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Turtle Beach at E3 2010

Platform: Xbox 360
Category: Headphones, Misc

During the final day of E3 I got a chance to head over to Turtle Beach’s booth on the show floor to check out what is new and exciting. For those not in the know, Turtle Beach makes some pretty darn good headsets for gaming, both console based and PC based. Now I know that some of you readers out there have asked about their products, so I thought it was prudent to check out their wares and see if there is anything new and exciting that would be worth getting the message out. I met with Doug, who is their PR specialist. He took me on a tour of their booth and introduced me to a few products he thought might interest you readers out there.

One of the more impressive products that he showed me was the Ear Force DSS. This little unit is a surround sound processor that actually takes a stereo headset and transforms it into a surround sound headset. Turtle Beach claims that it can be 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound. This little box, which we took pictures of in full use on the show floor and have included in this write up, is quite tiny and simple to hook up. You need only connect the DSS box to your console of choice using a USB power plug, and a optical cable to the console, and then you hook up your headphones to the output. I had a chance to look at the instructions for different sets ups and overall it is not that complicated.

In terms of sound quality for the Ear Force DSS, I had a friend of mine with me during the interview. He is a home theater installer and a gamer who, when given the chance to listen to the quality of sound, was pretty darned impressed. The surround sound effects were pretty amazing given that the headphones were only stereo to start with. There is also a variable bass boost control which allows for a bit of bass adjustment. For those looking for a great way to improve on their headphone gaming experience, and don’t want to pay for the high end 5.1 or 7.1 headphone experience, this is a great alternative. The Ear Force DSS retails for and MSRP of $89.99 (USD). I think many of you will find that this is a great price for something that does a pretty good job of putting a surround sound signal through your existing stereo headphones.

Another product on display, and one that was announced just prior to E3, was the Ear Force Z2 gaming headset for the PC and Xbox. Interestingly enough this this newest headset can be used with desktops, notebooks, netbooks, Apple’s iPad as well as Xbox 360 consoles. Although the headset is more geared for PC, the ability to adapt its use to the Xbox 360 is appreciated. And with the addition of the optional optical talkback cable, you can use it for Xbox LIVE chat. Again, my home theater friend has the chance to check out the quality of sound by playing giving Battlefield: Bad Company 2 a quick spin on Alienware’s gaming netbook. He though the sound quality was pretty good and the comfort of of the headphones was quite nice. He said he could see himself using these with no issues noted. A picture of the headset is attached to this article.

The final product that we had a chance to take look at prior to our interview wrapping up was the new Ear Force PBT communicator for the PS3. This bluetooth earpiece allows gamers to use it for online play over PSN as well as use it for mobile phone use. What is even more interesting though is that those using the Ear Force PBT and who are using it for a gaming session can use it to answer calls on it while gaming away. This allows any gamer who just can’t miss a call on their mobile phone the flexibility to answer that important call while fragging enemies in Modern Warfare 2 or racing wildly in ModNation Racers. For even more flexibilty, gamers can use the Ear Force PBT and connect it to Turtle Beach’s own Ear Force X31 and X41 headsets, via a 2.5 mm jack, enabling the headset to be used with the PS3 and it’s full PSN chat functionality.

I also had a chance to briefly chat with one of the technical designers at Turtle Beach’s booth, and the biggest question I was hoping to have answered was how they were addressing the need of HDMI to deliver HD Sound. Given that both the PS3 and the Xbox 360 have the ability to pass a video and audio signal through a single HDMI cable I was wondering if Turtle Beach was looking at ways to use this method instead of having gamers use an HDMI cable for video and an optical cable for sound. Although he could not confirm anything the representative did allude to the fact that Turtle Beach is looking at all technology that is being employed to deliver sound. It was my opinion that they are looking at this HDMI issue and I hope they are coming to a solution for such.

My time with Turtle Beach was well invested and I walked away with the impression that they continue to give all levels of gamers and consumers a choice when looking at utilizing headphones for a gaming experience. From existing products such as the Ear Force PX21 (PC Headset) and the Ear Force X41 (Wireless Dolby Digtal Xbox 360 headset) to the new Ear Force DSS (Surround Sound Processor) or the new Ear Force Z2 (PC and Xbox 360), there are lots of options being offered.

We hope to have more coverage and some hands on details with more Turtle Beach products in the future.

- Kirby Y


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