Turtle Beach Earforce XL1 headset reviewed!

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We finally have somebody bringing in the renowned Turtle Beach range of gaming audio accessories in to South Africa, by virtue of the lovely folks at Apex. They’ve sent us a bunch of the things to play with, and let you know what we think of them. We’re starting of with the budget-minded entry level stuff – in the form of the Earforce XL1 for the Xbox 360.

EarforceX1set

After fussing with that finger-blisteringly heat-sealed packaging, you’ll find that the XL1 certainly looks the part of a more premium  headset – with relatively large ear cups (I have tiny Asian ears, mind you) and an adjustable boom microphone it’s both simple, and stylish – both of the cups are nicely padded and clothed, making them rather comfortable and breathable. In fact, the whole thing’s pretty lightweight – and one of the most comfortable things I’ve put on my head.

Connecting the XL1 to your Xbox 360 is a cinch. USB powered, it’ll steal one of the unused ones on your console if you have any – and then connect using the RCA cables from your Xbox component cable. They have throughput – so you’ll still be able to plug them in to your TV. This does present a bit of a problem for those who use HDMI – but there is a solution in two separate cables or dongles, unfortunately sold separately. One uses the AV port on the 360, while the other is a simple 3,5mm jack to RCA. Either way you’ll be able to connect em.

EarforceXL1inline

Somewhere along the remarkably long cord is an inline amplifier that gives you two separate volume controls; one for voice and an other for game volume. On the amplifier you’ll also find a little jack with which to hook up to your controller’s headset socket using the included cable. The microphone is on a nice, sturdy flexible boom, and is able to be position wherever you’d like – each time you move it giving you a satisfying “click.”

The best thing about Turtle Beach headsets – even entry-level ones like the XL1 is that they feature mic-monitoring – where you can actually hear the nonsense coming out of your mouth as you call a downed team-mate a n00b or hurl racist and sexist epithets at random people on the internet. This has the rather delightful effect of making it so that you don’t end up screaming at your TV because you have no idea just how bloody loud you are, as is the case with most other headsets where the sound of your own voice is muffled. If the entire reason you play with a headset is because you don’t want to upset the sleeping people in your house, this is a a pretty necessary feature. On top of that, voice is crystal clear.

The actual sound is delivered by two 50mm speakers, the same sort usually found in much more expensive sets. According to the packaging it features a bass boost – but I found the lower frequencies to be lacking a bit. It’s certainly not tinny, and is in fact crisp and clear – but lacks the punch I was expecting. It also feels a tad flimsy, but at its R499.95 RRP, positions itself pretty well in the entry-level bracket. If you’re looking for a good quality (though slightly flimsy) headset on a budget price, you can certainly do far, far worse than the Earforce XL1.

Here are the specs:

Headphones

  • 50mm diameter speakers with neodymium magnets
  • Speaker Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz, >120dB SPL @ 1kHz
  • Condenser Microphone Frequency Response: 50Hz – 15kHz
  • Cable length: 16 ft. (4.87m)
  • Weight: 6.4 oz (181g)

In-line Amplifier

  • Headphone Amplifier: Stereo DC-coupled, 35mW/ch, THD <1%, Frequency Response: DC – 30kHz
  • Mic mute switch
  • Maximum analog input level with volume control on maximum setting: 2Vpp (700mV rms)
  • Fixed Bass Boost +9dB @150Hz
  • 2.5mm XBOX 360® controller input jack
  • USB connector for power (5VDC @ <60mA max)
  • Dimensions: Height .5in (1.3cm), Width 2.3in (5.8cm), Depth 1.1in (2.7cm

Last Updated: October 24, 2012

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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