Game or Movie mode. Having so many audio options can be a bit daunting for some, so having that visual indicator via the base is a nice way to ensure everything that needs to be enabled is just so.
Value: 3.5 out of 5
Considering that the triton Warhead is a premium headset, it is no surprise that the product itself also comes with an equally premium price – the Warhead retails at the heavy price of $299.99. As such, this is going to be a product that is not going to be easily obtainable to most gamers out there – most would wonder if it is worth the price. While the product itself works as advertised, and is arguably the most user-friendly premium headset that has been released for the Xbox 360 platform, this can also be the thing that works against it. Thing is, most of the other premium headsets out there that are in the same price range work on both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, with some even having compatibility with the PC. While these other headsets may or may not be of comparable quality to the Warhead, the fact remains that they also serve more than one purpose, and that certainly works in their favor.
All in all, the Warhead works, and works very well. However, it does not exactly come cheap, and the fact that it is exclusive to the Xbox 360 cuts its potential worth to some gamers out there, and also makes it a bit harder to justify over other, multi-platform devices. We have to be realistic here and assume that not everyone can afford (or even be willing) to shell out $299.99 for a product that works with only one platform (though it works great), and as such our score here reflects that very aspect.
The ESG Verdict: 4.4 out of 5
MadCatz and Tritton created quite the stir when the Warhead was initially announced – the time is now here when the Warhead is now out on the market for purchase. We are happy to report that it certainly does deliver what it set out to be, and that is the first truly wireless gaming headset for the Xbox 360 console. Does the Warhead surpass the sound from a dedicated home theater system? Of course not, and that was never the intention here: what the Warhead aims for is to deliver a fully wireless and robust sound option for Xbox 360 gamers out there who want to immerse themselves with a more intimate setup than that of traditional speakers. On the other hand, the Warhead can certainly hold its own against competing headsets out there, wired or not.
With full wireless integration with the Xbox 360 console, superb battery life, a sleek and stylish design (unfortunately susceptible to fingerprints and dust), and some good overall sound to boot, the Tritton Warhead 7.1 Wireless Surround Sound Headset is a true contender in the premium headset market. With its rather steep price of $299.99, it may not be immediately affordable to some out there, but those who do jump in will find a very suitable product that finally addresses the long-standing issue of third-party Xbox 360 headsets not being able to connect wirelessly to the console itself. For those who can afford it, the Tritton Warhead comes highly recommended – finally, an Xbox 360 headset without the wires!
**The Tritton Warhead 7.1 Wireless Surround Sound Headset is now available, and can be purchased over at the official MadCatz store**