Ear Candy: The Turtle Beach PX3

With the launch of Turtle Beach’s Ear Force PX3 gaming headset, I had the privilege of getting my hands (and ears) dirty with the brand new 5.1 wireless headset and Dolby Digital 7.1 processor. I can say confidently there is a lot to look forward to.

The PX3 marks the debut of a new, more affordable class of wireless headset that I have lovingly dubbed the “little brother” to their game-changing PX5 and XP500 wireless models. The title fits it well, considering the headset features nine different sound presets, is USB-powered and features the ability to download and update your headset for different games. You can also edit and create your own games to upload to the Turtle Beach website. Sadly, this is a PC-only option; hopefully in the future Apple users will get to experience this as well. The biggest benefit of this headset is of course its wireless capability, and coming in at a cool $149 it’s a huge advantage to gamers on a budget.

The Looks
Right out of the box, the PX3 is a smooth-looking flat black with nice, clean lines. The construction is pretty solid, and weighing in at 8.8 ounces, the headset is very comfortable. I did find some minor rattles with the buttons but nothing distracting. The headphone rotator is a bit more meager than that of its older brother, which at first concerned me in regards to the occasional sit-ons and game rage quits. But if you are treating your headphones like that, you should stick to the sale bin. After constant use and a couple of falls during my review, the PX3 is still holding up like a champ.

The Hardware
The button controls rest on the side of the right ear cup, which I found quite easy to navigate without having to remove them to see what I was pressing. When behind enemy lines or travelling the wastelands, I easily switched presets to get a better sound advantage.

The buttons control your presets, volume for both headset and chat, mute switch and a USB port for charging. Upon switching presets you will be greeted with a series of low and high range beeps, each one associated with a different preset. Unlike its brother, the PX3 has no voice telling you which preset you have selected.

I found that keeping the manual nearby for reference helped and after a couple of hours I was right at home. My biggest design critique is the non-removable microphone. I’m not totally in love with its look – the microphone reminds me of Doctor Octopus’ mechanical arms. I would have much preferred the removable boom mic found on the PX5 and XP500.

Diversity
Throughout my restless trials I found this headset ideal for the first-person shooter. About half of the main presets are for identifying minute details like footsteps, falling grenade pins and characters reloading down a hallway. The chat control also ties it together nicely. The accuracy and clarity of the 50mm diameter speakers is astounding and earth-shaking. As I put the headset through its paces, it never let up, never distorting and never cracking – nothing but pure sound. The main star goes to Turtle Beach’s Dolby Digital 7.1 processor – it really changes your game and gives you that full 360 degrees of sound. Other features include full bass control and an auxiliary port for your iPhone or MP3 player, so you can listen to your own soundtrack while gaming.

After all this I must point out two dents in the PX3’s armor: There are far too many wires: five total if you are using the Dolby processor. So if you’re a wire Nazi, then you have some work cut out for you. Finally, the biggest drawback is that if you decide to buy just the headphones you will NEED to have an HDMI A/V output. This problem only exists for Xbox 360 owners and is a pain since the wireless adapter has no digital audio input. Don’t fret – this can be solved with the Dolby Digital processor and is a welcome sound advantage.

Conclusion
Turtle Beach has come through again and released a product that is not only affordable but delivers on all fronts. The wireless capability alone will please any videogame veteran. Packed with presets and a sound quality that will have you hearing your game like never before, this is a no-brainer. It’s time to cut the cord for good.

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Dave Trainer loves putting things on his ears. Check out his daily otogear on Twitter @dave_trainer. The PX3 is available from Turtle Beach.

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