Spring must be the time for headset reviews as we've been awash with them here at OC3D over the last fortnight. Today it's the turn of Sharkoon with their XTATIC line of headsets. There are four models in the range, the Digital, the Analogue and the SX and SP we're looking at today.
As no doubt the more astute of you will have observed, their is a white one and a black one, so it's no surprise to discover the white model is a PC/Xbox 360 headset, whilst the black model is a, altogether now, PS3, PC and Xbox 360 headset. Caught you out there.
So why two models if the SP can do all three? Firstly price, the SP is a fiver more expensive, but also aesthetics. If you're not someone who has a PS360 setup, then of course you want a model to match your Xbox. So there is the white one if, like me, you have the old model. And if you've got the modern Slim 360 there is a piano black pair that handily matches the PS3.
Fundamentally both headsets are identical, with just the colour and compatibility separating them, hence we'll review them as a pair.
For the sake of brevity we'll show the specifications for the more fuller featured SP model. Although the SX is identical in all the important elements besides the PS3 compatibility being absent.
- Gaming stereo headset for PlayStation® 3 and Xbox® 360
- Cable length: 370 cm +/-10 cm
- Two high quality 40 mm speakers
- Simple connection via analog interface (RCA)
- Flexible, detachable microphone
- Microphone connected via USB (USB to PS3™)
- Microphone connected to Xbox® 360 controller (2.5 mm plug)
- In-line amplifier for powerful games sound output
- Master volume control and microphone mute
- Supports Xbox® Live
- Separate volume control for voice communication
- USB-powered, no additional power adaptor needed
- Supports the PlayStation® 3 chat function (via USB)
- Also suitable as PC headset
- Diameter: 40 mm
- Impedance: 40 Ω
- Sensitivity: 118 dB +/- 3 dB bei 1 KHz
- Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
- Power output: 40 mW
- Cable length: 370 cm +/-10 cm
- Connectors: 1x 3.5 mm stereo plug (green: stereo playback), 1x USB (microphone connection + power)
- Diameter: 6 x 5 mm (L x B)
- Directivity: omni-directional
- Sensitivity: -58 dB +/- 3 dB
- Impedance: 2.2 kΩ
- Frequency response: 100 Hz – 2 kHz
- Operating voltage: 4.5 V
20Hz to 20kHz should give us a good sonic breadth in the headphone department, and the microphone topping out at 2kHz should hopefully keep our online gaming free from chipmunks.
Time to take a closer look.
The XTATIC comes in nice bold packaging with a clear panel enabling you to get a look at the headsets without opening the box, and there is a Velcro front flap that also contains a bullet-point feature list. The reverse is fairly compact thanks to the multiple languages covered as befits a product for the European market.
Both SX and SP come with a box containing the cables necessary to connect the XTATIC to the consoles. Similar to the SteelSeries 5XB we reviewed earlier the connection method entails some pass-through cables between the console and the TV. Both come with the controller cable for the 360 Pad which then connects to the inline remote.
The microphone for each is detachable to help with transportation, and also should you want to use them purely as a set of headphones.
Both the SX and SP have logos printed on the well padded headband. The SX in particular follows the colour scheme of it's relevant console well.
Design-wise both the SX and SP are identical with a snug fit on the head and great levels of padding on both the headband and ears.
Up Close cont..
The microphone fits snugly in just below next to the cable on the left-hand earpiece as is the norm. With a closed-back you wont be disturbing your family or neighbours as you rock up the leaderboards.
The earpieces on both are very well padded and fit really nicely around your ears. It's a snug fit but not uncomfortably so at all.
Both the SX and SP have in-line remotes to control the volume of both the audio and the microphone. The SP also has a toggle for if you're using them as a USB audio device on either the PS3 and PC, or via the pad on the 360.
As both the SX and SP are visually identical apart from the colouring it was a perfect opportunity to demonstrate the Yin and Yang symbol in headset form. Even if the console wars are anything but harmonious and balanced.
After A/B testing both the SP and SX over a day or so it was clear that both pairs sound identical when plugged into either a 360, or in a more standard and less cable-happy way into a PC. Obviously the SX cannot be tested with a PS3 so it was important to establish that if they sounded the same on both PC and Xbox then any conclusions can be taken as a whole rather than having to individually mention whichever headset is being referred to on this page.
Connectivity is, similarly to the SteelSeries 5XB, the main problem with the XTATIC. As neither console has a dedicated headphone port it does require a rather untidy amount of cables to plug them in to the consoles, although of course the PC has no such issues.
Once we're setup looking like we're on life support it was time to get down to some hardcore gaming sessions. It's a tough job but somebody has to do it.
The XTATIC performs very well indeed. Considering that you have a lot of different connection options and any extra cables will only degrade the sound quality, the reproduction was very good. Bass isn't quite as punchy as we like, despite the closed-back nature of the XTATIC. It's not harsh or under-represented. But not so amazing that it will run down your spine. It's very close indeed, just not quite there.
Mid-range sound is, understandably, the place where the XTATIC shines. No matter what genre we were playing everything was reproduced with clarity from the cut-scenes to the heat of battle. Because the XTATIC is so focussed as a gaming headset we'd have expected the FMV or in-game music to be somewhat lacking. Whilst it isn't the greatest headset we've had come through our offices it was nonetheless very composed with nothing be very harsh nor overbearing. All the audio had a smooth quality which is helped by the great seal the earpieces make, ensuring nothing leaks out anywhere but to your ears. The only issue we had was no matter what source the XTATICs were plugged into there was a small amount of audible hiss when they were idle.
Although of course there aren't many occasions in which you haven't got audio running through them, it's nonetheless something to be aware of if you fancy playing Catan, Uno or similar.
At £40 for the SX and £45 for the SP, the Sharkoon is a well-rounded headset at a good price. It gives great audio across the board, tied up in an attractive, comfortable package. For the money, and if the compatibility is high on your list, you definitely should take a good long look at the XTATIC, hence it's worthy of our OC3D Silver Award.
Thanks to Sharkoon for providing the XTATIC SP and SX for review. Discuss in our forums.