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Sharkoon X-Tatic SR Gaming Headset
Score: 75%
Developer: Sharkoon
Device Type: Audio
Compatible With:


Function:

The Sharkoon X-Tatic SR Gaming Headset is all about flexibility and giving you everything you could need to hook it up to pretty much any kind of system.

When I first opened the box for the X-Tatic headset, I was a bit overwhelmed by the amount of wires that came spilling out, and I must admit that the setup for any piece of hardware felt a bit daunting at first. Provided you have the right wires and ports, you can pretty much hook the X-Tactic up to anything. The two major components that makes the setup "go" is the Sound Control Unit (SCU) and a rather large in-line controller attached to the headphones.

The in-line controller has a built-in amplifier that you can turn on and off, as well as both audio and microphone volume and mute controls. The SCU acts more or less as an adapter between all of the devices. This is what will take in a digital or analogue signal and pipe it to your SR headphones or even normal analogue ones. This device also lets you switch between several listening modes like Dolby ProLogic II, Dolby Headphone and basic Music Mode. It has a USB port to receive power and a switch to turn 3D Stereo on and off.

So how does it all fit together? Thankfully, four sets of hook-up instructions also come with the hardware, and they each show what pieces are needed and how the come together for each of the major types of hardware it can be used for.

For instance, in order to hook it up to an Xbox 360, the most complicated setup, you need to attach the removable microphone to the headset, plug the Xbox 360 Microphone Connector to the controller and the volume controller on the headphone's cable. You then plug that cable into the SCU. From there, you plug a USB cable and an optical cable into your 360 and the SCU. Since the older 360's don't have a Digital Optical port, you may need to get some output cables that have the necessary port. If you have a Slim, on the other hand, the port is provided for you.

Other setups like the PS3 and Tablet PC (i.e. iPad) configurations are only slightly less complicated. In these cases, you are only missing the cable that plugs into your controller. At least for the PS3, you have a built-in optical audio out port no matter which version of the console you happen to own. For the tablet devices that don't have digital optical out, the X-Tatic SR Gaming Headset box contains a basic 3.5 mm stereo connection wire and you will plug the USB power cable into a wall plug that has a USB port on it. This isn't included, but if you have an iPad or similar, you probably already have one laying about.

There are two different ways to hook the SR Gaming Headset to a PC. The simplest solution, and the best one for laptops or other "on the go" scenarios, uses a splitter that you plug directly into the headphone's cable. This splitter results in a USB port, and two 3.5 mm jacks, one for headphones and one for microphone. The other setup uses the SCU and is meant to be a more permanent setup much like the PS3 and 360 varieties. Here, you would hook everything up like it was a PS3, provided you have an optical out, of course. If not, the SCU can be switched to analogue and you can use the standard 3.5 mm wire mentioned above with Tablet PCs.

Like I said, the headphones are very flexible as far as their setup is concerned. Provided you have the right wires and ports, you can pretty much hook the X-Tactic up to anything. Of course, the biggest question with any set of headphones is the sound quality.


Performance:

How the Sharkoon X-Tatic SR Gaming Headset sounds depends a lot on your setup. Using the digital signals over analogue ones goes a long way into getting good sound out of the headphone, and while it doesn't sound nearly as good as my normal surround sound speakers, it definitely gets the job done.

The mic does what it needs to and seems to work well with both the PS3 and 360 chatting system. I liked the large mute button on the in-line controller since I rarely speak during most online gaming sessions and prefer to keep my mic turned off unless I actually have something to say, so having it be a big switch I can easily find and throw was a nice touch. As for how the SCU and other features turned out, I'm afraid you will have to read more about that in the Drawbacks and Problems section below.


Features:
  • Dolby Headphone for Multi-Platform Gaming
  • Supports Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Pro Logic II and Dolby Headphones
  • USB-Powered, No Additional Power Adaptor Needed
  • Supports Xbox Live
  • Supports the PlayStation 3 Chat Function
  • Flexible, Detachable Microphone
  • Microphone Connected to Xbox 360 Controller
  • Microphone Connected Via USB (USB to PS3)
  • In-Line Amplifier with Volume Controller and Microphone Mute
  • Separate Volume Adjustment for Voice Communication

Drawbacks & Problems::

When it comes down to it, the Sharkoon X-Tatic SR Gaming Headset seems to have focused more on what you can use them with, then what the quality of the sound is. The headphones themselves feel light and cheap and they definitely don't do much to block out ambient sounds. While the sound quality coming from the speakers is good, it isn't great. The quality does improve when the amp is turned on, but I found using the SCU and an analogue setup added a lot of static to the sound, which is a problem.

How big a problem that is depends on your setup. If you are planning on using this for console gaming only, or if you have a digital audio port on your PC, then you are pretty good. If, on the other hand, you want to use it on a tablet or if you only have an analogue out on your PC, then you might want to stay away from this product.

The only other complaint I would have about the system is that the hassle involved with getting it all setup really keeps you from wanting to switch it from system to system, especially if you have to go into the PS3 and Xbox setup Menus in order to switch them to digital out. While it's great that you can hook it up to practically anything, the complicated nature of the setup makes me wonder if Sharkoon should have actually released several varieties of the headphones that are more geared towards specific consoles or setups rather than one product that can do it all.

Bottom line: As a set of headphones, the X-Tactic aren't bad. They aren't the best you are going to find, but they aren't nearly the worst. The real benefit is that you can use them with practically anything, but if you get them, most likely you will keep them hooked up to one device and just leave it like that.


-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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