GDC: Ear Force PX5 from Turtle Beach
It's the early hours of GDC, Friday morning, and while most conference attendees are staring glassy-eyed into the tops of their Starbucks to-go cups, I'm entirely too keen to be out of bed and trying out the latest from Turtle Beach - the PX5. Of course, they did promise that the second half of the demo could be nap time.
The wireless PX5 uses Bluetooth to pair with up to two devices simultaneously. This means that you can pair with a device like your iPhone while you game and receive calls through your headset without ever leaving your comfiest gaming chair. You also have the ability to mix in your own music from your Bluetooth device with the game music - and it does that lovely fade-in, fade-out. The PX5 deals in Dolby 5.1 and 7.1 virtual surround sound containing a radio for game audio and another for Bluetooth makes the set a wee bit fancy. Fancier yet is the ability to use and create audio presets across the game, chat and microphone.
These myriad customization options are the real hook of the PX5. The Preset Manager Program allows players to use any of the 100 premade presets made by Turtle Beach or customize their own across the game, chat and microphone audio. With the program downloadable for free from Turtle Beach and a website for sharing presets, making these 100 just the tip of the user-created iceberg. That said, the Footsteps preset is likely to charm the pants off Call of Duty players looking for a tactical advantage as they single out the sounds of enemy footsteps rather than gunfire.
What this sort of power means for chat is the ability to filter out the sounds of those players that hop into a game with music blasting or shrieking to their Mom or maybe just the heavy breathers of the world. These noise gates work without the hassle of muting individual players and often before you even hear them. On the mic tweaks tab, the ability to truly alter your voice caught my attention. Granted, this is a bit of a girl thing - it is mighty handy to be able to play as just one of the boys!
Also available (for free) is the Advanced Sound Editor for developers, the idea being that it can enhance their game's audio as they pinpoint audio cues and effects.
Demoing the set with Dead Space the first delight is in the violence of a postmortem stomp on a carcass. Simultaneously vicious *and* squelchy, it was hard to tire of that audio reward. On the ambient front, I appreciated the sound of the faucet running, the crackle of electricity, and the directional sound of a door closing.
Volume controls on each earpiece are positioned at the lower rear where your thumb naturally settles as you reach up. The set feels good, and for my fingers I found all the buttons to be conveniently located, easily identifiable, and easy to use. However, I always feel the need to remind people that I have girl hands, so if you're a giant dude with sausage fingers I cannot speak to ease of use! With the presets you can either cycle through them or cycle to the preferred one for the title you're playing and then hotswap between main and that preset.
Designed for the PS3 the headset works with the 360 . Retailing at $249.95 you can buy it direct from the Turtle Beach website on Monday, March 7 and at major retail outlets shortly afterward. Nobody said audiophilia was cheap - but the reps on hand mentioned that we can expect the tech available in this model to ultimately trickle down through the line.