Plantronics Gamecom X-40 Xbox

Audio, Peripherals

Testing

Methodology

Since no clever chaps have invented a robotic ear to test the quality of ear phones in a synthetic fashion, I’m afraid you’ll have to make do with my own ear’s interpretation of how good the X40 headphones are.

To give them the best chance to showcase their abilities I tested the headset in several different games, a variety of different music genres and some key movie scenes.

Results

Gaming

While a headset like this is marketed at Xbox gamers, them being the more hardcore of console audiences out there, in reality all you need are some phono audio connectors and a USB port, so I plugged this bad boy into my Wii for the first stage of testing. The game I chose? The ever fantastic Monster Hunter Tri. If you havn’t played this game, you’re really missing out.

The first thing I noticed with the x40 was that its very immersive. The closed ear headphones don’t have the strongest noise cancelling ability, but the sound you get from them is detailed and the stereo mix is very strong making panning and environmental noises seem well done in games where audio is a focus. Monster roars and their heavy footfalls echod to me through the Sandy Plains and Flooded Forest regions, giving me some hunting experiences that I thoroughly enjoyed.

However since this was an Xbox headset I did do a bit of gaming on that platform, using my old nemesis of a title Dead or Alive 4. Here where the environmental sounds wern’t so strong and it was more sound effects mixed up with music I didn’t find the x40 as fun to use as I did in Monster Hunter. What this headset seems to do well is handle lots of different sounds at once, it’s just not quite as strong at delivering one or two high quality sources; or at least, its short comings are move obvious in a less busy environment.

Microphone testing as always is short and sweet, but friends report a nice clear output with very little background noise. Volume is also satisfactoy, despite the mic feeling like it’s quite far from your mouth.

Movies

My usual go to movie for testing is Starship Troopers during the Klendathu invasion as not only does that it have a sterling musical score, but strong sound effects and dialogue. With some headsets you might find that things get a big muddied and you struggle to hear what some of the actors are saying, or the dialogue steps over a great explosion. Here, I found none of these things. The X40 performed very well indeed in that respect, though I did notice that peaks of creature cries and the deepest parts of bassy explosions were a little muted. The mix of sounds works great, just none of them invidiually are quite as crisp as you might like.

Music

For how much the X40 costs, they do impressively well with music. More so in some senses than the much more expensive Razer Chimaera I reviewed last week. Why do I sat that? One reason alone, volume. Thanks to the inclusion of a USB adapter, these Gamecom headphones have enough juice to give you a decent deicibel level while listening.

However, they arn’t perfect and anyone used to using a pair of high quality headphones or speakers with a meaty subwoofer will certainly notice the difference. The bass is there and far better than a pair of naff desktop speakers, but you really notice how muted it is during some heavy DnB or Hip Hop. Not only that but the highs arn’t that crisp either. This is compensated by the fact that vocals and mid-frequencies come through incredibly strongly, making some songs sound fantastic. However, those that tend to dip up and down in the spectrum are no way near as immersive.

The headset sounds good, but it feels like a track before you tweak the EQ to your preferance, or one tuned too much to vocals – which tend to come through very strong.

Comfort

Over long periods, apart from the typical head-getting-hot due to the enclosed earphones, I had no issues with the X40. While the plastic frame isn’t of the highest quality, none of it ever touches you while gaming so there’s no reason you’d have any true comfort issues.

That said, I had one minor annoyance and that was the length of the cable. I’d like to see companies include a shorter cable as standard, with perhaps a secondary lengthenging cable as an extra. That way those of us whose Xbox is reasonably close to the player won’t need 3m of phono cabling looped up on their floor.

Cost

While there are some unscrupulous etailers selling these headsets for upwards of £50, if you shop around you can find it for as low as £35 which is a great price point for such a powerful little headset.

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Last modified: May 11, 2014

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