Turtle Beach Ear Force X-52 PC Gaming Headphones Reviewhardnrg -
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Turtle Beach. Maybe some of you will instantly think of the turtle on the first beach in Crysis, and the newfound hilarity of turtle-throwing, or shooting it point blank in the head. Yes, very entertaining. But what if you turned your speakers off or unplugged your headphones? Not quite as engaging, eh?
Of course, I don't condone cruelty to animals, but at the same time I'm not a PETA mentalist. Now something I feel strongly about on a daily basis is cruelty to my ears. Turtle Beach is one of the two brands that comprises Voyetra Turtle Beach (the other is Voyetra, in case you were wondering) and is best known for its soundcards and has been at the forefront in PC audio since 1985, developing realistic wavetable synths and high-speed studio quality recording for regular PCs.
More recently, Turtle Beach brought out the Santa Cruz soundcard, offering audiophile quality at a reasonable price, and then the Montego DDL (Dolby Digital Live), which brought multichannel sound for PC games via digital interconnects for the first time.
In this review, I will be auditioning a 5.1 surround sound headset from Turtle Beach, the Ear Force X-52 PC Gaming Headphones. This isn't the first 5.1 headset I have reviewed, and I own three pairs of world class headphones that I use on a daily basis, so I have some expectations of limitations, and at the same time, a keen interest in finding out if this is the holy grail of gaming headsets.
The packaging is made to sell itself in a retail environment, explaining key features, and most importantly, displaying the headset in molded transparent plastic, making it easy to see the size and shape of headband and earcups. On the back of the packaging you can see that the headset has eight speakers. So it's 7.1? No, it's a 5.1 headset, six channels for left, right, rear left, rear right, center, and subwoofer. Since you can't have a speaker inside your head, the centre channel is duplicated on each side, and subwoofer channels are also monophonic, so it is also duplicated on each side. This is how the headset has eight speakers for six channels.
Ok, so after cutting or ripping the plastic apart, you get to see the headset itself. The headband reminds me of the AKG K701 headphones that have been on my headphone shopping list for a while, and looks as though it would be comfortable for wearing hours on end. The earcups are padded and lined with a velvety fabric, and are a bit of an odd size. They are slightly too small to be circumaural (enveloping the entire ear), and slightly too large to be supra-aural (resting on the ear), so they sort of rest partially on your ears. The next thing I noticed was the connector at the end of the ~1.5m cable. It struck dread in my heart. A 9-pin mini DIN. Flashbacks of fighting with the Speed Link Medusa 5.1 Home Edition headset came flooding back before I thought, "come on, it's only a 9-pin mini DIN, you have graphics cards and a projector which use that connector."