Turtle Beach Ear Force DSS ReviewIndybird - September 5, 2010
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Having a surround sound speaker system for games and movies is a definite advantage in immersion these days. Both games and movies have had surround sound (5.1 and 7.1) for a while now, but unlike movie-watchers, gamers are a little slower in adopting a full-on surround sound system for their purposes. Why? Perhaps budget, noise, space or even the need for online communication. They could get a 5.1 headset but, lets be honest, that technology is really still in the works (unless you want to spend a lot of money). What has come a long way since the advent of 5.1/7.1 is surround sound processing. Some examples being Dolby’s headphone technology, their Virtual Speaker and Creative’s CMSS-3D. Based on how our ears interpret different directions of sound hitting the eardrum, these technologies take the normal 5.1/7.1 input of a movie or game and output it on stereo speakers in such a way that it will sound like surround sound.
Here today is Turtle Beach’s offering in this department, the Ear Force DSS. The DSS is a USB powered processor box that sits between your computer and stereo headphones. It takes Dolby Digital 5.1/7.1 input and processes it using Dolby Headphone technology and/or Dolby Pro Logic IIX. The best part is, being that it takes a standard optical S/PDIF, you can use the DSS on any device that has or is near a USB port. This is what makes it compatible with PC, Xbox 360, PS3, or even a standard DVD player (provided you have a USB nearby). The DSS is looking to be a pretty attractive product, lets see if it fulfills its promise of immersive surround sound on any stereo headset.
The Turtle Beach Ear Force DSS comes in a small cardboard box with a window in the front to display the device itself. On the front you have the name, very brief description, some Dolby logos and a picture of some guy who is having way too much fun playing his games. I wonder if the Xbox 360-shaped window is some kind of extra subliminal advertising about the DSS’s gaming purposes? Around the back we have all of the same plus a detailed diagram of the connections on the DSS and a short paragraph about the product. On the side of the box we have even more detailed straight-on diagrams of the connections.
Despite having advanced processing capabilities, the Earforce DSS is a pretty simple package. You have the manual, USB A to USB mini cable, optical S/PDIF cable, analog audio cable and a Turtle Beach sticker.
Now that we've seen the Ear Force DSS from afar, let's see it up close.