Choosing the correct headset for a gamer is nearly as important as choosing the ideal mouse (but not quite). Having a mediocre mouse setup can ruin your gaming experience if it’s not suited to the occasion. While a bad set of headphones may not entirely ruin your game, it can spoil the experience and annoy you to an extent where you don’t really enjoy what you’re doing. Tritton has established itself as a serious player in the gaming headset space, offering a few solid choices to meet your level of expected immersion. The brand is also known for the surround sound technology, comfort for extended game duration, and its multi-platform capabilities. We have three Tritton headsets for review; the Tritton AX 180 Headset, Tritton Pro+ 5.1 Surround Sound Headset and the Tritton 720+ 7.1 Surround Sound Headset.
Tritton AX 180
At first glance, the Tritton AX 180 looks quite unassuming, when, in fact, it has quite a lot to offer beneath its soft, padded foam ear cups and headband. There is quite a lot of padded foam to go around, and more than half the headset is covered with foam; extreme lengths to bring the utmost comfort to users. The remaining areas are made up of a matte, black plastic (also available in white and red) apart from the centre portion of the outside of the ear cups where the Tritton logo is presented. While the headset is wired, it does have a removable, and flexible, microphone, which simply plugs into the left ear cup by means of a 3.5mm jack.
The headset cable is connected to another cable by means of an In-Line Audio Controller (or IAC). The controller provides functions such as Selectable Voice Monitoring (SVM) that allows you to control how much of your own voice you hear, game volume, a PS3/Xbox 360 mic port, and a switch to select between the microphone and PS3/Xbox 360 mic port. The headset is powered by means of USB, while the sound and voice is carried via the 3.5mm audio and microphone jacks. While it may be sold as a PlayStation or Xbox headset, it is, in fact, easier to use on the PC/MAC via the above mentions connections, whereas on the consoles you’re required to connect an additional cable via the PS3/Xbox 360 port. It gets even trickier using HDMI, which then requires a separate HD audio dongle. Thankfully, Tritton have provided the dongle within the contents.
During gaming, the headset’s performance is satisfactory and comfortable, but has a few shortcomings. The AX 180 only offers stereo sound output, which doesn’t appeal to many gamers these days with the increased sound performances in modern games. Additionally, due to the headset being USB-powered, it produces a constant, audible background noise. While this isn’t an issue with increased volumes, it becomes quite annoying when listening to soft music or in moments where there aren’t any sounds in the game. The noise is more noticeable when using the motherboard’s onboard sound, but is still present, however slight, via a sound card. Interestingly, the sound quality during games are above par, but suffers when listening to music, as it cannot reproduce some of the underlying tones and even some levels of bass.
Tritton Pro+ 5.1 Surround Sound
The Tritton Pro+ is a redesigned headset from the previous Tritton Pro. Although the original was good, there were a few hindrances that kept it from being great, and Tritton has taken some time to address these issues. Many of the concerns raised with the original has prompted changes across the entire range and is evident in the AX 180 and 720+ as well, which also includes the flexible and detachable microphone. While the Pro+ is noticeable much larger than the AX 180, it, too, offers a great deal of padding for better user comfort. Tritton has distanced itself from the grey models it produced previously, and the Pro+ is now available in black, white and red variants. While most changes to the Pro+ are cosmetic, even down to the decoder box, Tritton has also reduced the setup complexity to something much simpler, but still requires some level of attention for novice and first time users. Setup involves three different methods for PC, Xbox and the PlayStation; four if you include the HDMI connection for the Xbox.
Once setup is completed and the USB connected, the Tritton logo turns on to indicate this. Apart from looking the part, this is useful to know that the device is powered. The LED lights on the IAC also light up when turned on, and also change colour depending on the volume levels. The IAC also features some sort of equalisation settings. The EQ settings do allow customisation of each of the audio channels, but doesn’t support full customisation, which would still have to be adjusted on PC/MAC or console. Changing the EQ settings is an important aspect when using surround sound, as each games varies in the way sound is produced. Games such as FIFA, Need for Speed and Battlefield all require different channel settings, as the environments in which they are set are vastly different.
As part of the upgrades, Tritton said that it has adjusted the angles of the drivers within the ear cups to assist with localisation (i.e. provides better distinction between audio origins). In addition to the headset and cabling in the package contents, a Decoder Box is required to produce the 5.1 surround sound, which uses the optical cable to carry sound. Connecting the headset directly to your device is much simpler, but will only output stereo sound. Overall sound quality is great, enhanced with the inclusion of its surround sound capabilities.
Tritton 720+ 7.1 Surround Sound
The Tritton 720+ 7.1 Surround Sound Headset is very similar in design to the Pro+. The only real visual difference is the difference between the IACs, the Pro+ having much better controls and settings available on the unit. Interestingly, the package contents for the 720+ doesn’t include an additional power source for the decoder, as it is powered by means of the USB cable. While the USB cable is also required for the Pro+, the additional power is require for the EQ controller, along with all the LEDs. The 720+ does not have the same indicative LEDs. Although the 720+ doesn’t offer the same levels of quick customisation in terms of channel volumes, it may not always be necessary if you’re able to easily do so from your PC/MAC desktop or console main menu. The IAC also includes SVM, game volume, microphone volume, as well as an Xbox/PlayStation mic port.
The 720+ offers 7.1 surround sound capability, and features 50mm, Neodymium drivers. Tritton claim that these are the “highest quality available for use in commercial headsets”, and it would be quite hard to dispute. Using the headset without the inclusion of a sound card compatible with optical input is, simply put, a big waste of money. If you upgrade to the 720+, or the Pro+, be sure to add a decent sound card (for PC/MAC) to your shopping list, if you don’t have one already. Interestingly on the Xbox, users will select 5.1 surround sound, while the headset will apparently still provide 7.1 surround sound.
The decoder provides some automisation of switching between EQ settings depending on the audio, but doesn’t do quite enough to make the same difference in improving your overall experience. There is, however, an option of choosing between game, music and movie sound options, which, alone, are quite noticeable changes. Unfortunately, on the odd occasion, the 720+ headset produce a slight background hum, much the same as those experienced with the AX 180, but not to the same extent. Overall, the surround sound is crisp and clear, and tweaking the EQ for different environments make quite a big difference.
Each of the Tritton headsets provide a level of performance to match your pocket. While there are a few limitations on each headset, namely not being suitable for every use like listening to music, they are branded as ‘gaming headsets’ and perform admirably in these conditions (including movies). The 720+ offers 7.1 Surround Sound, and is the best value for your money compared to the Pro+, while both produce excellent sound quality and overall design. The Pro+ offers quite a lot more in terms of features and quick settings, but isn’t always used or required. Tritton has proven that listening to consumer complaints, in the case of the Tritton Pro, can improve a product/s to a level that customers can truly appreciate.
It is interesting to note that while headsets are capable of offering a level of surround sound we deem acceptable, it cannot be classed as ‘true surround sound’. While it can emulate sound localisation, this is only half of the key. The other half is realised by means of the space between each driver and yourself, which cannot realistically be created within the space of a headphone’s ear cup. Despite not offering ‘true surround sound’, these headsets still offer a great deal in clarity between the channels, and certainly enhances your gaming experience.
The AX 180 carries a RRP of R1,257.94, the Pro+ at R3,241.95, and the 720+ at R2,489.65, which has now been slightly reduced at Kalahari.com to R1,090.76, R3,027.33, and R2,314.77, respectively.