The Xbox One is a fantastic entertainment console that can be enjoyed by the entire family, but sometimes you’d prefer to use it without bothering anyone else. That’s where headsets come into play. With the Xbox One you can now plug a stereo headset directly into a controller through a headset adapter. When doing so all audio, be it game audio or voice chat, will come through the headphones. The fact that this can be done without any wires dangling between your controller and the Xbox is a thing of beauty. We’ve already looked at Microsoft’s Stereo Headset, now we’re checking out the Ear Force XO SEVEN from Turtle Beach.
What’s in the Box
Along with the headset itself you’ll also find the necessary headset adapter, a micro-USB cable, the boom microphone, and an additional audio cable designed to be used with a phone. You’ll probably only use the USB cable once. It’s only purpose is to enable the firmware update that’s required when you first connect the headset. If you already have USB cable connected to your Xbox, perhaps for a Play and Charge Kit, you can keep this one in the box. The detachable boom microphone is nice for the occasions where you just want to use the headset as normal headphones, or if you’re just not in the mood to talk to the people you’re playing with. The extra audio cable has an inline microphone and a button that on some phones will answer and hang-up a phone call.
The entire headset feels very well made. The headband is wrapped in padded leather. The ear cups are surrounded by memory foam cushions that are also covered in leather. Even the audio cables received extra attention from Turtle Beach. Instead of a standard insulated wire they are surrounded in a green and black woven design. The cushions provide some sound isolation, but they don’t completely block out the surrounding environment. They also do a great job of keeping the sound in. There is almost no sound that leaks from the headphones, even if the volume is very high.
Turtle Beach’s Ear Force XO SEVEN requires the same initial setup as Microsoft’s Stereo Headset. You’ll need to plug the included headset adapter into your controller, and the headset into the adapter. Once you’ve done this you’ll need to update the controller’s firmware. The process is quick and easy, and Turtle Beach includes a slightly more specific guide for how to achieve the firmware update in the box. After that you’re all set. Sound will immediately come through the headset. It will still come out of your TV or A/V receiver’s speakers too unless you disable that in the Xbox’s audio settings. Even if you have a large head you’ll find them comfortable. The first time I wore them I found them to be a little tight on the jaw line, but after just a session or two they felt great. The headset can easily be worn for hours.
So if you’re going to be wearing the Turtle Beach Ear Force XO SEVEN headset for hours, how will they sound? They sound very good. All the game sounds come through quite clearly with plenty of volume to spare. If you’re considering also using this headset as your regular headphones for listening to music they are definitely a better option that Microsoft’s headset. Considering they retail for $159 (but can be had for only $135 from Amazon), compared to Microsoft’s at $79, you would expect that. The detachable microphone also makes them very convenient for music duties. If listening to music is going to be your primary use though you will find the audio experience considerably lacking compared to a similarly priced set of high-end headphones.
Of course if you’re looking at headsets for your Xbox One you also care about the experience others will have while they play with you online. The microphone on the XO SEVEN headset is a big step up from the cheap headset that Microsoft includes with the entertainment console. In our testing we even liked it more than the microphone built in to the Microsoft Stereo Headset. It didn’t reproduce low-end bass from our tester’s voice very well, but it’s doubtful you would notice in a heated gaming session.
The XO SEVEN headset is one of those devices that embodies the idea that it is worth more than the sum of its parts. That’s because Turtle Beach did so many of the small things right. The microphone is detachable, and it’s very easily placed while in use. The cable that’s designed to be used with the Xbox headset adapter has a 90-degree bend in the plug to keep the wire from pointing right into you while holding the controller. Even the outer shell of the ear cups can be replaced with pieces that have different designs.
If you’re the type of gamer who spends a lot of time with your console, especially in multiplayer games, you owe it to yourself to get a nice headset. The Turtle Beach Ear Force XO SEVEN headset is better in every single way than Microsoft’s Stereo Headset. It feels better. It looks better. It sounds better, and it makes you sound better. It won’t replace a high-end set of headphones for really getting into your favorite music, and you probably wouldn’t want to walk around in public with them on either. It is a great gaming headset though. If your going to almost exclusively use them for gaming then we can definitely recommend the XO SEVEN. The $159 price tag is significantly higher than what you’d pay for the Microsoft’s headset, but the XO SEVEN is significantly better. It’s also the same MSRP as Polk Audio’s 4 Shot. Turtle Beach has been making great gaming headsets for a long time. Their first high-end attempt at the Xbox One is a great start, and we can’t wait to see what else they come up with.
If you’re still trying to make a headset decision, we’ll be posting our review of Polk’s initial entry into this market, the 4 Shot, very soon. Can the company that’s known for great sounding speakers make a great gaming headset that can compete with Turtle Beach, the established giant of the gaming headset space?
Thanks to Turtle Beach for supplying the Ear Force XO SEVEN for review.