Video game consoles come in all shapes and sizes, but two universal features still remain: They must have video and they must have audio.
Fortunately, HDTVs have taken over the television market, so finding a unit that can keep up with a game graphically isn’t a problem. Audio, however, can be a bit trickier. With the advent of 7.1 surround sound, stereo equipment can get pricey, not to mention loud, especially if nettled neighbors live nearby.
This is why audio companies have created headsets with surround sound built-in, to completely immerse players in their game and give them an edge over their opponents. And as headset technology improves, so does its popularity. Here are three of the top gaming headsets on the market in 2012:
Price: $279.99 (wireless)
Available at: astrogaming.com
As the official headset of Major League Gaming, the Astro A40 wireless headset has a huge reputation. Like most top-of-the-line gaming headsets, the wireless A40 comes with two parts: the earphones and MixAmp 5.8. The earphones are tuned specifically for gaming - players can hear an enemy’s footsteps from any direction - while a noise-canceling microphone allows users to communicate with other teammates effortlessly. At the same time, the MixAmp 5.8 provides the A40 with power and the right frequency, bringing just the right balance between the Dolby surround sound and the intercommunication among players.
Model: AX Pro
Available at: trittonusa.com
Tritton is one of the few audio companies to feature true 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound in its headsets, meaning four independent speakers function separately in each ear cup instead of two. Combined with the accompanying audio control box, gamers can tune the front, center, rear, and subwoofer speakers for a more personalized experience. In terms of flexibility, AX Pros feature an added bass option that increases the volume of lower frequencies more than some similar headsets. This versatility allows users to enjoy an enhanced version of other types of media, such as movies, as well.
Model: Ear Force XP500
Price: $269.95 (wireless)
Available at: turtlebeach.com
Although incompatible with PCs, the Ear Force XP500 is among the best console headsets on the market. It features both 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound and a slew of specs including a specialized Ear Guard to reduce ear fatigue and interactive voice commands when the system is running low on power. Turtle Beach also integrates what they call a Sonic Lens, which allows players to widen or narrow the sound field to hear things closer or farther away. These customizations can then be made into presets to use during any situation that may arise while gaming.