I play a lot of games. More correctly, I play games a lot. When is the best time to play games? At night, when it is (relatively) cooler, there is no screen glare or other bright lights due to that large fireball in the sky going to another level and most people go to sleep. Now, to avoid having to lip-read and pretend the explosions sound amazing because I don’t want to wake my wife up, I need a headset. Because some games require you to hear every sound, every nuance of the environment.
So instead of pretending to be deaf while playing PS3, I tried out the Turtle Beach Earforce P11 headset. One feature on the box caught my eye: “Oversized earcups”. I rejoiced, not only because large cup sizes are amazing, but from knowing that my overly large ears would be safe from mangling and all sorts of pain. Sadly I was wrong. While the earcups are generous, I would not call them oversized, as my poor battered ears will attest. The fabric mesh did a great job of letting my ears breathe, meaning they weren’t a drenched mess of wet earwax by the end of a gaming session. This was hard to appreciate, however, considering they felt like some midget had used my ears as punching bags.
This headset is extremely light, light enough that you forget that you are wearing it. So light, in fact, that the in-line amplifier tended to tug the headset skew if I didn’t actually clip the amp onto my shirt. Leaving it lying in your lap isn’t the best idea either, as the volume controls are pretty sensitive. At several times I found myself wondering why everyone had stopped talking to me, only to find that the amp sliding out of my lap and down my thigh had adjusted the chat volume, making me seem like a rude, uninterested git, while I was feeling abandoned and forever alone.
The earcups hide 50mm speakers which pack a pretty neat punch, something made better, I guess, by the in-line amplifier. From the clink of bullet casings on the floor next to my feet to adding extra weight to Batman’s bone-crunching punches, these speakers really help improve the level of immersion in a game. The in-line amp groups together game volume, chat volume, and mic mute switches, allowing for ease of use, especially if someone starts talking to you and you don’t think the whole party wants to listen in. Or maybe they do, the pervs.
The microphone is on an adjustable boom with mic monitoring. Just make sure to put it out of your field of vision, or you might let out a not-so-manly scream when you think there is a spider inches away from your face. No, I don’t know this from experience. Mic monitoring lets you hear yourself through the speakers when you talk or breathe, meaning I get to have conversations with this ultra sexy voiced frood when I play games (Oh, that timbre!). It also means I can hear when I am breathing harder than Darth Vader and move my mic away before anyone gets the wrong idea about what I am doing while talking to them. It also helps to prevent you from shouting over the loud noises that no one else can hear. I am hoping that those guys who sing in party chat get this headset, so they can hear how awful their singing really is.
With a 3 metre long cable, the P11 won’t help if you play games in an overly large room. The headset draws power from a USB connector, making you wish the PlayStation3 had a lot more of them. Like most devices for a PlayStation 3, the P11 works on PC as well, and comes with a stereo audio splitter cable, meaning it will work with your setup, regardless of whether you use a HDMI or PS3 AV cable.
After a few days the earcups stretched a bit in an attempt to house my ears, making it more comfortable, but still just too small for me. The good news is that despite the skinny appearance of the hardware, this headset seems to be made of sterner stuff, as it survived my more… passionate outbursts during gaming. Good sound in a small package, for RRP ~R820
Here are the vital statistics for those of you who know what all these numbers mean. If you don’t, just nod and go oooh, that number is so high and that other one is so low.