Mad Catz, with their TRITTON line of Xbox 360 exclusive headsets, seem to be well on their way towards the construction of an auditory weapon of mass destruction. Don’t follow? Let’s take a look at their 360-exclusive range and see if things become more clear. Are you in the market for an entry-level wired stereo headset? Try out the Trigger, or the Detonator. Perhaps wired just doesn’t cut it for you, and you want your stereo headset to run wireless? Why not try the Primer, or the as yet unreleased Devastator? You want a full wireless 7.1 Dolby surround sound headset? The most recent offering, the Warhead, is the headset for you.
I see what you did there, guys. Don’t worry, your secret is safe with me.
And anyone reading this publicly available review. Sorry.
I made great use of my TRITTON Detonator (even after part of the headband snapped) until I got my hands on the TRITTON Ghost Recon: Future Soldier 7.1. The sound quality the GR:FS headset provided was an obvious improvement over the stereo sound of the Detonator, but there were a few things that drove me back to my Detonator (until the Warhead appeared at my door). First, the GR:FS headset had an awkwardly designed hub that I found somewhat frustrating. Second, my darling wife, as soon as my time spent testing the headset for review was complete, claimed the superior headset for herself. Now, though, I have the Warhead, so HA HA.
Obviously, a wireless headset has more range than a wired headset from the start, unless you have a 100 foot long wired cable, but I sincerely doubt that and will call you a liar if you claim otherwise. Using 5.8GHz technology, the Warhead is able to provide uncompressed audio on par with a wired headset, and is not affected by typical interference, like the TRITTON Ghost Recon: Future Soldier 7.1 wired headset was. It also provides incredible range and power. I took my wireless controller and Warhead with me during a session of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD (ensuring a constant stream of audio from the game’s soundtrack), and started walking around the house. With a clear line of sight, I failed to find a single spot that caused even the slightest change in audio quality (a clear line of sight to my TV is up to ~40 feet). I then walked down our hallway, which kills line of sight at about 24 feet. Twelve feet down our hallway, and the headset finally started to cut in and out, until I stood perfectly still, at which point it remained clear. Though slight movement would cause a cut of a couple of seconds, this is going through 15 feet of wall in a diagonal line to the base unit.
I was still able to play Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD, hear the songs, and hear the sounds my character made as I both successfully and unsuccessfully performed various tricks through 15 feet of wall and 24 feet of open air. Decreasing distance reduces the effect of the lack of line of sight. I rounded the corner and went into our guest bathroom, which let me reduce the distance between myself and the base unit by up to approximately ten feet. This removed the issue of inconsistent audio completely, so good news is that the next time we’re playing in a party and I need to use the bathroom during gameplay, you can join me without a break in our session!
In fact, while writing this review, I’m sitting at my desk (with line of sight interrupted by a column and by two computer monitors) almost 30 feet away from the base unit listening to the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD soundtrack through the Warhead without any loss of audio fidelity. With all that being said, know that the manual claims a maximum range of 33 feet, so it seems to outperform its own preconceptions spectacularly.
Aside from its phenomenal range, the Warhead features a built-in Microsoft Xbox 360 security chip. If there’s anything about the TRITTON Warhead 7.1 that could truly be classified as a “Big Deal,” this is it. The surround sound is great. The range is fantastic. The hotswappable batteries with charger in the base unit gives you non-stop play. That’s all great, and it all does a great job of making the Warhead 7.1 a wonderful high-end wireless headset. What makes it kind of a big deal, though, is that Microsoft Xbox 360 security chip. The Warhead 7.1, to my knowledge, is the only headset that includes this chip, which allows it to do things that other headsets simply can not do. Lots of headsets, for example, claim to be wireless. How about for party/game chat? Surely, the wire that connects your wireless headset to the controller is…well…a wire? Granted, it’s not a wire trailing across your floor from your console to your head, but it is a wire nonetheless, and a potential hampering to your freedom of movement. The Warhead 7.1′s exclusive use of the security chip allows it to be fully wireless, including chat. No wires from the headset to anything for full headset functionality. This also allows the headset to transmit a battery life meter to the Xbox 360, visible by pressing the controller’s home button.
Even recharging the headset is wireless. I mentioned hotswappable batteries and the in-base charger. Well, the Warhead comes with two rechargeable batteries. On the outer side of the right ear of the headset, the cover (magnetically held in place) pops off with the flick of a finger, and the battery compartment is revealed. When your battery is low, you simply remove it and replace it with the fully charged alternate. This fully charged alternate is hidden in the heart of the Warhead base unit, and can be accessed by removing the TRITTON logo piece (magnetically held in place) from the front of the base and ejecting it. Place the fully charged battery in your headset, and the depleted battery in the base. A total of 30-60 seconds for swapping batteries, and you’re back to playing for up to 12 hours, until your batteries need to be swapped again.
At the end of the day, however, the most important factor when purchasing a headset is the sound quality. Wired or wireless, you want the best sound for your dollar. Featuring 50mm speakers, the Warhead’s 7.1 Dolby surround sound is what you expect from 7.1 surround sound. Granted, you aren’t going to be able to get the full effect from everything you play or watch, but there are some solid benchmarks that can be used to test surround sound quality. My benchmark of choice is 1998′s Ronin, which features Sean Bean not getting killed. It also features some fantastic action sequences and incredibly chase scenes with fantastic audio. Watching Ronin with 7.1 Dolby surround sound over my ears, blocking out the noises around me, as close to put me in the car with Jean Reno and Robert De Niro as I’m likely ever to get. Finally, remotely controlled from the headset, you can adjust the settings to maximize for movies, games, or music. In fact, everything can be controlled wirelessly directly from the headset. Chat volume, SVM (selectable voice monitoring), game volume, what quadrant you sync chat to, the equalizer, and more all have independent controls spread around the two earcups.
Of course, being wireless, there is a bit of a delay. I tried Rock Band 3, and noticed that none of my strums were hitting, even though I had previously calibrated the bass. I tried again, with the headset half off, and noticed a slight, but impactful delay between the sound from the TV and the sound from the headset. A new calibration, using the headset, resulted in accurate play.
Now, what could the Warhead do better? Completely by accident, I discovered that the Warhead will not allow chat on a controller equipped with the Xbox 360 chatpad. The
base (edit: Xbox 360 itself, rather than the headset base – as it was clarified to me, the Xbox sees the chatpad as a wired headset plugged into the controller, and prevents other headsets from pairing. While this solution did not work for me, others have claimed that plugging in and unplugging a wired headset from the chatpad “resets” it, and it no longer thinks a wired headset is connected.) recognizes the chatpad as another wireless headset, and refuses to allow “another” wireless headset to pair with that controller. Normal audio still comes in, but chat (both ways) is bumped to another quadrant. This, while not dealbreaking by any means, is still annoying. As for the headset itself, it holds the same potential flaw that its predecessors held in regard to individuals with larger heads. My head is proportionate to my frame, and I have a strong frame. This means I have a somewhat larger head (which resulted in the snapped headband of my Detonator). I will be very disappointed if the Warhead’s headband snaps as well. Finally, while I realize the $299 price is in line with its competition, it’s also in line with the cost of entire consoles. For the casual player, or the non-audiophile, $299 is going to be an exorbitant amount no matter what I say in this review.
Edit: In response to my curiosity regarding the structural integrity of the Warhead’s headband, the TRITTON Product Manager informed me that the headband now uses nylon based materials, granting it greater flexibility and strength, and sent me the following video:
Having had the time to get home and test it myself, with a great deal of trepidation, I can confirm that this video is representative of the flexibility and strength of the Warhead’s headband.
All things considered, if you have the means, I highly recommend the TRITTON Warhead 7.1. The headset is lightweight, firmly built, and the ear cups fit around your ears, rather than on them. Its 7.1 Dolby surround sound makes sweet, sweet love to your ear canals, its hotswappable batteries ensure non-stop gameplay, and its full wireless functionality (made possible by the Microsoft Xbox 360 security chip embedded in the hardware) keeps pesky wires and cables out of your way when you are focused on your game. Is it expensive? There’s no arguing that. Is it worth the expense? That depends on the buyer. I will say that the headset performs impeccably and beyond its own expectations. It is lightweight, comfortable, and offers a fully wireless experience that is unmatched for the Xbox 360. It features 7.1 Dolby surround sound audio that gives you the best sound you can get. If any of that is important, and you have the room in your budget, then you know all you need to know.
- Full wireless functionality
- Sharp sound, full 7.1
- Simple setup
- Improved comfort
- Hotswappable batteries with charger in base
- Battery life readout on game screen
- Fantastic range
- $299 is the price of a new console
Potentially holds same design flaw for larger headed individuals(edit: See video and new content above)
- Wireless chatpad cannot be used simultaneously as wireless chat (edit: Xbox 360 flaw, not Warhead flaw – see first content edit for more details)
To see where this review score falls in our scoring range, please read our review scale guidelines.